GEAR EXPO SUMMER 2022: Gibson might seem relatively absent in the electric and acoustic categories this year, but it’s doing overtime with its signature guitar range. Adam Jones, Jerry Cantrell, Joan Jett, Dave Mustaine, B.B. King and even Mana’s Sergio Vallìn have received new signature designs from the big G in 2022.
However, it is perhaps Fender that gets the scoop with its replica of Nile Rodgers iconic and monstrously successful Hitmaker Strat.
Elsewhere, there’s a huge variety of weird and wonderful stuff on offer thanks to the combined imaginations of artists and luthiers. From no-nonsense metal riff machines, to rotating pickups and note-perfect vintage emulations, take a look at the gear due to hit the shelves this year.
Manson Guitar Works META Series MBM-2
The Manson/Matt Bellamy designed and Cort-manufactured META Series has been expanded and tweaked to more closely represent the guitars favoured by the Muse man.
This MBM-2 adds a new P-90-equipped option, here paired with a humbucker on the newly-contoured basswood body. In addition, there’s a Hard Canadian maple neck (with a soft V profile) and an Indian laurel fretboard and locking machine heads. There’s also a kill button on the upper horn for Bellamy-esque fun.
Gibson Lzzy Hale Signature Explorerbird
Longtime Explorer player and Gibson brand ambassador Lzzy Hale has come up with this combo of Explorer body and neck with a non-reverse Firebird headstock.
It’s finished in Cardinal Red nitrocellulose lacquer and underneath you’ll find a mahogany body paired with a SlimTaper mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. There’s also a pair of 70s Rocker humbuckers, plus some eye-catching gold hardware.
Ernie Ball Music Man Kaizen
Given Tosin Abasi’s impressive reputation as a forward-thinking guitar designer with his own Abasi Concepts line, it’s perhaps better to think of the Kaizen as less of a traditional signature and more of a collaboration between builders.
The seven-string offset double-cutaway offers a 24.75” to 25.5” Infinity Radius neck, Steinberger Gearless locking tuners, heat-treated humbuckers on an ultra-lightweight alder body, roasted maple neck and wedge-shaped ebony fingerboard.
Ibanez Tom Quayle TQMS1-CTB
The UK fusion guitarist gets his second signature, in the form of the T-style TQMS1-CTB. It’s an alder body build, with a maple top and a roasted maple neck with a rosewood fretboard.
Quayle has opted to keep the pickup pairing of a Seymour Duncan Magic Touch-mini humbucker and Alnico II Pro Custom bridge single-coil. There’s also a Gotoh T1802 bridge and locking tuners onboard, too. It’s all finished in Celeste Blue with a tortoiseshell pick guard.
Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One
Corgan’s third collaboration with Reverend has produced a signature model that is designed to handle the heaviest parts of the Pumpkins’ catalogue.
As such, it retains the winning offset shape of its predecessor the BC-1, but features an alder body, roasted maple neck, aluminium pickguard, locking tuners and two Railhammer Z-One pickups.
Charvel Sean Long Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH HT M
£1,069 / $1,199
If Sean Long’s signature looks like a black canvas that’s very much intentional. The guitarist loves to write on his instruments and his signature offers an inspirational minimalist starting point, in more ways than one.
It’s a rock-solid, string-thru body hardtail build, with Charvel locking tuners, a super speedy compound radius neck, Luminlay side dots and a pair of EMG 66 and 57 pickups, with the latter finished in a distinctive neon yellow. A no-nonsense platform for greatness.
Epiphone Jerry Cantrell ‘Wino’ Les Paul Custom
£749 / $849
Epiphone’s more affordable take on the Cantrell’s Murphy Lab signature drops a few of features (not the least the dual output and Fishman Powerbridge piezo).
However, it nails the aesthetic of Dark Wine Red and gold hardware and the tones available from the dual humbucker setup (a 98T Pro in the bridge and an Alnico Classic Pro in the neck) should do a snarling job, nonetheless.
Suhr Pete Thorn Signature Standard HSS
Session supremo and YouTube guitar authority Pete Thorn returns with his second Suhr signature, this time adding an HSS pickup configuration option.
At it’s core is a two-piece alder body, with a ‘soft-V to C’ roasted maple neck and ebony 10"-14" compound radius fingerboard. There’s a signature Thornbucker II and a pair of V63 single-coils, plus a Wilkinson WVS-130 tremolo bridge and locking saddles. A pro setup from a pro player.
Wild Customs Billy F Gibbons Special Standard Edition
£5,216 / $6,882
The Standard Edition of Wild Customs’ Gibbons signature shaves about $3,000 off the original $9,000 Artist Edition. However, it retains the innovative Gyrock system, which mounts three pickups on a rotating holder – you simply roll it to change pickup. Meanwhile, the holders can be easily swapped and out and replaced with other sets.
It comes with six pickups, including Seymour Duncan Antiquity Strat Texas Hot, Lipstick Tube, Red Devil BFG signature and Pearly Gates BFG signature, plus Wild Customs own Grizzly humbucker and Jalapeño P90. It’s all mounted on an alder body, with a Canadian maple neck and Pau ferro fretboard.
Gibson Adam Jones Les Paul Standard
Tool guitarist Adam Jones was honoured with a limited edition Gibson Custom Shop interpretation of his Silverburst 1979 Les Paul last year. However, at $5,999 it was out of reach of many fans and not least because it quickly sold out.
Now the instrument has entered Gibson’s main USA line and while still pricey, seems much more attainable. As you’d expect from an LP, it’s a solid mahogany build with a maple top and mahogany neck, with a ‘70s-style rounded profile. However, there’s an ebony fingerboard, hand-wired electronics and a unique pickup pairing of a DC High-Gain Humbucker and a BurstBucker 1 – ideal for chunky Tool-like tones.
Jackson Pro Series Signature Jeff Loomis Soloist SL7
£1,299 / $1,699
Loomis’ new signature seven-string is a minimalist beast that looks like it can chew through tour dates at a rate of knots.
The solid basswood body is topped with sandblasted ash, while the three-piece maple neck is graphite reinforced and completed with a 12”-16” compound radius ebony fingerboard.
It’s loaded with a pair of Loomis’ signature Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups, alongside a Floyd Rose 1500 vibrato, die-cast tuners and Luminlay side dots. A none-more-black road warrior.
Gibson Custom B.B. King Lucille Legacy
The Gibson Custom Shop hails the King, with this new Lucille model. Alongside the fancy gold hardware and luxurious mother of pearl inlays, there’s a pair of Gibson Custombuckers, Varitone switch and a nitrocellulose-finished figured maple/poplar construction.
The electronics are quite special, too, with 500K CTS Audio-Taper Potentiometers, paper in oil Bumblebee capacitors and a hand-wired harness.
Jake E Lee Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS HT RW
£1,369 / $1,299
This Jake E Lee is exciting for two reasons. Firstly, it oozes classic Charvel cool, with a slick S-style alder body, maple neck and speedy 12”-16” compound radius rosewood fretboard.
Secondly, we love the fact that it incorporates both DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups on the same model, with a pair of the former’s SDS-1 DP111 single-coils in the middle/neck and the latter’s JB Humbucker at the bridge.
It’s all strung together with a five-way selector and a single volume control – a utilitarian system that still offers flexibility.
Gibson Custom Shop Sergio Vallìn 1955 Les Paul Gold Top
Yes, it’s another eye-watering-ly expensive Gibson Custom Shop signature, but Maná guitarist Sergio Vallìn’s 1955 Les Paul Gold Top is here because, well, it’s stunning.
It’s loaded with a pickup pairing of Custombucker humbucker at the bridge and P-90 at the neck and equipped with a Bigsby B7 vibrato. It’s been finished in Gibson’s Murphy Lab for a beautiful aged look. One for the ‘one day, maybe’ list.
Fender Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster
According to Fender, the value of the song’s produced by Nile Rodger’s Hitmaker Strat exceeds $2 billion. Now the production line model of Rodgers’ legendary six-string is hitting shelves.
It’s an alder body in a slightly compact 1960 silhouette, with a chrome-plated brass pick guard, a ’59 profile neck and a set of custom single-coils. Tuning stability comes via the hardtail bridge and Sperzel locking tuners. It all comes in a hardshell case – to keep your Hit’ protected.
Gibson Dave Mustaine Flying V EXP
Combining Gibson’s iconic Flying V with an Explorer headstock, Gibson’s first Mustaine signature model is a high spec thrash machine.
It’s loaded with a pair of Mustaine’s signature Seymour Duncan Thrash Factor humbuckers, Grover Mini-Rotomatic tuners and a solid hardtail bridge. The neck is interesting, too, stretching to a longer 25.5” scale and swapping in a compound radius ebony fingerboard for the traditional 12” radius.
Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special
£489 / $549
This signature model from Joan Jett is based on the rock vet’s well-worn Melody Maker and represents great value, bringing in a few premium components to the affordable Epiphone range.
There’s a single Powerhammer Pro humbucker in the bridge, controlled by a CTS volume pot and an on/off toggle switch, plus a GraphTech nut and a Switchcraft output jack mounted on the pick guard. The body is mahogany but it’s a relatively lightweight build. All in all, an appealing blend of simplicity and quality hardware at an equally attractive price point.
ESP LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte Camo
The Metallica rhythm god’s Snakebyte ESP and LTD signature models have been given an overhaul for 2022 with a new camo finish. The LTD version still costs a significant chunk of change, though.
However, it’s an all-mahogany body and neck construction, with a Macassar ebony ‘board. There’s also a Tone Pros locking TOM bridge and it comes installed with Hetfield’s own signature EMG JH humbucker set.
Gibson Custom Shop Noel Gallagher signature ES-355
Noel Gallagher recently posted a Gibson-branded teaser clip on Instagram. The video featured a montage of stills of Gallagher with his favoured ES-355, alongside the text “August 2022…” The accompanying hashtags read: #No1 #GibsonCustom #ComingSoon – all but confirming the existence of a forthcoming signature model.
Details are otherwise sparse, but it seems we won’t have long to wait. In the meantime, you might want to read about that (and how the Gibson ES-355 that broke up Oasis sold for £325,000) below...