« Cool reissue »Published on 08/30/11 at 08:54
The Gibson Explorer is a fairly light guitar considering its size and sits reasonably well on the body. However, because of the somewhat large and cumbersome shape, it's not exactly the most ergonomic guitar on the planet. Depending on your physical size, the Explorer may dwarf you so it's not really a guitar I'd recommend for smaller players to use. The upper fret access is reasonably good on these guitars fortunately, so getting to those high notes is not an issue.
Getting a good sound out of this guitar is fairly simple. There's not a whole lot of switching options for players to deal with, so that makes getting good tones out of this guitar fairly simple. It's aimed at the rock/metal player primarily, and the pickups are quite high output, so it's a guitar that is presumed to do best at high gain tones as opposed to jazzy/bluesy clean textures.
The guitar is one that is certainly aimed at players who are looking for a high octane and very crunchy sounding guitar for hard rock or metal styles. My favourite sounds with this guitar are using it for thrash metal tones a la old school Metallica or Megadeth. It's not often that I play those types of music, but when I've tried the Explorer, those sort of sounds seem to come naturally from the guitar. The clean tones are not bad, but the pickups are fairly high output and the vast majority of clean tones that I dialed in sounded fairly overbearing with not a lot of dynamics or subtlety to them.
The drive tones are great for sure. They offer a nice range from classic hard rock tones (think The Scorpions or Van Halen) all the way to crushing modern metal sounds used by many bands of today. The pickups retain lots of definition and clarity at higher gain/high volume settings too, so that's a definite plus. They're not quite as tight as say, EMGs, but it provides a good range of tones from the sane to the insane.
All in all I think the Gibson Explorer '76 is a great reissue of the venerable and pointy classic. It's priced very reasonably at $1,399 new and is fairly well crafted and of course it's made by Gibson in the US of A. They're a great value for money (as many of the cheaper Gibsons are) and if you're looking for a guitar that flat out says no to tradition and just wants to rock, the Gibson Explorer is worth a shot for sure.