Guitar Notes with Brian Baggett

Gibson USA Gets Back to Basics with 2016 Lineup

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Now the Les Paul centennial is over, Brian looks at the latest crop of Gibson guitars.

After a flurry of somewhat controversial 100th Les Paul birthday models in 2015, Gibson is back to business as usual. In this edition of Guitar Notes we’ll take a look at the 2016 line of guitars from Gibson USA.

2016 Gibson USA Guitars at Musician's Friend

2016 Gibson USA guitars have arrived at Musician’s Friend.

Aside from having his name emblazoned on one of the greatest guitar models, Les Paul was an American original. He built and played one of the earliest electric guitar prototypes and was among the first artists to use multi-track recording technology. 2015 marked what would have been Les Paul’s 100th birthday. Held in high regard by fellow musicians, Paul was close friends with many of the great guitarists including Charlie Christian and Chet Atkins,

Gibson USA honored Les with a 2015 lineup of guitars so unique they stirred up controversy among some Gibson fans. In the spirit of this tireless innovator, 2015 features included a large gold Les Paul signature and hologram on the back, zero-fret adjustable nut, G-Force auto tuners, removable pickguards and more. This brewed a lot of controversy but I remember thinking it’s just one year and a very special one. I was pretty sure Gibson wasn’t changing the USA line forever. I was right…


Gibson’s Jim DeCola details the updated features on the 2015 Les Paul Standard that were controversial among some players.

Gibson has already begun shipping 2016 models and I’ve played a few on video at Musician’s Friend. Gone is everything from the 2015 line that made it unique and controversial. Gibson has gone back to standard nuts, tuners, logos and all. Plus, the guitars feel and sound really good.

Some of the features in the 2016 Gibson line include original neck width, Graphtech nuts and weight relieved mahogany on many models. All 2016 model names include a “T” suffix signifying that they have traditional rather than G Force nuts. It’s possible we may see some of these models come out with G Force later in the year. At least players will get a choice!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the 2016 Gibson USA line so far:

2016 Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded T

Gibson 2016 Les Paul Studio Faded T - This one played fabulously and sells for $799!

2016 Gibson Les Paul Standard T and Traditional T

2016 Gibson les Paul Standard T Quilt Top

This Gibson 2016 Les Paul Standard T sports a highly figured quilt top.


This cool Gibson 2016 SG Special T is equipped with mini humbuckers and goes for only $739!


Deluxe top wood and amazing pickups distinguish this Gibson 2016 Les Paul Premium Finish T.

I’m really glad to see Gibson USA going back to the basics for 2016, but in hindsight, I believe those crazy 2015 guitars will turn out to be a fascinating part of Gibson history and won’t be forgotten soon. I suspect the public failed to realize that Gibson wasn’t changing direction forever. Rather the company was intent on celebrating Les Paul’s 100th with an unforgettably innovative line of highly collectable instruments.

Regardless, the party is over and Gibson is back to business of making great guitars with the traditional look and feel that made them icons in the first place. Until next time...Keep playing!

Check out our complete set of 2016 Gibson USA videos here.

Read all Guitar Notes posts here.

Visit or contact Derek White directly at 866-926-1923. He can get you the absolute lowest price on your dream guitar. Connect with Private Reserve Guitars on Facebook and Instagram.

Brian Baggett Private Reserve Bio

Brian Baggett is Video Presenter for Musician’s Friend Private Reserve Guitars. He curates the Private Reserve guitar collection on video, visits guitar factories and works closely with luthiers and signature artists to gain insight into the greatest guitars being built today. He is also a professional guitarist playing every Wednesday and Saturday night at The Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City. A former jazz guitar professor, Brian continues to teach guitar lessons and has a book and DVD titled Keys To Unlocking the Fretboard. Find Brian on Facebook and twitter.

Tags: Electric Guitars Private Reserve Guitars Guitar Notes


# John 2015-10-26 13:25
Thank God by the way the new case is gone!! I now have to replace the 2015 case. That was the worst add in 2015!!!!
# John 2015-10-26 13:22
I will not miss the 2015 because I own one!! ;-0 Except change it is rewarding!! From G-Force to the width of the neck and the pearl inlays... I think Les would have approved...!! Traditionalists by the way may have been hard to convince the earth was round... Musicians should be more open minded... It's just my take on the 2015... Nuff said I going to go play mine...

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