Gibson Les Paul LPJ Review

The Gibson Les Paul LPJ 2014
The Gibson Les Paul LPJ 2014

The Gibson Les Paul LPJ

The Gibson Les Paul LPJ hit the guitar world in 2013 and resounded like trumpets from Heaven.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. It resounded in my own brain that way, though. That I can say for sure. Never before was it possible land a real Gibson Les Paul, made in the USA and featuring all the best components Les Pauls are known for, at such a low price.

I wrote down my thoughts on this amazing new instrument back in 2013, but Gibson went and made a few changes for 2014, improving on a guitar that had already started to gain almost mythical status.

However, as I once again update this post in 2015, Gibson has moved the Les Paul LPJ as well as its sibling, the SGJ, out of their lineup. For now you can still grab one in used condition, or even new if you are lucky, but as the LPJ saw only two production years it seems destined to go the way of the dodo. (That means extinct.)

Of course only Gibson knows the reasoning behind this, but from the perspective of the budget-minded guitarist it is kind of depressing. The LPJ was a great guitar. I don't believe I heard or read many negative words about it, and the ones I encountered personally were fine instruments.

What follows is my Gibson Les Paul LPJ review, which attempts to cover both the 2013 and 2014 versions of this guitar and point out the differences and similarities of each. I still think they are outstanding instruments that offer tremendous value, and if you have the opportunity to land one in good condition you should seriously consider it.

The Amazing Les Paul

I’ve always been a fan of the Gibson Les Paul. It’s about as good as it gets when it comes to American-made electric guitars. But with the well-deserved popularity of this incredible instrument comes a not-so-welcome price tag. The Gibson Les Paul, unfortunately, simply costs more than many musicians can afford.

So if you really want a Les Paul, and you don’t want to shell out big bucks, historically you’ve had a handful of choices. You can get an Epiphone. Epiphone Les Pauls are nice guitars, licensed by Gibson, and certainly among the best in their price range.

You can grab a Gibson Les Paul Studio. These are great guitars, close to the Les Paul Standard in sound and looks, but they still cost well over a grand.

I guess you can go with a Les Paul Jr. but these aren’t really made to scratch the same itch as a Standard Les Paul.

So, aside from going the copy route, which is not likely to be very satisfying, what else can you do if you want to add a Les Paul to your arsenal?

Not much, until 2013 anyway, when Gibson released the Les Paul LPJ.

Gibson Les Paul LPJ Electronics and Hardware

Let’s start with the construction. The 2014 Gibson Les Paul LPJ has a mahogany body with a carved maple top, and a rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlays.

The pickups are a Gibson 1961 Zebra Coils, which give the guitar a cool look. These pickups are different form the those that came on the 2013 LPJ, which were a Gibson a 490R and 498T set.

It’s got vintage-style tuners, and a Tune-o-matic bridge and Stopbar tailpiece.

So far that sounds an awful lot like the Les Paul model we all know and love. But from here things go off the rails a bit.

The neck is maple, not the typical mahogany. This ought to give the LPJ a slightly lighter, snappier sound. Many players may not even notice, but to Les Paul connoisseurs the sound difference will no doubt be evident.

The Zebra pickups are perhaps an aesthetic improvement over those on the 2013 model, which looked like active EMGs or similar, but were not. If you more of a Les Paul purist this may be a good thing.

There's no pickguard, which may drop production costs slightly, but we have to think it was omitted more for aesthetic reasons. The looks works fine with the black speed knobs in place of the traditional Les Paul "top hat" knobs.

2014 Gibson Les Paul LPJ
2014 Gibson Les Paul LPJ

Gibson LPJ Finishes

The finish may be where the LPJ loses some Les Paul lovers. The Gibson Les Paul is supposed to be a pretty guitar, and while the LPJ isn’t ugly by any stretch, it does have a rougher look about it that you’d expect.

If you like a rugged-looking instrument this might be very appealing to you, but bright and shiny the Les Paul LPJ aint.

The 2013 finishes included chocolate, cherry, hand-rubbed transparent white (my favorite, personally) and hand-rubbed vintage burst. There was also a gold-top version available for a few more dollars.

For 2014 the finishes are Cherry, Chocolate, Rubbed Vintage Shade, Vintage Sunburst Permimeter and Fireburst. In my opinion, the Vintage Sunburst is the best-looking of the lot, but I'm a bit disappointed that they dropped the white for 2014.

As for the sound, from what I’ve heard so far the LPJ comes through with flying colors. Again, Les Paul purists may not be feeling it, but for the average player looking for that legendary Les Paul tone it’s hard to beat the LPJ. Especially for the price!

The Demise of the LPJ

The Gibson Les Paul has been the tool of choice for some of the best guitarists in history, not to mention legions of semi-pro and hobby players. But it's unlikely Gibson produced the LPJ to satisfy true Les Paul fans, though many will no doubt appreciate it.

This guitar was intended to fill a niche, but in some ways it appeared to be a niche that really wasn't there. Epiphone has the Les Paul market covered up to around $600. The Les Paul Studio takes over around $1200, so it appears the LPJ was intended for players who don't want to spring for the cost of a Studio, but want something better than an Epiphone.

This is a narrow gap, it seems, and in some ways it appeared Gibson was competing with themselves. Is this what led them to decide the remove the LPJ from their lineup?

I may be getting more cynical as I get older, but one of the first things that came to mind when I learned about the LPJ is how long it might be around. The reviews on this guitar were spectacular, and people appeared to love it, but it seemed too good to be true.

Apparently my concerns were not without merit. Now, in 2015, the LPJ is discontinued.

Gibson Les Paul LPM 2015
Gibson Les Paul LPM 2015

The Gibson Les Paul LPM: The LPJ Lives!

If you are beside yourself with grief over the loss of the LPJ from the Gibson lineup there is one guitar that might cheer you up: The Gibson LPM. This is not the same guitar as the LPJ, and it's more expensive, but it is similar in many ways.

And, it fills that same niche of the affordable, American-made Les Paul. If you are having trouble finding a decent used LPJ, or if you just plain don't trust used gear, this may be the guitar for you.

The 2015 LPM and 2014 LPJ share many similarities. Both feature the tonewood profile of a mahogany body with a maple top and a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. They both have cool open-coil 61 Zebra Alnico V pickups.

Cosmetically, while the LPJ and LPM both share the spartan look of an unbound body, black speed knobs and missing pickguard, the LPM comes with a much nicer finish. These are high-gloss lacquers, compared to the matte-satin on the LPJ. Very classy, especially the sunburst model.

There are other ways the LPM outshines the old LPJ. The LPM features Gibson's Zero Fret adjustable brass nut, a big step up from the synthetic nut on the LPJ. It includes the Gibson G Force tuning system, mounted directly on the back of the headstock. It comes with a nice hardshell case. Anyone who bought an LPJ (which came with a gig bag) with the intention of then grabbing a case later would have had to drop a hundred bucks for a decent, hard-shell case!

This is a very cool guitar, but the LPM sits in an odd niche, and in some ways I wonder, as I did with the LPJ, how long it will be around. In many ways it is like a much-improved version of the LPJ. In other ways, it is like a Les Paul Studio with a thicker maple neck, hotter pickups and somewhat lighter price tag.

We'll see in a year or two what becomes of the Gibson LPM, but for now it is a good way to grab a quality Les Paul on a budget.

2015 Gibson LPM in Vintage Sunburst
2015 Gibson LPM in Vintage Sunburst

The Gibson Les Paul LPM is one of their most affordable Les Pauls. It's a big step up from the LPJ, and while it shares a few similarities there are also massive improvements for 2015.


Learn More About the 2015 Gibson LPM

Goodbye Gibson LPJ

No doubt sales of both Epiphone Les Pauls and the Gibson Les Paul Studio were impacted by the rise of the Gibson Les Paul LPJ. Maybe it wasn't in Gibson’s interest to keep this thing around, or maybe they simply decided it didn't make the cut as a quality Les Paul. Whatever the reason, no matter how much people liked it, the Gibson Les Paul LPJ is now gone with the wind.

And what will happen with the LPM? Like the LPJ, it is in direct competition with the Les Paul Studio. Will we see it around for a while, or will the LPM become extinct like the LPJ?

Fortunately, that’s a decision we don’t have to care about for now. The Gibson Les Paul LPM is here, and offers a great option for those who have always wanted a real Les Paul but balked at the price.

The LPJ is still floating around too. While it has been discontinued, you can still find one if you put in a little effort. It was a solid guitar for a great price, and it gained many fans in the two short years it was around.

Gibson Les Paul LPJ or LPM?

What do you think of the Gibson Les Paul LPJ?

  • Love it!
  • Love it, but won't go with a used guitar.
  • Bah! That's no Les Paul!
  • I think I love the LPM!
See results without voting

More by this Author

Comments 15 comments

Sambo 2 years ago

I have played Epi LP's "mine" & Gibson LP's "belonged to others" & have finally got my own Gibson LP "LPJ". While I will keep my Epi's, I would trade both of them for a LPJ if I didn't have one now. The LPJ just says "play me". The LPJ just makes music sound on the rough, mean side. Comes out of the box ready to rumble. Gig bag is gone,,is in a hard shell case now. A guitar like this should never be in a gig bag. The guitar belongs on stage for sure & has been. RIP Epiphones.

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 2 years ago Author

Thanks for the insight, Sambo! I suspected anyone thinking about an Epiphone would be wise to consider dropping a little extra cash on the LPJ instead. Glad you found a great guitar!

rocmobile 2 years ago

purchaed one 2 weeks ago and to me it is just a happier guitar to play than my epi standard. I also like the look though the vintage burst finish on mine is a little darker than I'd like it to be - but it sounds fantastic - now if I could get the kids to stay away with the homewrok while I play it.

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 2 years ago Author

Thanks, rocmobile! I have yet to hear anything bad about this guitar. Glad you are enjoying yours!

Jason 2 years ago

Anyone care to weigh their LPJ? There are no solid numbers on this thing anywhere online.... The 2013's are chambered like the 2014's, yes?

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 2 years ago Author

Hi Jason. Neither the 2013 nor the 2014 are "chambered" per se, but they do feature weight-relief bodies. ( I know, semantics really.) According to Gibson's site the 2013 body is "strategically weight relieved" and the 2014 is "updated with traditional weight relief". This is a standard method where the plugs of mahogany are removed, but the word "updated" seems to suggest it is different from what they did in 2013. I too would be interested in hearing some numbers if anyone wants to post the weight/year of their LPJ.

Sambo 2 years ago

My 2013 LPJ weighs about 8 lbs 7 oz's,,or thereabouts. Epi 2000 standard & 2003 custom a little more,,probely beause of binding & other blings.

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 2 years ago Author

Thanks Sambo. Interesting that the Epis are actually heavier.

Chi Sun Pong profile image

Chi Sun Pong 22 months ago from Frederick, Maryland

I've had the 2013 gold top LPJ for a year now. It looks classy even without the clear coat of the expensive models. I installed Burstbuckers 1 and 2 in it. It's all the guitar I'll ever need.

Alain Gonzalez 14 months ago

Wanting to fullfill my dream to get back at guitar playing after 30 years (raising a family is hard on the wallet) got an LPJ chocolate satin 2014 and playing it everyday since 10 months, seriously, great guitar!! Saving to get a costum 'all dressed guitar' in the next year or 2... this one is hot for the price!!

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 14 months ago Author

Very nice, Alain! It breaks my heart that they discontinued the LPJ.

Sambo 9 months ago

First comment on my 2013 LPJ was two years ago & am now adding my comment on New Years Eve for 2016. I am still playing my 2013 model. For whatever reason although I have no pickguard, there are no scratches from playing. The only complaint I do have is I replaced the gig bag with a hard shell case right off the bat & the word Gibson on top of the neck is rubbed a little thin. Case's fault I guess, but this guitar has done it's share of traveling on rough roads to rough places this fine guitar has played at. There is still no need for a higher priced LP. This LPJ still rocks as good as it did the day I bought it at Guitar Center in Ft. Worth Texas. From the gigs I have played, this guitar has paid for itself many times over. Only 22 more years & my LPJ will be considered vintage & if I last that long, I will still be playing it.

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 9 months ago Author

That's awesome, Sambo. Thanks for updating your comments! Smart to upgade to a hard case too! I wish Gibson never discontinued the LPJ, but I guess they had their reasons.

10293guitars 6 months ago

I have 3...2013 in Rubbed Transparent White, 2013 Rubbed Vintage Burst, and a 2014 in 'em all

Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher 6 months ago Author

I love that rubbed white finish, 10293. I wish Gibson would give the option on the Les Paul Studio Faded T this year.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article