Purchased from: Coda Music
Sound — 8
The sounds you can get out of this guitar are amazing. I play a lot of metalcore (heavy dist, melodic staccato rhythms) and with my Boss Metal Zone and Boss Phaser, the tone is bone-crushing. The fact it has passive pickups does not mean the tone is weak by any means, but the harmonics could be more prominent than they are. The low end produced by the thick slab of mahogany is fantastic, and powerchords sound as menacing as they should for that style. Overdriven, the guitar gives a bright, fat, chirpy response through my 50-watt Marshall MG - great for chordal rhythmns. With my Dunlop GCB-65 wah, amazing funk sounds can be obtained. All I have mentioned above is on the bridge pickup. The neck pickup gives a very thick, full sound with less treble and more mids and lows - great for bluesy leads, but not the choice pickup for metal. The clean tones are very good, but could be a little better. They are very open and bright, a little darker with the neck p/u. Rolling the tone off a little makes for a better sound with both pickups, in my opinion- not everyone will agree with that. Obviously it can't make those Fender sounds, but that's what you buy a Fender for, for god's sake. No coil-tap guitar will give you clean sounds quite like a Fender does. The Les Paul sounds better with some kind of distortion, even a small amount of gain. The sheer amount of sounds you can coax out of a Les Paul by merely using the controls on the guitar is fantastic.
Overall Impression — 6
For the music I play this is a guitar that delivers big time in the sound department. However, for the music I play the construction is not right for me. I now know I want an unfinished maple neck (like my Yamaha Pacifica 112, a real killer with the duncan I put in the bridge), and a thinner neck with a sleeker profile. I have tried the '60s neck but that is still not great for serious metal playing in my opinion - the nitro lacquer is a pain. If it were stolen, I would not buy another one, but probably buy a Jackson DK1 (after saving up abit more) or an Ibanez J-custom model. I love the Les Paul sound, but I know it is not the guitar for me. Before I go to uni, I will sell this, even if it doesn't get nicked. Nice work Gibson, but this guitar does not suit me, even though I love the way it looks (to finish on a good note).
Reliability & Durability — 8
Les Pauls are always very solid and this will last for decades easily, if I don't sell it off and buy something else. The strap buttons are small, and only good if you don't gig. Even then straplocks might be advisable (I haven't done it myself yet but I will). I would not use it without a backup because the neck might start needing to be wiped down every 5 seconds, but for reliability purposes I would never need a backup, as this is totally solid. NB I am not a gigging musician, but a 1st year IB student. The weight does not bother me; only pussies are bothered by the weight of a Les Paul. If you can't handle the weight, you're weak. Go do some weight training.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Can't say about factory set up, as I got it used. Now I have got it, the action is low and easy to play, although there is bad buzzing on the low E and the G string, and a little on the top E too. This gets on my nerves a little and I might go and get it sorted - I know this is because the action really is very low. I can't hear it when I have the amp on, but I still want it sorted. Pickups were adjusted perfectly and hardware was all in order. No significant dinks anywhere, although pickups were dirty, but I sorted that out with some metal polish. All parts felt high-quality, like Gibson parts usually are. The fret job was OK. I will say that after playing for a long time, the neck starts to feel a little sticky because of the varnish, and playing very quickly seems difficult. Also the 50's neck can be a pain because playing quickly on the upper frets can be difficult. This really annoys me, and sometimes I think about getting something Zakk Wylde-esque done (shaving the neck) as the neck is so fat and gets sticky. Some of the upper frets seemed a little discoloured and badly cut, maybe. This guitar needs another set-up, I've only had it 4 months and these little niggles make me think about trading it for an Ibanez or Jackson- a proper shred guitar.
Features — 8
Les Paul Standard, Latte Creme, made 2003, USA, 1 year old before I bought it used in April '05, basically mint. The chrome pickups were a little dirty, but that was nothing that couldn't be polished out. All stock features: 2 burstbuckers, 2 vol 2 tone, TOM bridge, '50s rounded neck profile, green key tuners, mahogany body with AA flame maple top, rosewood fretboard with trapezoid inlays, mahogany neck. Coda music gave me free polish with it, all in all an absolute bargain for what I paid for it. Colour is not a preference of mine, I would have preferred Iced Tea, but you can't be picky when you're buying second hand. Also I would have preferred a '60s neck. I saved up and got this for my 16th b'day.