#1
I've been searching for a new LP for a while and have come down to these three guitars. The Tribute is well liked for the Gibson hardware, mainly pickups. The Gibson studio is liked for reasons I don't understand, nobody has really told me why is is a better guitar than a tribute. The Custom pro is liked for being very complete and well made. Some downsides that I've heard: Tribute has QC issues. Gibson's finish gets sticky on the neck. Custom pro pickups aren't good (although I've also heard otherwise). Which would you buy? Are these guitars generally availible at local shops or Guitar Center so I can avoid the risk of shipping damage?

Also, are the tribute pickups active? I didn't think they were but one review I read said,"I didn't know this needed a battery to work."

Thanks!
#2
Quote by guspac88
I've been searching for a new LP for a while and have come down to these three guitars. The Tribute is well liked for the Gibson hardware, mainly pickups.


The tribute is liked because you get late 50s style features (long neck tenon, solid maple top, classic neck profiles) along with better hardware and pickups that come on your standard Epiphones. If anything, they're the best bang for your buck you can get from Epiphone.

Quote by guspac88
The Gibson studio is liked for reasons I don't understand, nobody has really told me why is is a better guitar than a tribute.


What's there not to understand? You're getting essentially a Les Paul Standard for cheaper because you don't get binding, fancy tops etc... They're made the same way as any other Gibson USA LP and they can be found used for good prices.

[quote="guspac88The Custom pro is liked for being very complete and well made. [/QUOTE"]

The custom pro is the same as any other standard Epiphone pro series. It's as complete and as well made as a Standard Pro.

Quote by guspac88
Some downsides that I've heard: Tribute has QC issues. Gibson's finish gets sticky on the neck. Custom pro pickups aren't good (although I've also heard otherwise). Which would you buy? Are these guitars generally availible at local shops or Guitar Center so I can avoid the risk of shipping damage?

Also, are the tribute pickups active? I didn't think they were but one review I read said,"I didn't know this needed a battery to work."

Thanks!


Gibson can have QC issues too. So can lots of companies. I wouldn't say the Tribute line is known for QC issues. I don't notice the finish getting sticky on my newer Gibsons but YMMV. I think that's mostly a problem with older and vintage style ones tbh. Which would I buy? Depends on what I would want and what kind of music I play but really I'd rather the Tribute or the Studio. Personally I think they're both better than the custom. So give us a budget, style of music, location, your current gear etc... and we can help you out.

The pickups in the Tribute are passive. They are not active in any way.
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Quote by JustRooster
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#3
Just got a 2016 Studio this month. Absolutely perfect fret job and setup, slim tapered neck, chambered body. Much better than my Epiphone (std) was. I have heard Gibson in 2015 and 2016 with PLEKing and so on stepped up quality control. That said, the higher end Epiphones get good reviews.
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#4
Quote by 21GunSalute
Just got a 2016 Studio this month. Absolutely perfect fret job and setup, slim tapered neck, chambered body. Much better than my Epiphone (std) was. I have heard Gibson in 2015 and 2016 with PLEKing and so on stepped up quality control. That said, the higher end Epiphones get good reviews.


They've been PLEKing guitars for longer than a couple of years. Pretty sure they started back in 06-07 on CS guitars and then maybe moved to the standard lines in 2010.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#5
Thanks for the responses. I play rock from Three Days Grace to Green Day. I've been in bands before but am not currently. I play both rhythm and lead and have a Marshall MG100fx, not the greatest I know. I live in Connecticut and won't spend over $800. I'm willing to buy used if they are in person transactions.
#6
Well if it has to be an LP I'd suggest trying a few different models and see what you like the best. I mean you can't go wrong with the Studio or the Tribute so it's really just a matter of preference at that point.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#7
Also, I was under the impression that a Tribute Plus would have more well liked pickups with equal quality compared to a Gibson studio, which is why I thought the Gibson is bought for the brand. People have told me that the tribute sounds just as good but has nicer finishes at a lower price. Is this true? I plan on going to Guitar Center in a few weeks to try the guitars I'm looking at again, as well as possibly purchase one. Are those prices generally comparable to online prices?
#8
Out of curiosity, does that mean you would highly reccomend something over a Les Paul? I would definately be willing to try playing other guitars I wouldn't normally consider, maybe I'll be suprised!
#9
Quote by guspac88
Also, I was under the impression that a Tribute Plus would have more well liked pickups with equal quality compared to a Gibson studio, which is why I thought the Gibson is bought for the brand. People have told me that the tribute sounds just as good but has nicer finishes at a lower price. Is this true? I plan on going to Guitar Center in a few weeks to try the guitars I'm looking at again, as well as possibly purchase one. Are those prices generally comparable to online prices?


The tribute has pickups I prefer to the Studios. Depends on what you consider a nice finish. I don't like thick coats of polyurethane and prefer the feel of guitars with nitrocellulose lacquer instead so in that regard I wouldn't say the Epiphone has a nicer finish. I think the epiphone looks nicer since it has a veneer top and binding personally but I'm not crazy about Epi finishes. Which is why its better to try things in person cause you can get an idea of what you like and buy from there.

Do they compare to prices of the guitars new? Sure. Do they compare to used guitars you can get on ebay or reverb? Probably not.

Quote by guspac88
Out of curiosity, does that mean you would highly reccomend something over a Les Paul? I would definately be willing to try playing other guitars I wouldn't normally consider, maybe I'll be suprised!



I would recommend buying a Les Paul if you want a Les Paul. If you are open to other shapes then try as many guitars as you can when you go to GC and see what you like and what you don't. That will narrow down your choices to things that would actually be good for you.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#10
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
They've been PLEKing guitars for longer than a couple of years. Pretty sure they started back in 06-07 on CS guitars and then maybe moved to the standard lines in 2010.


Here's what you need to know about Gibson and PLEK machines. Gibson has never done a PLEK job as recommended by both the PLEK corporation and independent techs, ever. Their fretwork was getting such a bad reputation that they bought the PLEK machines to ride PLEK's reputation coattails for excellence and precision in fretwork. Unfortunately, they elected to use their PLEK machines as an automated fret mill. They didn't bother doing measurements with strings on the guitars. In most cases the guitars weren't even finished. Gibson put the guitars on fixtures that "simulated" string tension (it bent the necks forward) and did a general fret mill. By the time those guitars are completed (sprayed, finish dried, assembled, etc.), they're a month old and everything on the guitar has changed. At one point several years ago, a group of techs who OWN PLEK machines met and NAMM and complained to PLEK that Gibson was ruining the reputation of the PLEK process for the rest of them. Gibson, these days, cuts the nuts with a PLEK machine and may use them as a fret mill, but no Gibson coming out of the factory really has a PLEK job done to it. Pay the money to have it done properly by an aftermarket tech. Huge difference.

Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
The tribute has pickups I prefer to the Studios. Depends on what you consider a nice finish. I don't like thick coats of polyurethane and prefer the feel of guitars with nitrocellulose lacquer instead so in that regard I wouldn't say the Epiphone has a nicer finish.


Most guitars these days are no longer using polyurethane, but are going with a UV-set polyester. In many cases, the actual film thickness of these guitars is thinner than that on nitrocellulose guitars (it can be measured) even though it's much smoother and glossier. Gibson itself uses UV-set polyester in the Epiphone plants they own. Most of the Gibson consumer complaints have to do with nitrocellulose finishes.

Nitrocellulose is one of the first plastics made by nitrating cellulose (cotton, wood pulp, paper) with nitric acid in the presence of sulfuric acid (working as a catalyst). In order to make a lacquer, it's mixed with acetone (as a basic solvent) and then other solvents are added as well. Nitrocellulose doesn't "cure" -- it mostly flashes off solvents over a long period of time. Nitrocellulose is volatile (it was called gun cotton and used in artillary shells, and it's also well known as magician's flash paper). Nitrocellulose lacquer breaks down over time, outgassing nitric and sulfuric acids that attack guitar metals. It will take on dyes from fabrics (leave a black microfiber cloth in the case on top of the guitar for a few days and you'll see), and it will actually "flow" around hairs on guitar case padding, incorporating them into the lacquer (folks with white guitars who had purple lining in their cases learned this the hard way). It discolors over time (turns yellow), and it cracks, checks, chips and chalks. These are a few of the reasons the auto industry abandoned it in the early 1950's.

Gibson still uses it because some guitarists consider it "traditional." Pretty much the entire rest of the guitar industry has dumped it. It is NOT a "nicer" finish. It's susceptible to moisture (it will turn cloudy, sticky and soft). It is not a "thin" finish -- it will transmit the grain of the surface it's on to the surface of the paint (this used to drive car makers crazy) no matter how many *tens* of coats of the stuff are on the item. This has led some guitarists to think that it's "thin." When it's not. On the other hand, companies like Taylor use self-leveling polyester based paints in robotic fixtures that can produce a thinner, more even coat than any human with a spray gun. These paints use almost 100% solids, are much safer for their workers, and can allow their guitars to go through the paint process dry to dry in under 24 hours and be ready for final sanding and polishing when they come out.
#11
Quote by dspellman
Here's what you need to know about Gibson and PLEK machines. Gibson has never done a PLEK job as recommended by both the PLEK corporation and independent techs, ever. Their fretwork was getting such a bad reputation that they bought the PLEK machines to ride PLEK's reputation coattails for excellence and precision in fretwork. Unfortunately, they elected to use their PLEK machines as an automated fret mill. They didn't bother doing measurements with strings on the guitars. In most cases the guitars weren't even finished. Gibson put the guitars on fixtures that "simulated" string tension (it bent the necks forward) and did a general fret mill. By the time those guitars are completed (sprayed, finish dried, assembled, etc.), they're a month old and everything on the guitar has changed. At one point several years ago, a group of techs who OWN PLEK machines met and NAMM and complained to PLEK that Gibson was ruining the reputation of the PLEK process for the rest of them. Gibson, these days, cuts the nuts with a PLEK machine and may use them as a fret mill, but no Gibson coming out of the factory really has a PLEK job done to it. Pay the money to have it done properly by an aftermarket tech. Huge difference.


Most guitars these days are no longer using polyurethane, but are going with a UV-set polyester. In many cases, the actual film thickness of these guitars is thinner than that on nitrocellulose guitars (it can be measured) even though it's much smoother and glossier. Gibson itself uses UV-set polyester in the Epiphone plants they own. Most of the Gibson consumer complaints have to do with nitrocellulose finishes.

Nitrocellulose is one of the first plastics made by nitrating cellulose (cotton, wood pulp, paper) with nitric acid in the presence of sulfuric acid (working as a catalyst). In order to make a lacquer, it's mixed with acetone (as a basic solvent) and then other solvents are added as well. Nitrocellulose doesn't "cure" -- it mostly flashes off solvents over a long period of time. Nitrocellulose is volatile (it was called gun cotton and used in artillary shells, and it's also well known as magician's flash paper). Nitrocellulose lacquer breaks down over time, outgassing nitric and sulfuric acids that attack guitar metals. It will take on dyes from fabrics (leave a black microfiber cloth in the case on top of the guitar for a few days and you'll see), and it will actually "flow" around hairs on guitar case padding, incorporating them into the lacquer (folks with white guitars who had purple lining in their cases learned this the hard way). It discolors over time (turns yellow), and it cracks, checks, chips and chalks. These are a few of the reasons the auto industry abandoned it in the early 1950's.

Gibson still uses it because some guitarists consider it "traditional." Pretty much the entire rest of the guitar industry has dumped it. It is NOT a "nicer" finish. It's susceptible to moisture (it will turn cloudy, sticky and soft). It is not a "thin" finish -- it will transmit the grain of the surface it's on to the surface of the paint (this used to drive car makers crazy) no matter how many *tens* of coats of the stuff are on the item. This has led some guitarists to think that it's "thin." When it's not. On the other hand, companies like Taylor use self-leveling polyester based paints in robotic fixtures that can produce a thinner, more even coat than any human with a spray gun. These paints use almost 100% solids, are much safer for their workers, and can allow their guitars to go through the paint process dry to dry in under 24 hours and be ready for final sanding and polishing when they come out.


I'm well aware of the half assed PLEK jobs. Pedantics aside, it doesn't change the fact that gibson has been doing them since the time I mentioned.


Nitro feels good to me so I will mention my preference with it. It's not a better finish, sure. It's a nicer finish to me and it's not uncommon for people to find Epiphone finishes as feeling plastic and thick even if it isn't the case.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#12
Quote by guspac88
Out of curiosity, does that mean you would highly reccomend something over a Les Paul? I would definately be willing to try playing other guitars I wouldn't normally consider, maybe I'll be suprised!


My most recent *new* Gibson purchase was a 2009 Gibson Axcess Custom (~$4K). Since then, I have a used '70's L6S in near-perfect condition as well. I've also purchased a pair of Line 6 JTV-89F guitars, a new Agile AL (LP-style) custom, an AL3100 Floyd, an AL2000 Floyd, an AD-2300 (P90's) and (it arrived yesterday) another AL2000 Floyd, this one with a Fernandes Sustainer built in. The latter four were used. The custom Agile (you can order via the custom page on rondomusic dot com) has neck-through construction, an Axcess-style neck, triple binding on headstock and body, single binding on the fretboard, an ebony fretboard with a 16" radius, abalone block inlays, an OFR, a full-thickness maple cap (specified "tight flame"), jumbo hand-filed frets and more, and with case and shipping, was $1160 at my door. Finish was impeccable. The Gibson Axcess Custom arrived on the same day. It was only available with medium jumbo frets and a 12" radius and was painted black (a tight flame maple cap in cherry sunburst would have added $1760 to the price), and it's a set-neck. Both guitars were PLEK'd and had their frets superglued (the Gibson had a classic "Gibson Hump") by Gary Brawer, both now have sustainers and exactly the same pickups and hardware. The Axcess (which is chambered) is much lighter (and thinner) than the Agile, but the Agile has become the go-to guitar, even though it was originally supposed to be the "trial horse" for the modifications on the Gibson.

Agile offers a lot of options that simply aren't available on a Gibson at any price, and that includes different numbers of strings, different scales, stainless frets, a huge number of different finishes, fretboard woods, neck profiles, pickup configurations, etc. Most of these options are available on a custom-built guitar for about what a Studio costs.

If you've got a bit more money to spend, it's worth looking at something like a Carvin/Kiesel CS6, a Les Paul style guitar that's custom built to a list of specs you choose from a wide selection. Again, there are options available in woods and finishes and hardware and fretboard radii and trems, etc., that are simply not available on any Gibson (and certainly not on any Studio). You'll still spend (generally) less than you'd spend on a Traditional/Trad Pro, etc. and you'll end up with a lot better guitar.
#13
Nitro is somewhat delicate but it can last fine if taken care of. I have two RIs that looks like new that are 6 years old. I have a PRS SE245 that's got more fine scratches on the finish even though it's been played a lot less and is less than 3 years old.
I don't care for any plastic fiinishes myself, they can't be repaired, only "patched". I think in time Nitro may be replaced with a water based lacquer which would still have all the nice characteristics of nitro.
I've heard people complaint about Gibson fret work but I've owned 4 since 2010 and none have needed any fret work done. All I needed to do was fine tune the nut and saddle notches, and I easily got the factory spec 4/64th action at the 12th fret consisently with little relief in my necks.
Moving on.....
#14
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
I'm well aware of the half assed PLEK jobs. Pedantics aside, it doesn't change the fact that gibson has been doing them since the time I mentioned.

Nitro feels good to me so I will mention my preference with it. It's not a better finish, sure. It's a nicer finish to me and it's not uncommon for people to find Epiphone finishes as feeling plastic and thick even if it isn't the case.


I mentioned that because Gibson really hasn't been "doing PLEK jobs." They 've been doing something else with the machines, and yes, they've had the machines about that long. I think Gary Brawer had his first machine in about 2000 or 2001 (he was one of the first in the US), and he recently added one of the newer versions. Suhr has two of the newer versions and does its PLEK jobs just before the guitars leave the building, and they do it according to hoyle.

Some folks like nitrocellulose finishes, and you're one of them. I covered "thick and thin" because you typified Epiphones as having thick polyurethane finishes. I don't know that current Epiphones are either polyurethane OR thick, but modern guitar plants are definitely evolving in that department.
#15
Alright guys, a few months down the line now, I've bought the Tribute. Been playing it through a Pod HD500 and it still sounds great. Thanks for all your inputs, I think the choice was right for me!
#16
And now I'm onto a DSL40C. The Tribute sounds even better.