Gibson embraces the Dark side with new limited-edition Les Paul Studio and SG Standard

Gibson Ltd Edition Dark Les Paul Studio and SG Standard
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has unveiled a limited edition run of two of its most-iconic electric guitar designs, refreshing the SG Standard and Les Paul Studio with Richlite fingerboards, black hardware and blackened inlays and logos.

These Dark edition solidbodies are for the US market and are exclusively available through Musician’s Friend and Guitar Center, and besides the aesthetics have some interesting specs going on.

The SG Standard Dark has a typical SG body of solid mahogany, finished in Cherry gloss, but where Gibson’s mainline US SGs come equipped with a pair of  490R and 490T humbuckers, here we have a Super ’57 at the bridge and a ’57 Classic at the neck, with the mahogany neck glued to the body with at the 19th fret with a long neck tenon. 

It might look modernistic – and perhaps like metal guitars? – but with the pickup choice, the rounded profile mahogany neck, and that long-tenon construction, this SG Dark is deep down something of a traditionalist.

Gibson has switched it up even more dramatically for the Les Paul Studio Dark, with a coil-tap and phase switch augmenting our dual-volume, dual-tone control circuit. 

This puts single-coil tones on the menu. It also sounds like those out-of-phase quack sounds are go, too, expanding the number of sounds we might expect from a Gibson humbuckers. 

As ever, the three-way pickup selector – with a black switch tip, of course, to match the black speed controls and black finish – is mounted on the Studio’s shoulder, with the body left unbound. The Studio is one of the most popular Les Pauls; it’s one of the most affordable, and the Dark edition is keenly priced at $1,599. As is the SG Standard. 

Both guitars are fitted with Grover kidney bean-style tuners and a Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece. They have a 24.75” scale, with 22 medium-jumbo frets on a 12” radius fingerboard. If the idea of Richlite seems iconoclastic, it makes perfect sense. A sustainable alternative to ebony, it performs similarly, hasn’t felt any different under the fingers, and is harder wearing. 

Richlite is not often found on a Gibson guitar but notable exceptions include the Custom Shop Peter Frampton Les Paul Custom’s 2016, though his 2021 “Phenix” Les Paul Custom VOS has an ebony ‘board as per his original.

The limited edition SG and Les Paul Studio Dark are available now and ship in a shoft-shell case. See Guitar Center or Musician’s Friend for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.