Saturday, April 2, 2011

1983 Gibson Challenger

Here we have one of Gibson's early 80s experiments, the Challenger.  From a distance, it looks to be yet another Les Paul, but the Challenger has a very un-Gibson-like bolt-on maple/rosewood neck, not to mention an extremely 80s retro-futuristic "Robot Gray" finish.

The amp here is a Gregory Bass 60A, a low watt mini-stack from what was allegedly a rather small New Jersey-based company in the 50s and 60s.  There is what looks to be an exhaustive look at the Gregory line here, although all you really need to know about this one is that it sounds awesome and looks spiffy, once again proving my theory that the best guitar amps are all really failed attempts at making a decent bass amp.

Back to the Challenger - it's hard to see with the black pickguard/black pickup configuration, but the original humbucker has been replaced with a very fine and pricey Bartolini.  The clean sounds are amazing, and even with gobs of distortion piled on, the pickup retains its punchy character. The little switch seems to act as a coil tap, which gives you a few more tonal options to play with on this single-pickup guitar.  Overall, you could do much, much worse from the era of spanex, leg warmers, and neon.