In 2002 Gibson came out with its Voodoo series of guitars. These guitars most unique feature is their swamp ash bodies. Swamp ash is lighter than mahogany and produces a brighter clearer sound. Many people confuse these guitars with Gibsons Gothic series of guitars. Both of the series feature primarily black guitars with ebony fretboards. It has an ebony fingerboard with red pearl Voodoo skull at the 5th fret, black chrome hardware and Black Magic pickups like all the other voodoo guitars. It has the typical two volume and a single master tone knob like on most Explorers and has a 3 way toggle switch pickup selector on the lower horn. The consistancy of swamp ash wood must be checked when selecting a guitar as the tone and quality can vary widely. This guitar has the black "juju" finish which is a thin black top coat with some red rubbed into the grain of the guitar. How much of the red that comes through varies from guitar to guitar. I think the finish is pretty cool looking.
This Explorer is based off the 60s Explorer reissue. This guitar has the 60s Gibson neck profile. The 60s Gibson neck profile is one of their most popular. The upper frets are easy to reach because of the Explorers design. The radical shape actually gives the guitar a perfect balance for playing while standing up. The neck will come to rest at a perfect angle due to the large body acting as a counter weight. Because swamp ash wood is lighter than mahogany this guitar feels a lot lighter than a normal Explorer. One problem with this is that the neck is still mahogany so the heaviest part of the guitar is the neck. The large Explorer body helps counter this weight a bit.
When using a wood like swamp ash for a guitar the quality of the wood greatly effects the tone of the guitar. The guitar can sound bright and lively or dull and dead just from where the wood was selected from. It is a must that you try a swamp ash wood guitar out first before you buy one. A good one like this will have a slightly brighter sound than mahogany. It will have more clarity on the top end. The bright nature of the wood makes the guitar good for down tuning. you can retain your clarity with low tunings with the brightness of the wood. If the quality of wood is not good your guitar will not sound good. The qualify of swamp ash can vary greatly. It will not be as bright and will sound like a dull piece of wood. A good peice of swamp ash will be lighter and sound brighter than a bad piece which will feel heavier and sound duller.
These guitars could have been a lot cooler if it wasnt for all the red/pink stuff. The red in the grain of the wood looks cool but the pink logo and inlays kill the look of the guitar for me, and I am not one to care much about how a guitar looks as opposed to how it sounds. The pickups can be changed so that is not a problem. If I was to choose between this and a Gothic series I would probably pick the Gothic Explorer. With the Gothic Explorer you get a cleaner look and most likely better pickups. The Gothics are made from mahogany so the quality of the tone is going to be more consistent from guitar to guitar also.