What’s in a name? When it comes to Gibson’s Raw Power Series, exactly what it declares: two of the world’s most iconic electric guitar designs, stripped of superfluous frills and ready to roar. Inspired by the popular but short-lived Raw Power Les Paul of 2000-2001, the newly revitalized series of 2009 includes both the Les Paul Studio Raw Power and SG Raw Power, both in the dressed-down styling and meaty performance package that so many players loved in the original release, but with notable added features to update the theme.
Down to Business
The new Raw Power guitars follow the no-nonsense ethos of Gibson’s popular Studio series, and their down-to-business looks are packed with performance features that the hard-gigging modern musician will appreciate. These are grab’n’go workhorse guitars for tone-conscious rock and blues artists, and they wear their attitude on their sleeves. Both the Les Paul Studio Raw Power and SG Raw Power feature unbound solid maple bodies, with a traditional carved top on the former. This sturdy tonewood offers a clear, well-defined sonic response, as well as looking great with minimal cosmetic treatment. Their solid mahogany necks are topped with unbound maple fretboards, which are dressed with simple dot position markers, and graced with a traditional trapezoid marker at the 12th fret.
Simple, Yet Sizzling
None of this simplicity means that the Raw Power guitars suffer cosmetically, however, and just like the original Raw Power Les Paul — and the Les Paul Studio — these instruments are destined to be admired for their visual purity as well as for their power and tone. A Natural Satin finish denotes the cornerstone of the series (with smoky acrylic pickguard to enhance the natural elements in these guitars’ tops), but both models are also available in a range of finish options, including Satin Gold, Satin Yellow, Satin White, Satin Blue/Platinum, Satin Trans Ebony, Satin Aquamarine, and Gloss Platinum. Furthermore, the Les Paul Studio Raw Power is available in either chrome or gold-plated hardware.
Ready to Rock
The advanced electronics on the 2009 Raw Power models speak volumes about their intentions. A pair of 57 Classic humbucking pickups offer a broad appeal for a wide range of playing styles. One of Gibson’s most popular pickups of all time, the 57 Classics employ Alnico II magnets, vintage enamel coated wire, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers and vintage-style, two-conductor, braided wiring, just like the legendary PAFs that they are based on. In a variation from the majority of original PAFs, however, the ’57 Classics’ coils are wax potted to combat microphony and feedback squeal at high volumes so, while vintage voiced, they are also suited to high-gain playing.
Solid to the Core
The Raw Power Series carries a hardware complement that cuts straight to the core of its intentions. The legendary Gibson Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece pairing aid tuning stability and enhance sustain, while green-key Grover Kluson-style tuners add subtle vintage elegance to their superior performance. A Corian nut helps to ensure excellent resonance and sustain, as well as hitch-free performance. Both guitars feature glued-in necks and are built to Gibson’s traditional 24 3/4″ scale length, with a neck width of 1 11/16″ at the nut, although the SG Raw Power carries 24 frets to the Les Paul Studio Raw Power’s 22. All Raw Power Series guitars come equipped with a Gibson gig bag, so they’re ready to hit the road and roll.
A closer look at the Raw Power Les Paul and the Raw Power SG.