Les Paul Traditional review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (112 votes)
Gibson: Les Paul Traditional
12

Price paid: C$ 2450

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Sound — 10
I'm a classic rock and rock/blues type of nut who doesn't mind other styles as well including pop. Of course an LP works for most styles quite well, I own a little Traynor 15W SS amp for practise (DG15R) and a Peavey Bravo112 22W all tube amp. I have quite a few effects but usually all I go for is Reverb or Chorus (sometimes delay or wah). The noise from the guitar is negligible even when the gain on the amp is cranked.

I find the 57 Classic PUs much more clear than the Gibson 49/50's on my Elitists but that's not surprising they'd save the better ones for the Gibson guitars. The difference between the three positions is quite noticeable and I like all three positions. My favourites are middle for clean, Rhythm for some lead work when you want a browner sound and Treble for Distorted rhythm and lead sounds with bite. The volume and tone controls are very effective with the tone knob slowly rolling off the highs without turning the sound into mud. The volume control is also nicely scaled so that you can use most of it's range almost down to zero.

It's very easy to get pinch harmonics on this baby at the drop of a hat too.

Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing on & off for over 30 years now and currently own two Epiphone Elitist LPs, a '57 Gold Top and an LP Plus top both manufactured in '04 just after the name change from Elite. They are both great LPs but I really wanted the "real deal" too.

I'm extremely satisfied with my purchase because I did my research first, waited till the prices came down to buy and bought from a reputable store. Of course if it were stolen I'd hunt the theif down and kill him. I'd certainly do my best to replace this guitar if it ever got lost or badly damaged but it's not like you easily replace a special guitar. Each one has a bit of personality and finding similar feeling guitars will be a challenge.

I love the weight and of course the '59 neck profile. The sustain and resonance of the guitar as well & it's quite a knockout looks wise. These characteristics are what make a Les Paul for me and what attracted me to the Elitists as well. Many other copies are more modernized with slimmer necks, modified body shapes and less expensive woods and even though many are cheaper, the differences are enough to make me choose the Traditional.

I checked out the Standard Les Pauls too but they now have two-piece, chambered bodies and feel too light to me. Gibson has also added that strange jack (neutrix? )and strange straplocks to that model. The Standard was almost $200 more than the Traditional and to me the Trad just reminded me so much of older Les Pauls.

Some things that I think might be improvements or nice options are:

- Nickel hardware instead of chrome
- ABR1 TOM vs Nashville TOM (it would allow for lowering the stop bar tailpiece more deu to it's slimmer width and I've grown to like the ABR1 looks better)
- 4 Wires in the 57 Classics so that coil splitting or series/parallel wiring could be done later on.
- Non-period correct tuners (Grover 18:1 Chrome or Nickel for e.g.)
- Having the Pickguard & hardware provided but not installed so you can choose. I hear they do this with some other models.
- I'd also like to have gotten the Truss Rod wrench as I know how set up my guitars but apparently some idiots in the past have ruined their LPs with the tool and used the fact that Gibson supplied it as a cop-out to avoid repsonsibility for the damage. Now no one get the tool.

While many people like the looks of a Les Paul not all people can appreciate the unique feel to these iconic guitars. If you do like "real" LP's I'd highly recommend a Traditional. Just be sure to try as many as possible and be prepared to see past the factory set high action.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Of course this guitar will be dependable and even though I haven't lubed the nut yet, my bends and vibrato haven't knocked it out of tune so far. The hardware is chrome & while prefer nickel for its appearance the chrome will hold up better over the years without much patina occurring. The Tone Pros tuners are very smooth and feel solid enough but if I had my preference, I'd be just as happy with Grover 18:1 Nickel tuners like on my Elitists.(Even if this isn't period correct).

The finish is Nitrocellulous lacquer and of course is more fragile than polyurethane. Besides keeping it clean by wiping down after playing, I'll endeavour to give it a good polish periodically to keep it in good shape. I have a complaint here about the strap buttons... They're on solid enough but I simply don't trust any strap buttons but strap locks! Gibson is very stubborn about modifying your guitar and rumour has it installing straplocks may void their warranty. This is just asinine as a good set of strap locks can save a guitar IMO. If I do install some, I'll keep the originals in case I ever need to send this guitar back to Gibson (I have no idea why I'd need to do this though!)

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I recently went looking for a Traditional in my area (Calgary) and of the four shops authorized to sell Gibsons I didn't find any I really liked. Many had minor cosmetic flaws and didn't feel Stellar to me. For the money you pay for these I expect a top notch guitar. I eventually talked to a salesman (& active musician) at Long & McQuade and expressed my concerns. He offered to order one in for me (no obligation to buy) and passed along my checklist that I go thru when checking out a guitar to their warehouse guy. This helped avoid the obvious issues one can run into with Gibsons at times and my guitar arrived looking great.

The Binding work was very clean with no bleeding, the finish was very well done all over, the inlays crisp, the neck sanded evenly all down the sides and back. The strings lined up perfectly on the fingerboard, set back evenly on Low & Hi E. They also lined up nicely over the PU Pole pieces and the saddles were notched in the centred indicating all alignment was correct.

These guitars go thru Gibson's Pleck machine which is a CNC milling device. It does the fret finishing and nut filing so it's more consistent from guitar to guitar(Saves money in the long run as well I'm sure). The frets were nicely done and the nut wasn't too bad either. It's a little high for my taste but certainly within spec. The neck relief was minimal (almost stright at around 0.004 ") which I prefer as it's easier to add more but you can only tighten a truss rod so much.

The action was too high though and this seems to be common on Gibsons and set this way deliberately as the PUs were also too high. You can't lower the bridge without also lowering the Treble PU for fear of the strings laying on it once lowered. (The PU was that high!). This also means the Tail piece was set a little high as well so the strings don't lay on the back edge of the bridge.

I was easily able to correct this at home with a screwdriver. However the nut will get some work later to bring the height down a touch. I like around 0.015" Clearance at the first fret with the Low E and 0.010" for the high E as this eases fingering in the lower frets, helps intonation there and also helps with being able to lower the overall string height. Even though this guitar is now set up fine, I'm going to score it a little lower for the cruder setup made at the factory.

Features — 9
Made in 2010 in the USA. It's patterned after the older Standard Les Paul:

- 22 frets, 24-3//4 inch scale
- Rosewood Fingerboard with Tapezoid Inlays
- One piece Mahogany Neck
- Solid two-piece AA Maple Plus Top with some flame in Honey Burst
- Solid one-piece, weight relieved Mahogany Body
- Nashville Tune O Matic
- 57 Classic Pickup Neck & Classic Plus Bridge
- Tone Pros "Kluson Style" Tuners 16:1 ratio
- "Snakeskin" Case made in Canada includes the inspectors checklist, owners booklit but no Truss Rod adjustment tool

43 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bebe17
    slash2670 wrote: sweet guitar but i could do with a few more frets. can't play my metal with anything less than a 24
    I'm not trying to sound like an ass, but do 2 more frest really make that big of a difference?
    Ibeanez
    I can not believe that a website of supposed guitarists would not understand why a guitar comes from the factory with the action a little high.
    mitch311
    I disagree with how you rate the action/fit/finish. I think you should rate it as how well it is after you've set it up. You should always expect to have to setup a new guitar straight after you buy it
    MaggaraMarine
    There are so many metal guitarists that use 22 frets. In the '80s there wasn't even that many 24-fret guitars and most of the guitarists back then had 22 frets. And Eddie Van Halen played with only 21 frets. And if you need the higher notes, why do you drop tune?
    trick71
    I bought a cherry sunburst LP Traditional (2011) last year...I tried it in the local music store, and it just felt great, sounded amazing, and was the perfect guitar. I played it for 20 minutes, realized I couldn't put it down, and bought it. I've been looking at les pauls off and on for the past 10 years (traditionally a Fender player...but bought an SG a couple years back that I like) and once I picked up the traditional, I was sold! I tried the LP Standard - didn't like it. Too light, and the tone didn't approach the LP Traditional. Since I bought the cherry SB, I have bought 2 other LP Traditionals - ebony (which is my favourite - actually has a bit more weight, and also nicer tone that my SB somehow), and a goldtop. I returned the goldtop - action was off, and I thought I could fix it myself, but it just didn't ever feel 'right'. Action was VERY high, and wouldn't stay in tune, even after setup was adjusted. So I returned it...and then the week after saw an amazing 57 reissue goldtop from the Custom Shop - played it, and it was amazing....so bought that. So now I am a 3-time LP owner within the span of 6 months! Anyway - the traditionals are VERY close to the feel of the much more expensive Custom 57 Reissue - neck is similar, and the pickups sound pretty close to the 57 burstbuckers too...overall - the traditional is a great guitar - looks amazing, sounds amazing. One caution - make sure you try a bunch of them - I definitely notice variations from guitar to guitar...so keep playing until you find the 'right' one. Seems like the Gibson USA setup is also hit or miss....so keep looking until you find one that is as close to perfect as possible - they are out there!
    scorpio2billion
    Dead on. I bought an Explorer that had the worst factory setup of any guitar I've ever bought (around 15). I emailed Gibson to tell them that, for 1400 bucks, maybe they could spend 15 minutes doing a proper setup. The reply that they sent was "We're glad you're so happy with your new Gibson...." At least I got a truss rod wrench.
    Brian 1.0
    Very good review by a clearly knowledgeable and experienced guitarist. I wish beginners weren't allowed to review there Epi LPs and give them 10/10, when they don't have enough knowledge to know anything about a quality instrument. Plus it makes it look ridiculous when top dollar guitars like these get lower ratings.
    Duv
    I'm currently going through the rigmarole of trying to find one of these that I want to buy. I too did not like the Standard. It's too light, and you seem to be paying extra money for gimmicks. Sounds crazy but to me it didn't feel like a Les Paul, if that makes any sense. I'm working on finding one in Desertburst. They are teh sex! Also KenG our review was very helpful, so thanks!
    moondoggy
    Bought a tradionional about three months ago,,,action a little high. Had a guitar tech at a music store lower it put on better tuners and put on a bone nut,,,Sounds and plays awesome,,,,can't beat it's looks.....
    Metal Moog
    Metalplayer616 wrote: bebe17 wrote: slash2670 wrote: sweet guitar but i could do with a few more frets. can't play my metal with anything less than a 24 I'm not trying to sound like an ass, but do 2 more frest really make that big of a difference? Those two extra frets really do make a difference. I own a huge variety of guitars ranging from a Gibson Les Paul Custom to Dean Razorbacks to a Handcrafted B.C. Rich Supreme Beast and many things in between. Things like those 2 frets make a lot of players choose different guitars over an LP becausehaving those 2 extra frets allows higher access and two more notes which for people that shred and play metal is an essential. I love LPs and my Custom is one of my favorite guitars, but LPs lack alot when it comes to things essential for playing solos and metal.
    Tell that to Alex Skolnick of Testament, Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames & Matt Heafy of Trivium.
    Metalplayer616 wrote: bebe17 wrote: slash2670 wrote: sweet guitar but i could do with a few more frets. can't play my metal with anything less than a 24 I'm not trying to sound like an ass, but do 2 more frest really make that big of a difference? Those two extra frets really do make a difference. I own a huge variety of guitars ranging from a Gibson Les Paul Custom to Dean Razorbacks to a Handcrafted B.C. Rich Supreme Beast and many things in between. Things like those 2 frets make a lot of players choose different guitars over an LP becausehaving those 2 extra frets allows higher access and two more notes which for people that shred and play metal is an essential. I love LPs and my Custom is one of my favorite guitars, but LPs lack alot when it comes to things essential for playing solos and metal.
    Tell that to Alex Skolnick of Testament, Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames & Matt Heafy of Trivium.
    mbratch
    Any design change has its compromises. In the case of 24 frets, you are also then moving the neck pickup a little closer to the bridge (changing the ratio of the pickup-to-pickup distance relative to the whole scale) which changes its tone a little.
    Kingnichendrix
    I dont like Les Pauls, they sound nice but are uncomfortable, personally i think its to heavy and clunky like a wooden chair.
    Anchr
    I have always and will always dislike the looks of this guitar. Really, just not my thing. /flameshield activate!
    theboss123
    You guys, keep in mind that when rating an epi les paul, you have to take in mind that price is a HUGE factor. It is also a guitar for a beginner to Advanced player. They are made not for pro quality, but an affordalbe copy. Compared to Epiphones, Gibson beats Epi all the way.
    shortylem407
    I'm thinking of getting one, becuase I tried one at GC and I loved the sound of it. I own a Epiphone Les Paul Standard, and theres a HUGE difference, the pickups are warmer and more sensetive. And its perfect for my style, I play a lot of blues/hard rock. The only thing is that the one I tried had a thick neck, I like thin necks, to me there more comfortable.
    slash2670
    sweet guitar but i could do with a few more frets. can't play my metal with anything less than a 24
    Rorok_89
    Great review. Absolutely true about the high action, same happened with my LP Studio when I bought it. Now Ive changed the setup so much I dont know if its on its full potential of sound. Might take it to a pro someday to get it right so I can squeeze all the sound of it. And I also have to agree about the strap locks, they were the first thing I bought for my LP Nice review, congrats!
    KenG
    Actually only the 1960 model had a thinner neck and it was still beefier than most other guitars. The '59 profile was beefier still and the 57 a downright log of a neck. 1960 was the last production year for the SC Les Paul in 61 they introduced the new LP which we know as the SG. It was 68 or 69 I think before the old LP was made again, after 60's Blues/rock players recognized them for their tone. I think you are referring to the "old wood" stock which is lighter than newer stock because it was naturally dried old growth woods. They still have some of this but it's reserved for thehgih end custom shop models which is why they need to chamber or weigth relieve the USA made ones these days. It's still high quality tone wood but not quite as nice as the old stuff.
    Moses715
    if you can get your hands on a gibson from before the mid 60's, the neck would be much thinner and nicer to play what happened was once the beatles came to america everyone wanted to play guitar and gibson used to set aside wood for 30 years before using it and it would be stronger ,therefore thinner, but they couldnt keep up with demands
    PussyPunk182
    I agree to everyone above me, that was a really good review. I didn't feel like I had to water down the ratings in my own mind because of the inexperience of the player, and I felt like I was in safe hands with your opinions. I played a gold top at a local store and it just had so much balls compared to some other guitars I've played. Occasionally you come across a good Gibson and understand why they are up so high in the guitar world.
    jhart08
    I played one of the traditional pros at GC one time, and to be honest I wasn't a big fan. I love the looks of a les paul, but I just prefer playing a strat I guess. Awesome review, and I appreciated teh fact you mentioned each guitar has its own character, something alot of people don't get.
    jfsj123
    very nice review, i actually learnt form the review aswell, (a rarity). the guitar looks a beaut!
    kimi01
    Its crazy HMV in Leeds has two of these hung up on the walls just for show and an SG :O
    Floyd-Rose
    scorpio2billion wrote: Dead on. I bought an Explorer that had the worst factory setup of any guitar I've ever bought (around 15). I emailed Gibson to tell them that, for 1400 bucks, maybe they could spend 15 minutes doing a proper setup. The reply that they sent was "We're glad you're so happy with your new Gibson...." At least I got a truss rod wrench.
    scorpio2billion: after you set it up, how was the explorer to play? ive always wanted one but never seem to get around to it.
    KenG
    celticstorm84 wrote: Is there a reason for a factory high action? All Gibson's I've seen and played are like that. I suppose it's just preference and it's easy to change but what's the reason behind it?
    I really don't know! It may be the action is set high so that regardless of the climate it gets shipped to it doesn't buzz. Or it may be that thye've simply been doing it this way so many years and haven't changed. Whatever it is they passed it on to Epiphone too. My Elitists were too high when I got them as well. I agree that they could simply drop it down to say 5 or 6/64ths at the low E. It's still al litle high at that measurement but a damn site better than the 1/4 inch I see too many times. This is why you need to be able to see past that in order assess the guitar. I use neck relief and sighting down the neck & feel of the neck profile knowing I can lower a nut or lower action. I can of course adjust the rleif too but it its close to straight to begin with, you know only a minor adjustment is required.
    celticstorm84
    Is there a reason for a factory high action? All Gibson's I've seen and played are like that. I suppose it's just preference and it's easy to change but what's the reason behind it?
    alexreeve100
    Thorough review! I have this guitar in honeyburst, mine has a couple of minor imperfections and if i'm honest, i need a professional to set it up because the factory settings blow. The overall sound and looks justify the price tag though
    LouieTM
    One of the best UG reviews indeed, of probably the best Les Paul guitar Gibson USA (not the CS) puts out today. I had one in Desert Burst and fully agree with the review.
    windy.uk
    Probably one of the best reviews done on the site. Well done good sir.
    Metalplayer616
    bebe17 wrote: slash2670 wrote: sweet guitar but i could do with a few more frets. can't play my metal with anything less than a 24 I'm not trying to sound like an ass, but do 2 more frest really make that big of a difference?
    Those two extra frets really do make a difference. I own a huge variety of guitars ranging from a Gibson Les Paul Custom to Dean Razorbacks to a Handcrafted B.C. Rich Supreme Beast and many things in between. Things like those 2 frets make a lot of players choose different guitars over an LP becausehaving those 2 extra frets allows higher access and two more notes which for people that shred and play metal is an essential. I love LPs and my Custom is one of my favorite guitars, but LPs lack alot when it comes to things essential for playing solos and metal.