Future Classics: Gibson DC Tribute
Published on 29 May 2020
Attitude is what gives your playing life, charisma and feel. It’s what makes a good player into a great player, and it’s what makes audiences and listeners come back for more again and again.
Without it, things get boring pretty quickly.
Billy Gibbons and Tom Waits are two men worth listening to on the matter, and they’ve said things to this effect in the past: ‘The way you do anything is the way you do everything’. That was Tom. This is Billy, taking about a single pickup guitar: ‘If you can play it on that, you can flat-out play it’.
These men know about attitude. It’s a total immersion into the artistic persona.
So, why are we talking about this? Well, we happen to think that there are few guitars on the planet with as much attitude as Gibson’s double cut Juniors and Specials.
A Little Bit o’ History For Ya
It’s true that the Gibson Les Paul Junior was introduced as a ‘student’ model. Now, all conscientious players understand we they are always students, never masters, but what Gibson meant was that you’d start off on the Junior and ‘graduate’ to one of their pricier, fancier Standards or Customs some ways doing the road.
What Gibson didn’t factor into the deal was that a lot of players never felt the need.
The Junior, whether in its original single cut guise or it’s slightly cooler double cut style, was a set neck, solid Mahogany, USA-made Gibson. It may have lacked a carved top and binding, but it had everything a player needed for stupendous tone, including ‘dogear’ P90 pickups that allowed a little more bite to accompany the thick Mahogany tone.
Pretty perfect, in other words.
The Special model, released a little after, increased the scope with two pickups. Either way, this so-called student guitars dispenses with the pleasantries and got down to business, spitting out raw Rock and Blues like no other guitar.
Since the 50s, the Les Paul Junior and Special have made it into the hands of lots of artists who understand the power and attitude of a low-slung Gibson. From The Clash’s Mick Jones and the New York Dolls’ Johnny Thunders to Keith Richards, Bob Marley and Billie Joe Armstrong, there is a large ‘defiance’ streak running through those who adopt a Gibson Junior.
Gibson Tribute DC
So, the Junior and the Special have quite a storied past, but what of today’s models? We’re glad to report that the Junior/Special’s rebellious spirit id alive and well in a pair of Double Cut Tribute models! These are new models, but they thankfully retain much of that anarchic attitude that we love.
So, what has been retained? Most things, to be honest! The slab Mahogany body, the distinctive double cutaway outline, the set neck (Maple now, with is totally fine by us), the wraparound bridge (now a compensated model for better intonation than vintage bridges) and the single P90, or of course, a pair of them if you choose the Special model!
So, what’s different?
A few things. First off one great change has been to move the jack socket for its former place on the front of the guitar to the side of the body. We loudly applaud this move! It’s such a better place from a practical point of view, and makes the guitar look tons better, too! Nice one, Gibson designers!
Next thing is the pickguard. These Tribute designs have a larger pickguard, presumably to allow Gibson to use the same bodies for both Junior and Special models. It’s still a very utilitarian look, but it does more to visually alter the guitar than anything else.
There are four finishes available on both models, and all are of the ‘worn’ variety that most of the more affordable Gibson’s have. There’s a lovely Blue in there along with the more expected Cherry, Brown and Ebony, so there should be a colour to suit all personalities!
That Gibson Feel
Gibson have finished these guitars with nitrocellulose, which is excellent for the feel. The worn finish is very tactile, and the neck has a matte feel for a slinkier touch. The neck’s profile, the trademark Slim Taper you’ll find on lots of SG’s, for example, makes these Tribute DC guitars a pleasure to play. Gibsons always are, regardless of where they lie in the range in terms of cost.
These great guitars are always a breath of fresh air for your playing. You have nothing to hide behind of get stuck with: no whammy bars, no active pickups with batteries, no locking nuts, and on the Junior model, there’s not even a pickup selector! Just a great feeling guitar, an immense Gibson P90 (or two...), and a full dose of Rock n Roll attitude.
This is what guitar playing is all about.
Thanks for reading.