The oft maligned Les Paul and Gibson quality

burntfrijoles

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 12, 2010
Posts
9,000
Location
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Much has been made of quality control issues at Gibson over the years, particularly during the latter years of the previous leadership.
It's odd because I've never experienced a problem with Gibson workmanship. I'm not saying there were no issues but rather I've never experienced such problems. I own or have previously owned 6 different Gibsons since around 1992.
I have owned three Les Pauls. My first was a '93 Les Paul Standard. I understand that was considered a very good year for the Les Paul and I can say it was excellent. It was a plain top (no flame) but it played well and sounded great. My lust for an R8 lead me to sell the '93. The R8 had a subtle but beautiful flame and it's tone was great. As much as I loved it's tone and looks, I never got fully comfortable with neck profile. My current Les Paul is a '21 Slim Taper Les Paul Standard. I really love this neck profile. There is good tuning stability and it's got a classic Les Paul tone. The workmanship is great.
There's just something about the Les Paul tone. I think it gets pigeonholed but the Les Paul is far more versatile than it's given credit. I've actually been playing it more than my CS Strats or my CS Telecaster.
As for quality, I've actually had better luck with my Gibsons than with the many numerous Fender guitars I've owned over the years.
I've been retired for about 8 years. My fretting hand is not as limber as it used to be so I've been downsizing. I think the three guitars I'll end up keeping until I can play anymore will be my Gibson Special Edition Southern Jumbo, the Les Paul and my CS 61 Relic Strat. Does that make a Gibson guy?
 

brookdalebill

Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Posts
116,975
Age
65
Location
Austin, Tx
I think Gibson has made consistently good instruments since the mid 1980s.
Though many don’t agree, the Norlin era was not great, IMO.
Gibsons made prior to 1970, and after 1985 are great, well made instruments.
I presently own four, and have no complaints.
 

arlum

Tele-Afflicted
Platinum Supporter
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Posts
1,871
Age
67
Location
O'Fallon, MO
I think Gibson has made consistently good instruments since the mid 1980s.
Though many don’t agree, the Norlin era was not great, IMO.
Gibsons made prior to 1970, and after 1985 are great, well made instruments.
I presently own four, and have no complaints.
Dead Freakin' On. Perfect. I currently own a 2002 black with gold hardware Les Paul Studio, an early 2000's Gibson Custom Shop Wildwood spec. CS-336 and and a 2020 limited addition Gibson Les Paul Traditional with a quilt maple top. All are perfection. No flaws what so ever.

It took a while for Norlin to F*** Gibson. There were a lot of parts left over from earlier production Gibson and Epiphone. I owned a 1971 / 72 Gibson SG Deluxe that used a Les Paul Standard slim neck including the fancy inlays and the mini humbuckers left over from Gibson's purchase of Epiphone and the guitar was fantastic. After that, '73 ... Gibson went in the toilet. Sure. There are exceptions and, if you own a killer Gibson Les Paul, SG, etc. from this time period you should be proud because they were few and far between. The vast majority of 1970 and early 1980 Gibson guitar production sucked. The mid '80s were a rebirth for Gibson Guitars.
 

Short on cash

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 16, 2022
Posts
157
Age
68
Location
Florida
I have owned many, too many, Gibsons over the last 50+ years.
It's difficult to give an exact number but over 100 for sure.

I have seen poor craftsmanship on a few through the years. But it is
few and far between. For the most part the workmanship has been
very good to excellent. This would include several from the dreaded
Nolin years.

SG's, Les Paul Standards, JR's, Specials, Reissues, Firebirds, Explorers,
Byrdlands, 125's, 175's, 330's, 335's, 345's, 355's, 347's, and probibly another
dozen or so that I can't remember at the moment. And not to mention the
acoustic guitars I've owned through the decades. I usually have 20+ or so guitars
around at any one time. I don't buy/sell nearly as much as I did in my younger days
but after handling as many Gibsons as I have I would like to think I know at least
a little about them.

The quality has always been good in my opinion. I do admit I have seen
necks not quite straight in alignment, misaligned tuners, screws misaligned,
as well as finish flaws. But in the big picture those are rare.

Sound......well that's a different thing. I have had a few that just don't sound good.
Not bad but just not good. I have a 90 Classic that I love but it just doesn't have that
"sound". I could probably change the pickups but the guitar is 32 years old and it
is in perfect condition and I don't want to change anything but the strings. Some
really "sing", some not so much.

My only other real gripe would be weight. Some have been so heavy they would
make a better club. At one time I owned several of the Tie Dyed Les Pauls and
they were all heavy as all get out. I remember one that was in the 13 pound range.

I like Gibsons, always have and probibly always will.

It's like so many other things. You can buy 2 identical cars and one will give years
of service and the other be junk from day one.

The object is to play on and enjoy !
 

Maguchi

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Posts
2,311
Location
Lalaland
Much has been made of quality control issues at Gibson over the years, particularly during the latter years of the previous leadership.
It's odd because I've never experienced a problem with Gibson workmanship. I'm not saying there were no issues but rather I've never experienced such problems. I own or have previously owned 6 different Gibsons since around 1992.
I have owned three Les Pauls. My first was a '93 Les Paul Standard. I understand that was considered a very good year for the Les Paul and I can say it was excellent. It was a plain top (no flame) but it played well and sounded great. My lust for an R8 lead me to sell the '93. The R8 had a subtle but beautiful flame and it's tone was great. As much as I loved it's tone and looks, I never got fully comfortable with neck profile. My current Les Paul is a '21 Slim Taper Les Paul Standard. I really love this neck profile. There is good tuning stability and it's got a classic Les Paul tone. The workmanship is great.
There's just something about the Les Paul tone. I think it gets pigeonholed but the Les Paul is far more versatile than it's given credit. I've actually been playing it more than my CS Strats or my CS Telecaster.
As for quality, I've actually had better luck with my Gibsons than with the many numerous Fender guitars I've owned over the years.
I've been retired for about 8 years. My fretting hand is not as limber as it used to be so I've been downsizing. I think the three guitars I'll end up keeping until I can play anymore will be my Gibson Special Edition Southern Jumbo, the Les Paul and my CS 61 Relic Strat. Does that make a Gibson guy?

I think Gibson has made consistently good instruments since the mid 1980s.
Though many don’t agree, the Norlin era was not great, IMO.
Gibsons made prior to 1970, and after 1985 are great, well made instruments.
I presently own four, and have no complaints.

Dead Freakin' On. Perfect. I currently own a 2002 black with gold hardware Les Paul Studio, an early 2000's Gibson Custom Shop Wildwood spec. CS-336 and and a 2020 limited addition Gibson Les Paul Traditional with a quilt maple top. All are perfection. No flaws what so ever.

It took a while for Norlin to F*** Gibson. There were a lot of parts left over from earlier production Gibson and Epiphone. I owned a 1971 / 72 Gibson SG Deluxe that used a Les Paul Standard slim neck including the fancy inlays and the mini humbuckers left over from Gibson's purchase of Epiphone and the guitar was fantastic. After that, '73 ... Gibson went in the toilet. Sure. There are exceptions and, if you own a killer Gibson Les Paul, SG, etc. from this time period you should be proud because they were few and far between. The vast majority of 1970 and early 1980 Gibson guitar production sucked. The mid '80s were a rebirth for Gibson Guitars.
^^^Ditto. I got no complaints. I keep buying 'em.

ColorCoordinatedStrap.jpg
FlyingV&Marshall.jpg
LPSpclWh.jpg
GbsnES135.jpg
GbsnLPstd.jpg
Gibson P90s.jpg
Gibsons.jpg
LPSpclDC.jpg
20211109_222307.jpg
9032734_orig.jpg
 
Last edited:

Fretting out

Doctor of Teleocity
Platinum Supporter
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Posts
11,403
Age
30
Location
Land of Mary
I love my Gibson (R7 bought new in 2006) but… if it were made now days it would probably be on the “demo/mod/b-stock” gibson reverb page

It’s got a multitude of cosmetic issues, I like to tell myself that that’s how you can tell it was hand done in the custom shop…

It plays beautifully just cosmetic stuff, metal filings in the clear coat, sander burns, fingerprint in glue on the fingerboard etc.

With all that I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another, I’d look a little closer though

*this dose not speak for all gibsons
 

Wallaby

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Posts
2,926
Location
Here
I'm glad to see some Gibson appreciation. Personally I've owned multiple LP's and ES-series Gibsons since about 1980 and there weren't any quality or workmanship problems with them.

Some didn't inspire me like some others did, but that's why you keep the ones you like, isn't it?
 

bgmacaw

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Posts
9,446
Location
Near Athens GA USA
Gibson management has been the main problem they've had over the years, a lot more than a few relatively minor design flaws in some guitars. More than once, their management style has managed to destroy both employee morale, consumer confidence and goodwill. Disillusioned and demoralized manufacturing employees grow to not care, resulting in quality problems. Consumers are more likely to complain when they perceive that a company doesn't care about them or their products.


gibsoninnovation.JPG


authenticgibson.jpg
 

sk25

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Posts
294
Location
Alabama
To see the people on this particular website talk, every Gibson (though mostly the Les Paul) not only are so flashy all over every part of the guitar that you'll go blind if you look at it, but they each weigh 20 lbs before you add the hardware, the headstock snaps off as soon as you enter the same room as the guitar, the pickups have one setting (mud), they have so many controls a normal man or woman is utterly incapable of operating one properly without an eight year course in theory followed by a four year course in practice, and they haven't made a good one since 1956. Also, much complaining about management.

P.S.: The SG? As soon as you let go of the neck the headstock immediately crashes to the floor with unstoppable force regardless of how high or low you wear it, again, shattering the headstock.

----


Out in the real world, I've never heard any of the complaints I see almost daily here outside of the occasional complaint about a guitar's weight, though that is hardly limited to Gibsons. My SG's neck will drop a little if I let go of it, but the same can be said of any light-bodied guitar. It honestly reminds me of a guy I saw the other day here complaining that a guitar was, in his words, "unplayable" because the nut was a little high and there was a little fret buzz in a couple spots. That's not unplayable, that's just annoying.
 

burntfrijoles

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 12, 2010
Posts
9,000
Location
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
I think Gibson has made consistently good instruments since the mid 1980s.
Though many don’t agree, the Norlin era was not great, IMO.
Gibsons made prior to 1970, and after 1985 are great, well made instruments.
I presently own four, and have no complaints.
I had a Gibson classical guitar I got around 67-68 (back when they still made them) and it was a fine guitar. I also had a 1974 SG and had absolutely no issues with it. My 2002 J-185 was impeccable and my recent 2020 SG 61 RI was also outstanding. I already posted that my current guitars are top notch in every way. I think much of the Gibson disparagement is due to conformational bias. It's the "my dog's better than your dog" thing.
Sound......well that's a different thing. I have had a few that just don't sound good.
Not bad but just not good.
I think that's true of any guitar. I've had several Fenders that were kind of meh, including a couple of Custom Shop models. then again, that could be very subjective.
Ditto. I got no complaints. I keep buying 'em.
Obviously! 😂 That's quite a collection.
I love my Gibson (R7 bought new in 2006) but… if it were made now days it would probably be on the “demo/mod/b-stock” gibson reverb page
My R8 had that the VOS finish which, IMO, is far superior to many of Fender's relic finishes. The finish and hardware are dulled as you may expect. Other than that I couldn't find any blemishes.
P.S.: The SG? As soon as you let go of the neck the headstock immediately crashes to the floor with unstoppable force regardless of how high or low you wear it, again, shattering the headstock.
🤣 I have no idea how that has become such a huge exaggeration but you're spot on. I loved my SG. I really loved the weight!! Plus, it's one of 5 most iconic body styles ever.
 

Little Red Tele

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 22, 2013
Posts
246
Location
Denver, CO
Expectations are high because of the high price maybe. And the price is justified because these are objects of desire, with a storied history and insane list of professional players who have made history with their Gibson instruments. Can one find instruments with better features and construction for less money? Without a doubt. So people who have paid thousands of dollars for an enviable electric guitar go online and vent about their instruments not meeting those high expectations. It is a tough standard Gibson has set for themselves; a narrow road to navigate.
 

Swirling Snow

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 4, 2021
Posts
229
Location
No Dakota
I think this is the most even-handed thread I've seen on Gibson guitars anywhere.

Gibson guitars were fine musical instruments made by luthiers from select, aged tone woods. So there's two reasons they're not all the same. :lol:

Yes, I said "were". The luthiers may (very likely) be more skilled than ever, but the wood is gone. :cry:

A couple of notes - we should all be grateful to Norlin because they are the ones that brought Les Paul back and resumed production. Also, the "bad guitars of the '70s" mostly came from the new ('74) Nashville plant. But don't be too quick to blame them, because that was also the start of the maple necks. Now, I liked to call them "Jazz Necks", because Gibson had been using 3 and 5 piece maple necks on their top of the line acoustic/electrics for years. Other people felt they didn't resonate like solid mahogany and said, "What's next? A whammy bar?" Sadly yes.... Norlin did just that.

What Norlin didn't understand was, the '59 Les Paul Standard Sunburst was not a product, it was a work of art. A collaboration of many, but mostly Lester Polsfuss, Ted McCarty, and Seth Lover. You wouldn't try to improve the Mona Lisa, would you?
 




New Posts

Top