Gibson Explorer ‘17 (QC rant)

J_Mac

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I have owned a ‘95 LP Studio since ‘98 and it is bulletproof. The QC is absolutely spot on, and the craftsmanship is excellent. I have been looking for an explorer for a couple of years now, then I saw a returned 2017 T in a German store for £700. Keen on the raft of upgrades like thicker fretboard and weight reduction I pulled the trigger, since it’s difficult to find a second hand one for under £700. It arrived with hard case, strap, FB protector, documents, and a photograph of it on the workbench at Gibson. For some reason. I have been enjoying it very much since it landed 6 months ago, and it’s one of my main slabs.

However, I was expecting a similar QC standard as my LP Studio. But it’s just not there. I have had many cheaper guitars which blow the explorer out the window, like an Ibanez ICT700, Ibanez MMM1, RG, etc. So i’m kinda disappointed. I changed the pickups this evening and uncovered even more rubbish to whinge about while I had her in pieces, so here I go:

Rant

- the piece of rosewood they’ve used for the fb has a weird grain structure, the edge of the board is uneven (has a rough edge), but they’ve lacquered over this anyway and left it.
- The fb wood of first few fret spaces has end grain and feels rough on the finger tips.
- the 496T in the bridge has a 53mm pole spacing but the string spacing is 49mm, so the 1st string doesn’t cover the pole at all.
- the scratchplate doesn’t fit flush on the body.
- under the scratchplate, the edges of the screw holes are raised.
- in between the end of the fb and the neck pup there is orange gunge everywhere, possibly mahogany dust and lacquer, or glue. I had to scrape this off. There is even a blob of it on the fb end, which they have lacquered over. I sanded the lacquer (and blob) away.
- there is a blob of lacquer on the fretboard, knuckle side near the nut.
- the 6th string nut slot has been slotted twice, there is a smaller slot underneath the E slot.
- tuning was slipping out for the first couple of months, despite the Grovers and the new self-lubing nut, until I sorted it with graphite.
- soldering has been done by an infant.
- one of the pup ring screw holes is stripped out, just spins.
- the pickups are poor sounding, thin. Not what I’ve heard this set sound like in older instruments. Cutbacks? Anyone else think the modern 496t is weak? The BKP cold sweat set I put in just blew them out of the water.

I don’t expect Mayo quality, but this is disappointing from Gibson, and I’ve heard similar complaints. I still love the guitar, I’m a sucker for raggy doll guitars anyway. I don’t need them to be pristine, I like them a bit banged up. Just disappointed that Gibson have taken such a dive. I hope I’m wrong, and I’m the only person who got a duff one.

Oh, and customer service? Doesn’t exist. I went to try a 2017 explorer in my local store. It was cherry. “Can I order a black one please?”. “Err, sorry no. Gibson tell us what we can have”. Lmao.
 

Kyle-Vick

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My fretboard on my LP studio had the same thing going on. Drove me nuts, so I unloaded it.
 

High Plains Drifter

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Same issue on my 2017 SG fret-board. Had to lightly sand/ steel-wool the entire board but it wasn't a deal-breaker. Same with the 490r/ 498t set... They sound meh so may replace those at some point but idk... still glad I kept it.
 

Dekay82

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Wow man, that sucks. I've got an '04 explorer and LP Studio and a golden axe and they're all real solid. I keep reading these Gibson QC horror stories and can't help but feel grateful that I've lucked out thus far, as it seems like such a crapshoot.
 

7 Strings of Hate

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I got a '17 LP Tribute Goldtop and its solid as fuck. Very little to complain about. I feel like the 490t in there works perfectly, but I'm always so suspect about stock pups, I'm fighting back an urge to put something in there even though It doesn't need it. (actually I threw a Duncan Custom V in there and the scoop of the Custom V didn't work against the mid spike of the 490t). All in all, I was pretty damn impressed against the fact that I keep hearing Gibson's QC has tanked. But then I see threads like this that make me think I may have just lucked out.
 

Chris Bowsman

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I have a real ‘62 LP/SG. When the neck joint let loose, the luthier asked if he should put a mahogany spacer in the joint to fix the scale length. From the factory, it was almost half an inch too short.

QC issues at Gibson are nothing new, even in the good old days.
 

J_Mac

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I have a real ‘62 LP/SG. When the neck joint let loose, the luthier asked if he should put a mahogany spacer in the joint to fix the scale length. From the factory, it was almost half an inch too short.

QC issues at Gibson are nothing new, even in the good old days.
:facepalm:
 

Luafcm

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I had a Xplorer pro in trans black flame top. Was a nice guitar by all accounts, but had the LP custom style binding over fret ends. There was a gap between the binding and fret ends on the high e edge of the fretboard and the high e string would actually get stuck between the fret ends and binding, locking the string down.

It was a pretty guitar to look at for sure, but wasn't as high quality as one would expect. I've also sent back a SG that I ordered. It arrived with too many CQ issues to count, even the hard case had issues. I was asked if I would like a replacement (I told them they were trying to sell me a b-stock), and I refused and took my money back.

I think SOME of these QC issues are acceptable for Epiphone prices.
 

USMarine75

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Well, to take the other side...

  • You bought a return. There's a reason (obvious now) why it was returned.
  • You have a small sample size of one.
  • the poorly filed brass (I'm assuming?) nuts are a known evil. Gibson CS will send you a free upgraded one.
  • I dont know what a 496T bridge pickup is. Gibson makes a 496R/590T set, but your guitar should have a set of vintage 490's.
  • Based on your comment about the soldering, it sounds like someone swapped the 490 out for a 496?
  • 490 pickups are vintage low gain PAFs, hence why they were not what you expected.
  • The overall quality and QC for Gibson during these years are known for having issues. Were you not aware? Did you not try the guitar before you bought, or was there not a return/refund window? Because many of these issues sound like something you would notice within minutes of playing in the store (e.g. sounds like crap, fretboard looks like crap, etc.).
If it makes you feel better, the post-HJ 2019s are getting good reviews. :)
 

Adieu

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Wow

Had a 40yo obscure Jap explorer knockoff that I bought for $100, and it never had any such problems... regret selling that even more now
 

Chris Bowsman

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In addition to the ‘62, I briefly owned a late model Melody Maker. Yes, I’m aware that every corner that could be cut was chopped off that thing to hit a price point, but man... total POS.

I’ll ignore all the aesthetic issues, and mention that the neck was wider than the fretboard. Traded it for a dobro, which got traded for a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster, which finally got traded for a PRS SE Custom 24, which I’m keeping.
 

brobani

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I think they don't put as much time into the explorers as they do in their bread and butter guitars like the LP's and SG's. I got en Epi Lee Malia explorer I've been pretty happy with it.
 

Edika

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I'm surprised by the 496T in the bridge as they usually have a 500T. The 500T is not thin sounding for sure lol. The 500T is also F spaced and in my Explorer so is the Tonepros bridge. I was surprised by this as I thought Tomepros came in the 50mm spacing. Then I educated my self on that lol.

Concerning the QC issues I've seen some issues myself on my 2018 Gibson Les Paul but not to the extend you were seeing. It did sound relatively thin whatever pickups I put on, relatively that is as it wasn't as thick sounding as a Les Paul should sound even with 13-62 strings in B. Changed the pots to CTS 500K and put two 22uF orange caps and problem solved!

If you like the guitar and it doesn't have any functional issues all of the issues you described can be corrected. It's a pain but they can be corrected. If they bug you however send it back.
 

Davsco872

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Gibsons have been all over the place for years. For their price, there should be no issues, it’s a shame. Great guitars if you get a good one though!
 

Dabo Fett

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I also own a 2017 explorer, and it’s definitely got a weird fretboard and some issues but it’s not as bad as stated above, which is kind of the point right?

if there’s some good ones and some bad ones that make it off the line, QC sucks. Guitar may be great but the QC still sucks if it’s a game of chance
 

J_Mac

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I'm surprised by the 496T in the bridge as they usually have a 500T. The 500T is not thin sounding for sure lol. The 500T is also F spaced and in my Explorer so is the Tonepros bridge. I was surprised by this as I thought Tomepros came in the 50mm spacing. Then I educated my self on that lol.

Concerning the QC issues I've seen some issues myself on my 2018 Gibson Les Paul but not to the extend you were seeing. It did sound relatively thin whatever pickups I put on, relatively that is as it wasn't as thick sounding as a Les Paul should sound even with 13-62 strings in B. Changed the pots to CTS 500K and put two 22uF orange caps and problem solved!

If you like the guitar and it doesn't have any functional issues all of the issues you described can be corrected. It's a pain but they can be corrected. If they bug you however send it back.

Thanks man, yeah I actually sold it on in the end. Twice. The first buyer had the same complaints as me, so I took the return. The second buyer was happy. I didn't lose any money in the end, so all is good. Just time wasted by Gibson.
 


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