The Gibson Les Paul electric guitar has come a long way since its introduction in 1952. In fact, today there are several “families” within the Les Paul line — the major differences between them are where they are built, the quality of the parts, tonewoods and components chosen for the Les Paul, and the quality of their fit and finish. These families (in order of increasing quality) include the Epiphone Les Paul, the Gibson USA Les Paul and the Gibson Custom Les Paul.
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitars
Epiphone offers entry-level to mid-level variations of the world’s most popular guitar model, the Les Paul. Today, these Les Pauls are made in Epiphone’s Gibson Qingdao (GQ) Factory in China under the management of two experienced Gibson veterans that have over 35 years of combined experience under their belts, Lloyd Williams and Scott Lewis. Although these Epiphone Les Pauls may not use the same premium electronics and pickups as the Gibson Les Pauls or Gibson Custom Les Pauls, the Epiphone Les Pauls still use high-quality components and materials (in comparison to many entry level instruments), and undergo extensive quality control. Some Epiphone Les Paul models include:
- Epiphone Les Paul Express (Small, Short Scale)
- Epiphone Les Paul Special II
- Epiphone Les Paul 100
- Epiphone Goth Les Paul Studio
- Epiphone Les Paul Studio
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO
- Epiphone Les Paul Classic-T with Min-ETune
- Epiphone Limited Edition Les Pauls
- Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus
- Epiphone Prophecy Les Pauls
- Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III
- Epiphone Les Paul Custom PRO
- Epiphone Les Paul Custom Black Beauty
If you’re just starting out, an Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Package is a great choice, but how do you know which one is the right choice for you? Well first, we need to know what the differences are between Epiphone’s most popular Les Paul Packs.
|Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack||Epiphone Les Paul Performance Pack|
As you can see, the main difference between the two packs are the Epiphone Electar amplifiers. The Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack is a good choice if you prefer a more simplistic amplifier, but if you’re looking for more versatility, features and a bit more power, the Epiphone Les Paul Performance Pack is the way to go.
Gibson USA Les Paul
Gibson USA Les Paul guitars are crafted in the Gibson USA Nashville, Tennessee, factory, which was originally built specifically for the production of Les Paul guitars back in 1974. Each Gibson USA Les Paul is treated with the utmost care—from maintaining 45 percent humidity level in the factory (to preserve the resonant qualities of the tonewoods) to undergoing extensive quality control several times throughout the entire guitar making process.
Although machines are used to perfect the Gibson USA Les Pauls, most of the work is performed by hand by the skilled luthiers and craftsmen at Gibson USA. Not only do these jobs require a steady hand, but they also require a keen eye for detail and plenty of patience, and the end result—a Les Paul that plays, feels, looks and sounds like a million bucks.
Gibson 2015 Les Paul
Since their humble beginnings, one of Gibson’s main goals as an instrument manufacturer has been to create the ultimate playing experience for musicians through constant innovation and improvement—an ideal that Orville had embedded into the company. Gibson’s commitment to innovation and improvement have been emphasized throughout the years by legendary Gibson innovators—from Lloyd Loar and Les Paul to the passionate, creative designers, highly skilled luthiers and master craftsmen at Gibson USA today.
In honor of Gibson’s tradition of innovation, Gibson is proud to release the new 2015 lineup. All of the instruments in the Gibson 2015 lineup have been designed and introduced following extensive research, and each of them are made with one specific goal in mind: to provide players with the most advanced guitars on the market.
Groundbreaking Features for the Gibson 2015 Model Year:
The Celebration of Innovation
Gibson G FORCE Tuning System
With the exception of the Gibson 2015 Les Paul Supreme, all of the 2015 Les Paul models now come equipped with the revolutionary Gibson G FORCE Automatic Tuning System. After eight years of development, the new G FORCE tuning system offers improvements on the successful, innovative Min-ETune System, which include a more user-friendly design, an updated set of features and increased tuning speed and accuracy. As far as automatic tuning systems go, the Gibson G FORCE provides players with an easy tuning experience and the very best in performance.
Zero Fret Nut
The patent-applied-for Zero Fret Nut is an adjustable nut that gives players the ability to make additional action adjustments. This new groundbreaking Zero Fret nut design will provide players with an incredibly comfortable playing experience.
Upgraded Tune-O-Matic Bridge
The new and improved Tune-O-Matic bridge now features titanium saddles for enhanced sustain as well as hex screw adjustments on thumbscrews for quicker, easier action adjustments.
Wider Neck and Fingerboard
For superb playability and comfort, the necks and fingerboard on the Gibson 2015 models are a bit wider to expand your playing surface, but they still offer the same string spacing.
Thicker Rosewood Fingerboard
The increased mass of the thicker one-piece rosewood fingerboard allows for added sustain.
Comprehensive Point Setup & Smoother Sanded, Buffed and Oiled Fingerboard
Both of these new Gibson 2015 updates offer improved playability. The Comprehensive Point Setup with improved PLEK system and lower frets make playing these instruments a dream—offering smooth action and effortless string bending from the first fret to the last, plus incredibly accurate intonation so that you can always sound your best. The smoother sanded, buffed and oiled fingerboard will feel great beneath your fingertips as you play your way across the ‘board.
Pearl inlays return on most of the 2015 Les Paul models to provide a striking appearance and better value.
Gibson now utilizes more robust cables for the 2015 Model Year to provide a stronger, improved signal. An improved contact output jack offers secure contact for an uninterrupted signal.
New Removable Les Paul Pickguard
This new removable Les Paul pickguard can be removed or put back onto the 2015 Les Paul guitars in a flash. The innovative new design does not require any screws for attachment, so when you want a pickguard-free top, there are no unsightly holes where the pickguard sits.
Les Paul 100th Birthday Signature
Paying tribute to the renowned jazz musician and true inventive genius that revolutionized the solidbody electric guitar as we know it, all of the Gibson 2015 Les Paul and SG models showcase a commemorative ‘Les Paul 100’ signature on the headstock.
Les Paul Hologram
Offering an authentic touch for the 2015 Les Paul and SG models, the back of the headstock carries a Les Paul Hologram.
New and Improved Hardshell Case
New and improved for the Gibson 2015 Model Year, this updated hardshell case offers improved strength with the looks to match. Up to four times more resistant to drops than most other cases, these cases are crafted to withstand up to a 15-foot drop. The cushioned interior provides your instrument with superior protection from extreme temperature and humidity changes. The ergonomic, tough, molded exterior makes these new hardshell cases incredibly roadworthy.
Gibson 2015 Les Paul models include:
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Junior Single Cut
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Special Double Cutaway
- Gibson 2015 LPM
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Studio
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Less+
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Classic
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Deluxe
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Traditional
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Standard
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Standard Premium
- Gibson 2015 Les Paul Supreme
Gibson 2014 Les Paul
The year 2014 marks an important part of Gibson history—the 120th Anniversary of Gibson. For over a century, Gibson has been known worldwide as the leading innovators in the musical instrument industry, and today Gibson continues to honor their roots by holding faithful to the tradition of innovation with several additions to the Les Paul line plus a slew of ground-breaking features for 2014. Some of these revolutionary 120th Anniversary Les Paul features include:
- A variety of new finish options
- Graph Tech nut and proprietary strings for ultimate playability
- Precise setup by innovative PLEK technology
- One-piece fingerboards provide enhanced sustain
- Undercut frets over binding for fast playability and a smooth feel
- Corrosion-resistant cryogenic treated frets for a longer lasting fret life
- Next-Generation Min-ETune automated tuning system
- Built-in 15dB boost on select models
- Non-slip, easy to grip speed knobs
- Enlarged, redesigned strap buttons for unparalleled security
Gibson 120th Anniversary 2014 Les Paul models include:
- Gibson 2014 LPJ
- Gibson 2014 LPM
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Melody Maker
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Futura
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Studio
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Studio Pro
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Classic
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Signature
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Traditional
- Gibson Les Paul Traditional 120
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Standard
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Standard Plus
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Standard Premium
- Gibson Les Paul Standard 120
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Peace
- Gibson 2014 Les Paul Supreme
Gibson Custom Les Paul Electric Guitars
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Gibson Custom Shop is the Gibson’s most prominent link to their historic past—taking you back to the time of those finely crafted hand-made electric guitars. The Gibson Custom Shop employs some of the most talented masterbuilders, luthiers and craftsmen in the world, and aside from a few key processes that are streamlined by modern technology, a majority of the work they do on these guitars is implemented by hand, still utilizing many of the same hands-on procedures and techniques that trace back to the founder of Gibson himself, Orville Gibson.
Gibson Custom Shop Les Pauls are the holy grail of the entire Les Paul line. If you thought that Gibson USA was thorough and precise in their guitar craft, you’ll surely be impressed by the amount of time and man-hours put into each and every Gibson Custom Les Paul—which becomes apparent the minute you lay your eyes on one, play one or hear one. Here is some background on the most prevalent series/Les Paul models offered by the Gibson Custom Shop:
Gibson Custom Historic Collection
The Les Pauls in the Gibson Custom Historic Collection faithfully recapture some of the most iconic years of the Gibson Les Paul—from those early Gold Top Les Pauls to the coveted “Burst” Les Pauls of the late 1950s/early 1960s. These Gibson Custom Historic Reissue Les Pauls are all crafted in the image of the original—from the period-correct finishes and hardware down to the vintage-style custom wound pickups.
The Gibson Custom Goldtop Reissue Les Pauls pay homage to those early Les Paul models whose maple tops wore that distinctive gold finish. Depending on the model, Gibson Custom Les Paul Goldtop reissues come equipped with either a pair of soap-bar style P-90 pickups (pre-1957 Goldtop Reissues) or a set of humbuckers on the 1957 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue, marking Gibson’s shift from using single-coil P-90 pickups to PAF humbucking pickups.
In response to the declining sales in the higher priced Goldtop Les Pauls, Gibson sought to revamp this high-end line with a more traditional look by introducing the first Les Paul with a cherry sunburst finish. Unlike like the Goldtop, this new finish would allow the Les Paul to show off the beautifully grained maple and superb bookmatching of the two-piece top. Today, these Les Pauls from 1958-1960 consist of the most collectible, and some of the rarest Les Pauls of all time (especially those made between 1959 and 1960). These 1958-1960 Les Paul Standard Reissues are an honest reflection of the three-year evolution of the iconic burst Les Pauls—capturing every fine detail unique to the production year with impeccable accuracy that is sure to amaze both the discerning player and the avid collector. For a more authentic, lightly used vintage aesthetic, these Les Paul Standard Reissues feature a gently aged VOS (Vintage Original Spec) finish. Some 1958 Les Paul Standard Reissue and 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue models are also offered with a gloss finish.
The Gibson Custom Collector’s Choice series offers both players and collectors alike an exacting replica of a specific existing vintage Les Paul. These Collector’s Choice Les Pauls are based on the actual vintage instruments owned by a handful of collectors and legendary guitarists. Thanks to the full cooperation of the owners of these stunning instruments, the Gibson Custom Shop is able to flawlessly recreate these prized and historic Les Pauls through meticulous examination of every aspect of the original instrument. Each Collector’s Choice Les Paul embodies the tone, feel, looks and character of a particular instrument—from employing precise measurements and accurate electronics and hardware, all the way down to the exact wearing, dinging and scratching of the original guitar’s finish.
Gibson Custom Les Paul Artists Models are inspired by specific Gibson guitars played by and associated with legendary guitarists. These Gibson Custom Les Paul Artist Models are usually made to the desired specifications of the artist themselves, which is perfect if you’re looking to obtain the artists distinct sound and tone. Some of these signature models include:
- Gibson Custom Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess
- Gibson Custom Ace Frehley “Budokan” Les Paul Custom
- Gibson Custom Lee Roy Parnell Signature ’57 Les Paul Goldtop
- Gibson Custom Duane Allman 1959 Les Paul Reissue
- Gibson Custom Kirk Hammett Flying V Aged
The VOS or Vintage Original Spec Les Pauls capture the unmistakable tone, feel and looks of a true vintage Gibson Les Paul, so the big question you’re probably asking yourself is how do they do this so flawlessly? The VOS series is the product of many years of meticulous examination of vintage Gibson guitars at the Gibson Custom Shop.
- Each Gibson Custom VOS undergoes a proprietary hand-finishing process that employs period-correct aniline dyes, wood-fillers and historically accurate nitrocellulose finishes. The nitro finish allows the wood to breathe (unlike modern polyurethane finishes) which allows for a more open sound and slightly aged appearance.
- The VOS Les Pauls feature historically accurate neck profiles that are shaped skillfully by hand to reproduce the three main Gibson guitar necks. The neck binding is also extended out and hand-rolled to provide enhanced player comfort and to maximize the playing surface. For superb playability, these VOS Les Pauls are set up with the utmost precision thanks to the revolutionary Gibson PLEK system.
- The most important aspect of any guitar is of course its tone. In order to faithfully recreate the renowned vintage tone of those classic Les Pauls, the VOS Les Pauls make use of the finest tonewoods and are paired with historically correct hand-crafted pickups wound to Gibson’s exclusive Original Specifications.
Some Vintage Original Specifications include:
- Lightweight Solid Mahogany Back
- Historically Accurate Long Tenon Neck Joint for Increased Strength and Sustain
- Bumble Bee Tone Capacitors
- Correct Body Routing
- Holly Headstock Veneer (as opposed to plastic fiber)
- Tortoise Dot Side Markers
- ABR-1 Bridge and Lightweight Stopbar Tailpiece