- Oct 25, 2017
There is this one store in Ocha no Mizu that had a literal wall of used Les Paul Customs. Good prices, too... well back then when the yen was strong, at least.I currently own a 2002, 2003, 2015 and 2018. I'm also planning on buying another in march. I've had several more, but I won't comment on the others other than saying that with a single exception, they were all good ones.
Only one of them has a cosmetic flaw, and it's a pretty small one. The 2018 classic in Pelham blue has small area on the bass side where the binding wasn't properly scraped, so there's a mm of Pelham blue finish stain on the binding from the neck joint until the end of the binding. It's extremely minor and I barely noticed it in the store.
The rest are flawless, cosmetically speaking. Or at least they were when they left the factory.
I have noticed some Gibsons in stores with tooling marks on the fretboard binding. Those can be a bit of an eyesore. I wouldn't let it deter me from buying one with those issues as long as it wasn't super noticeable and didn't affect playbility. But I would use it to negotiate a discount.
I think Gibson's QC can be really spotty at times, but the key to avoiding that is to inspect and play the instrument before buying it.
I also know that the "out-the-box" setups can be really dodgy. The solution there is to go to a decent store who inspects guitars and does any necessary setups before putting them out.
Buy online from most major retailers, and you're just asking for trouble, imo.
Gibson aren't perfect. They're far from it. But I feel that it's at least partly a meme at this point, partially propogated by people who can't afford a Gibson or find them undesirable for whatever reason.
Also, the pricing complaints are totally blown out of proportion, at least when it comes to the regular Gibson USA line. The Les Paul is priced lower than the equivalent PRS and higher than the equivalent fender, which should be obvious, because fenders are cheaper to make. Gibson can go a little crazy with their custom shop guitars at times, but people are buying them, so where's the problem? Those overpriced slash doublenecks? They're selling. I've always wanted a doubleneck, but if I ever get one, I'd go for a regular used production model.
If your only option to try out a Gibson is a guitar centre or some similar faceless corporation, then you're probably going to come away dissatisfied. Since I live in Japan, I have the luxury of having a huge selection of stores to shop at, and they don't tend to put guitars with poor setups or anything worse than marginal QC issues on their store floor. Not saying they're perfect, either. But they at least take some pride in what they do.
As for Gibson guitars being overpriced, I think it depends on what you're getting. If you buy a US-made guitar, you are going to be paying more for something that may not be apparent. For example, you are paying more for the same labor just by virtue of the US having more ethical labor compensation than some other countries where you can make a guitar for much cheaper. That's just a fact of life. But, the reputation is that US guitars are the best and I haven't seen much to disabuse me of that notion, personally.
Regardless, I have always thought that Gibson should have incorporated their mid-range epiphone models into the main Gibson line. Just like how you buy a Mexican Strat, you get an Indonesian (Wherever they make Epiphones) Gibson. I'm sure they want to keep Gibson a premium brand, but at what cost? It makes you feel like a sucker, honestly. I always thought it was funny that you are left to feel like a poor loser for having a studio, which is a $1500 guitar! The ultimate question: Should it be? Is it a guitar worthy of $1500? I can't say for sure, but it does seem like you are paying a premium for features that are available on cheapo guitars for a literal fraction of the cost and that's frustrating. An ebony LP studio vs. an ebony LP Classic is basically just binding, but they want you to pay $500 extra for it. Meanwhile, you can almost buy a whole separate Epiphone Les Paul standard for that price difference, and that guitar has binding! So, considering how much of a premium you pay, if Gibson today isn't offering a product that goes above and beyond, then they deserve the hate they are getting. No room for the smallest mistake at that pricepoint.
But, Les Pauls have a magic factor that I can't explain. I haven't regretted buying either Gibson guitar I have for a second, and I'm a worrywart who second-guesses virtually every purchase I make. So that's saying something. Worth the money? The ones I have been well worth the money.