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Every so often an interesting guitar comes along that really catches our eye. A Les Paul designed for metalcore? Now that’s one that certainly ticks this box! Fans of the English metal band Bring Me the Horizon will need no introduction to lead guitarist Lee Malia and, considering he plays it wherever he goes, will probably need no introduction to his beloved signature Les Paul. Proving one of the more popular electric guitars under $1,000, this one is well worth a closer look…
When somebody says ‘Les Paul designed for metal’ you may instantly assume it is an all-black Gothic-styled model. However, the Lee Melia Signature is the complete opposite, based on the kind of vintage guitar designs that Lee grew up with, like the rare Les Paul Artisan.
With the classic LP single-cutaway shape, this model features a stripped-down mahogany body with a maple top, all finished in a woody walnut gloss. While the body shows no decoration, aside from the attractive multi-ply ivory/black binding, the neck is very distinctive.
With a set construction, the mahogany neck features a 22-fret rosewood fretboard with decorative pearloid floral inlays running up to the headstock, which features Lee’s signature in gold on the reverse – a nice touch. This neck is comfortable and fast, shaped to a 1959 rounded C profile with a glossy finish. Lovely.
Lee can be seen playing his signature model in the video below:
This Les Paul is loaded with some solid hardware that makes it well worthy of its sub-$1,000 price tag. Lee certainly stamps his design in the electronics department, selecting a Gibson USA P-94 single coil for the neck, along with a Gibson USA 84T-LM humbucker in the bridge, which features coil-splitting for added tonal versatility.
Along with a three-way toggle switch, the four top-hat knobs offer individual control for tone and volume for each of the pickups (coil-splitting with a press of the bridge volume knob). Elsewhere, this guitar doesn’t skimp, with a gold LockTone tune-o-matic bridge and gold stopbar tailpiece, gold die-cast machine heads with a 14:1 tuning ratio, and heavy-duty straplocks (again, in gold – well, why not!).
Lee Malia wanted a guitar that ‘appeals to anyone who plays any genre of music’, and has succeeded with his pickup choice. The P-94 at the neck (allegedly a favorite of Mr Les Paul himself) offers a warm, clean and jazzy tone – very funky.
The 84T-LM at the bridge is very hot and quickly overdrives any tube amp, delivering genuine fuzz which is great for vintage blues. Yet it’s not just a warm jazzy, bluesy guitar – it delivers killer modern metal tones too, and copes well with both chunky metal rhythm and wild lead playing, serving both with good articulation and aggression.
The unique pickups deliver one of the more versatile Les Pauls in this price range, allowing you to sound great whether playing jazz, blues, classic rock or – like Lee Malia himself – modern metal. The timeless vintage style may be a little too subtle for some modern metalheads, but it’s a distinctive instrument that would fit well in any collection.