General Question

mjm8401's avatar

Does the year of the Gibson Les Paul really matter?

Asked by mjm8401 (170points) January 12th, 2014

I have been looking at Gibson Les Pauls lately. I’ve heard people saying the older ones are better then what they make currently. Is this true? Has the quality control gone to shit? Are they using different electrical parts, or is it just bullshit?

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8 Answers

pleiades's avatar

Yes yes yes and no. If you’re a student of music, or a collector it’s not hard to understand why someone would love a vintage Gibson. There’s a lot of history with vintage anything and it’s all subjective.

Over the years different woods and metals have been used to install Gibsons one thing remains is that it is assembled in the USA.

1TubeGuru's avatar

The older Les Paul’s were made in Kalamazoo Michigan and they are the most desirable.. the 1950’s Les Paul’s used unpotted humbucker pick ups with alnico II magnets and they are considered by many to be the best sounding Les Paul pickups made. you can get aftermarket pickups that are wound and made the same as the originals.i bought a pair of GFS professional series alnico II humbuckers from for my Les Paul and I really like them.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I have been building solid body electric guitars for years. I also design and wind my own pickups. The year does not matter at all, the quality and the type of build does. Older guitars generally have a price premium that IMO is more for collectors. In some ways build quality was better in the good ole days but anything done then can be replicated now at a fraction of the cost of buying vintage. What kind of music do you play? That’ll help define what you need in a guitar. Luckily I’m on my phone otherwise this would be an endless wall of text

Seek's avatar

I should really wait until my husband is home before answering, since he’s the musician in the family.

I don’t personally know a great deal about guitars, but I know the one and only guitar my husband plays on stage is a 30+ year old Washburn. One of the major reasons is because it’s neck-through, meaning the neck is built into the body of the guitar itself, and unlike a set neck or a bolted on neck, it won’t come loose and fuck up his… whatever.

Apparently neck-through guitars are few and far between these days, and at a premium. He’s had that same yellow monster forever.

Strauss's avatar

I have much more experience with acoustic guitars than solid-body types, but I think this’ll still apply.

As far as the age of the instrument, I once heard a music professor state that string instruments actually improve with age when they are tuned consistently. This is certainly true of instruments of the viol family, and by extension, I would think it is true of guitars as well, solid body as well as acoustic. It seemed that the individual cells of the wood actually become tuned.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

This may not be the end of all answers but here is article about Gibson and Epiphone Les Paul guitars.
There is a difference but it is like any instrument or tool, if you are making a living using it and are a top one percent of users, the tool is important but the best tool does not make average player / user a better player.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

All guitar manufacturers have different lines of the same named instrument and most notoriously is fender. The iconic stratocaster has look-a-likes that one just glancing would never know the difference but some are basically garbage and others are masterpieces. There is quite a bit of e-bay snookery going on because of this. Quite often the price gap will tell you the quality difference. I do feel that instruments costing $800+ often don’t deserve the price tag. It’s usually best to buy the mid-level instrument and upgrade to better components. I’ll resist the temptation to make this too long but here is what I think matters:

#1. The neck quality. It does not matter what else is spectacular or expensive but if the neck sucks then you’re never going to enjoy your instrument. Not only is it the main generator of “resonance” in a solid body it is the primary contact point and nothing less than perfect for you should do. The main reason that through body necks are not as common is that while they are better they cannot be interchanged.

#2. Hardware. All the extra bits need to be high quality, this is no place to skimp and this will be one of the easiest ways to make a budget guitar a real player. Focus on the tuners and bridge, then look at the electronics. Specifically the pickups

#3. Pickups. This is a large topic so I’ll be brief. It’s very seldom that the stock pickups are ok for most and it’s usually the first things musicians change. For hard rock it’s usually a humbucker, for metal it’s mandatory although there are exceptions. If you play many styles some combination of single coils and humbuckers is the way to go. You can also “split” a humbucker into a single coil with a switch. I.M.O. Leo fender got the singlecoil design right back in the 1950’s. Vintage winds with alinco magnets (I usually use alincoV) are the best hands down. I can elaborate MUUCH further if needed.

#4 Set-up and design. Any high quality instrument deserves a proper set-up. If you can’t do this yourself take it to a real luthier. IMO most shops to a poor job setting up instruments. A hundred bucks in setup from a professional who will do all the proper adjustments and fine tuning of details that are often overlooked will be well worth it.

Strauss's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me GA! I once had an “Eko” 12-string that I bought from a street performer for $10. I put about $100 (1979) into bridge, fret work and pickups, and had guitar that kept a roof over my head for many years.

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