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Why I never got into Les Paul guitars

Gibson Les Paul

When I was a kid just starting out on guitar in the very-early 1990s, the Strat was the guitar. None of the guitar stores ever featured the Les Paul at the time. You never saw them in the glass case that some guitar stores had. Most of the time, all you ever saw there were premium American Stratocaster guitars.

The Gibson Les Paul was considered the "old guy's guitar" and nobody wanted it. Nobody except old guys, that is. Now it's true that Appetite for Destruction had been released in 1987 by Guns 'N Roses, and the lead guitar player Slash was seen playing his Les Paul guitars very prominently in all GNR music videos - but - the sound everyone wanted in the early 1990s was grunge, punk and metal. Grunge and punk guys played Strats, Jags and Mustangs. Metal guys played basically anything but Gibson and stuck to brands like Ibanez and Jackson instead because they were much better suited for the job (and still are).

It was in the later 90s that players really started buying up all those old Fender guitars from the 60s because grunge brought back that whole "earthy" garage-band sound. This was way before anyone had the idea of "relic'ing" a guitar. People just wanted those old Strats, Mustangs and Jags because everyone had their fill of 80s glam crap, wanted to go back to the the old stuff, and did.

After vintage Fenders started getting a lot of recognition, the Les Paul naturally followed, but I never got into them for very specific reasons.

Why I don't like Gibson Les Paul guitars

1. The body shape cuts into my ribs

I don't like the Les Paul body shape for the same reason I don't like the Telecaster, that being the rear of the body is hard-edged. No contour cut like the one on Stratocaster body exists on a traditional-shape Les Paul body.

2. Overpriced to an insane level

When the Paul tripped over the $2,000 mark, that's when it got insane because that's more than most homeowners pay for annual taxes on their property each year. The guitar is simply not worth that much no matter what anyone says.

The price of a USA Gibson Les Paul Standard is so high that it's actually offensive.

3. I don't like a guitar I can't thrash

I'm a hard player, and I know for a fact I'd snap the headstock right off a Gibson Les Paul just playing like I normally do. All it takes is one wild bend on the G string and *CRACK!*, busted headstock.

Why would the headstock break? Because it's well known to be the weakest part of the Paul guitar, even on brand new ones. The #1 guitar repair is fixing busted Paul headstocks. Ask any luthier.

I have zero interest in buying a $2,500 guitar only to discover it can't survive a bend I can do on a $119 guitar easily.

The only Paul made by a Gibson company that can handle my playing style is the Epiphone Prophecy Les Paul. But I'd hate playing it because it's a "metal guitar" with overcomplicated electronics and a super-flat 14-inch radius fingerboard. No way would I be comfortable playing that. Metal guys love that guitar, but as I just said, I don't do metal guitars. I may play that style from time to time, but I greatly dislike any guitar specifically designed for that genre of music because, well, they suck.

4. I'm not interested in experiencing "Expensive Guitar Buyer's Remorse"

The Gibson Les Paul is the grandaddy of all electrics where you absolutely do not get what you pay for.

As a collector, sure, the Paul is worth the price tag if you buy it, play it only 2 hours a year, keep it for 10 years and then sell it for twice the price. That I can understand.

But I'm not a guitar collector. As a player I need a machine I can use and abuse. And the Paul definitely is not it.

If I owned a USA Paul, I would break it in less than a year just from playing the crap out of it. There are Paul owners who say "a Les Paul is forever". Well, those guys must play very lightly or barely play at all because I can certainly prove easily a Paul is not "forever". Before the end of the first year owning the Paul, I can guarantee you I would break something on it. Then the rumbling pangs of regret would set in. "Geez, I just broke a $2,500 guitar.. um.. now I'm sad."

Whenever anyone has let me play their Les Paul, I can see the nervousness in their eyes because I'm actually playing a guitar how it was meant to be played - but you obviously can't do that with a Paul because they can't handle it. Whenever a Paul is in my hands, I have to constantly keep reminding myself, "Okay.. this is a Paul. Have to be careful with this fragile stupid thing.. man this sucks! Someone give me a Strat..."

Tip: Never let me play your Paul, because I'll probably break it. And then you would be sad. And probably never talk to me again. 🙂

5. I see nothing but an overpriced toy when I see a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar

When I see a Paul, I don't think, "Wow, I've GOT to have that!" That thought has never crossed my mind any time I've ever seen a Paul guitar. Nowhere in my brain is any lust for a USA-made Gibson Les Paul Standard. Or any other Gibson Les Paul model for that matter.

There was a time in history when the Gibson Les Paul was the "working man's guitar". Well, Gibson lost that title years ago because a working man can't even afford one now.

Pauls are the guitars I see in guitar stores that are only for cork-sniffer types.


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