makerOver the years Gibson have released thousands of guitars – often aimed at the professional player these instruments come with a prohibitive price for the beginner. Sure Gibson have the Epiphone brand but often you want a real Gibson decal on your headstock – and for that an Epi won’t do. Gibson have spotted this corner of the market place and have released a number of guitars that fit the bill – The original Melody Maker guitar was introduced by Gibson in 1959 and was based on the philosophy: American-made quality at a price for the beginning player – now in 2006 this mantra still holds true.

Retailing at around $530 the melody maker represents for some a first step into the Gibson family – so importantly – what’s it like? Well the Melody Maker is really a no frills guitar – featuring a single P90 in the bridge position and one tone, one volume control the melody maker is basic. Looks wise it’s pretty generic too – it comes in a range of satin colors but the paint appears fairly thin – the body is also a fair bit slimmer and lighter than a true les paul – but again this isn’t necessarily a compromise and it does make for a playable instrument.

Built at Gibson’s center in Nashville and based on a “Les Paul” styled mahogany body with a cedar set neck the melody maker has a rosewood fingerboard and a 24 ¾” scale length. Hardware is chrome and the guitar has the traditional Gibson stopbar tailpiece and tune-o-matic bridge. Another noticeable feature of the Melody Maker is it’s neck – quite skinny for a Gibson – based on a 60’s style lightweight taper neck – it’s really noticeable and makes for a comfortable instrument. The hardware is all fairly generic stock Gibson parts – so Gibson needed something with a bit of pazzaz to draw in the crowds – that leaves the pickup.

The main attraction to this guitar is the single vintage P90 – and although noisy – it delivers that P90 single coil sound adequately enough – the P90 is renowned for having a high output and a great treble response – put through a reasonable amp and you’ll get a great vintage sounding crunch with enough power to satisfy most – though be a bit careful of feedback as it the P90 is prone to squeal a little if your too close to the amp.

The fact that’ it’s a bit noisy may deter those who want a real metal tone – while it’s fine for blues and a bit of rock – methinks that too much distortion would make the guitar freak out a little too much however playing around with the volume and tone controls a little and you can see that the guitar has a wide tonal palette. While difficult to get a truly clean tone you could see the Melody maker being used for blues and Jazz and with the P90 classic rock tones come without too much stress.

As a beginner guitar the melody maker has a fair bit going for it – the stock P90 outguns most pickups in this price range and with it you can forgive Gibson for producing a guitar that on the cover looks a little light weight – sure it’s not the prettiest guitar in the market place but what it does it does well – has the backup of the Gibson stable – and enough tones to keep the average bedroom player happy.

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