« Stripped down Explorer... oh yeah »Published on 10/24/11 at 18:34
The design of the guitar is fairly ergonomic considering the rather bulky shape that the Explorer offers in general. I find them heavier than the Flying Vs and sometimes a bit more unwieldy to hold/play for longer periods of time. However, as far as pointy guitars go, this one isn't as bad as some of the guitars I've seen for access around the guitar. The weight is usually reasonable and the upper fret access is decent enough to get right to the 22nd fret. Also, the satin finish all over the guitar makes it really easy to glide up and down the fretboard.
Getting a good tone out of this guitar is pretty simple. It's not designed with sheer versatility in mind, and the pickups are definitely on the hotter side, so I'd really say the guitar is meant for rock or metal styles primarily. It sounds pretty solid though and definitely like a Gibson should. There is a wonderful low-midrange heft in the tone that is classic Gibson territory here, and it sounds great through a variety of different rigs.
I've tried the guitar through various amps and have concluded that it seems to sound better for higher gain stuff as a general rule. It works really well for sludgier stuff like High on Fire or Spiritual Beggars where you need a thick and meaty sound, or even for tighter more modern rock or metal tones. The clean tones aren't bad either but the pickups are a bit too hot in output to sound great clean, at least for my tastes. It's definitely a guitar that's designed with a vintage voiced high octane vibe in mind. The nice thing is that it's not overly compressed like many modern metal guitars... the pickups still allow a really nice airy and open sounding quality to come through in the mix.
All in all I think the Gibson Faded Explorer is a great guitar for someone looking for a really cool looking and great sounding guitar for rock or metal styles. The faded finish makes it really easy to play, the tones are great for hard rock or metal and the price (usually around $500-$600 used) is quite attractive for a USA made Gibbo. Definitely worth a look if you can try one!