Price paid: A$ 3900
Purchased from: Guitar World
Sound — 9
I generally play blues and classic rock, but also like to be able to play hard rock and jazz on occassion. I think the Les Paul can play most stuff well, but for me it really fits the blues / classic rock better than anything. However, with stronger pick-ups or different amp / pedals it could easily get to metal territory. The sustain is simply amazing on this guitar. I also find it so much easier to get and maintain vibrato on this than any of my other guitars, no doubt due to the amazing sustain. My other two guitars are an Ibanez SZ320 and an American Standard Strat. I've changed the pick-ups on both of those guitars as the originals (especially on the Strat) didn't have the sound I wanted. I won't be doing that on the Les Paul. The pickups are great and take different amp settings and pedals really well. The sound is really deep and rich - creamy is the best way I can put it - when played at low to mid volumes, with beautiful crunch on everything. Clean sounds are wonderful and deep. When played at full volume with the amp cranked up it can just scream. I find I can jam along to tracks on this that I couldn't get near with my other guitars because they couldn't cut through at high volumes without sounding too harsh. I still use the Strat and Ibanez an awful lot, but there's no doubt that the Les Paul fills a void I had in my sound. Love it.
Overall Impression — 9
I was between this and a PRS McCarty '58. I spent a long time playing both at the guitar shop. The PRS is a wonderful guitar and has a lot of different sounds to it, but essentially a Les Paul is a Les Paul and once I found one that was well built with that wonderful creamy sound, there was no real contest. If I didn't have a Strat then the PRS might have had a better chance but I figured since the PRS really tries to sound like either a Start or a Les Paul, and I already had a Strat, I may as well get the other one. I'm sure I would have been very happy with the PRS as well, but I know I've made the right decision with this one. I've been playing for about fifteen years, though only seriously for the last three. I've had five guitars myself over this time and have played many more. The Les Paul is as good as anything I've every picked up. If it was stolen I would definitely get another, but would take my time to find the right one.
Reliability & Durability — 9
You can definitely tell the difference in price in all three of my guitars. The Ibanez is a great guitar for the money, but it feels less well built than the Strat. The Les Paul is obviously the most expensive though. It's heavier, better finished and much more solid. I do notice the difference in weight between the Les Paul and the Strat and sometimes find myself changing back to the Strat after an hour or so when my shoulder starts to feel the weight. Other than that, I would have no problem playing this live. Badly looked after Les Pauls last decades and I have no reason to believe that mine will be any less impressive. Some of the gold is already staring to wear thin on the screws, but I think that's to be expected and I actually like the slightly used look on guitars. I wouldn't use is as a sole guitar at a gig, but that's really because I like having multiple guitars to get the different sounds I'm looking for.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I've had both my Ibanez and Strat professionally set up (the Strat twice) to get the action and playability right. I don't have to do that with the Les Paul. The action is lower than my other guitars (even after their set-ups) and there's absolutely no buzz. Really impressed with it. It plays smoothly and quickly. Bends are an absolute joy. The rounded neck is very comfortable.
Features — 9
This is a 2011 black Les Paul Custom. 22 frets with a carved maple top and mahogany body. It has a '59 rounded neck profile with pearl block inlays on an ebony fretboard. Pick-ups are 490R in the neck and 498T in the bridge position. The fit and finish is just about perfect - I can't find any problems with it anywhere. Everything fits together really well, couldn't be more pleased with it. I've seen some Les Pauls that don't look that well built, but this one seems really good.