Rude and Polite
At 9.66 pounds, our review model of the Lou Pallo Signature is bit of a boat anchor. But surprisingly, it didn’t actually seem that heavy when playing. The instrument’s rounded ’50s neck profile—about .818" deep at the first fret and .963" at the 12th—was smaller, and more comfortable, than the shape of Gibson’s late ‘50s Historic models. Though the neck felt slightly stiff relative to that on a recent 1960 Les Paul Historic.

Like any good Les Paul, the Lou Pallo Signature sounded loud and dynamic unplugged. But given the instrument’s atypical pickup configuration—a P-90 (single-coil) in the neck position and an open-coil Dirty Fingers humbucker in the bridge—I wasn’t sure what to expect when I plugged the guitar into a Schroeder DB7 amp. The Dirty Fingers was originally made in the early 1980s and recently revived on a signature model for Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, so it seemed an odd choice for Pallo’s distinctly more polite approach.

But engaged on a clean setting, the Dirty Fingers had a well-balanced and articulate sound that, while not as warm as a ’57 Classic or BurstBucker, made single-note lines pop nicely. When I switched on a NerFuzz distortion pedal by The Tone God, the Dirty Fingers did sound nasty and ungoverned in the best possible way.

The neck-position P-90, which was standard on all Les Pauls from 1952 until the introduction of the humbucker in 1957, was, as expected, a bit more subdued than its bridge companion. With an overdrive pedal on, it sounded nice and creamy. And on a clean set-ting with the volume rolled back a bit, it worked well for some chord-melody-style jazz playing. Switching the distortion back on and selecting the middle pickup position, I found that the P-90 tamed the Dirty Fingers, resulting in a tone that was simultaneously rich and punchy.

The Verdict

Gibson’s Lou Pallo Signature is a smart-looking guitar with a build quality on par with its more costly Historic-series counterparts. While the instrument’s heaviness and one-of-a-kind aesthetic details might put off certain enthusiasts, its atypical electronics will appeal to those looking for a wider sonic range than offered by a traditional Les Paul. Above all, the Lou Pallo Les Paul is a player’s guitar—something Lou’s partner in crime would have appreciated to no end.
Buy if...
you’re in the market for an atypical but classy Les Paul built for maximum versatility that is a bit less expensive than a reissue from Gibson’s Historic series.
Skip if...
you place historical accuracy at a premium or you’ve got back problems.

Street $2799 (with hardshell case) - Gibson -