50s Rounded Neck Profile
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles employed on the Gibson models of today. The more traditional 50s neck profile - found on the Les Paul Studio - is the thicker, rounder profile, emulating the neck shapes of the iconic 1958 and 1959 Les Paul Standards. The neck is machined in Gibson's rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. But once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest - including the final sanding - is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
Gibson's 490R and 498T Pickups
The mid to late 1960s saw the emergence of a very different type of music coming from the clubs of England. This new genre's players were demanding more powerful amplifiers with increased volume outputs to satisfy their sonic explorations. This led to a call for a more versatile pickup, and Gibson answered the call with the 490T and 490R pickups (T for treble, and R for rhythm), humbuckers with the tonal characteristics of an original PAF, but with a slight increase in upper mid-range response. The Gibson 498T bridge pickup is the 490's ideal complement. Taking the 490 one step further, the 498 swaps the Alnico II magnet to an Alnico V, thus making it slightly hotter with emphasis on mid-ranges and highs. The pole pieces on the 498T are also aligned a little further apart to accommodate the spacing of the strings at the bridge, which is different than the spacing of the strings at the neck.
22-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
Both rosewood and ebony have always graced the fingerboards of the world's finest stringed instruments, including many of today's Gibsons. The fingerboards on Gibson's Les Paul Studios are constructed from the highest grade rosewood and ebony on the planet. Both are personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before they enter the factories to be fitted onto the neck of the Les Paul Studio. The resilience of these dense and durable woods makes these fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates "dead" or "choked out" notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses. The ebony fingerboard is only available on the Les Paul Studios in Classic White or Alpine White. The Rosewood fingerboard is only available on the Studios in Ebony, Wine Red, and Fireburst.
Mahogany Back and Maple Top
There isn't anything more critical than the marriage of the Les Paul's mahogany back with a maple cap, as well as the regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. These onsite inspectors also ensure that the plain maple comes from corporations adhering to the forest-saving standards of the Rainforest Alliance, of which Gibson is a proud member and sponsor. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This ensures all woods are dried to a level of - equilibrium, where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and controls the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to reducing the weight. It also improves the woods machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
There's something about playing a guitar with perfect tone, balance, and weight. One of the ways the expert craftsmen at Gibson USA achieve this equilibrium is by carving carefully mapped-out chambers in the Les Paul's solid mahogany back using a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) router before the maple top is glued on. The positioning of the routes was established after careful examination of the resonant characteristics of the Les Paul. Gibson approached this process with the awareness that every change to the formula would have repercussions on the instrument's sound. So, in addition to relieving the stress on a player's back and shoulder, these lighter Gibson guitars also enhance the tone palette in a manner unique only to these guitars. The results are comfortable, lightweight guitars that are acoustically louder, with increased sustain and resonance.