If you want to capture that authentic PAF-powered Les Paul tone, as heard on classic records by greats such as Bluesbreakers-era Eric Clapton or Duane Allman, you'll love the Limited-Edition Gibson Les Paul Classic 2016 "Proprietary Run" Guitars.
These Les Paul Classic models come with Classic '57 humbuckers, designed to capture that classic PAF tone of the first Les Paul Standards from the late Fifties. If you dig Clapton’s Bluesbreakers’ tone, Duane’s tone with the Allman Brothers, bluesmen like Luther Allison and B.B. King, etc., then this is your go-for-blood hound. Complete with the “Patent Applied For” decal on their bassplates, these pickups are faithful reproductions of the originals, providing warm, even tones with nice full response and crunch to spare.
Many consider these humbuckers to be the "Holy Grail" of the “true” Gibson sound. The ’57 Classic has a special Gibson Alnico II magnet, vintage enamel coated wire, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers and vintage-style, two-conductor, braided wiring – all true to form!
The Les Paul Classics are pretty much most players' idea of a "perfect" Les Paul: slim taper neck, plain maple top, PAF-style pickups... in other words, a guitar that looks and sounds like the ones played by Clapton, Page, Allman and others. They have chambered bodies for weight-relief, but other than that, as vintage as they get - no coil-tapping knobs, no robot tuners, no fancy quilted maple tops.
HOW TO CHOOSE A LES PAUL? Custom Shop Les Paul vs. Les Paul Standard vs. Les Paul Traditional vs. Les Paul Classic
With so many different Les Paul guitars, how do you choose the best one for you? Here's a look at some of the main types of Gibson Les Paul guitars available today at PMT Online and at our PMT stores, and some of the main differences between them, which we hope might help you to make up your mind. If you still can't decide, no problem - why don't you pay a visit to one of our shops and try a few for yourself? And our guitar experts will also be at hand to help you with any further queries you may have!
Custom Shop Les Paul: like having a vintage model
The "Holy Grail" of electric guitars is a vintage, 1958, 1959 or 1960 Gibson Les Paul guitar. They're the stuff legends were made of: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and many others. There's only one thing - they're not just extremely rare, but very, very expensive... you could actually buy a house for the price of one! The best alternative are the limited-edition Custom Shop models, built to exact specifications of particular models from the vintage years, down to aged parts.
These models have custom, vintage-style humbuckers and no weight-relief, just like the original models. They are the most authentic new Les Pauls money can buy, and even though they are expensive, they're still way cheaper than the real deal! For quality and vintage mojo, they're unbeatable.
Gibson Les Paul Standard: well... setting the standard
The Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars are the brand's calling cards... the symbol of what Gibson is all about. It's important to note that the Gibson Custom Shop reissues mentioned previously are copies of vintage Les Paul Standard models, but new ones are different. The aim of Les Paul as a creator was to always innovate and improve his designs, so the Les Paul Standard guitars always change (a bit, or sometimes a lot) during each production year - they're never 100% true to the vintage specs, unlike the way Custom Shop models are, and that's the spirit.
For instance, the Gibson 2015 Les Paul Standard models had wider necks and robot tuners, which players who liked more "vintage" LPs were not too keen on, though most newbies didn't mind.
The 2016 are yet different, having no robot tuners, and 50s-style necks, but they are not meant to be totally vintage-style either: they have modern weight relief and Burstbucker humbuckers, for instance. Burstbuckers are modern pickups inspired by the classic PAF, but more powerful. There's also coil-splitting & other modern tweaks.
In short - the Les Paul Standard models really do set the standard by which you compare other Les Pauls!
Gibson Les Paul Traditional: keeping the tradition alive
Please bear with us - NOW things can start to get complicated: a Gibson Les Paul Traditional is NOT the same as a Gibson Les Paul Standard Traditional! In 2016, Gibson introduced two types of Les Paul Standard models: the "Les Paul Standard Traditional" and the "Les Paul Standard High-Performance". The former means simply that they have traditional neck & tuners, whereas the HP models have, like the 2015 ones, wider necks and robot tuners.
Superficially at least, the Les Paul Traditional guitars look like the Les Paul Standard models, but they have some differences: they don't have the same weight relief as the Standards, so they're heavier. And they also have vintage-voiced humbuckers rather than Burstbuckers. The current 2016 models come with '57 Classic Humbuckers.
Gibson Les Paul Classic Proprietary Run: a classic 1950's vibe
These 2016 "Proprietary Run" guitars are limited-edition models with a vintage-style vibe, but devoid of more expensive Custom shop specs. Still, they manage to have a more vintage-like vibe than the modern Les Paul Standards: no fancy figured maple tops here, the plain top is more in keeping with the original 1950's guitars. Also, they feature open, PAF-style '57 Classic humbuckers. The only noticeable nod to modernity is that they have chambered bodies for weight relief, but that shouldn't bother most players - on the contrary!
Visually and tonally, these are the most vintage-style Les Pauls outside the Custom Shop zone, but whereas the Custom Shop models are often built to look "aged", the Les Paul Classics look like the original Les Paul guitars would have looked when Clapton and all those great guitarists first bought theirs in the early Sixties - mint, and ready to set the world on fire! They are serious contenders for coolest Les Pauls right now...
Watch the PMT Les Paul Shootout:
Ben from PMT Cambridge compares the 4 types of Les Paul guitars we talked about! You read about it, then it's time to hear them growl! As you may notice - they are all stunning, and they all sound great, like you'd expect from a Gibson Les Paul. The most important difference when choosing a Les Paul is perhaps this most subjective of features - the "feel": how much you like the way a neck shape feels, or the weight of the guitar. You may also feel that a Custom Shop Les Paul has a slightly darker, "creamy" humbucker sound- though this is the kind of thing your audience wouldn't notice, but you might!
Still can't decide? Well, fear not - just come visit one of our PMT Stores spread nationwide! We are the largest authorized dealers of Gibson guitars in the UK, so you will find a HUGE range of different Les Paul guitars to try out, at any of our stores. So come try a few, talk to our guitar experts, and choose the perfect Les Paul for you! And with 0% finance also available, there's really no excuse to deny yourself the pleasure to own a real, amazing Les Paul...