Originally Posted by David McCarroll
This stuff about seventies and eighties Les Pauls is nonsense - I worked for several years in a shop here in Sydney which sells more CS Gibsons than any other shop in Australia, along with being the biggest "vintage" guitar shop in Australia - the new LP Standard (from 2004 onwards) with the nitro finish, burstbuckers and flamed tops are the best "new" guitar Gibson have done in ages - they are a vast improvement over just about anything that came from Gibson in the seventies, eighties, and for that part I might as well throw in the nineties as well
I must agree the late 70s models and early 80s models are trash. They got better for a while in the late 80s to the later portion of the 90s, but back then about one in three or more non custom shop Les Pauls would have a straight neck after setup. That is a ratio that is about 100 times higher than the Les Pauls Gibson is producing today. Additionally, the smaller stuff was done better as well - the neck binding was usually a hackjob but still much better than on any of the current Gibsons I have seen. The LP standards in the late 90s sometime had Grover tuners? (or something like them) which were a bit of an improvement over the Klusons.
I know a guy who owned a 1970 thinline Les Paul and loved it but needed money and sold it. He bought a '79 and hated it and sold it. I played a '79 thinline LP that was probably the same one from his description of its condition - a typical late 70s Les Paul, and despite the bad rep that their low quality of the later 70s Les Pauls to today got them, it was much better than anything Gibson is putting out today.
On the plus side, every now and then you will find a good non custom shop Les Paul and it will be better than a late 70s model. They have also done other stuff right. The BurstbuckerV and T pickups are great sounding CLEAN pickups and capture the classic Les Paul sound, but the 498/490s gained up much better and their cleans were not bad. They replaced the narrow bridge on the LP Classic, a mod that many classic owners had to perform themselves (thankfully I have not had intonation problems on the thin bridge piece on mine). They also stopped using the small, poorly sized (in relation to each other) frets that they used on Classics until the late 90s which never made sense to me as the classic comes with fairly loud ceramic magnet pickups designed to target the hard rock community, many of whom like to play hard and the frets were designed for playing light jazz.
The custom shop models I have played were all very good, and the '58 or '60 are worth the extra $300-$400 but the '59 is way overpriced to get the neck that is inbetween. One '58 reissue stood out above the rest and was near perfect - even the little things like the binding being aligned to the fretboard. There is a guy I see around at local stores who both collects vintage gear and buys, repairs and sells it. He played the guitar too and he said that it might be the best Gibson from the 50s until now that he has ever played. However, I picked up a few LP Standards and Classics after that and could not believe the price tag was over $400. There was absolutely no comparison between the two even despite the fact that the '58 neck is way too fat for my liking.