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DBA

Les Paul Custom Shop

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Hi everyone!

I am saving up for my first real-deal Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop, I'm a left-handed guitar player [insert your favorite jokes, lol] so finding good left-handed guitar is difficult in and of it self.

I really want a LP CS L/H, been playing for 16 years and I think I owe it to myself to have one of these. That being said, I'm a tad worried since I hear different opinions.

One group of people say "Gibson are not what they used to be, regardless of custom shop or standard", I find that to be kinda odd to say, considering... it's GIBSON.
And the other group say "Nobody plays Gibson anymore, if you buy one - you buy one for the name. There are other, better, guitars out there - cheaper too"
Then you have the other group that has shown me ink on paper that they are going to be buried with their Gibson guitars, so. And others simply say: get one, you will not regret it.

But to me, and to most people a CS costs a lot of money.

I have seen a few CS L/H on Ebay, in Alpine White <--- that is my dream guitar. You have no idea how much I want one of those beauties. They are super-rare in L/H, but it's like when you see one of those classic AM. muscle cars, like a 69' Camaro. They just ooze class and beauty!!

I should be able to do a purchase come Fall, but I want some reassurance that I am making the right move. The only guitar I will ever consider or play are LPs and 335 (semi-hollows)

Should I go for a new one? Or one made a couple of decades back? Standard VS Custom Shop; what are the real differences (besides price)? Best place to buy one, Ebay?

Thanks everyone. Have a great day : )

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If you’re buying online, the best place in my opinion is Reverb. I think it’s better to try the guitar, but given how much harder it is to find left handed guitars, it makes sense that you are looking at them online.

You can also order one from Guitar Center and try it once it gets delivered to the store closest to you. But, if you do that, go physically to the store to place the order, as the website sometimes charges you shipping fee. 

I don’t exclusively play and like Gibson’s. I own and like PRS, Fender, Martin, and Godin. I also really like ESP, Suhr, Music Man, Xotic etc. Yet the best guitar I’ve ever played is currently my R9 (1959 Les Paul Reissue). When I first tried that guitar, it was so comfortable and familiar, I felt as if I had owned it for several years. I also had a R0 (1960 Les Paul Reissue) that was amazing, but over time preferences regarding neck profile changed, so I sold it to help finance my R9. With that said, my R0 was also absolutely flawless and one of the smoothest guitars I’ve ever played. 

As for Gibson USA (what you referred to as Standard) vs Gibson Custom (Custom Shop), if you can afford it, I’d say Gibson Custom all the way. I particularly suggest anything from 2013 to now. 2013 was when Gibson Custom started using their own pickups, in particular among the Les Paul Standard Reissues, the CustomBuckers. Before that they used Burstbucker 1 & 2 on the LP Standard Reissues, which are also pretty sweet. I’m not sure if Gibson Custom also made the pickups change that same year for the LP Custom Reissues. However if your looking at a regular LP Custom, those currently come with 490/498 pickups, which are awesome and they are also used by Gibson USA. 

If you go Gibson USA, there is going to be a bit more variation. I had amazing luck with 2017. I currently only have one 2017, but I’ve owned a total of four (two LP Studio and two LP Standards) and they were all flawless. The 90s and early 2000s were also good years for Gibson USA.

Their new line hasn’t released the lefty versions yet, but when they do, just know I absolutely love the new Standard 50s and Standard 60s. I haven’t picked one up that I disliked. I have a Standard 50s and the neck carve is very similar to my R9 (I measured it). They also have the same fret size. It’s just a good sounding comfortable guitar for a very fair price. 

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The following are vastly sweeping statements.

Custom Shop guitars IMX have always exhibited better attention to detail than USA-line instruments.

CS guitars vary less - in terms of feel, sound and finish - from one instrument to another, like-for-like, than USA-line instruments.

The guitars Gibson has been making since roughly the end of the '80s are more consistently good than those from the late-'60s up until the end of the '80s. To state that the guitars being made by Gibson nowadays are the best they have been for a long time is a viewpoint which has a fair bit of weight behind it.

There are a few things to watch out for if you are buying used. I'm not 100% sure if it happened on the LP Custom but the necks on the rest of the 'regular' Les Paul range made for the 2015 model year were quite a bit different from the Gibson norm. They were slightly wider but with the regular string-spacing so there is more wood between the top- and bottom string to the edge of the 'board. Not everyone liked this; in fact it was almost universally disliked.  It suits some people but if you can't try before you buy it might be wiser to avoid these instruments. I believe this was the year which also saw the 'fret-over-binding' debacle.

Ebony, as it is now scarce, hasn't been used for the 'regular' Custom for quite a few years now.  If you insist on having an ebony 'board then pre-2012 is your best bet. Richlite is the modern fixture. This material, a phenolic resin, tends to polarise opinion. It looks and feels almost exactly like the smoothest blackest ebony but some folks are dead against its use - mainly on principle, I believe. Try it out for yourself and see what you think.

The '70s were a low-point for Gibson guitars. Some very good guitars were made and some dogs were made as well. Don't be fooled by the 'buying vintage' garbage every seller spouts in their adverts. It's almost always  a load of nonsense recounted to hike up the price of what are frequently very mediocre, semi-trashed instruments.

If you can afford it - even if it means hanging on for quite a while longer than you would like - I'd recommend buying a new instrument for dozens of reasons.  No question at all.

Any further questions or thoughts you might wish to run past us please feel free and we will do what we can to help.

Pip.

Edited by pippy

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You have some very good advice above.

I'll say that the guitars coming out of the Custom Shop now are outstanding, probably the best ever.   You should have no reservation in buying one at all.

As stated above, the Custom Shop should give consistently better quality, better craftsmanship, nicer tops, etc, compared to a USA guitar.

I'd be very cautious about buying anything like this from ebay.  Even if you know what you're doing that's a sketchy place for guitars like these.  If you buy used, buy from a reputable dealer.  You'll pay a bit more but you'll have assurance of authenticity and condition as well as easier return if you don't like it.  If you're buying online, new from a good shop with a good return policy is the safest but the most expensive path.

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Oh, and one more thing.  As for the price, I've never made a high end purchase from Guitar Center or Sweetwater but, I do know for a fact that some of the high end dealers will negotiate on price more than you might expect, even for brand new instruments.  Mom & Pop shops probably will too but I don't know if the big dealers have that flexibility.

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Thanks so much, everyone!

That was very enlightening and informative, and I thank you all so much! 

I will consider all the details 🙂 I'm really looking forward to having my first real Gibson Les Paul.  It will take me months of living on beans & rice, maybe closer to 3-4 months. But I feel now that it is going to be worth the sacrifice!

I had an Explorer for a while (borrow) many years ago and there was something about it, the tone; it fit the logo Gibson.  It sounded right, crystal clear and full of life.
Like it carried a message with each tone and each string I plucked. And I look and listen to videos online I can hear that distinct quality sound. And I want that!! 🙂

 

All the best guys 🙂

Edited by DBA

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I enjoy beans and rice just as much as the next guy, and I'm not trying to dissuade you from buying a Custom Shop guitar at all, they are magnificent, but I'd take a close look at the Original Collection LPs.  

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2 minutes ago, Black Dog said:

I enjoy beans and rice just as much as the next guy, and I'm not trying to dissuade you from buying a Custom Shop guitar at all, they are magnificent, but I'd take a close look at the Original Collection LPs.  

Then I shall do that. After all, I did ask for advice, and if I am being recommend to look into the original collection LPs I'd be a fool not to 🙂
Again, thanks so much.

I feel it will be worth the sacrifice either way.

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Yep, that's what I was referring to.   I don't know about LH models but I can't imagine they won't be coming.   Gibson has been pretty responsive when I have posted a couple questions on their Facebook page.  You should ask.   [thumbup]

Edited by Black Dog

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+1 on the Les Paul Standard 50s and 60s. I still prefer a RI over them, but they are really nice guitars. I have a Standard 50s, and although my R9 is smother and there was more attention to detail, the Standard 50s does come very close, especially after I lowered the action at the nut. They are outstanding guitars. 

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I haven't had the opportunity to play one of the new Originals but pauloqs above has, and he is the owner of multiple Gibson Historics and speaks very favorably of them.   That speaks volumes.

OTOH, another thing to consider is deals available on '18 and '19 USA guitars.    I've seen some pretty good discounts on Traditionals and Classics now that the new collection is out.

The problem you have (as you are most keenly aware of) is finding a lefty.

 

Edited by Black Dog

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That is such a beautiful guitar! I really can't say anything bad about the finish, it's a classic! But for some reason, there is something about the Alpine White finish, or Wine Red.

I will check out a few nearby music stores and actually sit down with one of those Original Collection LPs, if they have one that is, and try one out.

I'm really excited about those now 🙂

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42 minutes ago, DBA said:

That is such a beautiful guitar! I really can't say anything bad about the finish, it's a classic! But for some reason, there is something about the Alpine White finish, or Wine Red.

I will check out a few nearby music stores and actually sit down with one of those Original Collection LPs, if they have one that is, and try one out.

I'm really excited about those now 🙂

 

Unfortunately, you won't find a new LP Standard in white or red.  If you have your mind made up on that then you  will be looking at a Custom Shop guitar.  The only one that I know of offered in white is the LP Custom.  I have seen a couple '57 Standards in white that were M2M, but those were Classic White, not Alpine White.  Also, neither of those are offered as LH.  That means you need a M2M guitar. 

You can stop at Costco on your way and pickup a few sacks of rice and beans.  [smile]

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9 minutes ago, Black Dog said:

Unfortunately, you won't find a new LP Standard in white or red.

You can stop at Costco on your way and pickup a few sacks of rice and beans.  [smile]

 

[laugh]

Beans'n'Rice'n'Chilli-powder. What's not to like?...

I might be mistaken but I believe the OP is meaning a Les Paul Custom in either Alpine White or Wine Red. The Custom is available in Alpine White (and they also have re-intrduced the ebony 'board!) but not, currently, in a Left Hand version.

Perhaps later in the year it will be available?

The OP could do a lot worse than to call / send a PM to Gibson Customer Service and have a chat with them?

Pip.

EDIT : Here's where :

https://www.gibson.com/Support/Customer-Service

Edited by pippy

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