The LG-2 uses some of the original LG features as a point of departure for a sweet, and relatively affordable modern acoustic-electric.
When Gibson introduced its LG series of acoustics in 1942, the company had the student musician in mind. After all, the Kalamazoo, Michigan, outfit had already solidified its standing as a manufacturer of fine archtops and flattops. The LG-1, LG-2, and LG-3 were designed as small-bodied guitars with the simplest appointments, and the line’s elegant accessibility served Gibson well—both in terms of brand exposure and sales. In fact, the company made so many of them before they were phased out in the ’60s that they’ve be-come fairly common on the collector market—at least compared to much fancier and scarcer models, like the J-185 and the J-200.
But the number of collectors and players discovering that LGs tend to be sweet sounding, cool looking, and a more accessible means of getting in on the vintage Gibson game is on the rise, which means old LG prices are going up, too. Gibson must be aware of the in-creased demand, because it recently revisited the series with the new LG-2 American Eagle, which uses some of the original features as a point of departure for a sweet, and relatively affordable modern acoustic-electric.
Immaculate Conception … and Execution
Like the original LG-2, the American Eagle is a compact guitar—just 14.25" wide at the bass bout. It features a classic, all-solid tonewood combination of Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, and a rosewood fretboard and bridge. Some very attractive pieces of wood were selected for the guitar, too. The top has a fine, even grain, and the mahogany has a rich pattern with a hint of almost curly figuring on the back and sides.
Much like its vintage antecedent, the LG-2 has a tastefully restrained demeanor. Simple mother-of-pearl dot markers adorn the fretboard, and a pair of similar dots is inlaid on the signature Gibson belly-up bridge. A simple rosette, multi-ply top binding, and single-ply back binding, as well as the same headstock logo that first appeared on late-’40s LGs tie the new LG-2 to its modest mid-century beginnings. But there are deviations from tradition, too. The American Eagle does away with a pickguard, and the more squared-off headstock looks more like that of a 1930s Gibson AJ. Further, while the original LG-2 was finished exclusively in sunburst, the new LG-2 is available exclusively in natural—just like the original LG-3 (which makes us wonder why the new guitar isn’t called the LG-3 American Eagle).
Regardless of nomenclature, the LG-2 is made at Gibson’s acoustic shop in Bozeman, Montana. This shop has put out guitars of superlative quality over the last several years, so it came as no surprise that our review guitar featured top-notch craftsmanship from stem to stern. The 19 frets are immaculately dressed and seated, and the Tusq nut and saddle are all tidily notched. All of the binding is perfectly flush with the body, and the nitrocellulose lacquer finish is remarkably thin, absolutely even, and rubbed to a beautiful gloss. On the interior, the scalloped top bracing is smoothly sanded and there’s not a trace of excess glue to be found.
Little Tone Machine
Small and light, the LG-2 is easy to get acquainted with and a joy to hold. Equipped with light-gauge strings and a factory-set action of 4/64" on the first string at the 12th fret, and 6/64" for the sixth, the guitar feels pretty close to perfect right out of the case. The neck has a traditional-feeling V shape but feels a lot less cumbersome and more playable than the baseball-bat-like profiles on some originals. The slightly shorter 24 3/4" scale will be familiar to players who favor Gibson electrics and most of the company’s acoustics, and the 1.725" nut—while not a fingerstyle-ideal 1.75"—provides ample room for fingerpicking while also being hospitable to chords with thumb-fretted bass notes.
If you’re accustomed to the sound of a larger-bodied flattop, the LG-2 can seem a bit muted and tame at first. But it doesn’t take much strumming before the excellent balance between the bass, mid, and treble registers become apparent—the first hint that this guitar could bloom into something extraordinary as it becomes more seasoned. Excellent sustain and a natural, rich reverberative quality reinforce that notion.
The LG-2 excels in its most natural and obvious settings—country-blues fingerpicking and Travis picking—but its balanced, pianistic qualities also make it a great fit for styles you might not associate with steel-string—like arrangements of piano pieces by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. In these classical settings, the note separation and tonal balance—essential qualities for harmonically and melodically complex pieces—are superb, and they’re further highlighted by the guitar’s dynamic, detailed responsiveness.
Despite lacking the power of a good dreadnought or jumbo, the LG-2 has a nicely defined and surprisingly present low end, and it responds well to rhythm styles that rely heavily on an articulate bass, like boom-chuck, Carter strumming, and fragmentary four-to-the-bar, Freddie Green-style rhythms. But the guitar soars in single-note settings, too: Florid improvisations and bluesy meanderings that make plentiful use of open strings sound warm, sweet, and super defined whether you use a flatpick or fingerpicking techniques.
One of the biggest differences between the American Eagle and its forebears is that it’s equipped with an L.R. Baggs Element pickup. The system is more inconspicuous than most: It has a 1/4" endpin jack and a single volume knob tucked discreetly inside the soundhole. The pickup is sonically unobtrusive, as well. Plugged into a Fender Acoustasonic amp or a DAW, the guitar sounds full and organic and has little of the noise and artificiality that tends to plague many undersaddle pickups. The bass sounds ample with-out being tubby, and the trebles clear and present.
The Verdict With the LG-2 American Eagle, Gibson has successfully revisited one of its entry-level flattops, respectfully incorporating many of its original constructional and cosmetic de-tails while making it friendlier to the modern player. While it’s an absolute peach of an instrument by any measure, it’s also a pretty reasonable deal by Gibson standards—particularly given how original specimens of this onetime sleeper have escalated in value.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.