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:

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 PackEpiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Performance Pack
  • Les Paul Special-II LE Electric Guitar
  • Solid Wood Body with Vintage Sunburst or Ebony Finish
  • Epiphone Electar-10 10-Watt, 1×6″ Combo Amplifier
  • Easy-to-Carry Gig Bag
  • Guitar Cable
  • Guitar Strap
  • Epiphone Clip-On Headstock Chromatic Tuner
  • Medium Picks
  • Free Online Lessons from eMedia
  • Slash “AFD” Les Paul Special-II Electric Guitar
  • AAA Flame Maple Veneer over a Mahogany Body
  • Special Appetite Amber Finish
  • Slash “Snakepit-15″ 15-Watt, 1×8” Combo Amplifier
  • Easy-to-Carry Premium Gig Bag with Slash “Snakepit”
  • Guitar Cable
  • Guitar Strap
  • Dunlop® Tortex™ Slash Signature Picks
  • Free Online Lessons from eMedia

Both of these player packs are perfect for the budding guitarist, but one may suit your needs more than the other. If you’re looking for a less expensive, more simple Les Paul starter pack, the Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack is the way to go. If you’re looking for an Epiphone Les Paul pack with upgraded features such as a figured maple veneer or a more powerful amp, the Epiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Performance Pack is the perfect choice for you. Of course, if you’re a big fan of the legendary Guns N’ Roses/Snakepit axe man, the Slash “AFD” Les Paul Performance Pack is definitely for you!

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-USA-Vertical-Rectangle-2016-336x280Gibson USA 2016 Les Paul

“Play the guitar that you’ve always desired: Gibson USA’s 2016 lineup presents the best guitars ever. You deserve it.”

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.

Today, Gibson is proud to introduce the Gibson USA 2016 New Model Year lineup, which offers a range of models that will satisfy both traditionalists and modern players alike.

Whether you crave classic or contemporary, the Gibson USA 2016 lineup is sure to have the perfect guitar for you! The Gibson USA 2016 lineup offers two distinct series of guitars that’ll satisfy players from all walks of life: the Gibson USA Traditional Series (T) and the Gibson USA High Performance Series (HP). If you prefer more traditional specs including a historic neck heel, vintage tuners, a classic original neck width, a TekToid nut, and more, the Traditional Series guitars are the ideal choice for you. On the other hand, if you need cutting-edge, modern features such as a fast access neck heel, Gibson’s new soloist neck width, an adjustable titanium zero fret nut, improved G FORCE tuners, premium electronics featuring a Dip switch for over 150 rewiring options, and more, the High Performance Series guitars are definitely the way to go.

New Traditional Series Features

New High Performance Series Features:

  • Historic neck heel
  • Tektoid nut
  • Original neck width
  • Vintage tuners
  • Standard toggle switch
  • Double-contact-point jack
  • Traditional grade wood selection
  • Acrylic inlays
  • Traditional hard shell case (specific models only, see product page for details)
  • Fast Access heel
  • Adjustable titanium zero fret nut
  • New soloist’s neck width
  • Improved G FORCE tuners
  • Smooth silent-action toggle switch
  • New gold plated multi-contact jack
  • Dip switch for over 150 rewiring options (Les Paul Studio 2016 HP and Les Paul Standard 2016 HP only)
  • Higher grade wood selection
  • Genuine Mother of Pearl inlays
  • Fortified aluminum case (specific models only, see product page for details)

Gibson USA Les Paul 2016 Traditional Series (T) models include:

Gibson USA Les Paul  2016 High Performance Series (HP) models include:

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.

Gibson Custom True Historic

Sam Ash Music is proud to present some of the finest guitars that the Gibson Custom Shop has ever produced with the True Historic collection. Taking the idea of vintage reissue to an entirely new level, Gibson Custom has faithfully re-created some of the most fabled guitars in history with precise, painstaking accuracy. Bringing you as close to the real thing as you can possibly get, the True Historic instruments employ an array of obsessive, vintage-correct details including a double-carved and hand-sanded top and neck, a hand wet-sanded finish, hand-filed fingerboard binding, all-new Custom Bucker pickups, and historically-accurate plastics—just to name a few. The Gibson Custom True Historic collection includes:

Gibson Custom CS Series

The most legendary Les Paul Standard models were the Les Pauls introduced between 1957 and 1960. Today, with the release of the CS Series, the Gibson Custom Shop pays homage to the historic roots of the Les Paul Standard while incorporating the best characteristics of modern sound and playability to introduce four vintage-inspired Les Paul Standard models. These Les Paul models feature improved, consistent pickups, lightweight bridges, improved wiring, and more!

If you like your ’59-style Les Paul with a chunky ’57-style baseball bat neck, a figured maple cap with tons of flame, a set of sturdy, accurate Grover tuners, larger frets on a dark rosewood ‘board, and much more, be sure to check out the extremely limited Sam Ash-exclusive Gibson Custom CS9 “Pinup” ’50s Style Les Paul models.

Gibson Custom Les Paul Goldtop Reissues

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.

Gibson Custom Les Paul Standard Reissues

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.

Gibson Custom Collector’s Choice Les Paul

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 Artist Models

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 Les Paul: Vintage Original Spec (VOS)

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