Gibson Les Paul Custom
Gibson Les Paul Custom

Les Paul Custom, LP-Shaped Guitar from Gibson in the Les Paul series.

King Loudness 08/30/2011

Gibson Les Paul Custom : King Loudness's user review

« A beautiful Les Paul »

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The Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty is a guitar that was originally designed in the fifties as a classier, more upmarket version of the goldtop model that was called the "Standard." The guitar has gone through a few feature changes since then, but the core specs are still quite similar to a late fifties example. It features all mahogany construction (no maple cap as per the Standards) an ebony fretboard (as opposed to rosewood on the Standard) block inlays, 22 frets, Grover tuners, tune-o-matic bridge with stoptail, and a pair of Gibson humbuckers (The modern Custom is loaded with the 490R in the neck position and a 498T in the bridge.) It's topped off with a really classy black finish with gold hardware and a multiply binding all around the guitar that really helps to bring out the elegant vibe of this guitar. The Gibson Les Paul Custom is (fittingly) now constructed in Gibson's Custom Shop plant in the USA.


The Les Paul Custom is not a guitar that I'd consider to be ergonomic particularly. The modern Custom is not chambered like many modern Les Pauls and thus it is quite a heavy guitar in general. It's not an instrument I would want to play for multiple 2-3 hour sets to be sure! It certainly is a guitar that you feel when you're playing, so if you're one of those cats who digs having a "real heavy Les Paul," the Custom is definitely worth looking into. The Les Paul shape/design is not one that lends itself naturally to things like shred or fast playing (you do have to work a bit harder on one of these) but it is certainly an easy guitar to play if you're a fan of the feel of Gibsons. The shorter scale is one that I've come to love for my own playing style, so it's all a matter of preference. The upper fret access is a bit of a chore on this guitar considering that it's not particularly light or sculpted near the neck heel, but again, when the guitar was designed, things like uber-fast playing weren't in vogue at the time and hey, it worked well enough for our pal Les Paul himself!


I've tried a few Customs through a whole plethora of different amps with great results. Because of the heavier weight and all mahogany construction of these guitars, it's got a great thick tone that is definitely different and unique to the guitar. Compared to the Les Paul Standard, it's definitely darker and has a much more pronounced low end. The lack of a maple top takes away a lot of high end sparkle, and the ebony fretboard is definitely a bit harder and sharper sounding than the rosewood used on many other LPs. I love both guitars for their tone, but they;re fairly different sounding guitars that work well for different application. I would say the Custom is a better guitar for precision work (IE: jazz, modern metal, shred) where notes really have to stand out with a clear voice. The more forgiving nature of the Standard is more suited to blues and classic rock styles.


All in all I think the Gibson Les Paul Custom is a guitar for the ages and is well worth considering if you want a great Les Paul to compliment a Standard or sound unique and cool on its own. At about $3,800 new they are not cheap, but you can find them quite easily used for about $2,400 without issue. They're great guitars that have a voice that is separate from the Standard but is definitely the voice of a real Gibson Les Paul guitar!