Price paid: $ 1600
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
Sound is distinctively Les Paul. There are plenty of imitators, some come close (ala PRS), but ultimately if you want a Les sound, you have to get a Les. I play through a Polytone Mega Brute head and use a Mesa cab. The clean sound gives you about as close a punch to the Gibson L5 as you can get on a solid body. Has sustain like a bell. The low end is incredibly fat without getting muddled at all.
On the other side of the coin, when I want to play some Ozzy or Metallica just to goof off and relive my childhood, it rises to the challenge effortlessly.
Overall Impression — 10
I have played casually since the early 80's. I have no regrets buying this guitar. I owned a Les Paul Custom back in 87'. I wish I never got rid of it.
The Les Paul is a very distinct guitar. I can't imagine too many people buy a Les Paul who didn't go looking for one to begin with. If you go looking for a Les, consider the standard or Classic over the higher priced Custom. The sound identical, they just carry wildly different price tags. Btw, anyone notice that the price on Les Pauls has been going through the roof lately? Better get a used one!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have not used it too much live and probably never will. I pretty much play for the fun of it. Having said that, there is nothing on this guitar that looks as though it won't outlive me. If there was ever a guitar you would label "Rock Solid" for durability and reliability, it would be any of the Les Pauls. I could probaby tunnel out of stone with this guitar and it would be fine. But then if you're reading this review you know about Les Pauls and are nodding in agreement already.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
"Premium Plus" leaves this 1997 Les with a beautiful AAA flamed top. The "classic" has the slimmer, 60's style neck. I have a fairly low action and I use 10's. The workmanship on this guitar is without flaw. I spent a great deal of time picking this guitar out. I chose this over a PRS (my first choice) due to it's warmer sound and better neck. However I have to say I am partial to the Honeyburst finish. The two PRSs that I liked had some ugly, kiddish looking teal and red finishes. I guess PRS is really trying to target the younger audience with it's finishes. Though you'd never know it by the price tags.
Features — 10
Let's face it, this is a Les. It's not noted for it's technical array of features. If you want coil splitters, tremolo bars, a wild headstock, and inlays that looks like a bird shot out of the sky in mid-flight, then go get yourself something more suited to your tastes. The Les is simply a work of art. They weigh a ton, but the result is an unmatched NATURAL sustain. The advantage of the Les is it's simplicty. The classic has a two relatively hot pickups. No coil splitters or kiddy bars. The guitar is built like a rock. Mine is the Premium Plus and therefore has a AAA flamed top complimented by a Honeyburst finish. The tuners are not chrome or flashy, but they are exceptionally smooth and of high quality. The bridge is again, art through simplicity. No goofy little knobs to adjust the fine tune. No need to when the instrument is built so well.