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Les Paul vs Strat (USA) Costs


rloden

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I'm curious as to why today, there is such a major cost difference between a Les Paul Standard and an American Standard Stratocaster that didn't always exist. For example, I purchased a brand new '77 LP Standard with a hardshell Gibson case for $450 total. A year later, I bought a brand new hardtail Strat with case for about $400. That was a pretty normal "good" negotiated price for either of these guitars back in those days, at least around the Washington DC area. Most of us teenagers strived to either get a Strat or a Les Paul back then, as they were the creme of the crop and very closely priced. What happened in the last 30 years to cause such a cost difference in today's market between a Les Paul Standard and an American Standard Strat? I realize that technological advances and signature edition guitars from both brands have had something to do with it, but I don't understand the big spread in the costs of each brand's standard series that didn't used to exist. Gee, remember when there were no signature models and you could count your model choices on one hand?

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I kind of wondered about that too but I too think a strat is over priced as well especially some of those closet classics editions, since for the most part it is made of domestic wood that is grown here in the US. I do not know what to tell about Gibsons guitars but some are really up there in price but there is a lot more that goes into a Gibson, carved top, mahogany, neck binding, inlays and set necks. If you look at comparable standard strat price compared to a les paul studio, or even a new SG, I do not think those are that out of line on cost. How much is a new American standard now? Last time I saw one it seemed to be about $1100.00 or so. Tim

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Who knows for sure? But I will guess that.......

1: Fender guitars are way more factory friendly on a production standpoint, and can be stamped out like cookies!

2: All Gibson's use Nitro Lacquer which takes considerable skill to apply and a long time to cure fully, raising production times and costs.

3: You pay a premium for the name on the headstock

4: Gibson likely doesn't produce the same amount of guitars a day that Fender can do to their simplified production

So that's my theory! :) Anyway, a USA Standard Stratocaster should not cost what a Les Paul Standard does. They are both nice guitars, but the Les Paul is a much higher calibre instrument. Back in the day, competition between the brands was fierce....nowadays, both guitars and companies have proved themselves, and these 2 guitars have become legends, so Gibson no longer has to compete ( necessarily ) with the Strat. Countless classic songs have been recorded with both guitars, and a well rounded collection (and player) will require both to complete their tonal palette.

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My .02-

Fender= a bandsaw and a couple of pieces of wood, and screw 'em together, is about all it takes to make one.

Gibson= a mostly hand made, work of art. Sure, I'm biased-

You have to admit, Gibsons finishes and construction have it all over most every one else.

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IMO, the key differences have been hit on above. Number one being finish, I'd suggest instead of Standard model Strats, compare the Les Paul Standard with a Nitro finished Fender. Then figure what the binding on a Gibson is worth, or go to the Studio model Gibson without binding, and you get a much closer comparison.

 

Better still, compare models from either firm's Custom Shop, where you will see a much closer parity in cost as well as the level of attention to build.

 

Both makers provide Professional quality instruments in a variety of finish/trim levels, and do in fact still compete for the same market (and price points of several models are comparable, see the discounted street prices of the Poly finished Fender Standards compared to some of the Gibson Studio models).

 

Costs are costs, the two brands actually have VERY different products in terms of construction, and both are iconic parts of the modern and "recent" (60 years or so) music culture. Glad the choices are there, as I have several examples of each to play and enjoy!

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Setting tone and playability aside, I don't believe the Am Std. Strat is even in the same class as a Les Paul Standard. The Les Pauls are, to me, crafted luthier's products while the Strat is an assembly line product.

 

And, once you get into the assembly line type guitars, I think the Yamaha Pacifica series arguably matches the Strats at 1/3 the price.

 

I'm going to go hide now. [flapper]

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Setting tone and playability aside, I don't believe the Am Std. Strat is even in the same class as a Les Paul Standard. The Les Pauls are, to me, crafted luthier's products while the Strat is an assembly line product.

 

And, once you get into the assembly line type guitars, I think the Yamaha Pacifica series arguably matches the Strats at 1/3 the price.

 

I'm going to go hide now. [flapper]

 

I like both Les Pauls and Strats, and have to admit that Yamaha has put out a lot of great Pacifica models in the past... though the line is lacking these days.

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I think Fender's quality has been getting better and Gibson's quality is getting worse. I don't understand how Gibson can avoid offering more options like Fender offers: Neck profiles, fretboard radius, fret size, tremolo, S1 switch, active pickups. I favor my LP slightly, but I think my '10 Am Dlx HSS Strat is an amazing guitar that has features I would have to order from the Custom Shop, to get from Gibson. Bottom line, I think the premium we pay for an LP is larger than is justifiable. $6k to $9k for models that aren't much different than $3k models, right!

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I think Fender's quality has been getting better and Gibson's quality is getting worse. I don't understand how Gibson can avoid offering more options like Fender offers: Neck profiles, fretboard radius, fret size, tremolo, S1 switch, active pickups. I favor my LP slightly, but I think my '10 Am Dlx HSS Strat is an amazing guitar that has features I would have to order from the Custom Shop, to get from Gibson. Bottom line, I think the premium we pay for an LP is larger than is justifiable. $6k to $9k for models that aren't much different than $3k models, right!

Also, Strats are a hot-rodders guitar. At the cost of a pickguard you can pretty much put anything in it. Switches, buttons, pickups, etc. at the cost of a custom pickguard. That's what I like about them.

 

If only Fender still made hardtail strats.

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Who knows for sure? But I will guess that.......

1: Fender guitars are way more factory friendly on a production standpoint, and can be stamped out like cookies!

2: All Gibson's use Nitro Lacquer which takes considerable skill to apply and a long time to cure fully, raising production times and costs.

3: You pay a premium for the name on the headstock

4: Gibson likely doesn't produce the same amount of guitars a day that Fender can do to their simplified production

So that's my theory! :) Anyway, a USA Standard Stratocaster should not cost what a Les Paul Standard does. They are both nice guitars, but the Les Paul is a much higher calibre instrument. Back in the day, competition between the brands was fierce....nowadays, both guitars and companies have proved themselves, and these 2 guitars have become legends, so Gibson no longer has to compete ( necessarily ) with the Strat. Countless classic songs have been recorded with both guitars, and a well rounded collection (and player) will require both to complete their tonal palette.

 

Kind of like this?

 

Fenders are much easier guitars to produce. The neck is made from a board of rock maple. The bodies from a slab of alder or ash. Couple of screws, and some electronics. done.

 

Any Gibson, Much more work. Quarter sawn mahogany neck, Glued in. Nearly every Gibson requires fishing of electronics. Not so much on a Tele or a Strat. Nitro requires Special EPA controls to spray and use, Fender only uses in special runs, and re-issues.

 

P2102443C.jpg

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Kind of like this?

 

Fenders are much easier guitars to produce. The neck is made from a board of rock maple. The bodies from a slab of alder or ash. Couple of screws, and some electronics. done.

 

Any Gibson, Much more work. Quarter sawn mahogany neck, Glued in. Nearly every Gibson requires fishing of electronics. Not so much on a Tele or a Strat. Nitro requires Special EPA controls to spray and use, Fender only uses in special runs, and re-issues.

 

P2102443C.jpg

 

That pic shows the artistry of both manufacturers. Love it.

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Hello! Well...comparing a Chevrolet to a Rolls - is unfair. I've a Fender Tele FSR, which is a very nice guitar, really. I'd say it has the impression of a higher quality instrument more than a "regular" Fender has, but if I put the LP Studio 50s Tribute next to it: the difference if obvious. They are in the same price range, but the Les Paul has that undescribable aura...

The Fender company was founded around the middle of the last century, with intention to mass-produce electric guitars, while Gibson has a nearly 120 year old heritage, with all the know-how of crafting extraordinary instruments. That's the real difference. Surely Chevrolet produced some great cars, with the intention to satisfy the demand of the masses, but Rolls-Royce - which might not be as fast and modern - is a piece of art in it's every detail. Cheers... Bence

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Well you can look at it the way you guys all have and there are some legit reasons why the Gibby might be higher but the fact that the mark up on a Gibson is almost twice its cost is the major reason.

 

Most dealers don't wanna admit it but it's true.

 

You work your local salesman over and get your 15% off that new Les Paul and they still made a killin.

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If only Fender still made hardtail strats.

 

they do the robert cray strat

 

http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0139100326

 

I've been to both factories and both Gibsons and Fenders have elements of CNC, hand finishing etc.. however it is quite obvious that the higher end gibsons with binding, inlays etc.. take up more labour hence the expenses.

 

I like em both !

 

http://www.gear-review.co.uk/guitar/

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I own 2 strats (a SRV and a FSR 59 Thinskin) and 3 Gibsons (335 , LP Studio and Midtown Custom).Totally different animals imo.Gibsons are as much about looks as tone and playability.Much of their guitars are hand made.Fender guitars are machined and much of their work can be done on a CNC machine . To compare the 2 is kind of silly, they both serve their own purpose.In the various strat that I owned , one of them had any kind of flaw in the workmanship.Of the 3 Gibsons ,all 3 had badly cut nuts and the 335 has a few minor flaws.Price doesnt equate to higher workmanship , but it should.The best of the bunch is my Gibson studio deluxe.Great craftmanship and a great player .

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I own 2 strats (a SRV and a FSR 59 Thinskin) and 3 Gibsons (335 , LP Studio and Midtown Custom).Totally different animals imo.Gibsons are as much about looks as tone and playability.Much of their guitars are hand made.Fender guitars are machined and much of their work can be done on a CNC machine . To compare the 2 is kind of silly, they both serve their own purpose.In the various strat that I owned , one of them had any kind of flaw in the workmanship.Of the 3 Gibsons ,all 3 had badly cut nuts and the 335 has a few minor flaws.Price doesnt equate to higher workmanship , but it should.The best of the bunch is my Gibson studio deluxe.Great craftmanship and a great player .

Gibson are not handmade

half of the job are made by a machine and the rest like sanding,polish and paint are handmade, just like fender

because a real handmade like a lespaul model will cost around 7K

is my 2cent

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Well I have to agree on the quality differences. Gibson needs to do better. I own 4 Gibsons and 3 Fenders. I had to play about 50 Gibsons over the last few years just to find 4 good ones and one did have the dreaded badly cut nut and poor fret work but the tone was too much to pass up. I have a pretty decent guitar collection from low end to high end, but as I stated before the 1989 MIJ Strat I bought with case brand new for $400 from GC is the sweetest sounding, easiest playing and most versatile guitar out of the bunch, though she has been modded.

 

IMO made in Japan Strats are superior to made in USA strats. But... I love my Gibsons. The Strat only comes out for a rare gig.

 

Disclaimer on Gibson quality, I have yet to see a Classic Custom that was not perfect at Sam Ash or GC. The CCs are the highest quality built guitars that I have seen in years, easily rivals PRS which known for excellent workmanship.

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Gibson are not handmade

half of the job are made by a machine and the rest like sanding,polish and paint are handmade, just like fender

because a real handmade like a lespaul model will cost around 7K

is my 2cent

Correct.I should have been more clear.There is still alot of hands on work on a Gibson .Many people think a 335 is totally handmade but its still a production guitar.I have to agree with markini too.The midtown custom and the the lp studio deluxe I bought aside from the poorly done nuts , had outstanding build quality on the guitar itself.Had they had properly cut nuts , they would have been flawless.The nut problem was remedied with my first setup.My 335 cost the most and was the least impressive qualitywise.
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Well I have to agree on the quality differences. Gibson needs to do better. I own 4 Gibsons and 3 Fenders. I had to play about 50 Gibsons over the last few years just to find 4 good ones and one did have the dreaded badly cut nut and poor fret work but the tone was too much to pass up. I have a pretty decent guitar collection from low end to high end, but as I stated before the 1989 MIJ Strat I bought with case brand new for $400 from GC is the sweetest sounding, easiest playing and most versatile guitar out of the bunch, though she has been modded.

 

IMO made in Japan Strats are superior to made in USA strats. But... I love my Gibsons. The Strat only comes out for a rare gig.

 

Disclaimer on Gibson quality, I have yet to see a Classic Custom that was not perfect at Sam Ash or GC. The CCs are the highest quality built guitars that I have seen in years, easily rivals PRS which known for excellent workmanship.

 

My first Les Paul is a Classic Custom, and it was perfect right out of the box... and I ordered it online, sight unseen. Amazing instruments!!

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Gee, I don't know if they're really that much different?

Back in '64, my Strat was $280.00 with case. The Les Paul

Standard, was $325-350 (depending on dealer). So, the

Gibson's have always been a little more, but percentage

wise, I'm not sure they've changed that much...with "Nitro"

finished, USA Fenders, that is. There is a bigger difference,

between the Les Paul Standard/Traditional, than the basic

(Poly finished) USA Fender Strat, of course.

 

$280 dollars, back then, is like over $1,600 dollars, now. So...???

And, as always, dealers make a huge difference. My dealer sells

way below MF, CG, Sam Ash, on Gibson's. So, the prices are a lot

more competitive, through them. [biggrin]

 

CB

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