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Is the Gibson custom shop worth it over a standard?

C_C_King

Member
Messages
103
Below is a current picture from my home studio and i am A/B ing these guitars (R8 and a 2013 modified trad) for a long time and cant favor one over another honestly. Having said that, dont misunderstand that they sound too similar because they are not. R8 has more clarity and this one has the instant jimmy page vibe in terms of tonality. Trad is how to say, more throaty and i like it better for some emotional soloing..For playability, they are pretty close. I like trad more because it has bigger frets currently.

Ps: 59 RI Es-335 in the edge of the picture beats both in every aspects :D
20200914_205359.jpg
 
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jujube

Member
Messages
1,928
I’m looking to purchase a Les Paul and I’ve been considering either going with a standard or a r9. I’ve owned a ton of different strats and can say that the custom shop strats are not worth $2000 more than an American standard. The avri’s I think are worth $5-700 more but the custom shops get crazy expensive. I felt like I was missing out by not have a custom shop Strat until I got one and sold it a few months later. Am I missing out if I just go for a standard? Or do I owe it to myself to splurge on the custom shop r9?
Yes. It can be worthwhile. I bought a 2015 R9 Historic Select this year for the same price as a regular R9. It is flawlessly made, sounds great and has great clarity. It has a stinger on the back and Grover tuners. Around 8 lbs.
 

spencer096

Member
Messages
694
i tested a historic 335 against the USA 335 i ended up buying...was prepared to plop down whatever it cost. went with the USA model at the end, but the USA model couldnt come close in terms of feel, and likely won't until it has a decade+ of playing wear on it. i didnt like the 61 historic's skinny neck, and sound was a wash, but there was very little doubt in my mind that the historic model was of a higher quality standard than the USA. i thought the PRS mccarty 594 i tested alongside those was more in the custom shop camp than it was closer to the USA's.

all that said, personally im not one of those who believe that gibson QC is the worst in the history of QC, and that the USA models are now absolutely killer guitars at a relative value. id happily walk away with a USA LP over a PRS mccarty, issues of "quality" aside...it's not like we're talking about gibson USA as budget models here.

there is a big difference between the historics and USA LP's...difference, not better/worse. the USA's feel like new guitars, the historics feel as comfortable as one you've owned for decades already. there is value in that difference, but not to the point you're truly missing out on anything majorly fundamental or important. you walk away with a USA LP or SG or 335 (that you've played and inspected), and there's not going to be a whole lot of a disappointment there.

if youre a collector, different story. the difference in value is real, and tremendous. if youre a player and plan on a decade+ life with this guitar, the differences are much less severe.
 

BigDoug1053

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,825
It all depends on your budget... and that applies to Gibsons or boutique builders. I do have a CS-356 and it's a dandy - but if I didn't have a recent windfall, it would have likely been a ES-339, and used. All my "regular" model Gibsons are also excellent instruments and I bought all but one used in EX+ shape.
 

captwillard

Member
Messages
1,347
If the guitar that you like is a Standard, then yes. I think you have better odds of finding a great guitar out of the custom shop, but there are great gibson guitars at every price point. If you are going to buy a USA Model with intentions of changing, pickups, hardware, wiring, pots, etc...to make it more historic like, you should probably stock to Custom Shop historic models.
 

Ferg Deluxe

Double Platinum Member
Messages
2,082
I have heard that the Gibson customs are much nicer than the standard production guitars but I think that once again, I'll have a hard time convincing myself that it's worth double the money.
It doesn’t have to be double, though. And this becomes a slippery slope pretty quickly these days, especially given the quality of lower-end guitars. If you aren’t setting solid requirements on what you want (other than simply wanting a guitar that is shaped like a LP) then the price rationale game as the sole decision-making factor starts to look like this:

“Why should I buy a new R8 for $4000 when a used one is $3000?” >> “Well, in that case, I can buy a new Standard for $2500” >> “But why buy a new Standard for $2500 when I can get a used one for $1900?” >> “Ok but why buy a used Standard when I can buy a new Classic?” >> “Why buy a new Classic when I can buy a used one for $1400?” >> “Well then, why not buy an Edwards LP for $1200?” >> “But a used Edwards is only going to cost me $900” >> “Why spend $900 on a used Edwards when I can get a custom Agile for $750?” >> “Well, why not just buy an off-the-rack Agile for $500?” >> “Well, maybe I’ll look at the used Agile...”

And on and on and on. At some point, you just have to make a decision on features/criteria, set a budget, and find the right guitar that meets your needs, wants, and budget. Otherwise, I find myself in this endless sliding-scale of what-ifs.

If budget is the only deciding factor, and you want a playable Les Paul style guitar, just go get an Agile for around $500. They make wonderful sounding and playing guitars, and they’re put together and finished nicely. I’ve owned and gigged Agiles and would certainly do it again.

For me, once I had decided I was going to jump into the world of Gibson Custom Shop reissues, I set a budget of around $3k, and targeted nice used examples of recent vintage, with as little wear as I could find. I wasn’t comfortable buying at new prices when I wasn’t sure if I would like the R8, but I knew I could always break even or at least come close if I decided to move on from it. This provided a modicum of security for me in this transaction. And I already knew what the $2000-ish range of guitars was going to get me, and I was never quite satisfied.

For me, the investment in the R8 for just shy of $3k was a superior value to a new Standard in the $2500 range. By far.

That’s the real difference in my case. The price wasn’t double, it was +500 bucks, and to me, it was well worth the extra 500.
 

Ferg Deluxe

Double Platinum Member
Messages
2,082
Yep, the difference is pretty substantial in how they feel. I don't know how to describe it, but the CS LP's I've played all felt like a much more expensive guitar. There's a lot of other differences beyond feel, the custom buckers are pretty good pickups that most prefer to the burstbuckers and the hardware is better with a real ABR bridge. Some care about that, some don't. Weight is also a difference, my CS weighs ~7lb 13oz fully solid no chambering. Now that's more an outlier but in general a CS is going to weigh less than a standard. Finally visually CS tend to look much better, better paint jobs better colors better tops. Goes for gold tops as well, if you've ever held a CS next to a standard it's pretty obvious. Top carve as well.

That’s a purty one right there!
 

Suhrtainly!

Member
Messages
242
Traditionals were more expensive than the current 50s and 60s Standards. They weren't a cheap guitar, they were the USA option for those who wanted a 'proper' old fashioned Les Paul.

Of course the Custom Shop line is a different kettle of fish but a Les Paul Traditional was basically a Les Paul Standard for those who wanted a fatter neck and no weight relief during the years when the Standard had a load of bogus modern features such as weight relief, an asymmetrical neck profile and push/pull pots etc.
Obviously, I was speaking in comparison to Custom Shop models....come on, man.
 

BoogieManSC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,588
Totally agree with you on CS Strats (and Teles for that matter)... I've owned countless specimens of both.
Same goes for Gibson Les Paul's in my opinion... I've also owned countless specimens of CS, Standards, Historic & Collectors Choice... Wasn't worth it to me. I ended up selling every one. I could probably outfit a standard with hardware & pickups (if needed) to better suit me. I'm also not into fake-worn guitars, so there's that too... That might limit some of those model's appeal to me also
 

ozraves

Member
Messages
383
I’m looking to purchase a Les Paul and I’ve been considering either going with a standard or a r9.
Either way you'll be happy. I'd personally go for the '60s LP Standard or the R0 or an LP Modern if I were looking to getting into LPs now.

Outside of what is being made now, lots of LP variations made in the last five years too.
 
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Uzeurillus1on82

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
133
It doesn’t have to be double, though. And this becomes a slippery slope pretty quickly these days, especially given the quality of lower-end guitars. If you aren’t setting solid requirements on what you want (other than simply wanting a guitar that is shaped like a LP) then the price rationale game as the sole decision-making factor starts to look like this:

“Why should I buy a new R8 for $4000 when a used one is $3000?” >> “Well, in that case, I can buy a new Standard for $2500” >> “But why buy a new Standard for $2500 when I can get a used one for $1900?” >> “Ok but why buy a used Standard when I can buy a new Classic?” >> “Why buy a new Classic when I can buy a used one for $1400?” >> “Well then, why not buy an Edwards LP for $1200?” >> “But a used Edwards is only going to cost me $900” >> “Why spend $900 on a used Edwards when I can get a custom Agile for $750?” >> “Well, why not just buy an off-the-rack Agile for $500?” >> “Well, maybe I’ll look at the used Agile...”

And on and on and on. At some point, you just have to make a decision on features/criteria, set a budget, and find the right guitar that meets your needs, wants, and budget. Otherwise, I find myself in this endless sliding-scale of what-ifs.

If budget is the only deciding factor, and you want a playable Les Paul style guitar, just go get an Agile for around $500. They make wonderful sounding and playing guitars, and they’re put together and finished nicely. I’ve owned and gigged Agiles and would certainly do it again.

For me, once I had decided I was going to jump into the world of Gibson Custom Shop reissues, I set a budget of around $3k, and targeted nice used examples of recent vintage, with as little wear as I could find. I wasn’t comfortable buying at new prices when I wasn’t sure if I would like the R8, but I knew I could always break even or at least come close if I decided to move on from it. This provided a modicum of security for me in this transaction. And I already knew what the $2000-ish range of guitars was going to get me, and I was never quite satisfied.

For me, the investment in the R8 for just shy of $3k was a superior value to a new Standard in the $2500 range. By far.

That’s the real difference in my case. The price wasn’t double, it was +500 bucks, and to me, it was well worth the extra 500.
Well said
 

dwk302

Member
Messages
1,947
I’ve had both, and both a good. Yet, I think it’s worth every penny. Look for used R7 or R8
 

mrverks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
98
Buy a used standard, traditional or pre 2006 classic and if you are not satisfied,
You can sell it and upgrade to a reissue.
Totally agree with this. I got a 1997 LP Classic years ago. swapped out ceramic p'ups for some '57 classics and It's still one of my favorite guitars to this day. 1250.00. No brainer.
 

markmann

Member
Messages
1,002
I think part of it comes down to how much disposable cash you have. If you live paycheck to paycheck it should never be worth it. To me there are too many great affordable guitars to make a high end guitar actually "worth" the money but that's just my .02
 

sunking101

Member
Messages
1,444
I think part of it comes down to how much disposable cash you have. If you live paycheck to paycheck it should never be worth it. To me there are too many great affordable guitars to make a high end guitar actually "worth" the money but that's just my .02
Exactly. If you want a repro of a vintage guitar built to historic specs and you love all that attention to detail plus have the disposable income then go for it. People forget that the standard USA line is aspirational and unaffordable to most.

The USA Gibsons kinda get dismissed as 'midrange' on TGP but it isn't like when Gibson introduced the Custom Shop they took a board decision to lower the build quality of their USA range. It's still a great guitar, still a premium guitar and still an expensive guitar.
 

Uzeurillus1on82

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
133
I am thinking of picking up a 2014 Les Paul custom shop r9. Does anyone know if for sure the layered fretboards were all out by 2014? If I’m gonna drop $4200 on one of these I want to be sure it’s not one of the “bad years” for the Les Pauls. I know to stay away from 2012-2013 but were these all straightened out by 2014?
 
Messages
202
With Rickenbacker it is clear: there is the top-of-the-line model and the one slightly farther down. Martin have a large range but if you go with made in USA then if you pay more it is mostly for decoration, not quality. Similarly, the made-in-USA Ovation/Adamas are fine, though there are many cheaper models.

Fender? The American Original is exactly what I need: very much in the tradition of the originals, but some improvements such as 5-way switch on the Strat (which people were using even before it existed and the simultaneous use of two pickups is one of the classic Strat sounds) and the second tone control affecting both middle and bridge pickups. If you want to use just one pickup at a time or have no treble rolled off the bridge pickup, then you can still do it. The flatter fingerboard is just more sensible (still more curved than many others). And who wants the original Telecaster wiring anyway? Price is reasonable---higher quality than the cheaper ones, but not absurdly expensive. The Fender Custom Shop never interested me---especially the relic nonsense which I just don't get at all. I recently bought a white 60s American Original. I'll buy a 50s Telecaster at some point, but probably some other guitars (like the great new Martin 0-18) first since the series is new and will probably be around for a while and I already have a pink paisley Telecaster (made in Japan: at the time, it was cheaper, but now they are sought after).

What I want is something like the American Original series from Gibson, specifically for the Les Paul Custom and SG, but also for the ES-1275 and ES-355. It seems that the options are a more modern guitar which is not what I want, or the Custom Shop model. Apparently the Gibson Custom Shop isn't into relics as much as the Fender one, but again I don't get the VOS artificial aging stuff. The Les Paul is available in gloss. What about the SG without VOS? I'm thinking of the Custom Shop 1960s re-issues here.
 




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