#1
Hey all-

I'm looking for a no-frills Les Paul that won't break the bank. I play an Am Std Strat and an Am Std Tele, and I'm looking for something similar in the LP market. There are so many names to Gibson models nowadays, and to be honest, I'm not hip to the differences between the Stds, Classics, Traditionals, Trad Pros, etc.

It seems that for a used 1990's/2000's Gibson LP Standard, I can expect to pay around $1500, judging from Reverb. What I'm wondering- Can I score something of similar or higher quality from the MIJ market? My biggest fears in buying MIJ are consistency (not quality...just differences between manufacturers) coupled with not being able to play before buying.

The only thing I'd really want is a '59 neck. Everything else I can take or leave. This will be a real workhorse guitar for me, so I want something tried-and-true. Above the Studio line, but below Custom Shop quality/price-wise. I don't need fancy hardware or anything that'll drive the price up.

Some guitars I've been considering:

Gibson LP Standard
Edwards 108LTS or 130ALS
Orville by Gibson LP Standard (1990's)
Tokai LS-160 (2014)


I'll use this guitar for many things under the sun, but primarily classic rock. I'm located in Dallas. Budget is about $1500. Thanks for the help!
Ben
#2
Burny, Navigator, ESP are all worth a look also.

You can find a used LP studio for <$600 and some are great guitars
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#3
I love my Electra Omega Prime. Better than most Gibson LPs I've played. Nice fat neck too. The regular Omegas run just under a grand and the Prime models are a little over a grand. Definitely worth looking at.
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#4
I would never pay what a used LP goes for when I could get a new Edwards or Tokai for less. Just do your homework regarding the neck shape.
#5
I looked for a while. Then I realized the SG was the ultimate no frills LP.
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#7
Quote by Tony Done
Tokai have a good reputation, and the ones I've seen looked OK. Regardless of make (even Gibson!), you might want to budget for a pickup change, depending o how senitive you are to such thing. - The piece of wood is the form, the pickups are the function.

Or just get an Edwards and you won't have to worry about pickups. The Edwards Les Paul's have a fantastic reputation. They're also very light.
#8
Quote by Most_Triumphant
I looked for a while. Then I realized the SG was the ultimate no frills LP.


That too. If you can get by without binding and block inlays it's easy to score a great Gibson SG special for under $500. My last SG special cost me $425 with a high end hard case.
#9
A good used STD or Trad would be 1200-1500. These if kept in good shape will hold their value and not go down. While there are some good MIJs the electronics/HW and sometimes the finish are where you're going to get some compromises. Many talk about Tokai but their "really good stuff" was in line w/ Gibson custom shop in price a couple of years ago when I checked. The real deal for MIJ was the Orville made in Japan (not the later MIK versions and there are plenty of those around). Since you've bought MIA Fenders then the used Gibson isn't out of that price range.
Moving on.....
#10
Quote by TheStig1214
I love my Electra Omega Prime. Better than most Gibson LPs I've played. Nice fat neck too. The regular Omegas run just under a grand and the Prime models are a little over a grand. Definitely worth looking at.

Another member of the Electra Fan Club, here. The only LP clone I like more is my Reverend Rick Vito.

Omegas look sexy, feel sexy, sound sexy, and leave you enough $$$ in your wallet so you can still eat a decent meal.

You might also look at the Godin LP clones. They have a broad variety of them at different prices and pickup configurations. In addition, some of them are 25.5" scale, so your adjustment period between a Strat and one such Godin would be virtually nil. (Assuming, of course! you have issues alternating between 25.5" and 24.75" scales.)
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Aug 22, 2015,
#11
i may have a different definition on what a player guitar is. my #1 player guitar is a Gibson LP satin ebony. $600 new. no frills, but it delivers. its got dents and nicks all over, some wear on the neck. it practically gets thrown around, and if something happens to it, oh well. you had it. you played it. and it did you well. that is what i think a player guitar is.
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#12
definetly take a look at MIJ Tokai models. I have played only one so far but the quality felt outstanding. Much cheaper than Gibson equivalent too.

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Last edited by MaaZeus at Aug 23, 2015,
#13
Quote by KenG
A good used STD or Trad would be 1200-1500. These if kept in good shape will hold their value and not go down.


This is where I'd be^^^^ if I were looking for a Gibson branded LP these days. Good, basic choice with all that makes a Gibson a Gibson.

I've gotten spoiled, however. I have several LPs with the sculpted neck heel.

One is an Axcess Custom ($4K+ new). It's lighter, thinner, has an ebony fretboard, MOP inlays and is otherwise pretty normal (except for the sculpted neck heel and a tummy cut).

Another is the Agile AL-3200. This is a full-thickness, solid body, neck-through construction guitar with the Axcess neck heel and a tummy cut. It comes standard with an ebony fretboard (my personal preference) and a set of MOP inlays (I prefer these to the standard plastic Gibson traps that shrink and discolor over time). In typical Asian (these are Korean) fashion, it comes with pretty well-manicured jumbo frets and *usually* a 13.7" fretboard radius. Rondo Music always varies in what it has available: http://www.rondomusic.com/cgi-rondomusic/sb/productsearch.cgi?storeid=*0c1421a8d614cc26 but there are currently a lot of finish choices.

The "MCC" versions of these (http://www.rondomusic.com/AL3200mccROOTbeerflame.html for example) have a solid 3/4" maple cap, solid full-thickness mahogany body, and a five-piece neck (through the body) of maple and walnut. You'll want to avoid the "slim" neck profiles, but the standard and "wide" are very comfortable (the latter has a 1 3/4" width at the nut that tapers to standard width at the bridge; the difference is largely in the cowboy chord frets 1-5 area, and I much prefer it). Pickups are very good Alnico V. The guitar also comes with coil taps via push-pull pots.
The body and headstock of these are multi-layer bound (like a Gibson Custom). The bridge is an upgrade (from a standard Gibson-style TOM) Graphtech NVS2 with string saver saddles, the nut is Graphtech TUSQ. And finally, a lot of the new MCC versions are coming with a compound radius fretboard (12" at the nut, 16" at the 22nd fret).

These are $499 without a case (the premium case will add another $70), and the return policy is generous.

In my case, I tried one (this is back in about 2009) as a backup for the Axcess Custom. I figured that worst case, it could go back. Both the Axcess and the Agile arrived on the same day. I ended up with (currently) three more Agiles since then (a B stock and two used) and none have disappointed. And the original "backup" Agile is currently the lead on the project for which I bought the Axcess, and the Axcess is the backup (no flies on the Axcess; the big heavy solid body and the neck profile on the Agile work slightly better).

As workhorses, they excel; the B stock and one of the used guitars are my "bar" guitars.
#14
Your choices (including the Japanese choices) are all pretty good. But here's one more into the pot:

http://www.carvinguitars.com/catalog/guitars/cs6

The Carvin CS6 has a smooth neck heel, a nearly straight-pull headstock (you will constantly bitch about a standard LP's tuning on the middle two strings, but not the Carvin), a slightly thinner body (but solid, not chambered, cheesed) and a slight tummy cut. You have your choice of 22 or 24-fret neck (with the 24 frets clear of the body, not buried in it), a 25" scale. For $1500, it comes with an AAAA flamed or quilted full-thickness maple top, a standard ebony fretboard (others available), abalone dot inlays and a 14" radius with medium jumbos.

From there, a huge number of options (including other fretboard radii, stainless frets, lots of finishes, headstocks (!), much much more). http://www.carvinguitars.com/catalog/guitars/cs6



Fretwork on a Carvin will be superb when you pull it from the case. There are new pickups designed by Jeff Kiesel that people have been fawning over (the internet mostly grumps that the old ones, which were excellent in my view, are...uh..."sterile."). Again, you have 10 days to love it or send it back. In My View, that definitely beats a 20-minute grope session with a guitar in a store.
#15
dspellman consistently recommends Agiles & Carvins. I don't know Agiles, but he's not the only fan of them on these boards.

Carvins, though? Excellent axes.


Hmmm..."Excellent Axes"- may just have figured out the name for my new music store...if I ever open one.
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!
#16
Carvin has been around since the 60's I think. I know I could order one in the mid 70's when they used to basically make LP style guitars.
The thing that hurts them most is the thing that appeals to many people, the price. Because they cut out the middle man and unless they've changed recently, built to order, they are priced well below a similar quality guitarbut it's almost impossible to try these things out before buying. If they were sitting in music stores ready to buy, they'd likely cost much more but would get a wider audience and sell more as well.
Another nice Gibson like guitar from the 70's was the Hamer double cuts.
Moving on.....
Last edited by KenG at Aug 23, 2015,
#17
Thanks for all the input, everyone! Man, I didn't even think about Carvin. I've owned some of their stuff for years and it's top-notch. Lots of good options here...it's much appreciated!
Ben
#18
Quote by KenG
Carvin has been around since the 60's I think. I know I could order one in the mid 70's when they used to basically make LP style guitars.
The thing that hurts them most is the thing that appeals to many people, the price. Because they cut out the middle man and unless they've changed recently, built to order, they are priced well below a similar quality guitarbut it's almost impossible to try these things out before buying. If they were sitting in music stores ready to buy, they'd likely cost much more but would get a wider audience and sell more as well.


They're not interested. As a family business, Carvin's fairly content with their current volume. And as a semi-custom shop, they know it would be difficult to maintain their current quality levels under the pressure of cranking out enough guitars to stock the big-box stores. Here in the LA area we DID have several Carvin-exclusive factory stores (Covina, Hollywood, Fountain Valley), but those have closed and only the factory store AT the factory remains.
#19
One day, I wanna do THAT factory tour...get some samples.
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!
#20
Another vouch for Carvin, mine is simply the best felling/playing guitar I have ever laid hands on, and I've laid mah hands on plenty of guitars.
#21
Quote by KenG
Carvin has been around since the 60's I think. I know I could order one in the mid 70's when they used to basically make LP style guitars.
The thing that hurts them most is the thing that appeals to many people, the price. Because they cut out the middle man and unless they've changed recently, built to order, they are priced well below a similar quality guitarbut it's almost impossible to try these things out before buying. If they were sitting in music stores ready to buy, they'd likely cost much more but would get a wider audience and sell more as well.
Another nice Gibson like guitar from the 70's was the Hamer double cuts.

+311

Carvin makes some great stuff (not a fan of their guitar amps though) that gets way over looked.8 I remember wanting an X100b after watching an MTV video back in the 80's. But there is no where to try them and when I finally bought one it was not very good. Their guitars are great, but have no resale value. But saying that, I have never played a Carvin (all10-12 ) that sounded good stock. Their pickups made Epiphone stock HB's sound amazing . but the fit/finish is great kinda like the old school Warmoth company, great, but greatly un-appreciated when resale happens.
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Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#22
Quote by KenG
Carvin has been around since the 60's I think. I know I could order one in the mid 70's when they used to basically make LP style guitars.
The thing that hurts them most is the thing that appeals to many people, the price. Because they cut out the middle man and unless they've changed recently, built to order, they are priced well below a similar quality guitarbut it's almost impossible to try these things out before buying. If they were sitting in music stores ready to buy, they'd likely cost much more but would get a wider audience and sell more as well.
Another nice Gibson like guitar from the 70's was the Hamer double cuts.



Well I am going to get one. I'll post a NGD when it gets here. Takes a while to build so I got a pretty long wait, should make here by the holidays though <g>
#23
Another +1 for Agile. I own one Gibson LP and five Epiphone LP guitars and the Agile (which I've only had for about six months) which has been one of my go to gig guitars all summer. I started carrying it as a backup guitar but once I start playing it on a gig I rarely change back to one of my other guitars. The sound and feel is excellent. I bought the low end Agile AL-2000 Root Beer with a beautiful hard case and shipping for a total of $316.00 and it played great right out of the case. I am definitely going to buy an Agile AL-3200 very soon. I've already picked out which one. It was definitely the reviews of Dspellman and others on this forum that led me to the Agile. Thanks guys.

I do love my Epiphone LP Tribute Plus with the Gibson Classic 57 pups also (I added a Bigsby B7 to the Epi and it's very stable with no tuning issues).
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 25, 2015,
#24
do you really need a gibson?

cause for less money a Carvin will embarass a gibson so bad you would wonder why Gibson still exists as a company.

...and probably still have money to spare to buy gibson brand pickups to put in the carvin...

however carvin models are 25 scale i think. thats a big difference since a lot of the classic gibson tone is built upon the 24.75 scale. not sure what that means to you, but that to me plays the largest variation in design.

aside from that, i cant think of a single time ive thought a gibson even came remotely close to rivaling a carvin's build quality.

perhaps some crazy 5000 dollar model. anything in guitar center? ha. funny joke.
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#25
But with regards to the 90's les paul standard mentioned by the original poster, I own an early 90's standard LP along with several other guitars. That les paul has a great tone for hard rock and a nice warm sound for Jazz. It is one guitar I would keep if I had to get rid of any. Also, the thing is built like a tank (life long guitar). I've seen some good condition used from that era going for right around the same price as the Carvin mentioned.

I do love the look of the Carvin, and of course, I want one of those too.