My morning with Les Pauls at Zone Music

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by bluesdoc, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Santa Rosa, CA
    For some time now, my #1 ax has been my featherweight strat with a Lollar Imperial br for hard rock. It's ergonomically perfect for me (balanced, light weight, totally smooth contours and surface). But I've wondered if I'm missing something that I could achieve, tone wise, with an LP. And, I've been intrigued with the Epi LP Ultra, for a light weight version. Living up in the boonies, there are no places to try any of this out. So, I finally made a treck down to Zone and found a very nice selection of Epis and Gibsons.

    First, I found that the Epi LP Ultra was neck heavy. Sure, light weight, but neck heavy is a big strike against is. Then I tried a bunch of other Epis and found many of them to be nice weights, more balanced, and had great necks/fbs. I actually preferred their feel to the Gibbys I tried, which were insanely priced, compared to the phenomenally reasonably priced Epis. btw, I didn't have time to plug them in and that wasn't going to matter anyway, because----->>>>

    Being used to my strat contours and smooth bridge saddles, I found the LPs to be really uncomfortable. Between the forearm edge of the body and the sharpness of the tune o matic bridge saddle edges, I felt that I was in very foreign territory and for a player who needs all the help he can get, I couldn't imagine actually playing one of these for very long without longing for my homie ax. It's too bad, really. I wanted to have the experience of - yeah, this is great, plug me and and turn it up! But I don't see this on the horizon for me. I'm probably too old and set in my ways, and generally physically uncomfortable a lot of the time anyway so adding to that isn't gonna work. Now, if there was an LP with an arm carve (the Ultra has a belly carve, which is a good start, but the arm carve is critical for me, not just for comfort, but for the hand position I need) and a smooth surfaced bridge, well then......... and there are a lot of guitars like that, but they're not LPs. In fact, my strat is a lot like that :D

    So last night at band practice, I was paying attention to how well my strat fits me and how great it sounded. I guess, for now, my LP search has ended. :YinYang

  2. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

    Oct 7, 2004
    British Columbia
    It would be really interesting how things would work out in a world where there were different guitars but only one type of guitar. Say it was all in the PU's by some strange magic so that a LP and a Strat were exactly the same body shape.

    I wonder what everyone would play then, tone wise. Lot's of people here seem to say they would definitely play certain other guitars except that the "feel" is all wrong.

    I've always been an LP person so it's a closed issue for me.
  3. Thwap

    Thwap Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2006
    Tacoma, Wa
    Another thing I'd be interested in is which player it's harder to switch for. I've always been a Les Paul player, but have absolutely no problem playing a strat.

    I wonder if it's harder for a strat guy to adjust to a Les Paul.
  4. scottlr

    scottlr Member

    May 14, 2006
    Born & raised in Texas; stranded in Iowa
    IF you want to venture into Gibson tone, but a LP isn't the right fit, you might want to try an SG. Not quite the same sound, but close enough compared to a Strat, and they are thin and beveled so they are quite comfortable. If I didn't keep track of which guitar I used when recording, I am not sure I could tell the difference between my LP and my SG on a track. For some reason, one or the other is either in my hands already and works for the track, or it doesn't work, but the other does.

    I am lucky in that I can go from a LP to Strat to a Tele to whatever I have and feel fine with it. That said, the Strat is likely to be the first choice in a live situation.
  5. Ogre

    Ogre Member

    Jun 14, 2002
    C'mon John, get out of that strat rut!:)
    Seriously, keep trying out different guitars. You might find a sound or two that really speak to you. Gretsch or Rickenbacker?
  6. Giraffecaster

    Giraffecaster Member

    Mar 14, 2006
    i agree with scottlr, making the transition from a strat to a gibson is best made to an sg first because of weight similarities and the beveled edges. one thing that might freak you out with the sg is how much access to the upper frets there are. but another common problem is that they can be neck heavy.
  7. billm408

    billm408 Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    San Jose, CA
    Same here. Bought my first strat this summer. Other than adjusting a little for the middle pup and the radius of the neck, I've had no issues at all.
  8. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    strats are the most comfortable, sexy guitars on the planet. But I don't think you can try an LP on and know right away, gotta give it a chance. Nothing sounds like a great LP. They play great when you get used to it.
  9. Adwex

    Adwex Member

    Jun 15, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    I'm a Les Paul addict, but I admit, they can be uncomfortable...especially mine with a giant fat neck. I make the sacrifice for the tone. An SG is a good suggestion...if you want a Gibson. I find them to be neck heavy as well though, but they have good upper fret access.

    What about an Ernie Ball MusicMan? Very good quality guitars. The John Petrucci model has a well-bevelled edge, and looks quite comfortable. I was interested in the Steve Morse model myself. The "Luke" (Steve Lukather), or the Silouhette (sp?) might suit you too.

    Just a nuther option to consider.
  10. datguytim

    datguytim Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2006
    Santa Monica, CA
    I was born with a Les Paul - it's home to me. I have a hard time adjusting to Strats - the bridge & knob layout (as well as where I rest my hand) tend to throw me off. Teles - on the other hand - I love!

    I also have an SG - I find 'em quite different from LPs tonewise - not as thick & juicy, but still totally usable. For me, nothing beats a great LP.
  11. pedalfreek

    pedalfreek Member

    May 14, 2007
    Ive been a Strat guy since day one.....just kind of worked out that way.

    It took me quite a few years to be able to play a Les Paul. They always felt heavy and unbalanced to me....
    Well...they still do!! But the sound you get out of them makes it worth it to me to pick mine up every now and then! ;)
  12. ToastedTom

    ToastedTom Member

    Jan 9, 2008
    Say how about an Ibanez SZ520QM, just played one that belongs to a friend of mine. It had a nice humbucker sound, but felt more comfortable to me than a Les Paul.
  13. knockonwood

    knockonwood Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2005
    Calgary Alberta. Yee Haw!
    Another option for mahogany/maple humbucking goodness is an Anderson Cobra, S or T style. For me as well, the body contours are important for comfort, and the playing position is similar to a strat. The in between sounds aren't quite as slinky/funky, but not bad, not bad at all for a two humbucker guitar. I've tried a Cobra S with h2/m1/m1, and the tones were excellent, plus a trem is available on these, even more closely approximating a strat.

    I've always loved the look of a Les Paul, and the sounds other folks can get with them, but could never bond with them. But I always seem to want to try again....

  14. sleis

    sleis Member

    Sep 7, 2006
    Sunny Tucson, AZ
    Strat guy trying out different guitars over the past few years. I always liked the three single coil thing and then tried a HSS config for something different. That took me to a Tyler, same strat style class though. The 335 types were always close to an acoustic feel, so it wasn't hard to jump on that bandwagon. The hardest to get used to was the LP. It took some thinking not to keep bumping the pickup switch. Finally I rotated that 45 degrees and that took care of it. It is very strange to play sitting down though, it feels like it sits in the wrong place against my body. I have found that given time with each shape leads me to approach things a little differently, which is cool considering I want each guitar to do different things. If I want the sound and sustain of a LP I am not going to get it from any strat, so I have to adjust. I am generally a glass half full kind of guy anyway so having to adjust a little bit here or there usually leads me to playing new things instead of dwelling on how different it feels. It is like writing on guitar, it is nice to switch over to the piano sometimes when I get in a rut, because the change in instrument takes the song in new places.
  15. dougb415

    dougb415 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Urbana IL
    I got a new Strat last week and have been playing it every day. Last night I was checking something out and decided to plug my R9 Les Paul in... AAAH THERE IT WAS. The tone, the feel, the everything.... feels so right. Nothing against the Strat (I love it) but Curvy Redhead will always be my #1.
  16. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon

    Jul 24, 2007
    TGP, Always TGP
    My buddy is a strat and tele guy all the way, but he needed a good paul. He has no idea what to look for in a paul so we went out to about 8 music stores over the course of a sat/sun looking at Epiphone LPs. We picked out one with a beautiful finish, but had the WORST inlays of the bunch (just look like aluminum foil). But it was the best player and sounder of the bunch, so he got it. He loves the thing. Seems strange to watch a guy with vintage strats and teles play an epi LP sometimes though.
  17. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    Tampa Bay
    I started out on a Les Paul and played a '79 L Custom (it was my only guitar back then) until I switched to Strats sometime in the late '80's. I played Strats and Strat-style guitars pretty much exclusively right up until a few years ago when I became interested in LP's again. I went through periods of Ibanez, Charvel, Jackson, and recently Carvin guitars, as well as numerous LP's and Strats - Now some 1000 guitars later I am pretty much 50/50 Strat/LP with some PRS thrown in there for good measure. My Favorite Strat is my '92 G&L Legacy but I also have a nice Fender that I like allot. I currently only own one LP, a Vintage Mahogany that is just killer but I also really like my bud's CS Silverburst LP Custom. I also have nice '96 PRS Custom 22 that's kind of in between a Strat and an LP. You may want to try one of those as well. You gotta go with what feels and sounds right for you. But don't give up on LP's based on this one experience because there is just too much there to just bail on. Maybe find an inexpensive LP like a Studio or a VM like mine. After you spend a little time with them you may just find yourself wanting to stay with the LP more than the Strat. ;)

  18. bastet

    bastet Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    I made the switch to LP's from Strat and Strat sytles guitars this year. Still have the strats though.

    Did you try the guitars standing or sitting? Each position takes a little adjustment from where you would hold the Strat.

    I find holding the guitar a little more to the left or in-front of me is my sweet spot.

    At first I was really put off by the feel and with what they cost I thought I had made a bad desicion but with patience it has become home. Strats still fell great but a different tool for the job.

    I would definitley buy a used Gibson LP or the (VM) Faded Mahogany LP and give it a long term try.

    If you play the blues check out the latest releases by Joe Bonomassa - converted Les Paul player.
  19. rrhea

    rrhea Member

    Jan 16, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    I play both, but started with Strat style guitars. Played them for nearly 15 years before getting interested in Les Pauls and deciding to give them a try.

    For Strat players it can be very difficult to reconcile the forward, raised bridge and neck pitch. We are used to "flat" guitars with bridges located farther back on the guitar, etc. My picking arm would get numb from the hard edge of the guitar, but eventually that all goes away as your body adapts (and it will).

    The final word: Anything in life we attempt to do that is different from what we are used to takes time to get used to. If you want to play a Les Paul then buy one and learn how to use it. It's that simple. You'll be surprised how fast you'll adapt... but it will take more than one morning at a guitar store. ;)

    Oh, and get a Gibson not an Epi. You can get a Classic, which is a very good LP, for about $1600 - $1700 if you look hard.

  20. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    No. SF Bay Area, California
    I play a strat but really wanted a 335 to work for me. Although it sounds great I just can't make the adjustment. I'm bummed because it was expensive. Give me a 7 lb axe any day.

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