2003 Gibson Les Paul Studio

This guitar comes with a story. In the early ’80s I purchased a used 1976 Gibson SG Standard from a friend of a friend for $375.00. This SG was a much better guitar than the crappy imported starter guitars I was trying to play rock music with. The SG was a good guitar, but I had a love hate relationship with it. At the time I couldn’t afford to switch to anything different, so I put my differences aside with the guitar, and got on with making music with the instrument. Flash forward to 2007. I did some research on the internet, and figured out that the 1976 SG collecting dust in the closet was worth about $1,200.00. If it would have been a 1974 model it would have been worth somewhere around $2,000.00. Shoot!

Most of my favorite guitarists I looked up to played Les Paul guitars. Namely the Les Paul Custom. I had previously met the owner of the Music Gallery in Highland Park, IL through a client of mine. The Music Gallery specialized in new and vintage stringed instruments at the time. I always wanted a Les Paul since I was a teenager, but could not afford one. I got the bright idea to take my old Gibson SG to the Music Gallery to see how much they would give me for the guitar. They did a little research on the internet, and quoted me $1,200.00. I told the owner of the store I was interested in a new Les Paul. He showed me his wall of Les Paul guitars, and said I could have any of the Les Paul Studios as an even trade. If I were to throw down an extra grand I could have a Les Paul Standard. At that moment I wished I had an extra thousand dollars, but I didn’t, so I started playing one of the the three Les Paul Studios they had on the rack. I had brought my own amp in to test the guitars. This way I was only evaluating the sound quality from the guitar, and not the amp. After I had tested a couple of the Les Paul Studios the sales person who was helping me suggested I try the white Les Paul Studio that was hanging on the wall. This white Les Paul Studio sounded head and shoulders better than the other two Studios in the store. There is a reason for this. This guitar had a feature the other two didn’t. This guitar had an ebony fretboard (I really like the sound of ebony fingerboards) where the other two had rosewood fingerboards, plus the wood in the white Les Paul Studio just sang better than the other two guitars. This guitar had the sound of a Les Paul Paul Custom without the Les Paul Custom price. I was sold on the guitar. The sales clerk put the guitar into its new hard shell case, and I was on my merry way out the door. I never looked back. To this day I do not regret trading my 1976 SG Standard for this Les Paul Studio.

Here’s a quick rundown of the features of this particular 2003 Les Paul Studio. Mahogany neck and body. Carved maple cap on the body for extra snap. Klusen style tuners on the headstock. The neck profile is the thicker 50’s style neck. Ebony fingerboard with trapezoid position markers. Bone nut. Chrome hardware throughout. Gibson 490R pickup in the neck position and a Gibson 498T pickup in the bridge position. Three position pickup switch, and two volume and two tone speed knob controls to shape your tone. The guitar has an Alpine White paint job to boot.

Out of all of the guitars I own the Les Paul Studio is the guitar I play most often. This Les Paul has the guitar sound I always had in my head. Yeah sure some of my other guitars come close, but when you want that big, fat Les Paul sound the real deal is the way to go. This guitar is definitely the real deal. It has the sound you could easily pay thousands more for, and still be happy as a clam with the price of entry.

It is a good idea when shopping for a specific guitar model to play several of them one after another. You will notice they will all sound different due to the variation in the wood the guitars are built with. Pick the one that sounds the best. If you don’t like any of them. Go to a different store and play some more until you find one you really like. Especially with Gibson guitars the sound quality of guitars of the same model can vary widely. From sounding, not so great, to stellar. I advise to take your time when selecting a Gibson. You tend to pay a premium price for Gibson guitars make sure you actually get a premium instrument. Use your ears, don’t rush the selection process, and you will be fine.

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