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Are Gibsons worth their price point?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by tele-nova, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

    Apr 14, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO
  2. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2007
    MV, CA
    Regarding which era of Gibsons are good and bad....

    It's really not a defined era but I think prior to 2000 they were primarily good. I do think the Les Pauls started to drift in the late 70s and were hit or miss after that. They couldn't make them fast enough and the really good aged woods were being replaced with short grown time lumber. They were heavier for sure. When they started creating new and different versions of the pickups the magic seemed to go and I noticed in the mid 90s the guitars were heavy and sustained better but they were not tonally better. Once again, just the les pauls. When they added the auto tuner, that was the bottom of the barrel along with the hollow body les pauls. One tip, the thin model humbuckers were put into some really nice guitars (woods, craftsmanship and lightweight) and if you find one of those, upgrade to some decent humbuckers and you will have a nice guitar. Early to mid 80s.

    In the 335 line, well once again, things started getting heavier, less resonant, and fatter necks approximately mid 90s. It's like they were using the Les Paul strategy on the semi hollow bodies. The Jazz models however seemed to be getting quality attention and I don't remember them degrading in playing experience like the production models of other humbucking guitars. Other players will have to comment on that.

    When they started the custom shop and VOS models, things started to come around. I am not sure on the dates but believe it was early to mid 90s. The production models still went along for years in a hit or miss state of one guitar out of twenty being something special i.e. like the 50s, 60s and early 70s of yore. In the 2000s with the autotuner, well I've stated above what a disaster that was.

    In the last 5 years I've picked up two Gibsons, a Les Paul R8, VOS, which plays and sounds like an original 58 I use to borrow in high school back in the early 80s. It was one of about 30 LPs I tried across almost 20 shops here in LA. It was a 2007 model and definitely exceptional. The other guitar is a VOS 335 which was the most resonant 335 of at least 15 different models I played. Man there are a lot of very mediocre 335s out there. Buyer beware. The one I brought home was a 2016 players grade from Norms and brings the noise. Exceptional tone.

    I do believe that since the new CEO arrived, JC Curleigh, there is a stronger attention to detail and focusing on the successful models to make them great again. They are listening to players again and that will bode well. So which era is good or bad? You really have to get out there and play the guitars, discover what you like and dislike and when the guitar talks to you, you have to lay down the cash...or credit depending on your circumstances.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
    Tele-friend likes this.
  3. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2019
    West Coast
    For some, no. For others, yes.

    You can't make a blanket statement and say that it's worth it or not for everyone. One person might think it's trash and not worth it, while the next person might think it's treasure and have no issue shelling out the cash because it's exactly what they are looking for. The market and buying public will determine if prices are worth it.

    Personally, I don't thing a brand new Gibson OR Fender is worth it from either company. That doesn't mean I'm going to scoff at someone who disagrees and has no problem paying current prices for a new guitar. Just means we have different criteria and what we want in an instrument, and neither of us are right or wrong.

    I have nothing against Gibsons. I'm primarily a Fender guy when it comes to electrics, but have also owned my fair share of SG's over the years back when I was a kid and bought a brand new SG All American and several SG Standards over the years and currently have an amazing 2008 SG Classic which I will most likely never get rid of which I believe they stopped making around 2010 and have owned several Gibson acoustics (quite a few incarnations of J-45, SJ200 and Advanced Jumbo) and currently have a very nice 2016 J-45.

    One other thing is I'll never buy a guitar on credit. (Actually, I will use a credit card them pay it off immediately). If I don't have the disposable income available to buy the guitar I simply can't afford it. Buying guitars on credit is absolutely not worth it and means there are probably others things in your life you need to be concentrating on.
  4. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Generally, in a way, yes, but theres lots and lots of models and lots of reissues too, I really dont know the nitty gritty details of which era/decade came closest to the originals, but I go by feel and by inspection of the specific guitar I want.

    when I was buying my ES-330, i did shop around, and tried LP’s, other ES models, to make sure I am not missing anything.

    the 2008 LP standard i held was really good and made me think twice.. while the 2008 59ri R9 Les Paul VOS i tried beside it didnt speak to me much but I was floored with the price difference between the two yet I felt the Standard was the better buy. Same goes with a 2017 R6 Goldtop with P90’s that dropped my jaw, in feel and tone, and in price, versus the LP custom in Alpine White of the same year.

    However, i decided the LP feel is not for me and I like big ES guitars better but if I had the cash, i wouldve bought the pre-owned 2008 LP Standard to go along with the 2018 ES-330 i really wanted from the same shop. Lol.

    In the end, i realized that Id have to try Gibsons before buying, no matter what year it is.
    Tele-friend likes this.
  5. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Sep 6, 2010
    Somewhere out on that horizon
    70s Gibsons ('Norlin' era) get a bad rap for a number of reasons - excessive weight on a lot of LPs (due to those 'pancake' bodies), they changed the headstock design and break angle on a lot of guitars (I've got an SGII that has straight string pull, just like a Strat), and other methods to cut costs (top-routing instead of back routing on certain SG models) - basically, they went away from a lot of build methods that were used on those 'Golden Age' Gibsons.

    I've got a Standard (my avatar pic) from '82, which is the tail end of the Norlin era, but where they went back to a more 'trad' build. It's a great LP, I'll never get rid of it. But I've played Norlin-era LPs that don't weigh a ton, and even with those 70s 'features' they were still excellent guitars.

    So I guess the moral of the story is if you want a used LP, you should play a bunch of them. Even the 'good' eras produced 'bad' guitars, and vice versa. You gotta dig to find the one that's your LP.


    - D
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
    posttoastie and Tele-friend like this.
  6. TX_Slinger

    TX_Slinger Tele-Meister

    Oct 5, 2019
    The Sticks, TX
    i wonder if we could ever get an objective review of a Schecter Solo-II from a dyed in the wool LP player. Every one of them I've seen has F&F on par with LP's south of CS models BUT I'll admit LP's don't speak to me. Anyone here that owns both a nicer LP and either a Solo-II or LTD EC1000 that can give us an honest assessment of where the Gibson excels in comparison?
  7. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Dec 21, 2004
    central ky
    there's a simple solution to the high price of gibson guitars: buy used. watch your local and not too far off listings craigslist.
  8. Mojohand40

    Mojohand40 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 17, 2005
    I've played a few over the years. And owned a lower end Gibson for awhile. A Melody Maker, ended up trading it for a lap steel I still have.
    Personally I dont get the high prices on some models at all. Epiphone and others make reasonable facsimile of most Gibsons.
    Now the older acoustic Gibsons, mandolins etc. Can be flat out amazing and I get the price points.. but electric guitars made in the last 20 years?..too much money for what you get in my opinion.
    But then again, I was never a Gibby fan.
    Depends on the player.
    In some players hands, they can be worth it I suppose...depends on the player.
  9. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Some of them are, unless you pay too much for 'em.

    If shopping specifically for a Les Paul, I'd buy a lightly used Standard or Traditional model from around 2010-2012 or so. The ones I've had from that time period were excellent.

    For ES-style models, you've got some fantastic alternative brands to choose from. But if you want Gibson, I'd still vote for a lightly used model, again, from around 2010-2012.

    All that said, if keeping expense low is important, don't overlook Epiphones - I have/have had some really wonderfully made Epi ES-339 models. As for Epi Les Pauls - I've never had one, but some say that Epi can make excellent Les Pauls.
    Tele-friend likes this.
  10. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Mar 11, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    Worth it? If you get a good one, abso-bloody-lutely. I bought two, a '50s Standard and a Figured Iced Tea Burst 335 in 2020. In nearly 50 years of playing, they are the finest guitars I have ever fumbled an E chord out of. They cost a small fortune but are worth every squeezed penny.

    As to the amount of craftsmanship that goes into them? I have built 11 or 12 guitars over the last 15 years. Tele types, Strat types, a couple of self designs and an SG type. The Fender style guitars I could knock out left and right, including carving the necks. One self designed with a carved top and the SG? 6 months or more to get the parts properly designed, cut, shaped and assembled. Let alone the finish time. Semi-hollows and LPs are way more involved and complicated than what I built. So, don't try to tell me there isn't more skill involved in constructing a Gibson over a Fender.


    Apr 3, 2020
    Depends on how much the brand name means to you.

    Otherwise, no. Go Japanese.

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