My first Gibson was an SG standard.
I was bored in GC one day and had never tried an SG, so I picked up the Epiphone SG400.
I really liked the neck shape and fret access, it felt perfect in my hand.
Then I pulled down the SG Faded.
It was even better, the satin finish meant I could blaze around the neck, but I didn't really like the thin fretwire as much, and I'm not big on the "bare bones" look. I don't like dot inlays, I want binding, and covered pickups.
I decided if I was gonna get one, I'd pony up and get the SG standard, so I saved, worked OT, and when I was ready I found an SG standard, used, in mint condition at my local GC for $999.
I ran out as soon as I had the money and took it home.
But there were some issues.
One, it didn't have the same neck profile as the faded or epiphone. I thought I would learn to love it, but I didn't.
Two, there was an electronics issue and it was really weak sounding with no top end. The whole point of an SG is to have a spikey mid and top end and growl. This one sounded like a jazz guitar! It was soft, fluffy and muted.
I popped the back and found a PCB, meaning what would normally be a $15 tone pot swap would be a $80 or so full replacement to see if it's a pot, and if not the pot I'd have to pony up for a pickup swap. GC wouldn't give me free service on it, or return, so I traded it in for a DBZ guitar.
I still want an SG and I'm now torn betwern an Epiphone SG400 Pro for the binding and a Gibson SG Special for the satin finish. Maybe a different year of standard might have a neck more to my liking? It just felt very wide compared to the epiphone. I like thick, narrow necks.
As far as les pauls go, I love and respect how beautiful the fit and finish on the Gibson is, but not enough to poney up the cash for one. I don't really like the bare-bones les pauls like the Studio, for me it would have to be a Standard or Traditional.
I have my epiphone black beauty 3 and it does the trick for me.
Unless I see a dramatic change in my income relative to cost of living, I don't see owning a Gibson Les Paul. I just think of all the other things I could buy with that $1500 difference to get a better finished guitar that essentially sounds the same.