Les Paul Traditional Review

manufacturer: Gibson date: 11/09/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Gibson: Les Paul Traditional
While many people like the looks of a Les Paul not all people can appreciate the unique feel to these iconic guitars.
 Sound: 9.8
 Overall Impression: 9.2
 Reliability & Durability: 9.4
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8.4
 Features: 9.2
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (5) pictures (9) 48 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.8
Les Paul Traditional Reviewed by: KenG, on november 09, 2012
12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 2450

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Features: 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 // 9

Sound: 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. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 7

Reliability & Durability: 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!) // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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overall: 9.2
Les Paul Traditional Reviewed by: hajibad, on november 09, 2012
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 1200

Purchased from: eBay

Features: -Made in America, 2011 -22 frets, C-shaped neck -Flamed maple top, Iced Tea finish -Gibson 57 classic pickups -Kluson tuners -Sexy faux black crocodile skin design guitar case included Overall everything you'd expect on a traditional styled Les Paul, even comes included with the Vanilla-ish traditional Gibson smell! No complaints what'soever except for the tuners which seem to use the more modern tuning lugs. This is not a problem at all, but for those looking for that "vintage" look, it does look slightly out of place. Nethertheless it has everything you'd expect for a Gibson Les Paul. // 9

Sound: Being primarily a classic rock and blues player, then a whateverifeellikeplayingplayer at other times, the Les Paul Traditional is very capable at handling a multitude of genres. At home for fear of being beaten up by the roomies, I play through a Roland Microcube, but during gigs through a 100W Marshall JCM Stack. Amazingly even through the Microcube at relatively low volumes, the tone still has an incredible richness to it, and weighing in at 9lbs, its outsustained quite a few heavier more expensive Les Pauls I've tried. Needless to say when playing through the Marshall it melts faces within a 100038923 mile radius. The guitar has a very warm full characteristic to it, the Neck pickup having an incredibly richness to it, which produces a very smooth velvety sound with ridiculous sustain, ideal for Santana Bonamassa-ey goodness. The Bridge pickup also has the same fullness but with more of a bite to it, with great cutting lead tones which at the same time avoid being too harsh or brittle sounding. Think Led Zepellin, Cream ish. Not surprisingly the guitar sounds great for classic rock type music, along with various other genres such as jazz and blues. One thing I found suprising though is that the Bridge Pickup was also amazing for playing metal, the pickup's sense of warmth and diction along with the fact that the guitar is made of 2443598% Mahogany and pure awesome, you get a veryyyy extremersuperamazingly thick heavy sound. Although tone wise it may not be as tight or articulate under high distortion as perhaps an ESP or Ibanez, it avoids having that sort of "sterile/clinical" tone that many metal guitars seem to have. Perhaps my only complaint is that playing chords on the neck pickup can be quite muddy, but easily fixed by switching to middle or Bridge positions. Variety wise it does everything a Les Paul would do, catering more tobigger, thicker sounds. I would not expect to be able to achieve thinner more twangy Strat or Tele sounds, but its worth noting that the Les Paul Standards feature coil splitting which can get a pretty similar sound, meaning a lot more tonal variety than this model. Nevertheless traditionalists will probably be more interested in pursuing the classic Les Paul humbucker sound anyway. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: Being a recent Gibson Model, it had been Plekked, meaning that the action and the neck were pretty much perfect. Completely playable out of the box, with the exception of the strings being quite sticky. However this was probably due to the fact it had been in transit for about a week, nothing a little string cleaner couldnt fix. Everything else such as hardware and electronics were great, can't complain. The pickguard had a few plastic shavings but could be picked off easily. Pickups are very well balanced, set at a nice level that allows a good output while mainting clarity and crispness. The top is a flamed maple finish in Iced Tea, which is probably the most beautiful thing I will ever see, second to 10 supermodels having a wet t-shirt water fight. Being able to see the natural grain of the wood is another plus, the subtle grains adding to the whole Vintage appeal of the guitar. The pearl trapezoid inlays are also gorgeouss as well! One thing that annoys me though is that on the Bridge pickup there is a sticker saying "Plekked", which when removed usually means smudging the pickup covers slightly. Not a big problem, but I died a little inside having smudged my guitar within 10 minutes of opening it. Perhaps the only main problem I have is that the binding on the neck, on the 19th fret marker the binding is uneven. Whilst its not huge, its very noticeable when playing, especially when your eyes are constantly looking in that direction. Not cool Gibson, not cool. The Bridge volume knob is also slightly wobbly, but another minor problem. Its a shame for the binding issue, for what would otherwise be a perfectly set up and finished guitar. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Being the solid hunk of sexy mahogany it is, it definitely doesnt't have a problem during performances, electronics are reliable and look like they will last. The strap buttons seem quite solid, I don't plan on installing strap locks anytime soon as the thought of redrilling holes into my lovechild scares the bajesus out of me. It seems very dependable, and I would feel quite confident going without a backup. Of course for good practice having a spare guitar is always good! The nitrocellulose finish will probably wear over time, but again that's the whole charm of a Les Paul. Being the idiot I am I bumped it against a table slightly, leaving a small indent on it. After crying for decades on end, it can been seen the finish is quite delicate in comparison to Polyurethane. Chances are it will start to fade off after extended playing. Overall its a solid guitar, and there's nothing I can see wrong with it. I would gig it with absolute confidence. // 10

Overall Impression: Having once believed that Gibsons were rip offs and not significantly better than Epiphones, owning this guitar has completely changed my outlook. While being overly pricey as Gibson always is, this is an incredible guitar with a great breathy Vintage warmth that is definitely worth looking at for old school aficionados. Apart from the few minor flaws, you get a guitar with an incredible sound with even more incredible sustain. However I would not recommend it for more contemporary players, players looking for better fret access and more tight modern sounds should probably opt for more modern alternatives. Perhaps the only thing I would want on it would be more authentic Vintage tuners. Otherwise there really is nothing I can really find wrong with this great guitar! // 9

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overall: 10
Les Paul Traditional Reviewed by: ahrob97, on november 09, 2012
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1800

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: I got a 2011 Les Paul Traditional from Guitar Center. It was originally $2300, but I talked them down. It is is very nice and high quality. Don't turn it down because of the price, it is a very fancy guitar and you get way you pay for. // 10

Sound: The pickups are amazing and are very versatile. It's great clean for rhythm or good for metal with distortion. Blues and Classic Rock sound great, but you can get jazz or heavy metal out of it. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The hardware is nice. It came without a scratch or fingerprint. The finish is gorgeous in any color. // 10

Reliability & Durability: The guitar will last and it is very heavy. Mine is ten pounds, but they are typically around nine. I traded out the strap buttons for strap locks because I don't want to drop a guitar that nice and the weight would help put a dent in it, but they did look durable. // 10

Overall Impression: The guitar overall can't be put into words because it is so good. I could talk about it for days. But overall it is very fancy and versatile. I wouldn't trade it for any other guitar. // 10

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overall: 10
Les Paul Traditional Reviewed by: ocelot44, on may 27, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 1800

Features: My Gibson Les Paul Traditional was made on the 5th of January 2009. It's in the gorgeous Heritage cherry burst colour with cream binding and chrome hardware. What a beauty. I have however swapped the pick ups out for personal preference to EMG 81/85's. The stock pick ups sounded great, but the EMG's sound perfect for me. I've run this through MANY amps, mainly because I keep selling and buying them. I had my doubts getting this guitar at first for the price, I could've gotten a nice ESP. I've previously owned an LTD EC1000 Deluxe though and so know roughly what it'd be like. I took a risk for the Gibson and it paid off. I'll never look back on getting this guitar. It's built sturdy as a tank yet carefully as priceless jewelery. I've had no problems at all with this guitar, both with the stock pick ups and EMGs. The only other thing I might have liked is locking tuners, but the Kluson Deluxe still do the job well. This guitar was made in the USA and truly shows top craftsmanship. It's a solid mahogany body and neck, with a rosewood finger board and a maple top. It has a beautiful AAA grade burst with suits the colour very well. This guitar came with a Gibson USA Hard Case but no adjustment tools. Then again, it was set up perfectly, so none really needed. // 10

Sound: I'm a metal player, hence the EMGs, and this guitar suits it far better than anything else I've played. I've run this amp through a Peavey JSX, a Bugera 6260, Bugera 333XL, a Blackstar HT-5H (all with an Orange PPC212CB) and currently a Marshall JCM2000 DSL 112 Combo. I play metal through and through. I love playing hard rock, nice blues and cleans, but I'll always go back to metal. This guitar, even with the EMG's, can play any style without fail. Especially with the Marshall you can get those amazing Slash tones with very little effort at all. If anything, the EMG's make it more versatile due to being hotter. If you get a nice rock sound on it then roll back the volume, you get amazing blues tones. I can't say much for the stock pickups as I swapped them out a few years back, but from memory, they were quiet and didn't feedback unless you wanted them too. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: If I didn't need to write 500 words, I'd write one. Perfect. Everything on this guitar was perfect. No marks, dents, anything bad at all. It was set up so nice and playing was perfect. I instantly became a better guitarist just from picking this beast up. You hear people say "Get a Gibson, they're amazing" and you think to yourself "They can't be as good as everyone says." Trust me. They are. This is by far the nicest guitar I've ever played. Now if it's down to me getting lucky and getting a particularly good example of Les Paul, or if all Gibson's are like this, I don't know. But what I do know is that I can't score this high enough. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I've owned this guitar for 3 years now, and it's never given me any problems. When I bought it, it was immaculate. No flaws, dents, dings or anything. Since then, there's been the unfortunate knock causing a dent or small scratch to appear, but nothing that's broken the paint, which is impressive. The hardware hasn't faded at all and neither has the paint. I suspect this will happen many years down the road. The case provided is also very well made an looks very impressive. It's always nice to turn a few heads to check and see "is that a real Gibson? Nice!" Always a great thing to experience. I've gigged this guitar several times and would gig without a backup. In fact, that's all I do. If a string breaks it's a 30 second job to fix. If I were to have a back up, it'd be an identical guitar. The only thing that can replace a Gibson, is a Gibson. Enough said on that I think. // 10

Overall Impression: This guitar is a good match for anyone who plays guitar. Simple. I've been playing guitar for roughly 6 years now. My current set up is my Gibson Les Paul Traditional straight into my Marshall JCM2000 DSL 401. That's it. I also have a Dean 255 Razorback 7 string which hasn't got anything on the Les Paul. It's still a nice addition though. I wouldn't want anything more on this guitar than what it has. The only thing I ever wanted was to get the EMG's inside it, and that's what I did. If it were stolen or lost, I'd track down the thief and beat them with it. I can bet you they'd come out worse than the guitar. I'd buy another in a heartbeat (if I had the cash to spare). I love everything about this guitar and the only thing I dislike is the fact they're so damn expensive and might possibly want some slightly more stable tuners. // 10

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overall: 8
Les Paul Traditional Reviewed by: zelon, on february 24, 2015
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1900

Features: I own two models - 2011 and 2014. The former comes with 57 classic pickups and the 2014 comes with 59 tribute humbuckers. The 2011 model has a slimmer C-shaped neck and PLEK'd frets. The 2014 model has a fatter late 50s neck and only the nut was PLEK'd. They both have mahogany bodies and AA figured maple tops. Fretboard is rosewood. The 2011 model is weight relieved (traditionally). They both came with Gibson cases. The 2011 model came in black "snake skin-like" case and the 2014 model comes in the brown historic-type case. // 8

Sound: The sound is the best feature of both guitars. It's simply classic Les Paul sound, although the two guitars sound different. The 2011 model growls more easily and is more creamy and mellow. The 2014 one has more bite and is more sensitive to the playing style. It is more glassy with very characteristic top end. I play mainly blues and classic rock. The 2011 model would be better for blues imo and the 2014 better for Led Zeppelin kind of solos. I play through Vox AC15, Vox Tonelab LE and sometimes through Guitar Rig-type software.

I recorded some samples from both of these guitars. You can watch the video below. The video doesn't cover even 10% of the tone spectrum you can get with these guitars, but it should give you some idea about the differences. The 2011 model sounds more appealing to me when played on its own, the 2014 one will sit in the mix better and cut through the band more easily. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Very different between the two guitars. The 2014's setup was very poor. Extremely high string action, overbowed neck, tail piece and bridge not set up right. It doesn't take much effort to correct all this though. Fretwork is also not as good on this model as on the 2011. The 2011 was set up nicely and the fretwork is much better (PLEK). It did have a different flaw though. One of the pieces of mahogany that the back is made of, didn't seem to be dried very well and shrinked, leaving a small gap on the back of the body where the two pieces were glued. It doesn't affect anything and the guitar has a killer sound, but it shouldn't happen in a 2k guitar. // 6

Reliability & Durability: Hard to say yet, as I've only owned them for a couple of months. They seem sturdy though. Both these guitars will withstand live playing no problem. They are after all professional instruments. The hardware on both guitars is of good quality (well... maybe the tuners could be better). The strap buttons are larger on the 2014 model than on the 2011 one. I'd recommend strap locks for the 2011 model if you play live a lot.

I would always carry a backup with me for a gig, but this guitar seems very sturdy so far, so I have no strong reasons to believe it would suddenly break in the middle of a gig. The nitro finish on both guitars requires some special care. I wipe the guitar every time I finish playing. I also bought dedicated conditioners from Gibson. You can ruin the finish very easily if you're not careful. That's the price for it being gorgeous. // 8

Overall Impression: I play blues and classic rock. These guitars match these styles very well. I'm very satisfied with the sound of both these guitars. It's simply amazing. I had a couple of high quality Les Paul copies in the past and they simply sound cheap, compared to the real thing. I think these guitars will stay with me for a long time.

The wood quality and setup is a different thing though. At this price I'd expect better. My 1981 Greco is simply built better. I care about the sound most, so it's not a huge deal for me, but objectively speaking, Gibson has a lot to improve here. A lot of people say Les Pauls are overpriced and more of a hype than really good instruments. It's true... to an extent. They are expensive and they leave some room for improvement (wood, playability, setup)... but the sound cannot be beaten. If you are like me and care about the sound most, you cannot go wrong with a Les Paul. The moment you plug it to a tube amp, it produces the tones you've been familiar with for a long time. // 8

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