So I played 2 les pauls today... - Jemsite
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-05-2010, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: tennessee
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So I played 2 les pauls today...

Went to guitar center thinking hey I'm gonna buy a les paul!

First I tried the "Guitar Center Exclusive" les paul studio deluxe, and I was really impressed.

http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Elec...tudio-60s.aspx

The neck was really nice, fatter than my Jem but not the log I was expecting. The tone was really smooth and really round. I plugged it into a Marshall Class 5 and got every huge bluesy tone I was expecting to get, and if they'd made me a decent deal I'd have bought the whole outfit (guitar and amp) right there. They weren't in a deal making mood =(

Then, for funsies, I plugged this $3000 version ( http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Elec.../Finishes.aspx ) into the exact same amp, with the exact same settings, at the exact same volume.

The difference was like night and day. The more expensive one sounded better, which shocked me. I expected the tone of the 2 instruments to be almost the same. The more expensive one sounded deeper, richer, more even. It had more "spank" to it if that makes any sense. To my ears, it was a truly superior sound.

What I'm not understanding is, why? Same type of wood, same construction, same bridge same tuners. What is it about the $3000 guitar that makes it sound significantly better? Can the $1400 studio be modified to have the $3000 models sound?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated! Thank you.

Last edited by Bahamut; 10-05-2010 at 08:34 PM.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 04:55 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Maybe the $3000 model has better woods than $1400 model? It makes perfect sense to me.. There's great differences between Mahogany and Mahogany.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 05:06 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Well they are night and day to me, I'm a big Gibson guy...

To me it's like a Ibanez RG1550 compared to a J-Custom..

Maybe I'll type a longer answer when I get off work
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 07:59 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

The difference between standard and studio is really huge. It is really make sence to put more money and buy a standard. I think that difference is in the wood.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 08:14 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Not sure what exactly you played but the pups are different first. The deluxes come with 490's and BB while the higher end model likely have BB 2 or 3's in them. Many times higher end models have different caps like mine has Bumblebee Caps in there. Wood selection is probably different, neck tenon may be longer, not sure. One may be hollowed out partially the other one not or less.
Glad you liked them
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 08:17 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Lower-end Les Pauls (and yes, the Studio is a lower-end model, even at $1400) usually have chambered bodies. Even the "non-chambered" models sometimes have "weight-relief" holes in them due to the weight of whatever species of wood they're calling 'mahogany' this year.

My guess is that the first guitar was weight-relieved, while the second one wasn't.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 08:42 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Long post incoming! But you asked for some thoughts, so here's the low-down:

You were comparing a Gibson USA production guitar made in Nashville vs. a Historic 1958 Reissue made in Gibson's custom shop in Memphis. There are quite a few differences. Armann's comparison of a 1550 with a J Custom is pretty apt.

The Studio Deluxe is going to have swiss cheese holes in the mahogany back under the maple cap. This is to get the weight down to a more reasonable 8 or 9 pounds. You will be lucky if that mahogany back is a 2 piece. It could be 3 or 4. Some studios are even more.

The Historic reissue is going to be one single piece of mahogany selected specifically for weight. Gibson tries to aim for a total weight of around 9 pounds for R7s and R8s, and around 8 pounds for R9s and R0s. The overall quality of the wood is going to be higher.

Then there's the neck tenon. Go read the TGP or any Les Paul forum and you'll see endless debate about this. Truthfully, I don't think it in of itself has much bearing on the tone, but it does indeed effect the angle the neck is to the body. A long tenon will keep the neck at the proper angle until the glue dries. This could very well effect the sound. Long tenons are found only in Historics as it is much cheaper to have a short tenon, which is what you'll find in basically every Gibson USA guitar.

A few other points:

- The Gibson USA is a production guitar made in a factory. The Historic is going to have more one-on-one time with a luthier. It is NOT completely hand-built, but a lot more TLC is going to go into the fit and finish. Fewer people who are better paid.

- The Historic does have better electronics, specifically the pots. However, they do NOT have actual bumblebee capacitors, despite what the tag says. Those bumblebees you see under the plate are not real paper and oil capacitors. They're just colored to look like them. No worries, if you want real ones there's an entire cottage industry out there that strives to get a Historic even closer to the real thing.

- Pickups. The pickups on the Historic are going to be Burstbucker 2 or 3s, perhaps '57 classics. These are PAF repros that are a bit sweeter than the 490 and Burstbucker Pro on the Studio Deluxe.

- Overall Historic quality is going to be much higher, but that doesn't mean that a $3000 R8 or $5000 R9 is going to be flawless. Les Pauls are a luthier's guitar, not a wooden plank with a neck bolted on. Between the set neck, binding, carved top, etc. they're harder to "get right". A lot of the flaws you see people complain about were actually present on the originals too. You should still run the racks and be observant of the fit and finish or...

- Buy used from someone who did! A used R8 is usually the same prices a new production Standard or Traditional. Keep your eyes peeled and you can usually find a good deal.

Funny you mention the Studio Deluxe, because I bought one. Specifically because it is less like a Studio and more like a Traditional or Standard sans binding. It does the Les Paul thing and it's a good contrast to my Jem for recording. You can typically recoupe most of what you paid when you sell a Gibson, so I might trade-up to an R8 in the near future. In any case, I'm going to splurge on some Peter Green boutique pickups for it.

Keep in mind I played LOTS of Les Pauls before finally buying the Deluxe, including Historics. The Historics were better, but not $1500 - $3500 better. The Deluxe was THE best amoung the Gibson USAs I played. Use your ears, not your eyes.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Thank you for the fantastic responses, I knew you guys wouldn't let me down!

I see these "R" numbers tossed around all over. What exactly do they mean? R7, R8, R0 etc.

So what do you think is the best value in a les paul style sound for the tone-whore on a budget?
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 10:05 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

R7 = 1957, R8 = 1958, R0 = 1960.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 10:27 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahamut View Post
Thank you for the fantastic responses, I knew you guys wouldn't let me down!

I see these "R" numbers tossed around all over. What exactly do they mean? R7, R8, R0 etc.

So what do you think is the best value in a les paul style sound for the tone-whore on a budget?
R = Reissue. As Armann stated, the digit is the last digit of the year reissued.

As for "best value", that's a subjective one. Are you only in it for the sound or do you want to be as close to the "real" thing as possible? Historics are typically for people who want to be as close to VOS (vintage original specs) as possible. Side by side with a Les Paul Traditional with your eyes closed, you probably couldn't tell the difference from sound alone.

Here's my picks on "best value":

1. If you want a Gibson, go used. Used Classics, Standards, and Tradionals are all going to be around $1500. Used Studios are probably going to be around $600. All of these will get you an authentic Les Paul sound.

You might also take a look at a used Heritage:

http://www.heritageguitar.com/indexa.html

These are made in the ancient factory in Kalamazoo Gibson used to occupy before they moved to TN. The company is owned by the former Gibson employees. The guitars are every bit as good as Gibson USA but tend to command a smaller resale value due to the less recognizable name.

2. If you don't care about Gibson or being made in America, go Japanese. Besides the usual Burnys, Grecos, Tokai's etc, look for Orvilles and the higher-ed Orville by Gibson. These are MIJ FujiGen Les Pauls that were made by Gibson back when Japan was still "cheap labor". These are steadily rising in value, but still can be a good deal.

I would not buy:

Anything Epiphone unless it's an Elitest model. Part of the draw of a Les Paul is the mahogany + maple cap. Barring the Elitest line, Epiphones are Alder/maple ply in place of the cap.

I recommend you register with mylespaul, the Les Paul forum, and TGP and peruse the classifieds.

EDIT: Also, do your research. There's a lot of interesting history behind these guitars, and it usually revolves around Gibson tripping over itself while scrambling to meet the demand of the public after the Les Paul was rediscovered in the 60s by the likes of Clapton, Beck, Page, Green, etc.

The Norlin years, the early 70s to late 80s -- multipiece necks, maple necks, volutes, 12 pound Les Paul boat anchors, pancake bodies -- those are all worthy of a discussion thread all their own. Plenty of discussion out there if you look around. Besides being interesting, all of it is important in deciding what Les Paul to buy.

Last edited by RedTiger; 10-06-2010 at 10:44 AM.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

RedTiger have you played the Elitest line ?

Just wondering how you liked it, haven't tried one.

Looks like it's been discontinued.
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 12:33 PM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armann View Post
RedTiger have you played the Elitest line ?

Just wondering how you liked it, haven't tried one.

Looks like it's been discontinued.
No, I haven't tried one but I've heard nothing but good things about them. Unfortunately, the deal breaker for me would be the fact that they're poly and not nitro.

I'm not a nitro snob at all and I don't buy all the arguments that it sounds better. I like my polyurethane desert sun yellow bowling ball Jem, thank you very much. But for a Les Paul, I want nitro. Just like I'd want leather seats for a BMW, nitro just feels right and ages right for that type of guitar.
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Yeah I have that nitro fetish for my Strats so I understand
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-06-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

ELitists are very heavy. VERY HEAVY
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 10-07-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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Re: So I played 2 les pauls today...

Ive worked in music stores for a long time and sold Gibsons the whole time. RedTiger has pretty much hit all the high points on everything.

The nitro finish, however is a big dealbreaker whether buying new or used. It ages with the guitar and DOES add alot of tone; other than the maple cap, it is clearly audible (even in the new strats as Armann has said, and I have played many). It brings out alot of "soul" in the guitar that being played back to back you can hear.

For me, and ideal LP is the Classic. Now that they are discontinued they are easily available in a good price range, have all the features and the 60's neck is super comfortable, even for shredding. The new standards are also very awesome.

However, even in the same model, since at the Nashville plant wood choice is guitar and the nitro must age; the same LP model sitting on the shelf can sound slightly different to the one next to it. Maybe one is more bluesy and warm and the next one more edgy. Gibson is a love/hate affair for many. I'd always play it before I bought it, though.
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