So many models, what to look at

Dan18

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So let’s say for my next guitar I want a LP. I have an Epi 60s tribute that I love and of course it has the 57s, some other upgraded hardware and is maybe as close as an Epi gets to a Gibson. I’ve only been playing a year so can’t break down all the differences in playability, tone etc. that so many reference. So what model and features are essential so that I’d be happy with the Gibson 5 years later when more experienced? For one, my Epi is heavy. How much (new) do you need to spend on a quality Gibson burst? I won’t be able to go Six grand! What drives the difference between $2000 model and $5000 model? Will it be soooo much better than my Epi?
 

Tobaccoburst83

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I think that your Epiphone with a great set-up is a great guitar. And a great guitar is a great guitar! To me it doens't matter what's written on the headstock or where it has been build. Important is the manufacturing quality. And nowadays Epiphone do build fantastic guitars.

If it would be my guitar I would check for some quality hardware (Faber) and good electronics (your guitar already have). '57 pickups are amazing pickups and what you hold in your hands is a damn good guitar right out of the box. I myself can't see a difference to Gibson's standard-line.
You might feel and hear a difference between the Std-line and the Custom Shop. But I think a 5000USD guitar isn't 3000USD better than a 2000USD guitar...!
 

steveb63

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The laws of diminishing returns.

I have a Les Paul Classic, which is usually the lowest priced LP with binding, and I love it.

Have tried to find a better one to replace it- read "more expensive", and I can't.

Sometimes the extra $ don't translate to a better playing guitar.

Maybe more authentic re: vintage etc... But man everyone that plays my Classic loves it.

Including the guy with the vintage LP.
 

Thundermtn

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Learn to test guitars! Keepers are hard to find on the internet.

First one should be the hanging b test. If it's on a wall hanger at the store pluck the b string normally and put a finger on the front and back @ the input jack. If you can't feel the body vibrate strongly, don't even bother taking it off the wall, it's a dud. There are a bunch of other test you can use too.

Classics are a good place to start. I played my '01 for 16 years before I found a CS what was good enough to get me off my wallet. '01 and earlier had a non-Nashville ABR-1 bridge. I think it's important to the tone of the guitar to not have a body bushing.
 
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jb_abides

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The above is very apt, so I won't touch on it other than saying is setup, pickups/electronics, and hardware can make a significant impact on any guitar if well-matched... unless it's a turd. Turds are most often down to deadwood or the assembly of wood that deadens that wood.

Construction matters but not as much as the hype. Finish is a factor. True that nitro breathes more, but properly thin poly isn't a tone killer and your Epi won't be suffering from a huge glob of poly.

With Gibson, what you are really buying into besides American-made is wood selection, which is what also differentiates USA versus Custom Shop. Not that there aren't great USAs and dog Customs, by and large the wood difference is noticeable - both in weight, tone, and sometimes visual appearance.

Assuming wood selection is tiered rather consistently across the brands, it's a fair measure and has held generally true that wood sourcing and selection Custom Shop > USA > Epiphone.***

So, given your current Epi and price range, I would look at Gibson USA Original Collection Standard 60s if you want to keep a slimmer neck profile. The New Standards is everything people have been asking from Gibson, and many are well pleased, and don't feel the need to buy-up to Reissues. So, my advice based on information you provided would be try as many Standard 60s as you can, A/B against your Epi.

FWIW: Classics (Slim Taper) and Moderns (Asymmetrical) from the Modern Collection may be of interest as well. Classics are well-regarded.

Good luck!


***As with any guitar, every one is unique, no matter how automated manufacturing has become, or how metrics-driven component assessment including wood selection has become... so playing them, auditioning a bunch in person will ultimately yield best results. BTW, that's a broad statement. Don't ignore auditioning guitars from online, from those dealers who allow 30-45 day windows. If you are serious about auditioning, you'll get a bunch, keep the best, and return the lot... a lot of work, but that's down to how bad do you want to pick from the litter.
 

Tobaccoburst83

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Beside the popular Standards and Classics there are Limited Runs just as my Signature Player Plus. This guitar is pure Les Paul: non-chambered body, 50s neck profile, Burstbucker Pros. It is satin-finished and feels great. At least this is a matter of taste!

Just to let you know there are many more models...
 

Dan18

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This was great help so thx. I hadn’t considered the wood quality before, mostly hardware. Will look at Classic or Standard. I prob wouldn’t get 57s again just bc I already have that. Anyone ever get a price break on new? Prices are usually fixed and Gibson’s excluded from sales.
 

Burny FLG

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I would ask the question that leads to an aligned universe
 

filtersweep

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Only playing a year? I’d wait and see where your playing takes you.

Otherwise- buy used. Buy locally so you can try before you buy.

Start with a neck profile you like. Assuming you are open to nice necks— either a used Tribute, or an used R8. I find the Standard level guitars are not much better than a Tribute, but an R8 is on a different level entirely. I’d skip the middle entirely.... especially at today’s new guitar prices. But if you find a used R8 around $3000- it is totally worth it.
 

lpfan1980

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Go to your local shop see if they got a used LP and try it Thats what I did!
 

Benniator

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I’ve got an older Epi LP Custom and a new Gibson LP Standard. With fretwork, setup, and multiple hardware upgrades for the Epi, playability is roughly the same between the two.

However, the first time I played them back to back after buying the Gibson I was shocked at the difference in feel and resonance. The Epi is a very nice example of the brand, but the Gibson makes it feel like a toy. It could be the different woods each company uses (mahogany for the Gibson, a mahogany cousin called lauan for the Epi) and the plastic Epi finish. Whatever it is, the difference is very noticeable to me. It doesn’t make the Epi a bad guitar, but the Gibson is definitely a step up.
 

dro

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Will it be better than your Epi? If you get the right one yes. I have a friend who loves his Epi. I don't care for it myself. It doesn't have the tone, or feel I'm after. 2000-5000 Never paid 5000. Most of mine are of the 2000 Standards. If you look around you'll likely find studios to be a nice upgrade, for even less.
 

Tobaccoburst83

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What about japanese Les Pauls from Epiphone, Greco, Tokai, etc.? Such great Les Pauls for under the 1000€ (here in Europe). Don't know common second hand prices in the USA.
 

Lhdr

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At the 1 year mark, your Epi is fine. Hell at the 30 year mark, your Epi is fine. Play the hell out of it. If you want to jump to a gibson, get the Les Paul Tribute. It’s relatively cheap, a great guitar that could serve you for the rest of your life as far as tone and playability.

If you get a tribute, beat it up on a daily basis - play the hell out of it. No babying it.

The whole purpose is to train your ears and fingers. Takes years, but it‘s a satisfying journey. Very satisfying. Most guitars will do the trick. Many pros use Epiphone guitars. They work just fine. Don’t get caught up in equipment paralysis. It will set you back.
 

Tobaccoburst83

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Don’t get caught up in equipment paralysis. It will set you back.
Absolutely.

This is maybe a big problem of todays guitarists... Hang on to your playing. You are a guitar player, not a sound analyst.
 

Pop1655

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Great question. I'm going down the same rabbit holes and it makes my head spin. I can't give you any answers. I'm asking the same question. I see it as a series of questions, breaking it down into smaller bites. What are the differences between a studio and a tribute? From there, what are the differences between those and the next level? Is the money jump from a tribute to a classic worth it? When did a trad pro IV become a trad pro V, is the trad pro now a classic? Is the money jump between a classic and a standard 50's/60's worth it? Special runs, sigs and moderns complicate that, although those don't seem to catch my eye. I'm pretty much settled in on a classic at the moment, but that's not really an informed decision. Only after you wade through all that do you get to the question of going to the next level. I don't know that I ever see myself going there.
 

Christosterone

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Classic and marshall dsl amp for just over $2k

not even a moments thought on that...
a bound, glossy carved top lester and a badass tube amp

-chris
 
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Dan18

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Some great comments and it helps my decisions. Just in the research phase now but as a paper exercise, Classic seems like a fit. I understand those who say wait until I’m more advanced, can pick out tone differences etc. But I’m a ‘brand name’ guy with everything and will be able to afford it so why not? Currently, it’s not practical to try a lot in stores but that’s ok. I’m still happy with my Epi Tribute Plus, especially after reading the specs again. I think it was a huge bargain in perfect shape with new hard case for $500 used.
 


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