Les Paul Question

Posted by: Minte

Les Paul Question - 11/18/12 06:12 PM

First post here, I have been playing since the 60's. Over the decades I have owned many guitars. The last time I bought a Les Paul it was the early 1970's.

I have been looking online at new Gibson Les Pauls. I am seeing them priced all over the place. Is a $1200 guitar made in China or Mexico. Why is there such a large variation in pricing?
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/18/12 06:25 PM

I believe that all Gibsons are American made, though a guy I know toured the factory and was suspicious at crates of almost finished necks that he says he saw...

There's different models that have different features and they seem to vary in price. Standards and Customs are the "bells and whistles" models at the top of the range. Studios are at the bottom, under $1000 sometimes. Traditional Pros and Classics are in the middle. Differences in pickups and finishes and inlays... differences in the amount of time spent finishing them. An online store should have a list of the features, as does the Gibson website.

Beware of Chinese fakes, though... but those aren't sold through reputable dealers.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/18/12 06:33 PM

I appreciate the info. I did buy an Alhambra online a few years ago from one of the larger sites, but the idea of buying a Les Paul without playing it first is tough to swallow.
Posted by: stamplicker

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/18/12 06:54 PM

check this out, samash blowout gibson's
http://www.samash.com/opencms/opencms/samash/promo_pages/gibson-closeouts-2012
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 04:22 AM

The wide variety of prices is in part down to differences in visual/cosmetic appointments like binding and finishes and the production cost, and also pickups and hardware; but it's also due to Gibson's marketing. There are those for whom a Studio or Classic will do, some who will want a Standard or a Traditional, some who will like having another famous artist's signature-model Les Paul, with TWO famous-player names on the guitar (funny that there are sig-model sig-models, huh? wink grin ), and those who must have a "Reissue" or a "Virtual Old Stock" model, or even one with artificial aging. Some of the differences make a real difference, some of the differences are very real, and some, honestly, are largely marketing spin. When you buy a Les Paul, like a buying a Harley Davidson, you're buying heritage, image and "lifestyle" as much as the guitar itself, and the amount of all that seems to generally increases along with the price-tag.

Some also insist on a brand-new guitar; but you might do very well to try a number of used Les Pauls- you might get more for your money. Besides, all of those extremely expensive vintage Les Pauls are, after all, used guitars themselves! wink grin thu

Originally Posted By: Minte
I appreciate the info. I did buy an Alhambra online a few years ago from one of the larger sites, but the idea of buying a Les Paul without playing it first is tough to swallow.


Personally, I generally agree with you; overall quality HAS varied from one to another to another Gibson Les Paul, even amongst the same specific sub-model and year. You will find some that are OK, some embarrassingly sub-par, and some particularly excellent specimens when trying out a number of them, especially if you spread that out over several retailers. You might luck out buying sight-unseen, or you might get a lemon, or one that is so-so. Add to that the fact that this is partially subjective- one that you love will seem just "OK" to another player, and vice-verse. Of course, strings and set-up are a factor here, as well.
Posted by: Bill@Welcome Home Studios

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Minte
First post here, I have been playing since the 60's. Over the decades I have owned many guitars. The last time I bought a Les Paul it was the early 1970's.

I have been looking online at new Gibson Les Pauls. I am seeing them priced all over the place. Is a $1200 guitar made in China or Mexico. Why is there such a large variation in pricing?


Don't buy a guitar that you have not played.

It is my suggestion that the best deals on Les Pauls are to be found in the 1970s varieties. Since there are so many, with so many different finishes and appointments, you should be able to find what you want for a reasonable price. One to consider is the small-humbucker Deluxe, which a lot of studio guys use as their 'secret weapon' and, if you search you'll find a quote from Les himself saying that with the small humbucker Gibson 'got it right'.
Posted by: CEB

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 01:36 PM

I would NOT special order any custom shop stuff right now, especially anything requiring a deposit.
Posted by: p90junior

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 01:42 PM

The 1970s Gibsons were all over the place, quality-wise... so yeah, play one of those before you buy them.

I've bought a lot of recent model guitars over the internet, and in this day and age of computer routing and cutting, etc., I get what I expect.

In fact, that's kind of the thing... in the past there would be some duds but some exceptional guitars coming off of the same factory floor in the same week. Now they're all consistently pretty good, nothing terrible makes it through but the Gods don't seem to smile down on any of them, either.

I dig the mini-humbuckers, some of my fave Les Pauls I've played were 70's Les Paul Deluxe models with them, and a couple of Les Paul Pro models from the same era with P-90s.

I got an inexpensive Hamer Echotone (335) that the previous owner had put Seymour Duncan '59s in, and other than the neck pickup in my Tele Custom and P100s in a Les Paul '59 special I didn't have any humbuckers in the arsenal and it kind of wet my appetite for them, so I bought that wrecked Heritage Les Paul/SG hybrid and renovated it. Couldn't resist adding the Seymour Duncan mounting rings with the coil splitting switches, and actually I kind of prefer the "parallel" dual coil setting to the regular "series" setting... seems to open them up more... now to look into messing with the phase of the pickups...
Posted by: p90junior

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: CEB
I would special order any custom shop stuff right now, especially anythin requiring a deposit.


"Would" or "wouldn't?"
Posted by: CEB

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 02:05 PM

Would Not. The gossip is US production is shut down while Gibson tries to sell off the stuff built during the Govt. took our wood crisis. This supposedly includes Custom Shop stuff. I'm not sure why. A man who is going to lay down $3500 deposit for a Custom shop guitar is not going to buy a $1400 baked maple Les Paul. Or at least I don't see it.

It seems the demand for Baked maple was very high. My dealer wouldn't stock any.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 02:43 PM

I went to Sam Ash.com today and spoke to a fellow on the desk. I am still researching Les Pauls, but in the meantime ordered a Jackson SLXQ that should be here Wednesday.

Thanks again for all the info and the link to Sam Ash
Posted by: Bill@Welcome Home Studios

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 07:03 PM

If you are having a guitar made for you in the Custom Shop and you spec a given fretboard wood (ebony, for example...) why would you suspect that they would send you a fretboard made with baked maple?
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/19/12 07:28 PM

yeah... sounds strange.
Posted by: Bartholomew

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/20/12 11:21 AM

I wanted a feel similar to my 74 Les Paul Custom but with less weight for live gigs so ordered a Gibson LP Studio online as I couldn't get the slim-neck ebony fret-board in Canada.

Due to wood problems it appears Gibson doesn't ship it to dealers here and in any event it was an exclusive to MF & GC online. Managed to get free shipping and a 15% discount including a "Gibson USA" stamped case, coil-splitting and hot humbuckers. Didn't really like the pickups at first but am getting into them more every live session.

Was roughly $1,150 before sales tax with a real finish and came in plekked with only a bit of nut sanding required...plus I always use .11 on Gibson scale necks so upped the string gauge.

I had tried a faded LP with humbuckers at $799 or whatever, it was lighter weight and felt too much like my Epi SG so I decided to lay out the extra bucks.

Betcha that faded Studio model is made in China. I can't explain it but it just felt cheap and rough.
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/20/12 06:34 PM

Hmmm... I think all Gibsons are "American-made," but the way they keep the price down on the lower range is by figuring out ways to do very little finishing work and, of course, maybe not using the highest quality wood they have...

Batholomew, I played an 80s or 90s "Les Paul Custom Lite" once. I don't know if it was chambered or what... seemed a bit smaller and definitely thinner, maybe. I would've bought it except it was some awful metallic pink/purple color. Didn't think about refinishing it... come to think of it, it was the same thickness as the Heritage H-140 I have, which I recommend to anybody who wants a guitar that might go for a bit cheaper used then Gibsons but feel more like vintage Gibsons than new Gibsons do (since they're made in the old factory by a lot of the old workers on the same old machinery in much smaller quantities).
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/20/12 06:50 PM

Posted by: pinkjimiphoton

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/21/12 08:43 AM

just a hit and run,
but NEVER EVER EVER buy a guitar until you've played it first.
it's simply not worth it.
i don't give a sh*t about that "plec" baloney...

no two guitars are the same. they all play different, they all sound different, and you can go thru 30 les pauls before ya find the "right" one for you.

i've had showcase edition custom shop pauls to standards to the custom i cut my teeth on as a kid in the 70's, and after my showcase was stolen in the late 80's, it took me almost 20 years to find another that was "right" for me.

and to top it off, it's a freekin epiphone. but the neck is there, the tone is there, the weight, the whole 9.

and i must have played about 1,000 of 'em over the years between them.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/21/12 11:54 AM

I do agree. Over the years I don't buy guitars they buy me. I can't remember ever going into a shop on a mission to get something. It's always the same. I look at something, sit down and play and know almost immediately whether to hang it back up or break out the cash.
Posted by: p90junior

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/21/12 02:28 PM

Eh... I buy guitars over the internet all the time, but I have a guy who can work miracles to get them exactly how I want them... so I just look for what I want for as cheap as I can find it, and then if he has to reset the neck or something I'm still doing alright. That's a special circumstance, I know, but I haven't needed him to do that much except for a few that I knew going into it that's what was needed.

I'm also not that picky... which has been an asset for a lot of gigs.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/25/12 06:04 PM

I broke down and ordered one from Sam Ash

Got a Les Paul tradional/Heritage Cherry Sunburst. It will be here on Wednesday.
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/26/12 10:08 AM

Cool, best of luck, keep us posted!
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/28/12 04:00 PM

The Les Paul arrived today. No drama. Everything looks and works great. Definitely a keeper. And as a mention,Sam Ash.com was good enough to pickup the cost of 2nd day shipping.
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/28/12 04:40 PM

Niiiiiice. Congratulations! cool
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/28/12 09:25 PM

what a beauty!
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 11:46 AM

cool Yer in the Les Paul club now... thu

Gotta suggest:

* Dunlop StrapLoks

* D R "Pure Blues" strings, 10's or 11's

* Once you've settled on a specific set of strings and set-up, spend some time fine-tuning the heights of the pickups for YOUR tone and to balance the output from string-to-string and between the pickups

* Archer brand clear Teflon gel-lube (from Radio Shack; Archer Precision Lubricator, # 64-2301A) for nut-slots, saddle-notches (improves tuning stability), and squeaking StrapLoks

* Some good fretboard oil, like Fret Doctor or Gibson; Old English Lemon Oil will do in a pinch. A little fretboard-oil goes a very long ways, go easy, don't over do it...

* As wide and comfy a strap as you can get your hands on; the Planet Waves jacquard-material straps with the slide-through shoulder-pads are very light, airy-breathing and comfy, and the strap slides back-and-forth through the shoulder-pad as you move around, instead of the strap pulling and binding on your clothes...

* Keeping a 100% all-cotton cloth on hand to wipe-down the back of the neck and the lower-bass-side-bout of the body where your forearm rests; gunk will otherwise quickly accumulate, particularly on the back of the neck
Posted by: SEHpicker

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 12:01 PM

That is a beauty - in fact it reminds me of.... mine. grin

I like the look better w/o the pick guard or the little plastic thingy on the p/u switch that says "Rhythm/Treble"
More pleasing to the eye IMHO
Posted by: russclan

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 12:08 PM

Originally Posted By: SEHpicker


I like the look better w/o the pick guard or the little plastic thingy on the p/u switch that says "Rhythm/Treble"
More pleasing to the eye IMHO


Me too, in fact, I can't play an LP with the pick guard on it...feels like it gets in the way.
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 02:12 PM

Congrats Minte! Very Nice and thanks for the pic... thu
Posted by: picker

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 04:57 PM

Hmm. Maple has worked as fretboard material for a lotta years, sometimes on Gibsons, Les Paul's even. From what I just read, it seems like baked maple would be a great fretboard wood, and is environmentally friendly. And, it's domestically available, which means the price is gonna be less. Also, if it sounds the way it's touted to(like ebony), the only difference is gonna be in the mind of the collector.

I've seen and heard people go through the whole rosewood litany on Martin acoustics. "It's gotta be Brazilian, other rosewood doesn't sound or look the same," and really, it seems like a lot of "mojo" to me. I love the fact that Taylor guitars made a great sounding acoustic out of an oak pallet to show that the way the guitar is made is the important part. The grain structure of wood has less to do with it's tone than the way it's cut, seasoned and assembled.

But what will happen?

Will guitars from the "baked maple" period be looked down upon, and never appreciate in price as much as the "real" Gibsons? Or, will they become coveted collector's pieces because the differences come to be considered unique and beneficial?

It would be cool with me if they dropped in pice like hot rocks! Maybe I'd be able to afford one of these children of a lesser guitar god someday. I'm quite sure that if I ever do acquire one, it'll play, sound and feel just like a REAL Les Paul.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 05:01 PM

Thanks to everyone for the tips and ideas. I notice in that pic I was in such a hurry to plug it in I neglected to take off the *equipped with gibson strings* badge.

I am going to give a go without the pickguard. It does sit a little high for my tastes. Overall, I spent a couple hours today setting it up and it plays better than I remembered my first Les Paul back in the early 70's playing.

I also just got a Jackson soloist and an American Fender Tele in the last two weeks. I like the fretboard on the Jackson but the sound of the Les Paul blows it away.
Posted by: Bill@Welcome Home Studios

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/29/12 07:28 PM

Originally Posted By: picker
Hmm. Maple has worked as fretboard material for a lotta years, sometimes on Gibsons, Les Paul's even.

"It's gotta be Brazilian, other rosewood doesn't sound or look the same,"


I didn't argue with him (I never argue with my luthier, I'm lucky to have him, he doesn't take new clients...) but when he made my guitar I asked for a maple fretboard, and he refused, and insisted on ebony. Said that maple was an inferior choice. That's all I know. (The cap on the guitar is maple.)

As far as rosewood, I've read that the best rosewood came from the US but the appropriate trees for making instruments were depleted during WWII. There are a couple of guitar makers who have a stock of this lumber and still make instruments, notably WC Henderson.
Posted by: picker

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/30/12 02:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
...when he made my guitar I asked for a maple fretboard, and he refused, and insisted on ebony. Said that maple was an inferior choice. That's all I know.


Did he say why it was an inferior choice?
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Les Paul Question - 11/30/12 08:36 AM

Originally Posted By: picker
Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
...when he made my guitar I asked for a maple fretboard, and he refused, and insisted on ebony. Said that maple was an inferior choice. That's all I know.


Did he say why it was an inferior choice?


I bet that wear, staining, and finish requirements (and the resulting feel) all figure largely into it...
Posted by: Bartholomew

Re: Les Paul Question - 12/03/12 09:47 AM

Nothing feels like ebony. I have a 74 LP Custom and also a 2011 LP Studio - both with ebony fretboards.

Personal preference I guess, for me anyways.
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Les Paul Question - 12/03/12 09:57 AM

+1 on Ebony...OT: even though I'm not using it on an LP, I'm very happy with ebony on all of my Taylors and on one of my Strats...
Posted by: Winston Psmith

Re: Les Paul Question - 12/04/12 08:47 AM

Ebony is highly toxic to work with, one reason we're seeing less of it. Have to admire your luthier for sticking with a material he believes in.