As detailed in another thread, my wife brutally assaulted and fatally raped my Les Paul Studio Faded, and she has agreed to make up for her misdeed by replacing it. I got a new job five years ago which has taken up all of my time, so I've had little time to play over that time and I am completely lost when it comes to gear knowledge these days. Please help!

My price range tops out at $1500, maybe $1700 or so if I find a really good deal. I'm deploying in May, so I can perhaps save extra money to increase my budget on this guitar.

I love the tone of Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Maynard James Keenan (Tool), Gary Moore,

The '59 style neck on my Studio Faded was nice, but I'd honestly prefer a neck that is a bit slimmer. Nothing bigger, at least. This is not a big sticking point! I will say that I'd prefer less prominent, smoother frets. It's pretty important to me that I buy a Gibson simply because I want an American-made guitar, and indeed the name matters to me somewhat - I always wanted a real Gibson when I was a teen, so now that I can afford one, it's a factor. The heavier, the better. Ultimately, tone is paramount, but I like the feel of a big, heavy, beefy guitar.

I want a traditional Les Paul humbucker tone. Is the coil tapping in the new LP's any good? If so, I'd like that shit, too. Cosmetics aren't very important to me, I want great tone and a sturdy guitar that plays well. I'd rather not pay several hundred dollars for a beautiful AAA maple top.

Tone: I primarily play blues, blues rock, stuff like that. Anything from SRV, to Muse, Pearl Jam, AiC, Cradle of Filth, Sublime, Stray Cats, and so on. I've got an America Deluxe Strat, I just need the LP to do the Gibson thing really well. I want a strong, throaty, shimmering blues tone, with an aggressive crunch for classic and hard rock.

Preferably new, but used is fine. Ideally, I want to play the guitar I buy before I buy it to select for tonal characteristics.

I'm located in the San Diego area.

I have an Egnater Tweaker, TS-808, 535Q wah, Fulltone OCD overdrive, vintage 1964 Bassman head with an Avatar cab (celestion vintage 30's), blah blah awesomeness.

Do the Min-Etune tuners suck ass? They seem really tacky - I'd like to stay traditional, even coil tapping feels tacky and weird on a Les Paul. Thanks, guys.
Last edited by wiggles89 at Dec 8, 2014,
Dude, you live in San Diego? Do yourself a favor and check out what your budget can get you at the Carvin factory. Most of us who like Carvins have to go mail order only, but you have the luxury of testing in person.

What do they offer? American made. Extremely good QC. Gorgeous tops. About the only weak spot that might exist is the pickups. They're not bad, they're just kinda vanilla mainstream HBs...and you can swap those out no problemo.


Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Dec 8, 2014,
I agree Carvin is an excellent choice. Their custom shop is affordable too where you explain in dept what you want. Like if you wanted 20 raidus for the frets they'd do it, a neck as thin or fat as you want it. You name it. My friend had an 8 string DC model made recently and he loves it.

in the end brand is just a waterslide decal. Gibson is the mcdonalds of guitars. The #1 complaint is Gibson is pushing out so many guitars they don't have the time to make sure the fretting is perfect, sharp pointy edges like my friends SG menace to the newer models after the year 2000 even with insanely high action they buzz. The phrase I've given up on Gibson comes up a lot.

alternatives? I'm not getting paid to say any
Paul Reed Smith (PRS) - when his company started he wanted to fuse the goods from both big brands at the time of Fender and Gibson. He's been going for over 30 years and I've played a few and they are great build quality. Are they as affordable? absolutely. Are there USA models (as if that matters) yes.

ESP / Edwards - made in Japan so built quality is like the good years of USA production. High end parts and so forth.

in the end what to look for
grover , schaller , gotoh or sperzel tuners are great choices
24.75 scale most les pauls are. no converting at all shapes and so forth when playing
mahogany or maple necks - mahogany is warmer
set neck for gibsons - neckthrough is much better in my eyes
mahogany bodies with or without flamed maple caps
electronics and all is up to you.
if you can play a few guitars by the brands we all mention (not just myself) see what your ears tell you, not your wallet, look for bad fretting and so forth. That kind of money you're obligated to have something perfect.
Well as far as the US made thing, it used to mean better quality. That's not a given these days, but there is such a thing as trying to put one's dollars back into one's own economy and support one's own domestic workforce. It doesn't have the same direct bearing on the instrument that it might have in years past but it's still a valid factor for some, myself included, especially when you don't have to pay import duties on top of the high starting prices if you live in the same country. Is it as important as the workmanship and construction? No, but it matters, just like I'd never buy a red or a black guitar, it's just a personal preference thing. I'd never tell anyone else they need to buy with the same mentality but I personally get the desire to buy domestic.

Carvins are very nice (except for the electronics) and it's good to know what ones options are.
OP, I don't know if you'd notice much (go try one since, as dannyalcatraz points out, you're local) but a Carvin CS6 is a reasonable take on a single cut (les paul). I have one myself and the wood is absolutely gorgeous on it. It's not a big deal to me, but the guitar IS a bit "flatter" than a Les Paul. What I mean by that is that the carve is less rounded in the top. The neck is not pitched back a few degrees and the headstock angle is shallower. But it's made in the US, you get a LOT of flexibility over options YOU want on YOUR guitar (for example, mine was a AAAA flamed top painted in a deep green burst with gold hardware, 4 knobs, coil taps, stainless frets, rosewood board, MOP block inlays). They CNC these things so you can still go try one out, I think and even if you want to order one with different options, it's going to feel roughly the same. Oh, one last note, they're 25" scale. Meh, it's a 1/4". I don't notice much.

(Carvin CS6S with stop tail and some added plastics. Yes, I tried to Les Paul it out a bit.)

If you're dead set on an original Les Paul at that price range. I'd hunt around a little bit for a used traditional and see if that floats your boat. On a traditional, you're going to get a substantial weight relieved (but not chambered) body, 57 classic pups (very nice sounding) and the ornamentation (binding, gloss finish, etc) of a 90's standard. Much better bang for buck in my mind than current standards which have been getting into what I consider positively ludicrous price ranges new. There are of course many other models from melody makers on up, but for that kind of scratch, I'd look at that or a good studio.
Last edited by Hydra26 at Dec 8, 2014,
Another vote for Carvin. Here's mine. It's also a CS6, but with the strings through the body.

Since you really want to stick with Gibson I would keep an eye out for a Classic or a Traditional. You might even find a used Standard for around $1700. As much as I don't usually suggest Guitar Center (and I'll probably get hate for doing so) you might consider looking through their used guitars online. If you don't find one at the store in your area you can go to your local store and request them to ship a specific guitar from another store to your store. If you really want to get first pick you can also put money down on it to reserve it, and if you play it and end up not liking it they'll refund the entire down payment.
Another solid, MiUSA singlecut LPclone option would be something from the PRS S2 series:
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Dec 9, 2014,
Thanks for the help, guys. I'm digging the Carvins, and I'll play some PRS's and see what I think. I've thought about it, and I'll push my budget to <$2000 if it gets me a Classic or Traditional. When I still played a lot, I got my hands on a lot of Gibsons to try, and I remember finding their QC terrible. Is it still this way? I'd be beyond furious if I dropped over 1K on an American-made guitar only to get a lemon. I don't really trust the guitars at Guitar Center as being good representatives because of how they're treated there, and mom-and-pop guitar stores tend to be uptight about you actually playing the guitars.
I don't care for them, bit a good Gibson is still going to be a helluva good guitar. The trick, of course, is finding one because they do have QC issues.

So, DO try Gibsons out in your search for your new LP. You may just find a killer.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!