Conrad Les Paul review by Aria

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  • Features: 6
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 4
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 6.6 Neat
  • Users' score: 7 (1 vote)
Aria: Conrad Les Paul

Purchased from: C&C Guitar Paris, Tx

Features — 6
70's Lawsuit Era Les Paul Model. 22 Frets with standard frets. Solid body with oversized pickup pockets. From what I can tell there is a top on the guitar but made of the same wood. Appears to be Maple body and neck. Finish is a solid black with gloss. Body style is a Les Paul with an open book headstock. Bridge style is an old school Tune-O-Matic bridge and tailpiece. Passive electronics, though the wiring is botched. 2 volume, 2 tone knobs like your standard LP, and a 3 way selector switch. 2 humbucker pickups, chrome top, set at neck and bridge position. Tuners are old school, as well, non locking from what I can tell and nothing more than 2 gears for internal mechanics. Came with a low end strap that was trashed immediately along with a plastic replacement nut that was traded for a synthetic bone.

Sound — 8
I mostly play post-hardcore, and rock. With the right equipment (i.e. amp, pedals, and cables) the sound was phenomenal. Could match an Gibson LP Standard, to an extent. I run it through a Yamaha THR-10 with the occasional Boss DS-1 pedal. It has some rough feedback, most likely due to the age of the hardware, and the botched wiring job. I can get a great distortion and crunch out of the bridge, and the neck pickup sounds great for blues/jazz. Split has a respectable metal/post-hardcore tone, though the pickups lack the bassy, low end, output.

Action, Fit & Finish — 4
I bought the guitar used, but when I took it home the action was great. It had been set up for light gauge strings (probably 9/46 or 10/59) but still had a great standing for 11/49's. Pickup height was off on the bridge, but the neck was perfect. Proper body cuts. Only flaws were aesthetic. Inlays had shrunk, and finish was scratched and chipped in places, hardware (bridge, tailpiece, and tuners) were, at one point, gold finish but had oxidized, pitted, and chipped due to age. Sanded down to natural silver with no problems other than what appears to be metal mix. Tuners were tight when tuning, and lost tune when strings were bent.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I bought it used at a shop who got it from an artist who live gigged with it. It held up to constant playing and even a cracked headstock, yet still played like it was fresh off the line. Hardware feels durable and is, strap buttons are good, though they're missing the felt liners. I would bring a backup, only until I can upgrade/restore it for sake of sound. Finish is solid and hearty though needs to be sanded and refinished to repair blemishes and damage. The headstock had a crack, when purchased, but was repaired at Guitar Center, and have had no problems since. While the crack is gone, the scarred paint remains.

Overall Impression — 8
For my genre of music, the guitar is a perfect match and can still be molded to other sounds. I've been playing for 7 year's and also own a Brownsville, New York Model-T. I wish I had asked where I could get reliable repairs at a reasonable cost. If I were unfortunate enough to have it leave my possession I would desperately search for another. Definite appeal and usefulness that would bring me back. I love that it has a sound that can compare, if not beat, today's Les Paul, models. Though I hate the weight, it pulls an easy 12-15 lbs. My favorite part of the guitar is the frets. They are weathered and played to a perfect height. I compared it to similar Gibson LP's and it had nearly identical feel and playability, it came in as the winner for its price. I wish it had different pups and tuners, as the current ones are lacking when compared to modern models.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I bought one of these when they first came out in the '70's. I played in a rock band and my high school's jazz band. I'm an average sized woman and quite frankly had strap dents in my shoulders but didn't mind. I think this was perhaps the best guitar I could have bought for the price. Sadly had to sell it in 1977 when in college. Fast forward to 2007 and I found an ad for one pretty close to where I used to live. I appears that I bought my old guitar! It was like a homing thing. The previous owner had installed locking tuners, but otherwise it is stock. Still sounds great too.
    To 'gnushell', this guitar is, quite definitely, a 'toe-to-toe' comparison to a Gibson Les Paul. Though it's nearly 40 years old, it STILL has a great sound. Only thing I have found is the varnish is rather aggressive. I have had it start chipping, where the previous owner had it on a stand, or where it saw a lot of action (i.e. pots, pups, and the belt area, on its rear). Still plays like a pro, and sounds great, as I said. Though it could do with the pickups being upgraded, or at least brought up to comparative standards. I don't think I'll EVER get rid of it. It's currently undergoing some cosmetic repair, in that I am removing the varnish and re-spraying it. It's gotten to a point, in which is damaging to the guitar. A great alternative for a full fledged Gibson LP, though. Coming in at a nice, $125.
    just bought one here in aus very happy with it but would like to put different tuners on her the maxon pickups are great smooth and clean get a little muddy with distortion think i will up grade wiring love her black and beautiful