At first look, the Classic seems like a rugged gigging guitar with a lovely flamesunburst top, while the Heritage Standard struts a more uptown quilted maple or ebony finish. There’s also a difference in construction, as the Classic lays its maple top onto a carved mahogany body, but the Heritage Standard puts a carved maple top on a flat mahogany body. Pretty much everything else about the guitars is the same—from pickups to hardware—except for the fact the Classic seems significantly lighter than the Heritage (even though there’s less than a pound difference between them). But the Classic doesn’t really give up much snarl, sustain, roar, or chunk to its heftier sibling, and it definitely sounds heavier than it feels. Clean tones possess a nice, fat resonance and pop, and overdriven sounds are tough and articulate. Even when strummed acoustically, the Classic is a lively guitar with a lot of shimmer and zing. Turning down the Tone knob reduces some of the midrange snap, but the sound never gets wooly, flabby, or flat. Because of its versatile tones, you can definitely pull off a fair amount of stylistic meandering with this guitar—from fusion to classic rock to blues to punk and R&B—although its resonant lows and low mids aren’t quite round enough to deliver sophisticated Benson-esque or old-school jazz sounds.
Construction is flawless—no paint or finish gremlins, no binding glitches, and no hardware issues. The fretboard inlays are set precisely with no signs of fill-in work, and the frets are, for the most part, well polished and smooth. (I did feel a sharp edge at the fourth fret.)
The only problem—and it affected all three models—was in the setup department. There was some slight buzzing at various positions on the fretboard, and, every once-in-a-while, an aggressive bend would simply fret out. It’s entirely possible this is a weather/humidity problem, and, in any case, a few setup adjustments will likely solve everything. There are other Les Paul-inspired solidbodies within Frisbee-tossing distance of the Classic’s price tag—including some from Gibson itself—but the Prestige’s combination of sound, workmanship, and back-nurturing weightlessness make it a “must consider” model for those who play a lot of gigs.
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