Price paid: $ 1850
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
It's a Les Paul, so most of this shouldn't be a surprise. The guitar has a ton of sustain and a rich, creamy sound. It will cover a wide range of styles right out of the box. I play through a Marshall Vintage Modern 100 watt amp and this guitar obviously pairs very well with it. That said, I don't love the pickups it comes with. I find the bridge is too harsh/thin unless you roll back the tone to about 6~7 and the neck pickup is a little too HOT without rolling back the volume to about 7~8. I'm not quite ready to swap out the pickups, but I suspect that will have to happen eventually.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a mix of just about everything, with blues, classic rock, and hard rock sort of being my main genres. It covers all of those bases well, though the pickups fall just a little short for some hard rock. Les Pauls are a classic in much the same way as Porsches are. With a Porsche, the engine is in the wrong place and until the '90s they weren't properly cooled - but people love them because of all their quirks. Same goes for a Les Paul. They're heavy and a bit quirky, but you buy one because they're a classic design. If you want the "best" guitar from a technical perspective, this is not it. My Ibanez S5470 lacks a bit of sustain, but I would say it is otherwise an objectively better guitar. It has better tuning stability (even with a floating bridge), a wider range of tones, more features, arguably better fit and finish, an easier to play neck, more convenient output jack placement, lighter weight, and it was cheaper. But it doesn't have the same history, soul, or character as a Les Paul. If you polled 100 people to see whether they would rather take my Les Paul or my Ibanez, I would imagine 95 of them would rather have the Les Paul. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 9
I'm not sure how best to answer this. There are plenty of old Les Pauls in the world for you to look at and get your own answer and I would expect the LP Traditional to be just as reliable or durable as any other LP. They are sturdy and I would generally call them durable. The finish will get a patina with age - which most people find attractive. But they don't maintain their "new" look for long. Mine already shows very light wear at the headstock just from resting on the padded portion of the wall mount I store it on. My other guitars don't show this even after many years on the same type of mounts. One other thing about durability: you absolutely must get strap locks. The strap button near the neck on a Les Paul is positioned so that it faces up a little bit. Unless you play your guitar at a really awkward angle with the headstock always facing the ground, your strap will not want to stay attached to that button unless you're using a lock of some kind. It's a heavy guitar, it will pull away from the strap there, and it will hit the ground hard.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The fit and finish is good, but not great. At the $2,000 price point, I have high expectations. The top on my guitar is good, but nothing special. The pickup selector switch was a little loose and crooked when I got the guitar (about as easy of a thing to fix as there is, but that's all the more reason why I don't know why it wasn't right from the factory). There are a few very slight flaws/irregularities in the binding. Again, nothing bad at all, but I expect better in any guitar over about $1, 200. On the positive side, I think this is the only guitar I've ever purchased that was properly set up from the factory. The action and truss rod are just about perfect. The intonation is almost perfect (off by just the slightest bit on a couple strings).
Features — 10
This is the newly re-designed 2013 Les Paul Traditional. The big news here is that the 2013 is NOT weight relieved at all. It's a true solid body. It also has a new thick neck profile. Between those two changes, they are indeed heavy guitars - mine weighs in at about 10 lbs., 4 oz. As far as features go, they are basically a LP Standard minus all the modern innovations (so no locking tuners, no push/pull pots for coil splits, no weight relief, and no asymmetrical neck tapering). Comes with '57 classic pickups, speed knobs, and vintage-style tuners. Overall, this is a great classic-style spec list. I'm giving it a 10 for features despite the heavy weight and the pickups. Buyers asked for solid and there's just not that much lightweight wood left in the world - so they gave us what we asked for and that recipe comes out to about 10 lbs.