There are a lot of body styles I’ve really fallen in love with – but the Les Paul style is just one of those I that’s always caught my attention.
When I first saw the Nighthawk, however – I was instantly turned off.
This mutation of a perfect guitar shape was both familiar and alien to me, and just different enough from the comfort zone of a Les Paul to piss off my artistic sensibilities.
It almost looked clumsy to me – that skinny waistline … those haphazardly placed pickups of different styles, types and angles. And whats up with that middle pickup?
It was like Picasso was effing with my favorite guitar shape and I didn’t like it.
Of course all of this happened in my brain in about four and a half seconds, and I calmed down a bit, and tried to figure out where Gibson (at the time) was trying to go with this guitar.
They’ve increased the scale length to 25 1/2 from a Les Paul’s standard 24 3/4 , which is more like a Fender, increasing the string tension a bit.
The bridge humbucker has less gain – so there goes your trademark sound – although they did maintain the mahogany body and set neck, thus preserving some of it.
The neck pickup has a warmer sound than the LP style pickup, again – making it more like a Fender.
The bridge is clearly similar to a Fender …
Were they trying to make that perfect guitar … maybe nail that thus far imaginary sweet spot between a Strat (or Tele) and a Les Paul?
Does that sweet spot even exist, or is that more the dream of a marketer trying to take two great things and make an even greater thing by jamming them together?
I love Les Pauls, and I love Strats, but I love them for very different reasons. I love their extremes and the differences between them. To me, the further you get from those extremes toward the middle, the more you get something boring and flat, not something better, because in the process of moving toward that middle, you have to shave off some greatness.
If I haven’t completely killed it for you, here are some links for further investigation:
- Video: Jimmy Jackson’s great demo of this guitar (opens in a convenient little window)
- zZounds Stocks the Nighthawk, there are plenty of specs and images here too.