Gibson Quality Control Across Les Paul Ranges

BoXian

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Hi guys,

Im typing this in the context of deliberating my first Gibson purchase.

I notice that across the range of Les Pauls (Studios, Classics, Traditionals and Standards), the main differences are in (i) wood quality/grade and (ii) pickups. However, the price difference can easily be USD 300 - USD 500 for each "jump" in the range.

Would it be right to say that given the difference in the price of the pickups, the main thing you are paying for as you "move up" the range is just for the wood quality, which I understand is largely a cosmetic issue?

I also heard rumours that the "higher" range Les Pauls have "better" quality control, which means that the quality is more "consistent". Is this true? If so, how do the consistency compare between say Studios and Classics?

I am asking because this will influence my purchase. Unfortunately I am buying my guitar online through Thomann and thus would not be able to try out the specific guitar before buying. I am looking between the Les Paul Studio 2016 and the Les Paul Classic 2015?

Thanks for reading guys.
 

PierM

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Les Paul Studio has no binding, which is a BIG factor affecting the time of production and final price.

Classics and Trads are basically in the same range, with bit of difference (depends on the year) on the top grade. Prices are quite similar.

Standards are usually the "top" range with better top grade and matching, a bit more production time because of the body weight relief and also they have an extra in the price because usually they are better in retaining the value in the used market.

Quality control it's basically the same for all of them and you can find gold or rubbish for any of these models.
 

cherrysunburst00

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Classic '15 will have the G-Force tuners, coil taps, turbo boost (a switch in one of the pot position), a wider neck & fingerboard, 0 fret

I presume you are looking at the '16 Studio Traditional rather than the Studio High Performance? This will also have the "traditional" neck width, standard tuners, tekToid nut

The cases will also be different

http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2015/USA/Les-Paul-Classic.aspx

http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2016/USA/Les-Paul-Studio.aspx
 

PierM

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Also, in general, you should not just target a price range, but, more important, the neck/body you like most.

Modern era it's all slim taper neck (let's call it '60ish) and that is for Tribute, Studio, Classic and Standards. All of them are using weight relief, with the Standard using the modern weight relief (bigger and wider holes all around the body)

If you want a chunkier '50ish neck you'd probably need a Traditional. You can find non weight relief bodies in the 2017 lineup. The Traditional it's basically trying to mimic the golden age Les Pauls, with less modern appointments. 2017 it's probably the closer in terms of basic features, apart the finish. :)

As for the 2015, you should check if you like the neck, which is very wide. I have one and I love it, but it's not for everyone.
 

cherrysunburst00

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Also, in general, you should not just target a price range, but, more important, the neck/body you like most.

Modern era it's all slim taper neck (let's call it '60ish) and that is for Tribute, Studio, Classic and Standards. All of them are using weight relief, with the Standard using the modern weight relief (bigger and wider holes all around the body)

If you want a chunkier '50ish neck you'd probably need a Traditional. You can find non weight relief bodies in the 2017 lineup. The Traditional it's basically trying to mimic the golden age Les Pauls, with less modern appointments. 2017 it's probably the closer in terms of basic features, apart the finish. :)

As for the 2015, you should check if you like the neck, which is very wide. I have one and I love it, but it's not for everyone.
EXCELLENT points, as always, My Friend
 

BoXian

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Hi cherrysunburst, no I am looking at the Les Paul 2016 Studio HP. I quite like the fast access heel on it.

As for the wider neck of the 2015 Classic Les Paul, I am indifferent to it - but i feel that it seems to give the guitar more sustain though im not sure if i am imagining it.

I like slash's tone in November Rain, but i understand that for both guitars (2015 Classic and 2016 Studio HP) the neck pickups will give a similiar tone.

So right now im gravitating towards the Classic 2015. The only bad thing is the titanium nut and bridge on the 2016 Studio HP. Is this a big deal? Also, any known issues or problems with the 2015 classic lineup?
 

cherrysunburst00

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OK BoXian, that is s substantial difference. I for 1 really like the access heel on my Axcess LP, but I also like the heel.

As i said earlier, the quest is part of the fun. ENJOY!!
 

jazznblues

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In my opinion, as you move up the range you experience much better quality control in the build. For example, on the lower end Studio Fadeds and Tributes there's a higher risk of variability in the neck shape and the fretboard. What I mean is where the fretboard is mounted to the neck, it may not be a perfectly smooth transition on a lot of Studios and there is often a 1mm "ridge". (The fretboard is slightly narrower than the neck, most pronounced on the treble side in an attempt to hide or simply missed during sanding.)

As well, I played a couple of Studios where the neck wasn't mounted in the neck pocket quite straight when you sighted down the neck. There's lemons across every price point, but the risk is lower as you move up the range.
 
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ARandall

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^ Any ridge will be due to painting…..that happens on practically every guitar as you either have the colour being sprayed or masked, or binding having to be scraped.

And the guitars are all cut on CNC…..the neck is always square to the pocket - it cannot be anything but as it will only fit that way and that way alone.
There are plenty of guitars however where the bridge or the tailpiece can be fractions out.
 

syrinx

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I have added in the last couple years a les paul, a firebird, a les paul special dc, and a faded sg. These guitars are from a wide range of price points and appointments, but all are constructed equally.
 

Fritz44

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In my experience.... Les Paul's have always been hit or miss. When you find a good one there's no better guitar...but if you're unfortunate to get a bad one , usually (for me anyway) it's really bad and it spans throughout the line up. From entry level to CS. Best of luck :)
 

frozenotter

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In my opinion you always gamble with a Gibson. My Custom didn't even have the nut glued in. The good thing is you can get them from places that offer exchanges and returns. Don't hesitate to keep exchanging until your happy - eventually they will grow tired and just hand pick a fine one for you anyway.
 

redcoats1976

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my tribute goldtop has no issues whatsoever,but gibson quality is a lotto.
 

Ermghoti

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Yeah, I don't believe there is any difference in QC standards among anything in a given line, eg Nashville built Gibson USA, as most Les Pauls would be. Reissues, maybe, Memphis, maybe, but I've seen nothing to suggest a Studio gets more or less attention to detail than a Tradition, nor the latter to a Standard. It's just that the appointments are different, as mentioned already.
 

tigger

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My tribute is much better built detail-wise than my J45. I know it isn't the same factory but the other guitar is more than twice as expensive...
 

dspelman

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My personal feeling is that if you spend MORE than $3500 on a Gibson, you're more likely to get a guitar with extended quality control than you will if you spend less. I'm also pretty much convinced that there's little or no quality control on guitars priced under $1000.

Binding doesn't add a significant expense to guitars; I've got $400 Agiles that have multi-layer binding on body and headstock and single-layer binding on the fretboard, all perfectly executed. That's a traditionally Gibson Custom spec (along with ebony fretboards, real MOP or abalone inlays, etc.) that signaled a higher price from Gibson over the years, but the truth is, it's no big deal these days.

Finishing is probably the single most expensive thing on a Gibson -- taking the time to grain-fill the guitar and get a perfectly polished glossy nitrocellulose finish costs money. Leaving grain fill off the guitar and hosing it with a satin/matte finish is probably the cheapest way you can go.

It's difficult to say that there's "better quality" wood on the more expensive guitars. Truth is, Gibson doesn't pay that much attention in their production environment. But since they value one and two-piece bodies more highly than three to five-piece bodies, you pay more for the former. Chances are really good that it doesn't affect sound quality one whit. Since it's on the back of the guitar, and unseen by most anyone who sees you play, you get to decide how much that matters to you.

Pickup quality does not accelerate as you move up the scale, once you're past the $1000 mark. It costs about $5 to make a Gibson pickup, no matter what the model. Materials don't change, nor does the attention paid to winding the things or potting them. What they charge for them, however, is whatever you're convinced to pay. Nor does Gibson put nastier-sounding pickups on cheaper guitars. Doesn't happen.

Gibson is very much brand-name and lifestyle oriented, and what you pay the most for is the advertising, endorsements and promotion of the brand in general and the particular model you choose in particular. You pay for this brainwashing, and for the profit of the brick and mortar stores in which they reside, as well as any pilferage or damage to the wall of guitars, when you buy one. That's not a knock on Gibson in particular, but it is indicative of the marketing model.

If you're going to select a Gibson, you're going to pick first on the basis of looks and prestige and probably second on features. Note that the most expensive LPs really don't have all that much in the way of "features" at all. But there are, on the lesser models, choices regarding neck heel sculpting, nut design, tuner setup, tummy cut (or not). These are items that actually make a difference in playability and comfort as well as utility. Below $1000, you're mostly buying a Gibson logo for bragging rights and their best effort to make the cut-rate guitars appeal (no-frills rock and roll, yada yada).
 




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