effortless—so much so that I had to be
careful not to bend double stops too
sharp. It takes some mental recalibration
to get used to the added neck length, but
the guitar’s playability of the instrument
speeds the process considerably.
The Baritone’s comfort and surprising
ability to handle note separation led me in
very unexpected directions. From down-tuned metal, I moved to bluesy single-note
runs and arpeggiated rock melodies, and
the amount of detail and bounce in every
note was astonishing.
I spent the next hour recording an
impromptu song in the vein of the Cure’s
“Burn,” with its chugging, sixteenth-note
pattern, to see how the LP Studio bari fit
in a band mix. I coaxed a glistening clean
tone out of a Bogner Barcelona 40-watt
combo—which was surprising, consider-
ing the 500T’s hot output—and the guitar
sat beautifully in the multitrack mix. Not
only did it make a great complement to
the two standard electric guitar tracks, it
also lent more definition to the bass track.
The tone was even more expansive when I
switched to the neck pickup. However, the
496R can sound so big that I found myself
wishing for a coil-tap switch. Some of the
best baritone-guitar recordings were made
with single-coil-equipped guitars after all,
and their piano-like qualities—especially
on the low strings—can make a baritone
much more manageable in the studio.
Gibson’s new Les Paul Studio Baritone is
much more than a flash-in-the-pan rock/
metal machine—and it’s more than a
Nashville studio tool, too. It’s a vibrantly
tuneful and wide-ranging guitar that
can work in countless musical settings
thanks to its versatile tones and inviting,
familiar-feeling ergonomics. Though a
coil-tap function would give the well-matched pickups even greater range, careful manipulation of the Volume and Tone
knobs yields a variety of usable sounds.
If you’re looking for tones that are even
more burly and muscular than a standard
Les Paul, this unique instrument can definitely deliver.
you crave the punch of lowered
tunings but aren’t willing to sacrifice
treble and mid response.
you prefer single-coil-fueled
or use a mobile device to watch a
video review of the guitar at