Gibson Les Paul R9 Opinions (Post 2000, Pre 2006)

Hi guys!
What is the general opinion on R9s manufacturered between 2000~2006?
It seems to be the newer R9s have less intense tops whereas pre 2004s (?) have more intense tops. I've only seen a few so it is hard to generalize for me.
Those of you who own/owned or have/had extensive experience with LPs built during 2000~2006, please shed some light.

Points I would like to know are...
1. Quality of the maple top
2. Build quality (finish, binding, and little details)
3. Neck shape
4. Sound quality (wood characteristics)



Silver Supporting Member
I have an R9 made in 2004 and it's incredible. It has WCR pickups, so I can't comment on the originals, but the guitar floors me every time I play it. Nice LP woody tone when I want it to, and it growls like an angry tiger when I need it to. Neck shape is a bit fat for my tastes, but I adapt. Build quality is very impressive. Plays very well. Mine has one small finish flaw in it, but you only see it up close - not more than a few feet away, and the top is so killer you'd never notice it anyway. See for yourself:

Actually the flaw isn't visible in that picture, but who cares. :) You can see it in this one:



Hey GAD, I think you should stop posting pics of your R9 until the recession is over! ;)

Which burst tone is that? It sure is beautiful! :BEER


Gold Supporting Member
I have a 2001 and 2002 R9, and a 2002 Murphy R9. I prefer subtle, mild flame, and all 3 guitars have realistic looking tops that look like vintage Les Pauls. The build quality is excellent with all 3 guitars. I am more concerned with how a guitar feels and sounds than I am about cosmetic finishing details, but I haven’t noticed anything that bugs me. I am quite satisfied with all 3 guitars.

The neck shape of each guitar varies a little, which is to be expected since each Historic Les Paul neck is shaped by hand. They all follow the basic 1959 reissue template, and are quite comfortable to play. All of the fingerboards are a dark rosewood that is consistent over the entire length of the neck. The fretwork is good, although not as good as the 2007 Murphy R9 I have. I attribute that to the fact that the more recent R9’s (I believe starting in 2006) are plek’d in the factory, and that raises the level of quality. The neck shape of the R9’s differs somewhat from a real 1959 Les Paul. The have the basic rounded ’59 profile, but the Historic reissues have a bit more “shoulder” to them, so they aren’t historically accurate. They are definitely different from a vintage Les Paul, but I do find them quite enjoyable to play. The headstock shape, logo and inlays aren’t quite up to vintage specs, but that’s just a cosmetic detail that has no bearing on playability or tone. I find that the tuners aren’t as reliable or smooth as one would expect with a high-end production guitar, so I always replace them with tuners from Gotoh. The plastic condom used when setting up the truss rod takes away from a bit of tone. When you play an old Les Paul with a neck put together with hide glue you have an organic experience with the guitar—it noticeably vibrates as you play and you experience that throughout your whole body. That doesn’t happened with most of the reissues I’ve either owned or played.

I always replace the pickups and electronics in my guitars, so responding to the sound quality question is a bit hard. I use CTS pots, Jensen foil and oil caps, and Voodoo humbuckers that Peter Florance custom winds for me. The pickups are based on a set of humbuckers that came out of a 1958 ES-175 that was badly damaged in a car accident. With the improved electronics and Voodoo pickups all 3 guitars sound excellent – woody, and 3D with a horn-like quality that I love. I put the humbuckers and wiring harness from the ES-175 into a 2002 R8 I have, and the guitar does sound a bit better than the ones with the Voodoo’s. But the difference is pretty small, and no one hearing me playing at a gig would notice (or care).

To me the Gibson Historics are killer guitars. I own a dozen Historics – a 335, some R8’s and R9’s, and some LP Customs. I’ve been playing Gibson’s since 1961, and I’ve really only played one guitar which I prefer to a Gibson. It’s a Michael Stevens Goldtop LJ that Tradarama owns that totally redefines the concept of “great guitar” for me. Other than that LJ I’d take a Historic Les Paul over any other production or boutique guitar on the market. They simply are the best fit for me in terms of what I'm looking for in playability, feel and tone.

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Supporting Member
2007 seem to be the year of the great tops, but like in any year, there are some killers and some that are bland.

Here's a couple of my '05 Murphys that I'm a bit partial to.



It seems there are killer tops among all the years that the R9 has been made. From mild to wild. Here's my 2005 R9. The flame changes depending on the angle and how the light hits it. It can look very subdued or in your face like in this pic. I concur with the others who have said the the Historic/Reissue LP are among the finest guitars being made.


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