Epiphone Nighthawk Custom Reissue Guitar

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Epiphone Nighthawk Custom Reissue
Epiphone Nighthawk Custom Reissue
Epiphone Nighthawk Custom Reissue - Click to Enlarge

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:

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Guitar-Muse Staff

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There are 5 comments

  1. Avatar

    Obviously you didn’t read the many reviews that I found in favor of the Nighthawk reissue. Just got mine delivered and have to say my first impression is that it’s a beauty. I got the trans amber finish. The smaller body didn’t bother me; and I have a vintage Custom Les Paul. Did some preliminary tests on the pickup configurations in clean mode. I was impressed that every configuration setting, including the split coil, was quite distinguishable. Man, I found a setting, the neck humbuckers and center single coil, tone set at 4, that gave me a great jazz tone something like Pat Martino sound. Going to now testing the guitar and it various settings on my Cyber Twin, laney and Delta blue amps. For the looks and craftsmanship, this guitar is more than worth the $400.

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  2. Avatar

    It is stodgy,fear-of-change, thinking like this that would have us all still playing big-band archtops.As artists, we are obligated to be more open-minded regarding trivia like how an instruments looks. Consider the Parker line, Dean and various struggling innovators in America. Let’s encourage experimentation and tolerance, especially at the mid-price level. Its win-win. Stan’s comments, on the other hand , were everything a good review should be.He focused on the subject and gave readers a good idea of what it might be like to own it. TY 2 Stan.

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  3. Avatar

    Thanks for your comments, guys – Were you thinking this was a review?
    It’s just an editorial piece – one guys opinion. We try to cover all sides of the guitar topic, including looks, and various opinions. That’s why this was not posted in the “Product Reviews” Section. We’ve definitely given innovation plenty of attention on this site, stodgy has its place too 😉

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  4. Avatar

    [A] Smitch: You’re right — it is kinda ugly.
    [B] Wondering if the body is chambered? I think earlier (Gibson) ones were — which would make it pretty different animal from either a Les Paul or Strat (so that’s good). I don’t see this as being a rock monster, that’s for sure.
    [C] The old Gibson Nighthawks had a varitone switch. One can only guess the variety of pickups here are supposed to produce some of that same array of tones (like I said, it’s only a guess).
    [D] @KevinOnEarth: I know they’re not right for everything, but I LOVE big band archtops. I realize you weren’t bashing. I’m just saying, those were the height of craftsmanship–though not too great for playing blues.

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    1. Avatar

      I just listened to the Jimmy Jackson demo. The thing sounds great. Plenty of muscle. Just goes to show … something.

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