Price paid: $ 1399.99
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 9
I play just about every type of rock on this guitar from Mumford And Sons to AC/DC and Iron Maiden and Metallica. I am using it with only a Marshall JVM210C 2x12 amp. Very nice amp, and I prefer the combo setup as opposed to a half stack. Noise-wise, I have only noticed a slight hum at higher volumes, but that is to be expected. I even noticed it on the Les Paul Supreme I played once at the local music shop with the same amp. Honestly you can get almost any sound out of this. The clean is what people usually care about most, and while it still sounds very Les Paul/Marshall and sounds like it is holding back, when you tinker with a nice amp you can get a very pure clean sound out of this thing. Took me about 5 minutes with the new amp to get the clean I liked. Sounds both bright and rich on all channels, and I tried hitting all legendary Les Paul tones from Guns And Roses, Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, Maiden, Ozzy, AC/DC, etc... And was amazed I was able to get EXTREMELY close if not exactly with this guitar. My buddy's dad is a big Les Paul freak and owns about 20 over the years, and after we both played this, while some Les Pauls he has are unbelievable, this he would reluctantly admit was the most versatile. Consider it a "Jack of all trades, master of none." You can make this sound like just about anything, but if a higher end Les Paul can make the same sound, it will do it all the better.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar has yet to fail me for tone. I can get almost anything out of this. A few harder tones were some early Pink Floyd, late AC/DC and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But with a few minutes tinkering it hasn't failed me yet. I've been playing for about 14 years now. I don't take it as serious as most other guys I know with that experience, so I don't practice as much as I should but I can play pretty well. I know guys who have been playing longer who play worse. I'm kind of in the middle of the pack. If this were ever stolen or lost, I would buy it again immediately, and then hunt down the low-life who stole this beauty. I love everything about this guitar. Lack of tremolo has halted me a couple times, but it's a Les Paul. You shouldn't be expecting one and it's not that big of a deal. It's nicely weighted and hasn't failed me yet. I compared this to the Les Paul Studio, Fender American Standard Stratocaster, a few PRS Guitars and honestly, Les is More. Bottom line, if you are looking for: Unparalleled versatility, sexy finishes, great AMERICAN Les Paul quality and feel and you don't want to spend $2000+ to get a high end Les Paul, this will do just nicely. 60's neck got me to spend an extra $80 on this over the 50's neck in the regular Les Paul Studio. Nice, thinner and more responsive in my opinion. Don't go any further, this is the guitar you want if you are a player looking for a REAL, UNDENIABLE and UNBEATABLE guitar at this price range. Best Guitar I have EVER played under $1500. Just make sure you have at least an $800 amp or so. I played this over a cheapy Marshall and Fender and it sounds no better than my first Squier Strat. I would recommend a Vox Valvetronix or Fender Super Sonic if you wanna go cheaper than a Marshall MA50C.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have played live at charity concerts with this and it has zero problems in a larger sound system like a large PA, etc. No hum or anything. I have gotten many compliments for my guitar. The hardware feels very solid. No sinking or wiggling. Strap buttons are solid, but it's my first "expensive-ish" guitar, so I installed strap locks to be double sure. Felt good before but I'm just being careful. You can depend on this guitar. Doesn't detune at all once set up correctly. Would I use it without a backup? No chance. But then again I wouldn't use a Gibson Les Paul Supreme without a backup. That's a stupid question. Always have a backup. Thus far I have had yet to Switch to my backup Strat. Finish feels really good. Without binding the edge might chip with age, but it's been six months and nothing for me. But then again I'm more careful than most.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Guitar came really well set up from the factory. Action was medium-low, which is nice for me since I pick, finger pick and thumbpick. Pickups were a little high for my liking, but that is an easy fix. The top didn't even look like more than one piece. Perfectly bookmatched. Although, I did get to choose between three at the warehouse, so that might not just me being lucky. Very well matched. I didn't notice any flaws over the last month at at all, I noticed the nut was pinching my B string when I first changed strings of the same guage, but that too is a reasonably easy fix with some know-how. Controls were solid and pickup selector felt very high grade and precise.
Features — 10
Made in the USA, this 22-fret lower-end Les Paul does not look, feel or more importantly sound like a lower-end Paul. Rosewood Fretboard with trapezoidal inlays just scream Les Paul, and the iconic single cutaway body shape is weight-relieved, not solid, but the mahogany body and maple top makes it sound nice and rich besides. I have mine in the Vintage Sunburst and while the plain top does make you wish for more if you're a fan of the flame top, the color and finish grows on you quite quickly. No binding on the Studio models, but for $500 less under the Traditional, that's not a big deal and I think it makes the guitar look a bit cleaner in general. Pickups are a 490R in the Neck (as identical to the regular Studio models) but with the higher end Burstbucker Pro in the bridge. Both pickups are tappable. Grover Tuners, Tune-o-matic Stopbar Tailpiece. Mine came with a Gibson USA hard shell case that happened to have a humidifier in it, even though my buddy who bought one a couple months later did not get one with a humidifier. Weird.