Gear Reviews

Check out this month’s issue of Classic Drummer Magazine!

It is Volume 12, Issue 1.  It has Doane Perry, drummer for Jethro Tull on the cover.  Clifford Hughes’s article is located at the very back pages of the magazine.

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By: Clifford Hughes

So far, I have reviewed some gear that I thought was affordable for the average player out there. And those items are great for anybody, but today I want to review an upper end guitar for those that like the finer things.

Today I’m going to tell you about the Gibson Custom Shop 1959 Les Paul Reissue Gloss model. I had wanted one of these for the longest time. I had a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Standard with special order big Humbucking pickups I had owned for awhile. I was starting to finally feel the need to let that one go, so I traded it in to my favorite Guitar Center store in Tulsa, OK. I originally ordered a Gibson Les Paul Standard with AAA maple top in heritage cherry sunburst, but it was unavailable at the time, so I ordered the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50’s neck model. Now this guitar was ok, but there was a black spot in the wood by the cutaway that bothered me. Also, I found out Gibson was chambering the bodies to make the guitar lighter. I am a traditionalist and wanted my Les Paul to be like they used to make them. So in order to do that, I stepped up and ordered the Custom Shop model. At that time, this guitar was selling for $5,499.00. Lucky thing for me, Guitar Center had a 10% coupon at the time, and I took full advantage of that. Ironically, Gibson raised the price by $500.00 two weeks later after I had purchased mine, to $5,999.00. Great timing for me.

I ordered the guitar on 06/27/08, and drove to Tulsa on 07/10/08 to pick it up. Now the guys at Guitar Center know that I want to be the first one to open the box of a new guitar purchase, so as I pulled the staples loose and slid the case out of the packing box, my heart was racing, and I was praying this guitar would have that perfect flame maple top. As I opened the brown vintage style Les Paul case with pink lining, I was stunned as to how amazing this guitar looked. I was in heaven!

God answered my prayer! Even the Guitar Center sales guys were in awe of this guitar. I got the washed cherry finish in gloss, which means it’s finished in a glossy, shiny finish, instead of a dull or flat finish like the VOS (Vintage Old Stock) finish is. This guitar had a stunning flame maple top. The mahogany had a very nice tight grain on the back and neck. The rosewood fretboard had a beautiful rich color. The case is right out of the fifties with vintage brown covering and a cool pink lining inside. This guitar weighed 9.5 lbs., compared to 7.5 lbs. the regular Les Paul Standard I traded back in for this one.

I did not personally want a chambered body. I wanted this guitar to be every bit like the old original ones, and with the ‘59, you get it hands down. Standing side by side, this ‘59 Les Paul blew away the regular cherry sunburst that I had. You will truly appreciate the hands on craftsmanship of a Custom Shop made guitar verses a standard production model guitar.

The neck is the bigger fifties style I like. The hardware was very nice and done in nickel. The binding has an aged look that gives it that vintage look. The pickups in this guitar are truly amazing. They are a Burstbucker 1 (rhythm) and Burstbucker 2 (treble). These are loud and clean. Gibson uses the old style CTS pots and bumblebee capacitors. An aluminum stop bar tailpiece for vintage sustain, original style toggle switch washer and jack plate. Vintage tulip style tuners, carved maple top, solid mahogany back, one piece mahogany neck with original style truss rod routing and 1959 rounded neck. 22 fret rosewood fretboard with historically accurate trapezoid inlays.

If you can swing it, you absolutely have to get one. When you open that case for the first time and look in, you will know what I’m talking about. You definitely get what you pay for here. Out of 16 guitars I own, this one is my prized possession!

Clifford Hughes

Music Charts Magazine

Fender Super Champ XD & X2

15W 1×10 Tube Guitar Combo Amp

By Clifford Hughes


Today I want to share with you musicians out there, a very cool amp. I bought the Fender Super Champ XD in 2009. Back then they were selling for around $299.99.

Super Champ XD


I was able to get a nice discount at my favorite Guitar Center store in Tulsa, OK. The current X2 model is priced around $349.99 and has now added computer connectivity.

This amp is the perfect size to pack around with you. And the plus for me was that it is a tube amp. And it also has digital signal processing. There are 16 amplifier voice settings. This allows you to dial in that favorite amp sound you want. There is a line out which is great for recording or running through a P.A.. The reverb on this amp sounds great. The amp has the old black face style.

Now here is my secret to making this amp come alive! First, I took out the stock Fender Special Design Speaker, and replaced it with an Eminence Ragin Cajun 10” speaker. This mod made the amp so much louder. I even weighed the two speakers. The stock speaker did not even register on my digital scales. The Eminence speaker weighed in at around 6 lbs. What a difference! Next I replaced the power tubes with Ruby 6v6 matched tubes. Later I tried JJ 6v6 matched power tubes, and I favored the sound of those the best. I then did some experimenting with the preamp tube.

Fender Super Champ X2

I first used the Tungsol 12AX7. Then later I tried the Electro-Harmonix 12AX7, and this was the one I liked the most. This beast has come alive, and it will rock! The perfect accessory for this amp other than buying the optional footswitch, and a cover, is the On Stage Stands model RS 7000 tiltback amp stand. This gets the amp up where you can hear it nicely, and it looks very professional. I also had my amp tech set the bias for these mods. Bob, at Euro Tubes, sells the complete line of JJ tubes, and he knows the proper bias to set these up by.

All in all, this is one of the most versatile amps I have ever plugged into. And it won’t strain your back lifting it like my Fender Twin Reverb does.

Fender backs this amp with a five year transferable limited warranty. Check it out!

Clifford Hughes –

Music Charts Magazine