The 5 Best Gibson Les Paul Guitars Available


The original signature series guitar.

The first run of the Gibson Les Paul was considered a failure. This is inexplicable to the person today, who is seeing the price tag for one of those original production instruments. You can get a nice house for the price of a beat up one.

Fender was winning the solid body electric guitar sales competition with its Telecaster. But Les Paul himself was the hottest guitar picker in the USA, and the guitar bearing his name was the original signature series instrument.

Before the thing called rock n' roll had officially been born, before the term was coined, Les Paul was playing it on his Gibson Les Paul. So the Les Paul is the original rock guitar just as the Telecaster is the original country and western electric guitar. But the Gibson Les Paul wasn't selling. It was too heavy to stand and play, people thought. And it cost too much.

Blues-man Freddie King with an early P90 Les Paul gold top.


But it was the British invasion guitarists who made the Gibson Les Paul so successful.

By 1960 the Les Paul guitar was thought a failed product. Gibson decided to turn it instead into the lighter, less expensive SG double cutaway without the maple top. They were still calling that SG a Les Paul though. The original Les Paul guitars all sounded good, but they weren't so twangy as the Tele. Gibson seemingly made their first solid body electric to be the anti-telecaster. They succeeded at that.

The British Invaders saved the Gibson Les Paul. Keith Richards started playing one in 1964. His was a 1959 model. Then some young whipper snapper named Eric Clapton got a job with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, and he utilized them hum-bucking pickups to crank up a Marshall amplifier as far as it would go. Soon enough, everyone wanted a 1959 Gibson Les Paul. Here we are in 2016, and everyone still wants a 1959 Gibson Les Paul.

But Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and the other famous Brit guitarist who played Les Paul guitars were forever imitating authentic African American bluesmen such as Freddie King, Lightning Hopkins, and others.

I'm sitting here now looking at a website from out of Chicago where a 1960 Gibson Les Paul is being sold. The asking price is just $245 thousand dollars. So I can only imagine what a 1959 model would sell for.

1959 Gibson Les Paul re-issue.


Amazing burst finish on this 1959 LP reissue


Gear Demo - Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue

Gibson 1959 'True Historic' Les Paul guitars.

It seems like every year these days Gibson makes a 1959 True Historic Les Paul reissue. What we're talking about here is their every move and every iota of work done on these is to capture the exactest essence of an actual 1959 Gibson Les Paul. So these guitars go for nine thousand bucks new.

You can see how the guy who bought last year's copy could be irked if the next year's version is somehow better. You can grow jaded. But Gibson is doing its part to bring to the table what people want. There's nothing wrong with that. Craftsmanship can always improve. Probably they can make a better guitar now than ever before. How could we live in this day and age of technological wonders and think otherwise?

Straight up, they can make a brand new True Historic 1959 LP better looking than ever before. The burst finishes in 1959 weren't as good then as they are now. These guitars these days are outrageously beautiful. Gotta do something to look as good as some of those Paul Reed Smith guitars, you know.

These guitars are for the persons obsessed with details and with their gear. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but you don't really wish to be a gear snob. Someone's much more typical Les Paul may sound and play every bit as good as these super expensive ones. If you can't tell the difference between the nine thousand dollar guitar and the two thousand dollar guitar while playing it or hearing it blindfolded, you might want to consider whether or not the True Historic is what you should spend your money on. But if money isn't an object for you, have at it.

The late Gary Moore with one of his Gibson Les Paul guitars.


Gary Moore BFG Les Paul.


Gibson Gary Moore Signature BFG Les Paul Electric Guitar, Lemon Burst - Chrome Hardware

Review of the Gibson Les Paul Gary Moore Signature BFG

Here is over 40 minutes of Gary Moore guitar bliss.

Gary Moore, the Les Paul, and the Gary Moore BFG LP

Gary Moore is one of the best guitarists to ever play the Les Paul. He was a much more highly skilled musician than some of the ones who're much more famous than him who also played the LP.

The musical excellence of Gary Moore is trans-genre. He was so skilled he could play virtually anything flawlessly. While he had some commercial success as part of bands like Thin Lizzy, he's really someone who is most known in guitarist circles. Because he was so good and could play so many styles, fusing them together so deftly.

Gary Moore wasn't exactly one of those British invasion guys. He was from northern Ireland. The distinction was likely important to Moore. Gary passed away one night in 2011, leaving behind a lot of music which if you've not yet heard it, will be a treasure to discover.

When you are a master guitarist like Moore was, you tend to own a lot of guitars. Gary certainly did. He didn't always play the Les Paul, but he most often did. Also, as you can well imagine, he owned several. There are more than one distinct Gibson Les Paul model with Gary Moore's name on it.

The Gary Moore Les Paul guitars are always lemon burst guitars, and none of them will have the pick-guard. Maybe Gary felt the pick guard got in his way. Maybe he found the LP more visually pleasing to his aestheticism without it.

The more expensive Gary Moore LPs go for around three to four thousand. But the Gary Moore BFG Les Paul is much more distinctive. There are no trapezoidal fret-board positioning inlay markers on the BFG. The guitar even has a single coil at the neck, and an uncovered two tone humbucker as Gary was fond of, at the bridge.

The BFG guitar is atypical and non traditional. The mahogany body is chambered for weight relief. This could be a big plus or a major drawback for someone, depending on what they are looking for, or for what kind of tone they are hunting. I chose this guitar for inclusion here mainly because of its P-90 single coil in the neck position. The P-90 has an all out cult following, but I suppose most readers here would know all about this already.

What really makes the Gary Moore unique is that it has a killswitch where you would normally find the pickup toggle on a Les Paul, great for throwing in some cool "helicopter" effects to your riffs or feedback. The pickup switch on this BFG is on the bottom of the body where the volume controls are located. The guitar is in great shape,with only a few very light indentations on the back of the body. These are very hard to see and you can barely feel them running your hand along the wood. This BFG does not come with the warranty or paperwork, however it does include the original Gibson hardshell case.

These Les Paul BFGs contrast heavily with the 1959 models in more than just specs. These guitars sell for around $1,500, or less. So their unique characteristics and very nice price may just make this guitar the Les Paul for you.

Jimmy Page with one of his famous Les Paul guitars.


Jimmy Page #2 Les Paul.


Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop Jimmy Page #2

Jimmy Page and the #2 Jimmy Page Les Paul.

Even Les Paul himself isn't identified with the Gibson Les Paul so closely as is Jimmy Page. James Patrick Page, of course, plays a lot of guitars. And was a part of a lot more than just Led Zeppelin.

Neither Keith Richards nor Eric Clapton used the Les Paul guitar very much. Clapton, in the end, turned out to be a Stratocaster man. Keith Richards went with the Telecaster the most. Page played Strats and Teles, but mostly the Les Paul. The reader here likely knows full well Page had not one, but TWO late 50s Les Paul sunburst guitars. And before that, he had a 3 pick-up black beauty with a Bigsby on it, and that one was stolen. The true blue died in the wool hardcore Led Zep head can tell you Jimmy also had a cherry red Les Paul. And that he's in recent years been photographed with a white one.

I've even seen Page with a gold top. I'm not pedantic so much, but Les Paul aficionados often are. Because of Page, the Les Paul reached stratospheric levels of exposure..Jimmy forever exuded the kind of energy you only hope you can convey onto your audience when you play live.

The two sunburst guitars were simply referred to as number 1 and number 2. Gibson has reproduced both guitars for mass consumption. So which one should be listed here? Both guitars are modified rather heavily. The modifications aren't so obvious to the fan watching and listening.

My advice to anyone wanting a Jimmy Page LP is to go for number two models. The number one models have necks so thin they are described as dangerously thin, or even barely stable. The replicas of number two have thicker necks. To my way of thinking, or to my budget considerations, it would be a tragedy to spend for the Jimmy Page LP and then see the neck needing a reset or replacement.

I'm pricing these guitars at $8,000. Find one used and with a straight neck. The guitar is basically a 1959 reissue with Jimmy's custom electronics configuration. There are endless tonal possibilities with these, but if you are a Led Zeppelin fan, you already know.

Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro.


LP Traditional Pro gold top sans pick-guard.


The Les Paul Traditional Pro offers the best of both new and old, with a more affordable price.

The Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro is my ultimate pick for a Les Paul. These guitars combine the best of the traditional Les Paul styling with the best of the modern techniques in guitar building. Yes, it still costs more than the average Telecaster or Stratocaster; but this is because of the price of mahogany, and the man hours involved in building a Les Paul like this.

For the record, I don't consider the Les Paul in any incarnation to be 'better' than either the Strat or the Tele, but rather, I consider it distinctly different, which isn't up for debate. It may be subjectively superior to you or me or anyone, but not objectively superior. The LP Traditional Pro is available in many absolutely gorgeous finishes.

The maple tops are carefully book-matched. The mahogany body is chambered for weight relief. The chambered bodies are decidedly non traditional, but they are very shoulder friendly. At a hair under six pounds, these guitars actually weigh less than a Strat.

As for myself, I like the look of the Les Paul with the pick-guard. The guitars always look nice without one too. While we're on the subject of visual aesthetics, you'll note the pickups on the LP Traditional Pro guitars are uncovered, and with black and white coils in coloring. I prefer the look of the humbuckers uncovered.

These all bases covered, best of two world Les Paul guitars sell for around $3,300 new, and you can find them in great condition used for varying prices. These guitars, featuring the traditional appointments and features, plus newer ones, all come with coil taping.

Gibson Les Paul Studio in wine red.

2015 Gibson Les Paul Studio in Wine Red

Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013 Electric Guitar Demo - Sweetwater Sound

The Gibson Les Paul Studio offers the most bang for your musical bucks.

The Gibson Les Paul Studio guitar resolves all the issues the original LP guitars had. The weight relief chambered body issue is resolved here, as is the prohibitive cost issue. This guitar costs less than does a 52' reissue blackguard Telecaster, and has more features. The wine red ones are particularly striking visually.

These guitars, priced just over a thousand dollars, feature coil taping. So you can get the classic LP blues and rock tones, and some single coil glassiness and twang too. The LP studio was built to sell to the working guitarist. It can cover all basses and be sold at a working man's price too.

The Gibson LP Studio has all the same essential specifications as do the most expensive models of Les Paul. The tonewoods are the same. The weight relief in the form of the chambered body is anti-traditional. But who wants to be sore in the neck for having played a 3 hour show? This guitar has a slim tapered neck. It's a thinner neck than the True Historic necks, but isn't shaved so thin as a Jimmy Page model neck.

These guitars are like Gibson's gift to guitarists. Working musician guitars for all purposes. The more specific specifications go as follows:

  • Wine Red Finish
  • Carved Maple Top
  • Modern Weight-Relieved Mahogany Body
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Granadillo Fretboard
  • 60's Slim Taper Neck Profile
  • 22 Medium Jumbo Frets
  • 24-3/4" Scale Length
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Traditional Trapezoid Inlays
  • 490R and 498T Humbucking Pickups
  • Individual Volume and Tone Controls with Push/Pull Coil Tapping
  • 3-Way Selector Switch
  • Tune-O-Matic Bridge
  • Stopbar Tailpiece
  • Min-ETune Tuners
  • Chrome Hardware

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