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- Jul 3, 2017
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I haven’t posted on here in a couple years. I was asked on a different forum on advice on buying a first historic LP so I thought I’d copy & paste my response. Hope this helps!
I bought the first reissue new (2014 R9, see photos below) from Long and McQuade in 2017… they made a mistake with the pricing though I think as I paid about $6000 CAD iirc and sold it on Kijiji (Canadian craigslist) for the same amount a couple months later. I would NEVER buy an R9 new again unless Im custom ordering one to my personal specs…. otherwise it’s just not worth the price-tag premium IMO (unless you’re personally into guitars that are brand new / glossy). I typically go for aged finishes with reissues as you can continue to beat them up without damaging the value of the guitar, they also feel better to me (broken in). If I had to buy one les paul as a keeper, Id recommend finding a Historic Makeovers one (disclaimer: Im not affiliated with them). People send in their Gibson CS LP’s to them, and for several thousand bucks, Historic Makeovers refinish the guitar (with period-correct dyes, reset the neck, replace the east indian rosewood fretboard with Brazilian, etc.). Gibson Custom Shop, even Murphy lab stuff, does not come close to Historic Makeovers IMO. I don’t think it’s worth sending your guitar to Historic Makeovers yourself unless you REALLY like your reissue’s wood/flame/weight and you want to makeover THAT particular guitar. With that said, buying an already finished Historic Makeover (“HM”) one used, is definitely worth it as they go for about the same as an R8/R9 goes for new (without brazilian rosewood, period correct appointments and often times the attention to details) and they’ve been holding their value surprisingly well.
This is mine (originally a 2009 R9 which was redone by Historic Makeovers in 2011 by the original owner as a “Real Deal Series” makeover). It’s pictured below and is also pictured in the first photo at the beginning of this post. It’s the only Gibson les paul that I have kept (going on 3 years now). The dyes that HM used to refinish the guitar with have actually started to fade just like they did on original bursts (under the PG/plastics, the reds are much deeper eventhough it’s “only” been about 10 years).
Since it’s the only LP I kept, here are the other LP reissues I had that this HM replaced:
Murphy Aged - True Historic 1959 LP (2015) (this one was really nice, perfect in fact, until I fpund the HM LP above… what bothered me was the fact that the board wasn’t Brazilian Rosewood on this one…. cork sniffer stuff I know, but the way a good oily brazilian board looks and feels is unmistakeable).
2014 R9 (the first one from L&M, didnt keep it cuz it was too heavy and the top only looked good from this angle haha)
2018 1960 LP Reissue w/ a Brazilian Rosewood board (gloss finish, didnt keep it cuz finish felt too “plastic” like)
2018 R8 (nothing special, fairly light weight, bought it online and unfortunately the top was kinda ugly to me when I got it in person… very weak flame in the centre 1/3rd of the guitar, almost looked like a three/four-piece top)
2016 True Historic 1957 Reissue (7.9lb, fat neck, lightest/best of the best sounding LPs Ive ever had… but finish was too “new” / glossy and the board wasn’t brazilian again)
2017 R9 (liked the top, but got bored of it quite quickly as I bought it almost simultaneously with the R7 above, which was superior to me)
If I had to do it all over again to find “the one” reissue LP for myself, I’d use the following criteria:
- must be under 8.5lb (under 8lb is a big plus as the reselling an unchambered LP of that weight is very easy)
- must be aged/relic’d, preferably by Historic Makeovers or in house by Gibson (Murphy Lab is not worth it as a standard aged/relic’d LP is the same thing and ML had some QA issues iirc)
- must have a dark board, if you can score one with brazilian rosewood, it’s a big plus (great resale value and feel)
- Best years of issue IMO (from personal experience and spec-wise): 2013, 2014, avoid 2015-2016 (unless it’s a “True Historic” model, make sure it comes with the COA identifying it as such… lots of scammers selling regular R9’s from this period as “True Historics”), 2017-2019 (im sure 2020-now are fine too but may not be worth the premium for being more recent and from my research they don’t offer any “better/more period correct notable specs compared to 2013/2014…. it still seems to me a 15’ True Historic gets the job done in that department apart from the indian rosewood board), any year Historic Makeover LP (make sure the makeover commissioned used brazilian rosewood as in recent years, they started to offer a less-expensive makeover that doesn’t use brazilian rosewood for the board). Note there were a number LP’s in 2001-2003 which had a Brazilian Rosewood fretboard (google it/search for this topic on this forum), but I prefer the limited runs in 2017-2019 that used Brazilian Rosewood as the specs are more historically accurate and you get a COA that actually states that the wood is brazilian.
- top-wise (ie colour, flame, etc) is personal preference but for resale value, I would avoid western maple (ie straight flame / “fake looking”, or quilted maple). Eastern, curly maple or just a basic plaintop would be a better option for resale purposes IMO and “historical correctness”.
Good luck and hope this helps!