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gregs1020 01-08-2013 01:26 AM

The Ultimate Les Paul Thread - V1
I don't think it's possible to really list every company that has made a version of the Les Paul.

Okay - maybe it's possible, but i'm not going to try to do it.

Gibson alone has made so many different versions of the guitar it's almost impossible to list every single model they've produced since 1952, let alone all of the versions made since by other companies.

So let's break it down into historical years and some basic changes.

I'll use Les Paul Standards for example, but Juniors and Customs were made over many of these years as well.


1953 - bridge changed from '52.

1956 - bridge changed to the tune o matic

1957 brings us the humbuckers. This one was Duanne Allmans

1958 brings us the burst.

the 1959 brings a thinner neck than the previous models and slightly taller frets

the 1960 brings still a thinner neck.

and that was the end of the single cut maple top until 1968.

the 1961 Les Paul

between '61 and '68, during the hard rock "explosion" if anyone wanted the "old style" les paul with buckers they had to get a '57 - '60 which in part made them so desirable and growing demand eventually helped persuade gibson bring them back in '68.

so in a way, any les paul made after '60 was a "reissue". :o

But anyway in this thread we can, as a community, answer questions about different models, changes, pros, cons, values, favorites, etc.

This is not a "my guitar is better than your guitar" thread, what may be overpriced to you may not be to someone else. So let's just say some guitars may or may not be a better "value" and leave it at that.

This thread is not exclusive to Gibsons. Plenty of guitar manufacturers make Les Paul type guitars. Gibson, IMO, does a fine job of it. So do plenty of others, Tokai, Navigator, Burny, Orville, Epiphone, Agile, ESP/LTD, Edwards, on and on and on...

We can basically try to stay within the scope of single cut guitars (although Yamaha does a fine job at having two cutaways) with two humbuckers is close enough.

Questions about anything pertaining to the LP guitar is welcome, flaming or any other asinine behavior will be met with a backhand by a wet glove.

Let's help each other discover, learn, appreciate, and find good LP type guitars.

Maybe even spam a little. :o

At last count I've had 9 gibson LPs ranging from studios to custom shop built models, and 7 non-gibson LPs. (still have a couple of the non-gibsons, some of my gibsons are floating around this site and others).

we can get into the urgent matter of pickguard on or off, and the benefits of topwrapping at some point.

gregs1020 01-08-2013 01:31 AM

While this post will be primarily about modern made Gibson Les Pauls..

There are two locations/plants making "Gibson Les Paul" guitars. They are Gibson USA and Gibson Custom Shop.

*Partially borrowed from a sticky over at MLP but modified to add in some additional information.
Gibson USA
Weight-relief started around 1982/1983. Every Gibson USA Les Paul between 1982 - 2007 is weight-relieved. They do not have solid-body construction. Weight-relief is also known as "swiss cheese holes" and refers to the nine holes drilled out of the body in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.

Chambering officially began for 2007 but the late 2006s are also chambered. Any Les Paul made after October 2006 maybe or likely is chambered. Every 2007 and newer Gibson USA Les Paul is chambered, except for the Les Paul Traditional. The Les Paul Traditional has swiss cheese holes up until the 2013 models which are now solid construction. Chambering is essentially hollowing out the body. Again, this is in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.

Gibson Custom Shop
Gibson's Custom Shop makes regular production guitars and historic reissues. The regular production guitars, such as the Les Paul Custom, are also weight-relieved. They do not have solid-bodies.

The historic reissues are solid. All historic reissues, be it Standards or Customs, are solid. The exception being the chambered reissues. Chambered reissues are often referred to as Cloud 9 guitars. They are identified by their serial number, which begins with CR.


A 2003 Les Paul Classic is weight-relieved
A 2008 '57 reissue is solid
A 1995 Les Paul Standard is weight-relieved
A 2009 Chambered '58 reissue is chambered
A 2008 Les Paul Studio is chambered
A 1987 Les Paul Custom is weight-relieved

If you put on your x-ray goggles, this is what a chambered Les Paul would look like:

This is what a weight-relieved Les Paul would look like:

The 2012 chambering looks like this.

Neck tenons

Some Les Pauls have long neck tenon, while others do not.

Short: Standards (before the 2008 "new" Standard), Customs, Studios Classics.
Long: Historic reissues, 2008 Standards.

Gibson guitars made between 1968 - 1986.
Some common features of the Norlin era guitar are the larger headstocks, pancake type body construction and neck volute.

Norlin era headstocks are a bit wider like this one.

neck volutes, both large and small.

Pancake body example.

Historic Reissues
R2 = reissue of the 1952 Gibson Les Paul
R9 = reissue of the 1959 Gibson Les Paul
CR8 = chambered reissue of the '58 Gibson Les Paul
There is no R3 or R5.

Historic Customs are often referred to as B4, B7, R4BB or R7BB. BB meaning Black Beauty.

Gibson's VOS - Vintage Original Spec line. The terms VOS, historic, reissue & historic reissue all refer to the same guitar. There is only one difference, VOS refers to the aged finish on the top and hardware. The ones that do not have the VOS finish are referred to as "gloss" or "high gloss" reissues because (obviously) they have a high gloss finish. Websites like Guitar Center list the two guitars as VOS and "reissue." Reissue refers to the high gloss. I think this has caused some confusion with some people but rest assured, they are all the same guitar. Again, one looks brand new and the other does not look brand new - that's the only difference. VOS costs $300 less.

Historic Customs
Standards have mahogany bodies and maple tops. Historic Customs have mahogany bodies and mahogany tops (while modern/regular Customs have maple tops). The Custom will likely weight around a pound heavier but that's about it for differences.

1968 Reissue
Another reissue that never seems to be on is the '68RI. These are the same as the B7s, only difference is they have maple tops, different pickups and Gibson USA electronics.

R8 vs. R9
This question gets asked a lot !!
They are the same guitar. All reissues are essentially the same guitar with minor differences. These differences are neck thicknesses, weight of each individual guitar & tops. R8 guitars are typically plain tops and R9s are typically flamed tops, but flamed top R8s do exist. The best way to get an understanding of the neck sizes is to actually play them. Me explaining that R8s have thicker necks than R9s and R7s have thicker necks than R8s doesn't mean jack unless you sit down with the guitar and see for yourself.

R9s list for $1,500 - $2,000 more than R8s. Why? The answer is because R9s have flame maple tops and the R9 should weigh less than the R8. That's it.
Here's a great pic taken from inside Gibson's Custom Shop

Roc8995 01-08-2013 01:32 AM

Fix'd thread title :p:

Might as well start it off properly.

gregs1020 01-08-2013 01:39 AM

oh we do love ebony les pauls.

fun fact - gibson never made a black guitar - only "ebony". ;)

my burny FLG70 during the refin.

the finished product. :dance:

Wisthekiller 01-08-2013 02:19 AM

The Agile will look MUCH better when it's done.

Gibson Les Paul Special Faded.

RiseTheFallen 01-08-2013 02:42 AM

ESP Eclipse II, if that counts...

dannyalcatraz 01-08-2013 03:27 AM

OK...I have a question regarding an LP style guitar:

I have a Dean Special Select EVO- arched maple top (quilted tiger's eye finish) with a mahogany body- from about 2003. Everything about this guitar is good except the pickups, which, compared to my better guitars, are muddy. So I'm upgrading them in 2013.

I'm planning on a Bareknuckle Steve Stevens Rebel Yell in the bridge and their Mississippi Queen HB-sized P90 in the neck- fell in love with them listening to samples.

The question: will those pickups work well with that body & top wood combo?

(For the record: amp is a 40w Fender HRD Combo.)

HenryB 01-08-2013 03:35 AM

Les Paul Standard Faded (and my Les Paul Junior, too):

Close up of the Standard:

Tom 1.0 01-08-2013 08:05 AM

Got to have a Gold Top on page one.

gregs1020 01-08-2013 09:47 AM

^ hell yeah. :cheers:
Originally Posted by dannyalcatraz
I'm planning on a Bareknuckle Steve Stevens Rebel Yell in the bridge and their Mississippi Queen HB-sized P90 in the neck- fell in love with them listening to samples.

The question: will those pickups work well with that body & top wood combo?

(For the record: amp is a 40w Fender HRD Combo.)

the rebel yell works for steve stevens in his gibsons so i can't see why it wouldn't.

and a p-90 in the neck of a LP is a always a good match.


Tom 1.0 01-08-2013 10:18 AM

Didn't work too great in mine.

JKHC 01-08-2013 02:58 PM

Slash fanboys.... :mad:

randomguy2000 01-08-2013 03:29 PM

Originally Posted by JKHC
Slash fanboys.... :mad:

(and sexy standard Henry)

LP1951 01-08-2013 03:31 PM

Originally Posted by JKHC
Slash fan...

And Page & Bloomfield & Clapton & Richards & Rhodes & almost every other guitar player who has played LPs in the past 60 years.

Mephaphil 01-08-2013 03:47 PM

Slash is awesome. I see no problem in being a fan of his.

dannyalcatraz 01-08-2013 04:11 PM

Without naming names, I'll just say that a LOT of great R&R of the past was played on LPs, and the future doesn't look all that different.

gregs1020 01-08-2013 04:14 PM

i'm probably more of a page fanboi, but i'm not a fan of cherry burst LPs.

just a preference thing, to each their own.

Originally Posted by Tom 1.0
Didn't work too great in mine.

care to elaborate oh mister of so few words? :haha:

dannyalcatraz 01-08-2013 04:29 PM


Between Tom & Greg, I've gotten answers, but no wiser!

WholeLottaIzzy 01-08-2013 04:46 PM

My favourite thing in the whole world... My Gibson Les Paul Standard Faded in Honeyburst. Had someone offer me an R8 in exchange for my faded but I refused. I am never getting rid of that LP. I couldn't. It was also made on my bday too, which is a nice bonus.

And I have another very special Les Paul on the way. Gunna have to wait a while for that one though...

Sweet, didn't even notice the other faded up there! Don't see them too often on this site.

Mephaphil 01-08-2013 05:25 PM

It's messy cos I am a man! Arrrr!

Complete with left hand truss rod cover!!!

Nice guitars guys!

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