How to love a Les Paul

  • I can't figure it out.
    I love the sound but after 2 1/2 years with my Gibson Les Paul Studio Pro 2014 I'm still not in love with her.
    I formed a connection with the rest of my instruments but this one always fights with me. It was a pain in the ass to get it to stay in tune. I had to have the nut changed to a bone one and also changed the tuners. Now it stays somewhat in tune (with Nutsauce).
    The still don't like about it are it's weight, the neck, the access... I don't like that my fat fingers are somewhat to fat to do some type of chords on it.
    But I freaking love the sound...
    I love the sustain... but the guitar just wants to fight with me.
    It's like a love hate relationship with a girl. There are just some upsides (yes she also looks pretty hot) and so many downsides that everyone of my friends is telling me to ditch her for someone that is more similar to me and actually matches all my needs.
    I think I remember Slash saying that he likes that he somewhat has to fight with his Les Paul. I don't know if I like it. I play it less than any other of my guitars. But live I use it on half of the set because of its sound.

    Has anyone any advice for me?
    Are any of you in a love-hate relationship with one of your guitars?

    I really can't decide if i want to sell or trade her for another guitar.
    Maybe this is a real cliché. But I wish there was a guitar that sounded like a Les Paul on the Bridge, a Strat on the Neck and played like a PRS.

  • Yeah, it's not just you :)

    Despite my Avatar, I think LP's are pretty overrated. A PRS McCarty with Bare Knuckle Mules just destroys any LP I have had (a lot). You might also check out a super strat like a Suhr Classic - it can do the LP PAF bridge humbucker thing, but also great single coil sounds and no noise (SSC2) - perfect for use w/ a Kemper.

    Life is too short to fight with a guitar you are not bonding with - flip it and find something you love!

  • I love my Les Paul's, have five of them. I usually struggle to play my Strats, I might change to Teles. I had two PRS (Custom 24 and McCarty) but never enjoyed the necks on them.

    I guess I have just learned to live with and enjoy the way the neck attaches to the body, never even notice it.

    Everyone has a guitar that suits them, the hard part is finding it.

  • I don't like the ergonomics of a Les Paul, but I love the look and sound. The body is too small and the balance point is off with the waist shifted too far towards the neck. Most are also too heavy. I much prefer the ES-33X line. They also sound better to me. Full on Gibson humbucker, but with more character.

  • I also love my Les Paul, like you I had the nut changed for tuning purposes and it's now fine in that respect.
    I got this present LP Studio in 2004 to replace my ageing LP custom now being used as a slide guitar.
    On both instruments the sound is beautifully focused and it plays like a dream, so fluid and vocal.
    I also have a Strat and a couple of other makes but I use those guitars for specific sound and feel, they are tools of the trade
    to me whereas the Les Paul's are a love affair. My big regret was selling a Les Paul Gold Top Deluxe years ago, I was young and fu**ing stupid and I still kick myself years later.
    MPB, the neck is a godsend for people who haven't got the slender finger thing going on but if you don't like it, you don't like it.

    Slightly off topic has anyone tried one of these? I must admit to getting a chubby on looking at the picture :)
    The shop is on my doorstep, I may try one out.…0-guitar-in-deep-sea-blue

  • Heh... Yeah, sometimes you WANT to love a guitar, but not enough stars are aligned...

    Throwing the strat-sound-in-the-neck-position into the mix definitely complicates matters. But otherwise, have you tried out the PRS SE 245 model? May not sound as good with the stock pickups, but you might be able to judge all other aspects - and pickups can be swapped out. You might even find one used with the pups replaced already.

    I recently bought the PRS SE Chris Robertson signature, which has a P90 in the neck and a 57/08 pickup in the bridge. Now my LP is up for sale, much for the same reasons as you describe :-)

  • I've never had a Gibson Les Paul so I guess I don't know what I'm missing :)

    I do have a PRS Stripped 58 (which is pretending to be a LP) and a Tokai gold top with P90's. Apart from my playing, it's impossible to get a sound out of either of them that doesn't make me smile and both play fantastically. When I reach for a guitar it's 50/50 between these for first go.

    For Strat neck, you can go in that direction with a pickup swap but I have to wonder if that sound is a combination of many things...... set neck vs bolt on being one but I would bet the way the pickup is mounted would have more influence. In a strat it's a single coil attached to a resonating sheet of plastic over a cavity on an ash or alder (typically anyway!) body with a bolt on neck which has a different scale length. And it'll interact with the other pickups differently if you go for joint positions and the tone circuits are done differently..... If you strap a single coil onto a LP you've got a direct connection to a solid slab of mahogany plus all those other changes.

    It's one of those things where, with the Kemper and tweaking, you can make almost anything sound a bit like almost anything :). But if you're obsessing over a proper strat neck then a LP style guitar may not be close enough for you no matter what you do. Guitar changes and pickup changes can be pricey. Only you can decide if it's close enough to make you happy :). One strategy would be to talk to Tokai - if you sell your official LP you could fully or partly fund a Tokai LP and a Tokai Strat. There's a lot of love for those things out there. Again, I state I've never owned a real Gibson LP so cannot say the Tokais are 'better' - I'm only stating that I love mine unconditionally and, as they are well respected for less cash than Gibsons, this might help you :)

  • In my opinion: first of all a guitar has to be comfortable to play and for sure the look shall be to my liking.
    I think all about sounds can be done afterwards. I've heard sometimes some rock/hardrock were i thought "wow great and full/singing tone, must be a LP", but it was a tele or sometimes a strat. Maybe thats another big voodoo/mistery thing that increases the GAS. ;)

  • If I get it wright the thred is all about guitar ergonomy and the effects it produces! It is very difficult to pair an industrial,standardised
    good whith an unique gift that mother nature granted to us !Your hand (an unique piece of art).In theory every human guitarist hand
    (left or right ) has an unique guitar neck paired but this is not the way industrial goods are made.You can turn to a luthier but grosso modo they use the same plans ! I never saw a study in guitar ergonomics (maybe it exist) ,a study which analises the correlation
    between the guitarist hand properties (dimensions,anatomical constitution,motility etc) and a neck properties.I dont think there is any data base about it but i am sure that the conclusions might be an other guitar revolution (after Kemper).One hand one guitar neck!
    Two years ago I had the idea to ask this community (the largest I know) to create a database about that but the lack of time and laziness
    made me to give up! Maybe is time to do it!I can use the initial ideas (i did not forget them) and create this database ! All we need is standardised data!

  • I'm certainly in the camp of Les Paul lovers. And I don't mind it to weigh a metric ton (no weight relief). I'm a tall and pretty fat guy and I don't mind it to test my shoulders considerably cause she rewards me with the finest sound ... and I have no issues to play the pretty fat neck it has .... as opposed to a more recent Gibson Les Paul Standard with slim taper neck.

    But I do love to own an old, vintage guitar that is very much imperfect. A guitar that always makes me fight. Intonation off, some minor fret buzz on the low strings. Won't stay in tune for long. A 1964 Höfner 175. It's fun to play it every once in a while and its pickups sound AMAZING. But it will never become my first love, never be my main guitar. I love the raw, unpolished "feel" when I enter the ring with her. A bit of a "Jack White" experience if you will. Instruments don't need to be perfect, you aren't either.

    So I do understand your troubles to some degree. You like its sound but you want it to better fit you. Well, what to do? Maybe just try a few others? There's so many neck shapes, even slightly wider necks. :)

  • I loved Les Pauls when I couldn't afford one. Now I still love them, but I understand they have pros and cons, like all guitars. But I can't help liking them. When I was a kid I wanted to be the next Jimmy Page or the next Duane Allman, ha, ha. I think Les Pauls are way too heavy and they have short scale necks that are not for everybody. But a 56 Gold Top reissue has a real bat in there, while modern standards are slimmer. I read Slash has a favorite style neck and probably Bonamassa has his own preferences. Actually 59 style necks did vary a lot in the original guitars (some rounder, some a bit V shaped). Some guys may prefer the 50s large necks to the 60s slimmer necks. Perhaps neck size may change your love/hate relationship with a Les Paul. Anbd then, you often have to adapt to a guitar, just like when you play a Strat or a Tele and then five minutes later you pick up a Les Paul. Scale, radius, string-spacing, neck angle ... and some wrong notes when our head does not click into the new-guitar-here mode. But many of us would like to have a do-it-all perfect guitar. You know, sometimes I'm not sure which options I would choose were I to have a luthier make me a customized version of any guitar. After all, what is great for one thing, say fast legato playing, can be bad for something else, say open-chords hybrid playing.

  • LP's have a Pro series, or at least used to. They currently have a "high performance" series which includes much better neck access and a better nut for tuning stability. I remember a past LP model having a roller nut and great neck access with no signature LP heel at all.

    Part of the reason you don't see a lot of modernized LP's is because guitarists don't want new innovations on the guitar, they want the classic LP look and feel with all its shortcomings, so you still get the excessive heel and everything else. That and when they offer modern things they also don't sell because the price of LP's is so egregiously ridiculous that you can get a real ergonomic and modern guitar for a fraction of its price (and is probably a better guitar).

    As a kid I learned most on my Epiphone LP, so to this day the LP feels most at home for me even though I've been playing EBMM Axis models for a while now.

  • Another possibility is a PRS Mark Tremonti which has the 25" scale neck and a PRS tremolo. I like it a lot, but far way out of my range.

    What i dislike is the not so comfortable neck body transition. Without the upper horn it is a bit difficulty/different to play the high notes. That combined with a thick neck, a thick body and an impractical neck/body transition. :thumbdown:

  • A Strat is a Strat and a LesPaul is a LesPaul.

    Totally different sounds and no PRS sounds close to both of them.

    .. and I own and love all 3 types.

    Main reason to not like a Strat or LesPaul is to use wrong amp / settings.

    Most great Strat profiles / real amp setting are not the best choise for a LesPauls.

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  • There is a Stratocaster world and LesPaul world...if not to say universe..

    You cant have them both "in one guitar".It is simple like this.Both kinds of sounds have written legend songs on their own,created legend riffs on their own..

    In the late 80s I took some thousand deutsch marks(I played literally "every night" back then and I still went to school :/ ..) and wanted to buy my a LesPaul.I tried literally "thousands" in many,many shops all around germany (where I lived by that time) I looked also outside of germany and at some point I did a journey to london to find "my LesPaul"..and was heavily dissapointed.Dead wood.I heard peopple who said that "outside of the US you will not find a good LesPaul"..I started to believe exactly this and that was it.

    Two years later I finally found a luthier who worked at Heritage (and Gibson prior to Heritage) and just opened his guitar customshop in my neighbourhood..he had personally selected wood to build his "personal guitars",his own "dream-axes"..if I remember correctly he had a Tele with a walnut-body,some Strats and...a LesPaul made by one-pieces for the mahagony-body and the neck (both same wood..honduras) with a two-piece of wonderfull maple top..since he came from Heritage he just used schaller-hardware(including golden 50s)..he allowed me to play this guitar and this was it..this was the sound you hear on these some famous guitar legend said once (Gibbons:I dont remember) "the real lespaul sound is like to step on a ripe makes first pfffltschhh....and then the tone develops in something wonderfull"..

    To bad he did not want to sell any of these very personal guitars but just a little bit later his daughter got ill(she died later) and he needed every single penny..he wanted 2000 deutsch marks from me for the LesPaul and I gave him 2200.Only the wood must have been worth double as much if not much more.And this LesPaul was mine.At some point years later I asked if he wanted his guitar back because I felt so bad that I bought this guitar under these circumstances,seeing this guy comming to my gigs,looking at the LesPaul with tears in his eyes.He still rejects to this day...saying that he is happy that I play it..the finest compliment I ever recieved.

    Anyway..I heard a lot of stories (from "people who know" in most cases) that many,many famous guitar players have a LesPaul made by some unknown luthier while they just put the Gibson-Logo on it..

    Just one year later I went one day to the ESP-customshop in Duesseldorf where they started to sell "vintage-guitars" for a while before they closed down completely in the mid-90s..and there I found my ´77 Stratocaster.She has the legend-twang but also an unbelieveable sustain..

    I owned and played many,many guitars(including late 80s ESP custom shops) but I sold,lost or lent them all to everyone I knew and who asked.Both these two axes,the LesPaul and the Stratocaster mean the guitar world to me.