the 5 levels of Les Paul

golfnut

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I find this video very interesting. Specifically his rating of the Standard versus custom shop. I have a standard 50 that I absolutely love. It plays and feels fantastic. Yet I still yearn for an R9. And sometime early next year I hope to find a great one. But according to this video my gains will be "maybe" 5 to 10%. I'm not considering the R9 to replace my standard 50 or because I think it will be 2 or 3 times better. It will definitely just be a guilty pleasure.

 

Gtarzan81

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I made the same decision he did. I do love my 2019 50s Standard with Rewind pickups from @cooljuk I put in. It sounds great whatever I plug it into.
 

golfnut

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I made the same decision he did. I do love my 2019 50s Standard with Rewind pickups from @cooljuk I put in. It sounds great whatever I plug it into.
I originally intended my standard 50 with some mods and I did change out the wiring with the RS Guitarworks 50's wiring and was going to go with Wolftone or Vinehams for the pickups but I really can't find anything wrong with the Burstbuckers. They sound fantastic. I'd be worried about spending on some expensive aftermarket and being disappointed. Its happened to me before with Fenders.
 

Peter M

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Rational Les Paul players know a Custom Shop Standard is not miles apart from a USA line Standard, when comparing good examples. But if you desire a Custom Shop, you will not be satisfied until you have one... that's the irrational part, but it's OK. Most all of us have been there / will get there.
 

gball

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I find this video very interesting. Specifically his rating of the Standard versus custom shop. I have a standard 50 that I absolutely love. It plays and feels fantastic. Yet I still yearn for an R9. And sometime early next year I hope to find a great one. But according to this video my gains will be "maybe" 5 to 10%. I'm not considering the R9 to replace my standard 50 or because I think it will be 2 or 3 times better. It will definitely just be a guilty pleasure.


Those "gains" are as variable as the differences between any two USA Standards at random. And NOT guaranteed when you spend the extra money. Your USA guitar very well could be better.

I had convinced myself a few years back that I needed an R8. I went out and played every one I could get my hands on (which was a lot - I lived in Los Angeles at the time and had many, many to choose from) but in the end decided it just was not worth the premium over the USA guitars I already had. A bunch were good, a couple great, not one worth the cash. Honestly, this revelation has saved me a lot of money I think, once I got past the bragging rights aspect of it. BTW, I have owned a couple Custom Shop guitars, just not any of the "R" ones (which weirdly seems to be all they are fixated on now) and all of them have been sold along as I just didn't think they were worth the premium.
 

EasyAce

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I have two custom shop Les Pauls . . .

R6 (made in 2007) . . .
1664487682511.png


R9 (2010) . . .
1664487711460.png


. . . and both these guitars are wonderful players!

But so are these USA-mades . . .

Classic Antique (2007) . . .
1664487781290.png


Lou Pallo sig model (2011) . . .
1664487817891.png


I'd say I'm pretty lucky to have such excellent players.
 

efstop

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So uh, is Rhett going to just ignore the fact that the tributes have maple necks? That's a pretty huge spec to overlook when comparing the tribute to the studio.
Buy a used Tribute. They had mahogany necks through 2018.
 

efstop

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That's all fine and dandy but he was comparing new guitars to new guitars. Not listing a pretty big spec difference is just negligent and subtracts from any credibility he had
I don't generally watch his videos. I find him mildly condescending :)
 

1allspub

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I’ve had 12 USA LPs and 7 CS LPs. What I’ve found is that with the CS guitars you are less likely to get a dud and more likely to get an exceptional guitar than wIth USAs. Buuuut... can a USA be just as good sounding as a CS? Absolutely.
 

Injector

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For me the pricier
guitars are just
better crafted; they
look better, feel
better and play
better. They are
more desirable to
own, the pride of
ownership thing
Like waking up and
looking out of the
window at your
Porsche on the
driveway rather
than a Ford Focus (*bland Euro car).
 

v-man

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Which to address first, video or the philosophy the vid represents?

As for the rating, I feel this guy’s rating is ridiculous. while I agree w #1, the Epi Must be #5. Not to say that Epi or current Epis aren’t quality or the best they have been, but there is one philosophy that ALL (save for the Murphy) are subject to: gutting the shit out of them. Dude himself took his #1 rated (in his case the ‘50s standard) and went from the nut to the plastic in replacements.

So, back to the Epi. it has bar none, the worst/least desirable finish, which is essentially permanent. It’s also metric. Even with upgrades, you have the poorest finish and metric hardware, and with all crap piled on, you are no longer close to a bargain the stock LP was first priced at. Rather, you are stuck with oddball hardware and finish for an over-invested MIC with Epi headstock. It could be an amazing player but now it’s not far apart from a MIA Gibson, that will always be valued higher.

So, if “bang for the buck” is King, Murphy would have to be #5 thus, he contradicted his philosophy but that’s not happening (as obviously the Metric Epi will score below it). I get some will not be OK with the Studio/Tributes not having factory binding, being as “permanently off” as the Epi’s poly and metric bits. That comes down to why one buys an LP. Is it for the tone/feel or the eyes? While custom shop LPs will always give one a better shot at random to have the right weight, everything about the Murphy is superfluous. That is fine for those willing to pay the premium for aesthetics but there is no rational performance edge for the price.

If you want the LP to look and feel right, buy the Standard, gut it and build it to your prefs. If you want the shortest distance to performance, you buy the Tribute/Studio (to your prefs) gut that, and build accordingly. The only thing he mentioned that doesn’t work for me is mention the Standard/tribute(?) is/are chambered? I thought Gibson went to modern relief now. If they are full-on chambered and the Standards are not, that makes the Standards a no-brainer and at least adds some logic behind the premium of a solid and light Custom Shop LP.
 

Brek

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I don’t know how the difference can be gauged in percentage points. I have just bought a standard and it’s just different, not better/worse than my R9/0, certainly built as well, which I was not sure it would be until I checked them out in store.

The standard does resonate, I couldn’t feel it first time I played it, now I can, pickups maybe not as sensitive and woody sounding as the custom buckers, but is that worse? For high gain I feel not.
 

1allspub

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Now that I’ve watched the vid, I can’t really argue with his conclusions. The 2019+ Standards are great guitars and the best overall choice when price is even remotely a factor... and this coming from a guy who currently has 3 Gibson Custom Shop LPs (57 LPC “Black Beauty” Reissue, a 59 Reissue, and an older ”regular” LPC Silverburst) all of which are stellar and which I gradually ascended to after owning many Gibson USA (& Epiphone) LPs... it was just the natural/logical progression of things. I don’t have a USA Standard, but have played them in stores as they are fantastic! I do still have a (heavily modded) 2016 USA LP Traditional that I bought new and, honestly, it sounds every bit as good as any RI I’ve ever owned (and I’ve owned a few) well, except for maybe my 57 BB—that thing is an otherworldly beast! :) But again, the Trad’s been heavily modded (boutique PAFs, couple new pots, NOS Russian PIO caps, converted to ABR-1 w/ Faber iNserts, a Bigsby B7, historically correct plastics, etc). That said, as Rhett said, the law of diminishing returns is definitely in full force between *all these models*... but especially by the time you get to the CS stuff. But, if you’re someone who just wants to get as close as possible and can afford it, then the CS stuff is where it’s at. But the Standard is way more bang for the buck! I get it!

One minor critique I will add is that Rhett makes the 490/498 Gibson pickups sound like bargain-priced pickups in this video (ie, by implying they are cost cutting measure on the Tribute)... when in fact, they are not. They may not be his preference, but the 490/498 pickups are every bit as pricey as any Gibson pickup (other than the wildly overpriced Custom Buckers). In fact, the 490/498 comes factory-installed in the Les Paul Custom. So they are not a bargain basement pickup... just not to Rhett’s taste—which I get, I prefer PAF type pickups too.
 

golfnut

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All interesting comments. Thank you. As I am currently on the hunt for an R9 to have as well as my Standard 50 I find these subjects helpful. I guess I could have been satisfied with the tribute I had for a brief week before returning it for the Standard 50 I ended up with. I found, for me, the difference between the tribute, standard 50 and the R9's that I've played so far, is that there is a bit more clarity as you climb up the ladder. When I had the tribute the 2 things that made me return it were the lack of the binding, I figured I wanted the whole Les Paul experience and the neck profile. The tribute neck was just a bit too thin for my liking. The Standard 50 was more to my liking. All though all the R9's I've tried in store had the best feeling necks. Slightly smaller feeling than the standard 50. Seemed like softer in the shoulders. But it was just so effortless to move up and down the fretboard.
My reasons for wanting an R9 are; I'm a bit OCD. Owning a Fender custom shop strat and custom shop tele I feel like it would be a nice set to also have a custom shop Les Paul. Also after playing many I can feel, hear and see that 5 to 10 percent extra that the custom shops have. I like that little bit of extra clarity that it has. I play clean and slightly dirty 80% of the time. The rest more of a mid gain. No high gain tones. And I have the finances for what may be my last major guitar purchase before retirement so why not.
As much as Rhett can be criticized for a flawed review I still find it helpful. None of us are going to completely agree but its nice to get other perspectives.
 

Peter M

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JFTR: I didn't and won't watch the posted video. This is an old conversation. Nothing wrong with rehashing it... and I can never resist adding my 2 cents. But I'm long past the point of being enlightened on the subject, especially by Youtubers with formulas and percentages. LOL.
 

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