Gibson Les Paul Studio LPJ Review
Original author: Kristofer Dahl
Model: Les Paul Studio LPJ
Price: 649 €
To challenge myself, and to try and break some old habits - I have bought a Gibson guitar. This guitar only has two pickups, no single coils, no whammy bar and poor high fret access. Not only that, but it turned out the guitar seriously hurts by ribs.
This is my first mahogany body + maple top guitar, this in combination with the fixed bridge makes up for a sound I have never experienced before. My strat gives me awesome attack which I love - you can really work on your picking/hybrid attack and develop your own sound. However what happens after the initial attack is not quite as pleasant - the thin note dies!
This guitar gives me amazing sustain and big tone. It does however also offer some ‘snappiness’ for my hybrid picking (see video) - this might be a result of the maple neck (which I think is not really standard for a Les Paul).
Dialing in heavy metal, crunch or big warm clean sounds feels easy with this guitar. It is not capable of delivering twangy strat sounds, and it is not possible to install a coil split with these pickups as they are of vintage two-conductor style. It would be interesting to know how twangy a Les Paul can get with coil splitting, if at all.
It has a fat neck profile and action was perfect from the factory - low string height and no buzzing whatsoever. Fretwires are not perfectly polished and a slight joint can be seen where the fretboard meets the neck. None of this affects playability - the higher end models probably don’t have these flaws (and possibly not other LPJ's either?!).
The fretwire feels like medium size to me - and this feels very strange as I like my guitars scalloped or with huge fretwire (or why not have both )
The volume knob gives a noticeable volume jump happening the first 20% - I got used to it quite easily though.
The guitar did not come properly stringed - this resulted in unstable tuning. My other guitars have locking tuners so I used this video to get it right . Also, I will soon order some graphite nut lubricant - and hopefully after that the guitar will remain 100% in tune even after excessive bending.
My experience with this guitar is extremely positive - although I had to adapt a little:
- After replacing the factory strings (Gibson brite wires 0.10) - with my costume gauge elixir (0.46-0.09) I realised the factory strings were there for a reason: bigger sound! The video above is recorded with the Elixir set, but I have ordered new 0.10 - and I have already started praying my fingers will soon get strong enough to handle them.
- The 24.75 Gibson scale offers a nice and different feel than 25.5 (typical for strats) . Shorter (and thereby looser) strings are more playable!
- I have replaced (and sold, unfortunately) stock pickups too many times in the past. But I can safely say that these will get to stay for a long time - the burstbucker pros are highly versatile and dynamic enough. I have become allergic against high output pickups - and I am a bit sceptical about the 498T which is a standard Gibson bridge pickup. The are many highly musical stomp boxes that can increase your signal strength, but none that can resuscitate killed dynamics.
- This guitar is “unchambered” which means the body has no internal cavities to provide weight relief. Possibly this is one of the great-sound factors. Downside: it’s 3.9 kg (8,6lbs) heavy. It currently feels like this guitar will become my new recording baby though, and I don’t foresee using it live.
- The back/side of the guitar body is not contoured like a strat - and this initially hurt my ribs quite a bit. I had to learn to sit differently and with better posture, the later is a very positive side effect. Maybe I should try to get a bit fat as well - a worthy challenge for a chocolate lover!
I cannot stop thinking about how the guitar would feel with slight scalloping and a not-so-slight backside/contour cutaway. The later to increase comfort and decrease weight. However I have not researched the cons of doing this… any thoughts about it?
Right now I don’t plan on changing anything though - I let the guitar change me instead. It’s a very interesting experience.