As discussed in my previous “Would You Rock or Not” Article, The Paul was initially released in 1978 as an all walnut with ebony finger board guitar. These were essentially the first Les Paul Studio model (The Studio was released officially in 1983.) These “The Pauls” lasted until 1980 before the name was changed to “Firebrand.” The Deluxe version was also introduced at that time. They were made of all mahogany and had both names “Firebrand – The Paul Deluxe.”
When Gibson announced in 2019 that they were reissuing this model, people went crazy for it! Why is that though? There are plenty of originals on the used market that are much cheaper than the new $1399 price tag. It’s mainly because there is a cult following for this model and many of us fans were curious if the remake would be as good as the original. I was one of those curious people and had to buy one to document for the world!
I will be writing a follow up article that will go in depth to all the differences between an original and reissue, but for this write up, I simply wanted to review the 40th Anniversary The Paul for what it is – a great guitar!
These are a 2 piece walnut body with a 3 piece walnut neck. Differing from the originals, they sport a rosewood fretboard and Gibson’s 490R / 498T Humbucker pickups. Unfortunately, these are not hand wired and have a Gibson Printed Circuit Board (PCB.) Yuck! For a reissue model, they should have went with traditional wiring.
I’ve always said that the best thing about the originals were the ttop pickups. This essentially made them sound just like a Les Paul custom but for 1/3 of the price. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice this pickup combination sounded with the walnut guitar.
The 490 Neck pickups is dark and smooth sounding which makes it great for soulful blues. The 498T is twice as hot as the original’s TTOP so it lends itself well to screaming leads! Blending the two together creates a really nice chime-like tone that I really loved (I’m not usually a big middle position fan either!)
The neck was a great 60s rounded neck profile which makes it just a tad larger than the originals. The frets were of a very similar size, but just a little bit taller as well to allow for easier bends.
The wood grain on my example is spectacular! You’ll have to do some hunting to find one that looks quite as nice, but that is the beautiful thing about Walnut wood – there are many different looking examples!
In the end, I found that I really enjoyed this reissue and it follows in the footsteps of the original The Paul series. It is a much better reissue than the ‘The Paul II / SL” series from 1996-1998. This instrument is different enough from the original though that it would definitely be worth while to own both!