Gibson has officially announced the return of the Les Paul Supreme, one of the most generously appointed electric guitars in to roll off the Nashville-based guitar brand’s production line.
The new range of Les Paul Supremes offers the model with a dual-humbucker configuration in a trio of transparent finishes – Transparent Ebony Burst, Dark Wine Red, Fireburst – and a triple-humbucker version in an Ebony finish that looks like a kissing cousin of the legendary ‘Black Beauty’ Les Paul Custom. All have been given a lick of gloss nitro before leaving the factory.
There had been signs the Supremes were coming back. There were dealer leaks. Brand Ambassador and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash was pictured with one on social media.
Gibson brand president and CEO Cesar Gueikian teased the Supreme on a number of occasions, offering a factory floor view of Supreme’s in production, showcasing the decorative headstock inlay that had been reportedly resurrected from the Gibson archive. He was videoed playing one, too.
Well, now they are here, and the Supremes do not disappoint, offering something different from the Les Paul platform. Unquestionably, they are a luxurious option, and the most expensive non-Custom Shop Les Paul that Gibson sells.
AAA figured maple tops are paired with mahogany bodies that have had some of the beef taken out of them via Gibson’s proprietary Ultra Modern weight relief.
Purists might scoff, but it makes the Supreme easier on the lower back than the typical solid-bodied Les Paul. There are concessions to playability too, with Gibson’s Modern Contoured Heel saving some space for the fretting hand at the top-end of the fingerboard.
The fingerboard is something else, and the 2023 models, as with their predecessors of the early ‘00s, are ebony inlaid with Super Split Block mother-of-pearl inlays. They also have a compound radius for a modern feel.
The necks conform to the time-honoured recipe. They’re carved from mahogany, shaped into a SlimTaper profile. There are 22 medium jumbo frets. The scale length is 24.75”. The 1.695” is exactly what you would expect. And yet, these will still feel quite radical – and they have the capability to sound radical, too.
The dual-humbucker Supremes have a Burstbucker Pro+ at the bridge position, a BurstBucker Pro at the neck. The triple-humbucker model has a Burstbucker Pro+ at the bridge with regular Pros at the middle and neck positions.
The Burstbucker Pro is designed around an Alnico V magnet, and has slightly unbalanced coil windings to add “sweet harmonic complexity and crystalline clarity”. The radical part comes in with the controls.
Each of the pickups has a coil-split, accessed via the volume pot, putting single-coil sounds on the table. Furthermore, the tone pots have push/pull functions for Pure Bypass switching and for phase. The triple-pickup version has a single master tone pot that serves all three pickups, with three volume pots with a push/pull coil-split.
Rounding out the spec we have a aluminium Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop-bar tailpiece. There is a set of locking Grover Keystone tuners on the headstock. Multi-ply binding has been applied to the body and headstock, single-ply on the neck.
The Les Paul Supreme is out now, with all versions priced $3,999. The Ebony triple-humbucker model is available exclusively from Gibson.