This guitar was the result of a confluence of several factors over a long time. I’d had a love-meh relationship with Gibson Les Pauls for a year or two. The LP is an iconic guitar – some would say THE iconic guitar (and some would disagree violently with those) – and they are handsome beasts. I particularly liked some of the Ocean Blue models. After eyeing them up for a while, in late 2013 I tried several of the new 2014 “120th Anniversary” models (and some of the 2013 models) in a shop, vaguely prepared to dig deep and buy one. And then I played them.
I didn’t like them. The necks felt all wrong – too thick, hard to play. I loved the tops, particularly some of the LP Standard Premium models, but I wasn’t going to spend €3000 or so on a guitar that I didn’t like playing. My lust was unfulfilled (but that’s another story) and my wallet stayed intact.
A few months later, in April 2014, I was tempted by the sales in Guitar Guitar of the last few 2013 Gibson LP Standards. I was on a visit to England for Easter, and I nipped up to Birmingham (curiously, that’s where I’ve bought both of my most expensive guitars to date) and looked at them in the shop. Again, I wasn’t really that keen, but my eyes were drawn to their PRS wall. Instead of a Les Paul, I walked out of the shop with my PRS Custom 22 (more on that one on its own page).
2014 passed, I got older. I sated my Les Paul GAS by buying an Epiphone Rosso Corsa Slash signature guitar, which is jolly good. 2015 passed too, and I got even older. The 2015 Gibson Les Pauls were greeted with disgust by the traditionalists. Gibson had made too many changes to the models. They had wider necks, ugly logos and holograms, and – worst of all – the hated Gforce automatic tuning system on ALL of the Les Pauls. This was blasphemy! I haven’t seen sales figures, but I’m sure that Gibson had a bad, bad year in 2015. As a result, some of the guitars were sold off at deep discounts when the 2016 models came out.
I thought that after their “anus horribilis” in 2015, Gibson did the right thing in 2016 by giving people a choice of Traditional or High Performance (i.e. modern) models. The horrid, scrawly “Les Paul 100” logo disappeared, and they gave the traditionalists some nice models with chunky necks and standard tuning heads. For the guitarists who aren’t stuck in the 60s, they made the HP models with much improved neck cuts and the other improvements from 2015. I approved of these changes, and therefore I bought a 2015 model.
Hold on there – did you read that right? Don’t I mean “I bought a 2016 HP Les Paul”? Well, no. The thing is, Gibson needed to get rid of their excess 2015 models and so you could find some of them on deep discount. Having got used to a larger neck with my Epiphone, I decided to take a punt on a Les Paul Classic that was being sold at a significant discount on its original price (£1599). I reasoned that even if I didn’t like it, I’d probably be able to sell it later and get most of my money back. So yes, I bought one of the loathed 2015 Gibsons.
A further complication arose in that this was obviously a return, because the accessory pack was missing, but this was swiftly corrected by the retailer (kudos to them – dv247.com).
Now, the important and long-awaited question is: do I like this Gibson, having not liked them earlier? Well…on the whole, yes. I like the top – it’s not a very high grade and it’s not perfectly symmetrical, but they married it in well with the bridge and I think it looks cool. The neck is a Slim Taper, so it’s not too chunky, and I’m OK with that although I do still prefer a slimmer (but not ultra-slim) neck. Otherwise, it feels and sounds good – obviously it’s a bit of a lump, but so am I so that’s OK. And the Gforce tuner? Well….I don’t mind it, but it hasn’t made me wish that my other guitars have it. It works fairly well (not always perfect first time), but the interface is rather obscure, and I dislike having to dig around for the instructions whenever I want to do anything other than tune it to the current setting. It could really do with a little screen, or – to bring it into the current decade – a Bluetooth interface and a smartphone app. I suspect that in a few years’ time, these things will be done and the current generation will be seen as inadequate prototypes – maybe then I’ll be able to swap this one out for a new one.
In summary, it’s a real Gibson and I got it for a fraction of the price that I was considering paying for a Standard. It’s not quite so pretty but I like the top, and I don’t feel the need to buy another Gibson. It’s a good guitar for the price that I paid, but I wouldn’t have paid the full price for it. It ranks somewhere in the middle of my guitar collection. It’s fine.
This was a bit long so I won’t copy the specifications here. You can find them on the Gibson LP Classic 2015 product page. It has a db boost switch instead of the second tone, and coil splits on the volume knobs, and that’s about all you really need to know.
UPDATE: I sold this guitar in late 2018 since I wasn’t playing it and I had run out of space due to the guitars that I have been building. I sold it for almost what I paid for it, which was still a good price for the buyer since these guitars typically sell for about 60-65% of their original price, and it was in absolutely perfect condition.