Gibson X-Plorer New Century review

  • £1230
Gibson's new X-Plorer: made for metal!

MusicRadar Verdict

Explorers have much more to offer than just a massive rock tone, so you should try one out if you get a chance.


  • +

    The excellent modern vibe and crushing tone.


  • -

    That weight may be too much for some.

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The Explorer has to be one of Gibson's best-loved shapes, and this 2006 New Century option is far removed from the more subdued korina guitars of the late fifties.

Aimed fairly and squarely at the modern metal player, the range also includes a Les Paul, SG and Flying V. The unique point here is that all the New Centuries feature a full-body mirrored faceplate.

The mirror is set flush to the solid mahogany body with a 3mm indent into the wood and the remainder of a standard Explorer's fixtures and fittings somehow look that much cooler as a result.

Pickups are both Gibson humbuckers - namely a Super Ceramic 500T in the bridge and a 496R Hot Ceramic in the neck. Both are open-coiled and we can't help thinking that polished chrome covers would have been just the job considering the livery here.

That classic hockey stick headstock is recognisable the world over, and Gibson has utilised its 1960s thin taper feel to this mahogany neck. A mirrored 'bell' truss rod cover and custom mirror dot inlays complete the picture.


The X-Plorer is easy to play sitting down. However, to rock you must be on your feet and, although the guitar is undeniably weighty, it's perfectly balanced and plays wonderfully.

The sounds are ideal for all rock and metal styles, with the classic mahogany push given just the right abrasive edge by the ceramic pickups.

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.