Before you buy your 1st Les Paul...**READ ME**
Bottom line is most if not all Les Pauls need a proper set up out of the box. Thats just the way it is. Well worth the $50 bucks if you cant do it yourself. It part of buying a guitar.
I just reread your post. I get what youre asking but even without a setup and strings you dont like you should be able to tell a dud from a stud by spending a little time playing it. Keep playing different Les Pauls until you find the right one You'll know.