The Return of the Gibson Les Paul Supreme

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The Return of the Gibson Les Paul Supreme

Gibson Les Paul
Words By Christopher Hockey

Gibson fans have been rejoicing as of late, after the brand announced the return of their much esteemed Les Paul Supreme model, twenty years since its original debut.

Having always stood for both high-end quality and ultra-modernity, the new Gibson Les Paul Supreme range are not only reigniting the spark of the original model, but bringing some brand new features to the table. If you’ve ever wished for a Les Paul with increased tonal versatility and an updated set of features for the modern age, this is the guitar for you.

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The thing about this dazzling guitar that will likely first catch your eye is the incredibly beautiful AAA-figured maple top. The stunning quilting of the maple on these guitars shines through all three of the available finish options; Fireburst, Dark Wine Red and Translucent Ebony Burst. Another standout visual feature of the Supreme is its Mother of Pearl Super Split Block inlays. These ever so classy inlays have been a signature for the Supreme model since its original conception and bring an undeniable element of prestige to the instrument. 

Gibson Les Paul Supreme

New for the updated Supreme line is a stunning mother of pearl inlay design on the headstock. This 1940s inspired design is making its debut on this guitar after recently being found in the Gibson archives. It is a beautiful detail that really elevates the aesthetic of the instrument. The headstock also features stunning keystone tuners which are finished in gold to match the rest of the guitar’s top-notch hardware. In true modern style, the tuners are of the locking variety, another example of this model’s contemporary focus. 

The Les Paul Supreme features the traditional tried and true tone woods that one might expect: a Mahogany body with a Maple top, a Mahogany neck and an Ebony fretboard. However, what makes the Supreme model special are the fine details, designed to modernise the Les Paul design through ergonomic improvements. Notoriously heavy, the solid mahogany of a Les Paul’s body has traditionally been a bit of a back breaker. Not so with the Supreme, which features Gibson’s new Ultra-Modern Weight Relief. Another new appointment that greatly improves the guitar’s playability is the inclusion of a contoured neck heel. This neck heel makes for exceptional upper fret access, ensuring that no note is ever out of reach. 

As one might expect from a top of the line Les Paul, the Supreme features a Slim Taper neck shape and the addition of a compound radius. Slim Taper refers to the sides of the guitar’s neck being tapered back away from the edge of the fretboard, optimising playing comfort and speed. The compound radius of the Supreme’s neck means that it is smaller and rounder at the nut, perfect for chording, and larger and flatter at the neck joint. As the neck gets wider, the fretboard becomes flatter which is extremely advantageous for soloing, particularly for bends. 

Les Paul Supreme sound

The sound of this guitar is pure rock and roll. Featuring a Burstbucker Pro in the neck and a Burstbucker Pro + in the bridge, the Supreme exhibits all the thick, throaty midrange growl that Les Paul’s are famous for. In the bridge position, players can access the raw, fiery tones that have made Les Pauls the first choice for rockstars for generations. In the neck position, the Supreme nails the warm jazzy clean sounds and smooth sweet sustaining leads of a humbucker-loaded Gibson at its best. 

But it wouldn’t be a Supreme without some tricks up its sleeve! This model also includes a very handy coil tap feature, giving players all the tonal versatility that they expect from a contemporary guitar. Coil-tapping gives players easy access to convincing single-coil tones with a simple push/pull mechanism via the guitar’s volume controls. Amazingly, the tone potentiometers on the Supreme also have their own push/pull feature, in this case activating both a phase control and a pure bypass switch. 

Les Paul Supreme

In perhaps the most exciting news of all, Gibson have also announced a brand new addition to the Supreme line, the Les Paul Supreme Exclusive model. This absolutely stunning guitar takes the Supreme to a whole new level and is a stunning modernised tribute to perhaps the coolest Les Paul of them all: the Black Beauty. In 1957, Gibson’s Les Paul Custom took the world by storm with its sleek black finish, gold hardware and triple-humbucker pickup configuration. These guitars became lovingly known as Black Beauties and were adopted in later years by an assortment of famous rockstars. 

The Les Paul Supreme Exclusive recaptures all the seductive charm of the original Black Beauty and brings it into the 21st century with all the contemporary improvements that the Supreme line has to offer. The classy black finish, triple-humbucker configuration and beautiful gold hardware all look right at home on the Supreme Exclusive, melding seamlessly with the Supreme’s signature appointments. Despite its supercharged electronics, the Exclusive is priced the same as the standard Supreme models, with each new guitar coming in at $3,999 USD apiece. 

This model feels like a symbol of the immense amount of knowledge that Gibson have accumulated since their inception. Without losing the essence of what has always made a Les Paul the coolest guitar in the world, Gibson have successfully modernised their flagship instrument with features that dramatically improve its playability and sonic versatility.

Gibson has always been quintessentially rock and roll. From the moment Chuck Berry first duck walked across the stage and into our hearts, Gibson was there. The Les Paul Supreme is a perfect rock and roll machine for the modern age, and like Gibson itself, I’m sure it will stand the test of time for many years to come. 

For more info, visit Australis Music.