Lotus Les Paul Design Reviews 5

I bought the guitar new at a small music shop in Seattle for around $300. I tried the guitar out in the store on a lark -- I wasn't really in the market for a new guitar. But I liked the way the guitar felt, and resonated against my stomach when strumming it, unamplified. When I plugged it in, I liked what I heard. So I bought it.

The Lotus Les Paul is a heavy guitar (solid block of ash). It is heavier than some Gibsons I've tried out at stores, definitely heavier chunk of wood than Epi Les Pauls. It also is a heavy sounding guitar. On this guitar you can achieve that classic Les Paul sound rather easily. The Lotus Les Paul copy is designed like a regular Gibson: two humbuckers, wired basically like a Gibson also. With both pickups on, you can get a nice combination of snarl and bluesy tones. The pickups mix real nicely. The neck pickup is mellow and bassy, the bridge pickup is more snarly and roars real nicely through a good amp. The pickups that come standard with it are pretty good. They have high output. I haven't changed mine out for anything else -- the original pickups on mine are good enough. There's plenty of bass response, a round midrange tone, and the trebles are sweet sounding. Overall, a good, bluesy rock tone. Not a lot of highs if you're really into treble. You want treble, get a Fender. This is primarily a bluesy rock guitar. It also is a very musical guitar, when played clean -- there is a nice, fluid sparkle to the sound. The Lotus has heavier bridge supports than a Gibson. I think this, and the wood used, helps with the great sustain the guitar has. The stock tuners are also pretty good.

There are three things that I didn't like about the guitar: the set-up was bad from the factory, i.e. I had to lower some high frets, the nut was set too high, etc. -- but then, most guitars in stores have crummy set-ups. I had to mess a bit with the bridge and tailpiece. The tailpiece is set very close to the bridge. This gives plenty of sustain, but will also cause string breakage because of the high angle of attack. So I've had to raise the tailpiece about halfway. It reduced string breakage drasticaly, and didn't seem to cut sustain noticeably. Adjusting the neck truss rod was definitely an adventure. Good luck finding a nut driver that's the right size, which also will fit inside the small space allowed around the end of the rod. I found a metric nut driver that worked, but had to file the sides of the truss access hole to get it to fit in..... not fun.

The Lotus Les Paul copy is built like a tank. Some of the knobs needed tightening, either came a bit loose from the factory, or got that way in the store. The wiring inside looks adequate -- nothing's come unsoldered or anything. The woodwork is solid, and it looks routed very well -- they didn't take out more wood than needed. I've had mine for 7 years and the only thing that's broken on it is strings.

For the money, this guitar is probably better than the real thing. $300 vs. $2000 to $3000, that's quite a difference in price. Gibsons are nice guitars, but I'm more into the tone than the name, especially when the name has a $2000 price tag attached to it. But check the set-up if you buy one of these guitars, and be prepared to do a little work on it to get it to play well -- or take it to a tech or guitar shop to have the guitar set up well.

Chris C. rated this unit 5 on 2003-05-22.

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