Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gibson US-1

Lately we've been on a 1950's nostalgia trip - a time of poodle skirts and hairdos slicked down with pomade.  Today, just for a change of pace, let's visit the 80's - time of poodle-like hairdos held together with plenty of aquanet.  Back then, the "Superstrat" was the very latest craze, a tricked-out amalgam of traditional Fender-style curves and shred-geek gizmos that upstart companies like Kramer and Charvel made their name on.  Even Gibson got in on the act, as you can see by this 1988 US-1. 

As you can see, this guitar has the single-single-humbucker configuration that defined a "Superstrat," along with the near-ubiquitous Floyd-style tremolo.  The pickups have individual on-off toggles instead of a three-way switch, and the finish and binding straddle the line between the guady neon era and something a little classier.  What you don't see is the "Chromyte" that Gibson used as a lightweight filler in the chambered body.  You and I would know it by a different name - balsa wood!  Odd as it sounds, it actually works pretty well, adding some air to the bright, spiky-sounding pickups.

Design-wise, the headstock was obviously borrowed from the Explorer, with the Grover tuners and locking nut checking off the last boxes on the shredder checklist.  Even though Gibson has long since passed through it's midlife crisis and now mainly sticks to the classic designs of old, this axe serves as a neat relic of it's day and a great deal for anyone looking for an American-made Gibson that you can do dive-bombs on.