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Old 06-30-2009, 07:51 PM   #1
Tim Plains
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Gibson Les Paul 101

Rather than keep sending people to Gibson Forums, I figured I'd post this here. Maybe with some luck, this will become a sticky.
This post mainly applies to newer Les Pauls. Nowadays, there are two types of Les Pauls - Gibson USA and Gibson Custom Shop.

Gibson USA
Weight-relief started around 1982/1983. Every Gibson USA Les Paul between 1982 - 2007 is weight-relieved. They do not have solid-body construction. Weight-relief is also known as "swiss cheese holes" and refers to the nine holes drilled out of the body in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.

Chambering officially began for 2007 but the late 2006s are also chambered. Any Les Paul made after October 2006 maybe or likely is chambered. Every 2007 and newer Gibson USA Les Paul is chambered, except for the Les Paul Traditional. The Les Paul Traditional has swiss cheese holes. Chambering is essentially hollowing out the body. Again, this is in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.

Gibson Custom Shop
Gibson's Custom Shop makes regular production guitars and historic reissues. The regular production guitars, such as the Les Paul Custom, are also weight-relieved. They do not have solid-bodies.

The historic reissues are solid. All historic reissues, be it Standards or Customs, are solid. The exception being the chambered reissues. Chambered reissues are often referred to as Cloud 9 guitars. They are identified by their serial number, which begins with CR. chambered-reissue.org

So,

A 2003 Les Paul Classic is weight-relieved
A 2008 '57 reissue is solid
A 1995 Les Paul Standard is weight-relieved
A 2009 Chambered '58 reissue is chambered
A 2008 Les Paul Studio is chambered
A 1987 Les Paul Custom is weight-relieved
etc.

If you put on your x-ray goggles, this is what a chambered Les Paul would look like:


This is what a weight-relieved Les Paul would look like:



Neck tenons


Some Les Pauls have long neck tenon, while others do not.

Short: Standards (before the 2008 "new" Standard), Customs, Studios Classics.
Long: Historic reissues, 2008 Standards.

Norlin
Gibson guitars made between 1968 - 1986. Great info right here. http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/norl...n-history.html
Any Norlin related items/questions should be posted here. Norlin Years - My Les Paul Forums

Historic Reissues
R2 = reissue of the 1952 Gibson Les Paul
R9 = reissue of the 1959 Gibson Les Paul
CR8 = chambered reissue of the '58 Gibson Les Paul
There is no R3 or R5.

Historic Customs are often referred to as B4, B7, R4BB or R7BB. BB meaning Black Beauty.

Gibson's VOS - Vintage Original Spec line. The terms VOS, historic, reissue & historic reissue all refer to the same guitar. There is only one difference, VOS refers to the aged finish on the top and hardware. The ones that do not have the VOS finish are referred to as "gloss" or "high gloss" reissues because (obviously) they have a high gloss finish. Websites like Guitar Center list the two guitars as VOS and "reissue." Reissue refers to the high gloss. I think this has caused some confusion with some people but rest assured, they are all the same guitar. Again, one looks brand new and the other does not look brand new - that's the only difference. VOS costs $300 less.

Any historic Les Pauls related items/questions should be posted here. Historics & Reissues - My Les Paul Forums

Historic Customs
Standards have mahogany bodies and maple tops. Historic Customs have mahogany bodies and mahogany tops (while modern/regular Customs have maple tops). The Custom will likely weight around a pound heavier but that's about it for differences.

1968 Reissue
Another reissue that never seems to be on gibson.com is the '68RI. These are the same as the B7s, only difference is they have maple tops, different pickups and Gibson USA electronics.

R8 vs. R9
This question gets asked a lot !!
They are the same guitar. All reissues are essentially the same guitar with minor differences. These differences are neck thicknesses, pickups, weight of each individual guitar, finishes & tops. The best way to get an understanding of the neck sizes is to actually play them. Me explaining that R8s have thicker necks than R9s and R7s have thicker necks than R8s doesn't mean jack unless you sit down with the guitar and see for yourself.

R9s list for $1,500 - $2,000 more than R8s. Why? The answer is because R9s have flame maple tops and the R9 should weigh less than the R8. That's it.
Here's a great pic taken from inside Gibson's Custom Shop


Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made and also add any info you want but let's try and keep this thread educational.

Last edited by b-squared; 04-18-2010 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:03 PM   #2
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

This should be VERY helpful to a lot of folks!
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:27 PM   #3
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Thanks R9! Now I've got it all figured out. So, if I understand this correctly I could buy a pre '81 and it would be a solid body. I assume it would also be very heavy. How do the 70's vintage guitars sound and resonate? Is the wood currently used by Gibson better than that used in the 70's?
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:54 AM   #4
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

great post. How about a section about neck profiles? 50's, 60's, etc.

A couple of resources with pictures showing the differences:
http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/hist...k-profile.html
http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/gibs...omparison.html
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:41 AM   #5
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

GREAT post.Thanks.The chambered guitars look almost semi's,just about ready for a f hole.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:47 AM   #6
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Great thread R9!

I think it would be very helpful if it gets stickied.

One question, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R9. View Post
....Chambering officially began for 2007 but the late 2006s are also chambered. Any Les Paul made after October 2006 maybe or likely is chambered. Every 2007 and newer Gibson USA Les Paul is chambered, except for the Les Paul Traditional. The Les Paul Traditional has swiss cheese holes. Chambering is essentially hollowing out the body. Again, this is in order to reduce the weight of the guitar....
Every Gibson USA LP except the Traditional LPs? So, the Studios and Customs are also chambered now?
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:17 AM   #7
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Excellent!!!!
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:31 AM   #8
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

so my 95 Studio is solid?
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:38 AM   #9
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by FennRx View Post
so my 95 Studio is solid?
Weight relieved.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:59 AM   #10
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Great post R9.!!
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:35 AM   #11
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Great job R9, but y'all know that there will still be the ones who won't do a search and ask the same questions as you've answered.
Perhaps the Admins could create a newbie info link and put it there.
Thanks for your effort, this is top notch.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:18 AM   #12
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Your information suggests that even PreHistoric Flametop Reissues (1983-1993) are weight relieved. I wonder if that is true?
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:02 AM   #13
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKATTERBRANE View Post
Your information suggests that even PreHistoric Flametop Reissues (1983-1993) are weight relieved. I wonder if that is true?
I dunno about the weight relief on those but I was quite surprised yesterday when I was told that they had short tenons.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:50 PM   #14
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Yep, the long tenons came back with the Historics (and subsequently with SOME of the other Custom Shop LPs) Not even the Guitar Trader or other early reissues had them.
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:31 PM   #15
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

hipofutura, is the wood used today better than the wood used in the '70s? Good question!! Depends who you ask, I suppose.
A pre-1981 would be solid. One thing I forgot to include was pancake bodies. These were made in the '70s. Which years exactly, I don't know. I'm sure the answers are already in the Norlin section of the forum.



Quote:
Originally Posted by -=[Shifty]=- View Post
One question, though.

Every Gibson USA LP except the Traditional LPs? So, the Studios and Customs are also chambered now?
Re-read my first post. Studios before '07 are weight-relieved, Studios after '07 are chambered. Customs were Gibson USA guitars before 2004. In 2004, they became Custom Shop guitars. Either way, modern Customs have swiss cheese holes. Historic Customs have solid-bodies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FennRx View Post
so my 95 Studio is solid?
Quiet you!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKATTERBRANE View Post
Your information suggests that even PreHistoric Flametop Reissues (1983-1993) are weight relieved. I wonder if that is true?
I'll be the first to admit that I really don't know anything about Norlins or pre-historics. If those pre-historics were Gibson USA guitars, they're most certainly weight-relieved. If they were made in the Custom Shop, I have no idea.
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:35 PM   #16
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomaseriksson View Post
great post. How about a section about neck profiles? 50's, 60's, etc.
Good call !!

50s vs. 60s neck
I found this picture while surfing the net one day. If you go to gibson.com and look at the SG Standard, you'll also find it there.

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Old 07-01-2009, 03:36 PM   #17
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

A couple more pictures I've saved. This is a '57 reissue.







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Old 07-01-2009, 03:40 PM   #18
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Excellent Post!!
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:59 PM   #19
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Hey R9, could you post that picture/graph you had of the different outputs of all the different Gibson PUPs? I remember you posted it on the Gibson LP Forum one time. It was very helpful!
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:45 PM   #20
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quality thread mate, may I add my thanks and congratulations.

Stickied forever in my opinion.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:47 PM   #21
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

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Old 07-01-2009, 07:08 PM   #22
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by loneguitar View Post
....Perhaps the Admins could create a newbie info link....
Yeah, right....that'd be too easy.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:15 PM   #23
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

What's really funny is that this thread won't do a bit of good. Someone will ask one or more of these questions everyday, for the rest of time.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:17 PM   #24
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boleskinehouse View Post
....Someone will ask one or more of these questions everyday, for the rest of time....
Is my 2008 Classic red?
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:18 PM   #25
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Well I'd really appreciate some links/info on how to get the best setup out of your Lester. I had no trouble setting my 01 Standard just how I like it. I like a pretty low action.

My Traditional on the other hand I can't get right. I had seen a post by Liam saying you can set up any Lester with a really nice action you just need to know how to do it properly.

I'd reeeeeeally love some help on this one.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:21 PM   #26
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by PINKBITS View Post
Well I'd really appreciate some links....on how to get the best setup out of your Lester....
Why do you want links on setting up MY Les Paul? Mine are setup pretty good, thanks!
If you want links on how to set up YOUR Les Paul, try this:
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=les+paul+setup
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:30 PM   #27
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennistruckdriver View Post
Why do you want links on setting up MY Les Paul? Mine are setup pretty good, thanks!
If you want links on how to set up YOUR Les Paul, try this:
Let me google that for you

Forever the comedian Dennis. I had checked out some of these links before but thank you very much.

I thought there may have been some LP setup guru's here that might have some special little tricks/tips to get the best result.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:51 PM   #28
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

PINKBITS, when it comes to setups I recommend buying a good guitar maintenance book.
Dan Erlewine has two great books. I have them both. Guitar Player Repair Guide and How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great.
He also has his own site. Dan Erlewine's Guitar Shop
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:53 PM   #29
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

How about a few wiring diagrams for the people who don't have them.





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Old 07-01-2009, 10:05 PM   #30
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Re: Gibson Les Paul 101

Serial numbers
Ah yes, how can I forget serial numbers??
Your one stop shop for serial numbers, right here ---> Gibson Support - Serial Number Search
Here's the gist of it.

The typical pattern for Gibson USA Les Pauls is
YDDDYRRR
YY is the production year
DDD is the day of the year
RRR is the factory ranking/plant designation number

Gibson USA goes to a 9 digit serial number in early July 2005. The sixth number is now a batch number- batch 0 starts at the beginning of the day, and once we stamp 699, the batch number will change to 1. Basically, YDDDYBRRR

Les Paul Classics
The 1st digit indicates the year of manufacture for the 4 & 5 digit serial numbers, these were used from 1989-1999. The 1st and 2nd indicate the year of manufacture for the 6 digit serial numbers which we've been using since 2000.

Examples -
9 xxx = 1989 (4 digit number beginning with "9" used only in 1989)
0 xxxx = 1990
9 xxxx = 1999
00xxxx = 2000
05xxxx = 2005

Those beginning with "94":
In 1994, Gibson's Centennial year, many instruments have a serial number that begins with "94" for the year, with the remaining 6 digits indicating the ranking number.

Gibson Custom
2004 & newer modern Customs has a serial number like this - CSxxxxx.
Pre-2004 had 8-digit serial numbers.

Historic Reissues
M YRRR or MYRRRR
M is the model year being reissued
Y is the production year
RRR(R) indicates the guitar's place production for that year
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