Price paid: $ 1399
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
The sound of this guitar seems most suitable for classic rock/blues due to the Burstbucker, but depending on your own amp/effects setup it could cover a lot of ground. I purposely wanted the Burstbucker Pro in the bridge since it was "airy" and more "open" than the 498T in my '96 Studio. I play through a Marshall DSL201 tube amp which gets a fairly nice clean for a Marshall and channel two is as dirty as I need it to be. With the gain channel, I get decent articulation from the Burstbucker and nice bite. It seems to like a Plexi tone more than sonic saturation so the harder genres of metal may not be the best fit. The 490R in the neck does its job and when played clean it gets a nice jazz vibe. As I mentioned in the features section, I sold a Strat and wanted a Les Paul with coil splits for added versatility. By no means does it equate to a Strat, but it does help with the clean tones and adds some "snap". When playing dirty, I prefer to go with all of the coils since that is part of the magic of a Les Paul through a tube driven Marshall. I do like the sound of running the full humbucker in the bridge with the neck split for some tonal variety. For the record, I set out to play the two Studio Deluxes that GC had in stock and a Silverburst Studio (Same basic features, but the 498T in the bridge for the Silverburst) with the winner of the shootout coming home with me. I always start out playing unplugged to get the acoustic tone of the guitar prior to plugging it in. While I loved the look of the Silverburst, the tone just didn't hold up in my opinion. I believe that the main difference is that this model is "weight relieved" while the Silverburst is "chambered". The other Studio Deluxe was a Cherry Sunbburst which I did not like as much(sound and cosmetic issues listed below). In summary, I like the capabilities this has to offer, try different guitars even if they are the same model, and no guitar will do it all.
Overall Impression — 8
I have been playing for 30 years and have played, or still own, the following: '96 Studio (still own), 2011 Les Paul 60's Tribute (sold to buy my Marshall), Kramer American Pacer and Kramer Focus (both in the 80's - wish I still had the Pacer), Schecter Damien Elite FR (never used the Floyd), G&L ASAT Tribute (still own -love the bite), custom made G&L S500 Strat (sold to buy this Les Paul), Charvel San Dimas 2-2H (sold), Jackson Dinky (import model - gave it to a nephew). There is no dominant style that I play and I love all types of music so this is a decent match for me. Would I buy another one? Probably, but I would look around first. I think they did a great job of packaging some nice features into a Relatively decent price. If I could find a similar guitar with these features in this price range, it would be silly not to at least pursue it as well.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I can't comment yet on durability since I have only had it for a month. My '96 Studio is still going strong and recently survived a tumble when leaned against a chair at a gig (dumb move on my part) without snapping the neck. I have no reason to doubt that with care and attention this Les Paul will be fine as well. With two young sons and a blind dog that knocks over everything in his path, time will tell. I would never gig without a backup so that is not an issue. The only thing I will do at this point is install straplocks. It only makes sense to spend $30 to protect a $1399 purchase. In other words, I don't trust any standard strap buttons. While this may be subjective, I will knock off some points since I wish they would come standard with the locks. Overall, I am really not sure how to rate this category since we will have to see what the future holds so I will spin the wheel and see what number we land on for the final number.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was playable off of the shelf and I understand that a guitar goes through a lot from the manufacturer to the showroom. I don't want to make excuses for Gibson, but I would have liked it set up better from the factory so that playing each of there guitars at the store would be more "apples for apples". Also, I know that the higher end models are Plek'd and it would be nice touch to have it on all of their models given the cost (G&L does it for all of their USA models and the price points are about the same as this one). GC knew that I was coming in and they had their tech do a minor setup on the three Les Pauls that I was going to play - kudos to them. Ultimately, I take my guitars to my own guy and he sets them up for me so I am not too picky when playing in the store. The finish on this guitar was solid with the top bookmatched nicely. It had light figuring which was nice, but I would have liked a little more for the price. I really thought that I would like the Heritage Cherry Sunburst better judging from internet images, but it left a lot to be desired in person (at least this particular in-stock model). The Vintage Sunburst that I walked out with was sharp and I was never really a fan before. Regarding the Cherry Sunburst model, I was really disappointed that the pickup rings were warped which immediately turned me off. If I were GC, I wouldn't have put it on the floor like that and if it came that way from Gibson, shame on them. I will shave a few points for that even though I was satisfied with the one I purchased. There should be some consistency.
Features — 9
- USA Made - 22 Frets - Mahogany Body - Maple Top - Vintage Sunburst Finish - Burstbucker Pro in the Bridge - 490R in the Neck - Coil Splitters for Both Pickups - 12" Neck Radius with 60's Profile - Grover Tuners (nice touch) - Hardshell Case Included (expected for this price range) I was drawn to this particular Les Paul due to the 60's neck, pickups, and price. The coil tapping was an important feature for me since I sold a custom G&L Strat to buy this and I wanted the ability to get some single coil tones. One of my other guitars is a '96 Les Paul Studio with the 50's neck and I wanted something slimmer so this fit the bill. Since I swapped out the stock tuners for Grovers on any Les Pauls I own/have owned, I thought this was a nice touch. Basically I get the tuners that I would have installed anyways without the extra set of holes they leave behind. I do like that it does not weigh as much as my '96 since I have a smaller frame and it is much easier on my shoulder. Overall, this is a tough category to rate since I wouldn't have bought this guitar if it didn't have the features that I wanted - although I would have personally liked a pickguard.