Gibson Les Paul 101

Tim Plains

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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/norlin-years/38456-faq-norlin-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.
 

hipofutura

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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?
 

marantz1300

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GREAT post.Thanks.The chambered guitars look almost semi's,just about ready for a f hole.
 

-=[Shifty]=-

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Great thread R9! :thumb:

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

One question, though.

....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?
 

loneguitar

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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.
 

SKATTERBRANE

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Your information suggests that even PreHistoric Flametop Reissues (1983-1993) are weight relieved. I wonder if that is true?
 

-=[Shifty]=-

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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. :shock:
 

SKATTERBRANE

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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.
 

Tim Plains

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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.



-=[Shifty]=-;909334 said:
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.

so my 95 Studio is solid?
Quiet you!! :laugh2:

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.
 

CLC12ROCK

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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!
 

JPaul

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

Stickied forever in my opinion.
 




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