Gibson Limited Edition Robot Les Paul Studio
This is the fourth Gibson/Epiphone guitar I have reviewed for you during the last six months, and the third Les Paul.
There wasn’t any real plan that we should review various Les Pauls at various price points. It just turned out that several readers were interested in buying the more economical models and asked us to review them. Then I wanted to try to the new self-tuning Robot model out, and was able to talk the folks over at Sweetwater into it.
So, let me give you my impressions of this guitar, then some comparative information with the others, and then my final thoughts.
First, it came in a case.
Each of the Epiphone models we reviewed earlier in the year came in a big angled cardboard box.
This one comes in a velvet-lined Gibson hard shell case. Very nice.
Next, it was totally out of tune. The others were close to being in tune, but this one was not even close.
Now, if you don’t know why they call it the “Robot” Les Paul, here’s why: it tunes itself.
So, not wanting to read the directions, I pulled the farthest tone knob up, a bunch of lights on that knob started flashing, and I started strumming the strings to active the self-tuning system.
It became very clear why they call it the Robot. All six strings tune themselves simultaneously, making funny little whirring noises just like you would expect from a….Robot.
After about 30 seconds, it was totally in tune.
Small problems in intonation drive me crazy. I am the sort of person that thinks every new guitar should be immediately brought to a guitar tech for adjustment and setup. When I say it was totally in tune, it was to my ear very solid, and I am picky about that sort of thing.
So then I played it for a while. And I started to think “So what?” So what if it tunes itself? I can tune a guitar just fine.
But then after a while of playing it, as new guitars with new strings do, it got out of tune. And I just pulled the knob and strummed until it stopped blinking and whirring. It was back to dead-on with no drama in a few seconds. I could tell from looking at the blinking knob that the G string had been a little off, but now it was fine. Then I wasn’t thinking “So what?” anymore. I was thinking more “I could get used to this.”
For a live situation, if you don’t have someone tuning your guitars and handing you a new one every three songs, this could be a really great feature. Plus you can tune more often, because it is so quick tuning all six strings at once, instead of one by one. And you don’t even need to know which string is out of tune.
But that’s not all folks. The Robot Les Paul not only tunes itself to standard tuning. It also tunes to Open G, Drop D, DADGAD, Open E, etc.
To test this, I pulled the knob and moved it to the G and strummed a while, which changes the guitar to Open G tuning. I went online and found some Rolling Stones tabs and within minutes I was playing Brown Sugar and Honkey Tonk Woman, having a great time. This feature I think is the most enticing. I often want to play in alternate tunings, but the hassle of retuning makes me put it off to long practice sessions. And being so busy with the site these days, I haven’t had a lot of those.
Comparison to Other Les Paul Models
This guitar is a Les Paul Studio. I have often wondered what the differences are between all the various Les Paul models. So I read the excellent Wikipedia entry on the topic. It is really a long article, and there are many many Les Pauls. I couldn’t begin to explain it here. But I did learn this: the Les Paul “Studio” is for the studio musician, and as such it doesn’t have the cosmetic enhancements that the “stage” musician wants. So the chief difference seems to be that there is no binding around the edge of the body. It is all one finish.
How does this guitar compare to the Epiphone Les Pauls I reviewed earlier? Well, being a $3999 MSRP “real” Gibson Les Paul, it is better of course. But I was surprised by the comparative feel of it.
If you remember, we tested out an Epiphone Les Paul Studio ($349) and an Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II ($699) in the August edition of Guitar Tricks News. I was pleasantly surprised by the low action of the Ultra II. It had a very delicate feel that made me want to play like Carlos Santana (carefully) rather than Angus Young (aggressively).
I found this Robot Les Paul Studio to be more in the Angus Young vein. It has a nice rock and roll feel that makes me want to take chances with some aggressive playing. I wish I had the two guitars together, because I think the action is higher on this guitar than the Epiphone Ultra II, thus giving it that less delicate feel.
I love the Les Paul sustain and the look and weight of the guitar on a strap. I am sold on this Robot feature. It comes at a high premium, but if you play live on a regular basis, or share an interest in alternate tunings, it would be worth the expense.
I really enjoyed getting my hands on this guitar. I hope this review has been useful to you. Be sure to go to sweetwater.com and register to win:
Model: Robot Les Paul Studio
Top Species: Maple
Back Species: Mahogany
Fingerboard Species: Ebony
Scale Length: 24 3/4"
Number of Frets: 22
Width at 12th Fret: 2.260"
Inlays: White Acrylic Trapezoid
Fingerboard Binding: White
Neck Pickup: 490R
Bridge Pickup: 498T
Control Pocket Cover: Smoked Acrylic Backplate, Black Switchplate
Toggle Switch: White
Toggle Switch Washer: White HS Silver
Other Electronics: Charger & Power Plug
Neck Species: Mahogany
Profile: LP5M Neck with Classic Drilling, Studio Tongue
Peghead Pitch: 17
Nut: Corian, Pre-radiused
Nut Width: 1.695
Thickness at 1st Fret: 0.818"
Thickness at 12th Fret: 0.963"
Heel Length: 5/8"
Neck Joint Location: 16th Fret
Head Inlay: Holly, Gibson
Head Binding: White
Truss Rod: Nickel plated truss rod nut
Truss Rod Cover: B/W Bell
Hardware Color: Chrome
Plating Finish: Chrome
Knobs: 1 Powertune Master Control Knob, 3 Blk Tophats
Tuners: Powertune Satin Nickel
Strap Buttons: Butt/Rim
Jack: Neutrik on Rim
Jack Plate: None