Tired of waiting for Gibson to produce a left handed version of the Explorer I decided to roll the dice and invest in an Explorer type guitar from a company called Gaskell Guitars located in Sydney, Australia.
In my frustration I actually contacted Gibson about the left handed Explorer dilemna and promptly received the response that I figured I would get... that is, they will not be producing any Explorers in left handed models.
Browsing the net I came across a company down under in Sydney. They produce the Gaskell Classic which is essentially a left hand Explorer in various colors including natural, black, white, and red.
For those lefty guitarists in search of the Gibson Explorer, this may be an option to the Gibson custom shop which is most certainly anything but cheap.
After some thought I decided to go ahead and make a purchase going with the natural color and a hardshell case. The guitar arrived here in the USA safely and rather quickly as it was shipped air express. The freight charges were not cheap by any means but the guitar did arrive promptly and in one piece.
I would recommend buying from a dsitributor in your home country if possible to save on the overall freight charges.
According to the Gaskell web site the overall size of the Classic is smaller than the original Explorer. I bought this guitar without ever touching or holding one and was curious about the guitar's weight, but it is actually very light and easy to manage.
It features a basswood body, a maple set neck, and a rosewood fretboard. The re-design of the guitar was done in Australia but it was assembled in good old China.
It is important to note that Chinese imports come in a variety of quality levels, I have played Chinese guitars that would make nothing more than great firewood, the build quality of the Gaskell Classic is much more acceptable and seems as though it is professionally constructed.
Its Overall Appearance
First and foremost, the overall appearance of this guitar is outstanding. The finish is flawless as I spent quite a few minutes looking for imperfections and I just don't see any. It does not have the "imported" look like some of the other production guitars I've seen.
My guitar is the natural finish and whatever type of laquer or finish coat they used is as smooth as glass. Turning the guitar backwards and inspecting the glued neck you would swear it was hand crafted in the USA. I am definitely pleased with the guitar's appearance.
So far so good... Being left handed, I have never played an Explorer before. It turns out, top of the body is the ideal armrest. It is a comfortable resting place for your picking arm and I can see myself getting spoiled. I currently own a Gibson USA V and an American Telecaster.
I don't have any complaints about either of these two guitars other than the resting place for the left arm. I was never able to get totally used to the shape of either guitar and I feel like I have to make due with the shape of the bodies in order to enjoy those instruments.
With the Classic I already feel like this was a good investment considering how natural it feels. It's also worth mentioning again that it is much more gravity friendly than I was expecting which should make it easier on the shoulder after a night of playing.
Upon receiving the guitar and playing for just a few short minutes I decided to replace the strings with a set of GHS Boomer Custom Lights which I had at home. I always feel more confident with the strings when I know exactly what is on the guitar. The neck and fretboard seem adequate.
I actually played the same riffs on both the Gaskell and my Gibson alternating back and forth trying to determine how much of a difference there was between these two fretboards. Both are rosewood fretboards and I couldn't make out any major performance difference at this point when I compare it up with the Gibson.
The lower two strings buzz a bit at certain frets, not enough to warrant any major compaints, but maybe this can be eliminated some adjustment to the action down the road, not really a priority.
This guitar features two tone knobs and one volume as well as a single three way selector for the pickups, nothing out of the ordinary but everything works the way it should. I actually opened up the cover on the back side to inspect the solder connections (I am electrician by day, musician by night) and they don't appear to be very pretty but they are more than sufficient.
I even gave a bit of a tug here and there to see if the wires were soldered well and they passed that test with flying colors. Pickups are imports and they do produce plenty of sustain although if I ever wanted to modify the guitar this is the first place I would go, maybe even pick up a set from a Gibson dealer.
Overall I am happy with my purchase. I have been on the hunt for a Gibson Explorer for quite some time and my patience has about run out. This guitar gives the appearance of a more expensive instrument, plays well enough that I would not hesitate to play out with it, and is very comfortable and sized just right.
It was not cheap by any means and neither was the shipping from Australia to the USA, but it still is a great value for the money. At least this is an option for any left handed guitarists who simply need to own an Explorer.
They also have a pro version of this guitar available with Dimarzio USA pickups, no pickguard, and you get to select your own color.
This may be an option for you if you are in the market for a left- handed Explorer, go to the Gaskell Guitars website and read more details about availability and options. They put the lefty first, which is unusual, but definitely cool.
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