Tuesday, January 15, 2008

All Les Paul Guitars Are Not Created Equal; or Are They?

My second ever guitar purchase was a Gibson Les Paul Special Faded Ebony. Sometime later I picked up a custom shop Vintage Original Spec based on the 1958 Les Paul Standard. After reading an article in the Blog Psychedelic Zen Guitar regarding choosing different capacitors I decided to look under the hood of these two guitars and discern what sets them apart.

Some obvious differences between the Special and the Custom shop version are price, faded ebony mahogany body vs. translucent sunburst cherry maple, alnico humbuckers in chrome vs. burstbuckers in nickel, and a 1960 slim neck vs. a 50s rounded neck profile. In addition, I’ve included photos of the pots.

Notice the CTS pots with bumble bee capacitors in the custom shop version at right as compared to the standard pots and ceramic disk capacitors in the Special at left. This all begs the question; is the custom shop version better?

In my view the best way to answer is to ask another question; “how many guitars does one guitarist need?” The answer of course is “just one more.”

While there is clearly a price differential between these two guitars, what sets them apart is their personality rather than one being better than the other. They both play and sound great; just different.

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