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Soupir ... - Avis Gibson Dark Fire

The Gibson Dark Fire is one of Gibson's truly outlandish attempts to make a guitar "for the ages." When it was released it had all kinds of hype surrounding it and Gibson touted it generally as the next generation of guitar. Whelp... here we go!

The Gibson Dark Fire is based off of a Les Paul design, and most of the features are pretty true to a Les Paul. It has a mahogany body with a figured maple cap, a mahogany neck, an ebony fretboard with carbon fibre inlays, the infamous ROBOT tuning system, and some unique electronics that combine a P90, a Burstbucker, some complex switching systems and a piezo pickup to round things out. It features a typical tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tail piece and the GENERAL layout of a typical LP to round things out. They're made in the USA.. well, were anyway, before Gibson took sense and discontinued them.


The guitar like many Les Pauls is a monster of a guitar. They're heavy clunkers generally, and the Dark Fire is no exception. Given all the electronics and other do-dads inside the guitar, I'm surprised it doesn't weigh a metric tonne. It's heavy and not a guitar I'd want to gig with for hours on end by any means. The upper fret access is decent on these guitars due to the satin neck finish that is used on the guitar's back and neck.

Getting a good sound out of this guitar... well, if I could concentrate on getting a good tone or ya know... playing guitar, maybe I'd notice. However there are so many distractions whilst learning the intricacies of the ROBOT tuning system and all the different switching that it's almost difficult to sit down and play the thing! When I had it dialed in I could get some nice Les Paul tones or acoustic type tones with the piezo, but it took me a space odyssey to get there.


I've tried the Dark Fire through a few different Fender and Mesa Boogie amps. Admittedly, the guitar doesn't sound all that terrible, it's just a bit of a pain to find a sound and stick with it. The P90 offers a cool warm sound that is close in nature to many of those classic '60s or '70s blues and rock tones, and the Burstbucker pickup takes things up to another level with some more raunch and filth applied... perfect for '70s hard rock right into the present day. Fortunately Gibson didn't throw the typical Les Paul tone out the window when they were designing sounds for this contraption, so all's not lost. There is such a myriad of switching that it's difficult to go into details about each specific mode. All I can say is that some sounds worked (the thicker Gibson esque tones) and some fell kind of short (the more jangly Fender type sounds).


All in all I think the Dark Fire is just utterly hilarious. When I first heard the name, I had to hold in a serious laugh... c'mon Gibson. It sounds like I'm 5 and going to battle with my Pokemon or something. Jokes aside, I'd say that the Dark Fire is basically just... misguided. It has some great features (like the P90/humbucker mix and the piezo) mixed with some weird ones (Robot tuners and all the fairly needless switching). If they had of made a simpler guitar with less FOR less (The Dark Fire sold new for about $3,700) I bet it might have really been the next generation of guitar. Gibson's not known for their product launches and after a while they just quietly removed most traces of this guitar... probably for the best.