Best Les Paul under $1,000
Let me preface this by saying Iím primarily a bass player, and only play a little rhythm guitar in church (modern worship stuff like Tomlin, Hillsong, Jesus Culture). I have only owned a handful of guitars over the past 20 years, most of them mid-level, and one good Guild electric. When I was in the market for a Les Paul but didnít want to drop $1,800 that I didnít have, this guitar came highly recommended. And let me tell you, I am NOT disappointed. Itís a great guitar! And for the price, especially with a Presidentís Day discount, youíd be crazy not to try one out. I tried out about 20 guitars of several brands at a local retailer, but nothing comes close to the quality, attention to detail, and sound of this guitar in its price range. Especially if youíre looking for a Les Paul sound. Way better than some of the studio Les Pauls Iíve played, and Les Paul Jrís, Specials, etc, cannot even come close to this guitar.
First, itís drop dead gorgeous. I smile every time I pull it out of the gig bag because itís so darn good looking. It just makes me want to play it all the more. The fit, finish, and binding are impeccable. I canít find a flaw anywhere on the thing. At first I was a bit put off by the ďwide-fat neckĒ description. I have larger hands and have had difficulty playing some guitars where the strings arenít spaced out far enough or the neck is too thin. But this neck feels fantastic.
The sound is also phenomenal. After watching videos on youtube, I expected it to sound very much like a Les Paul, and it sure does (from what little experience I have, only owning a Les Paul Special years ago). It took me a bit of fiddling with the pickup height to get it dialed in perfectly for my tastes, but Iíve got it now, and it sounds so darn good it makes me want to play better than I can (which isnít that good to begin with). Intonation is spot on up and down the neck. Throw a capo on the third fret and it still sounds great (which was a problem for me with some other guitars. When you tried to use a capo, it made the guitar sound too ďchimeyĒ for lack of a better word). Granted, I found the output to be a little low, which was surprising. Theyíre not particularly ĎhotĒ humbuckers. If you raise the pickups too much to compensate, though, it starts to sound thin. I wound up using a boost pedal to give it a little more oomph and low end (something I always had on anyway with my last guitar), and it made all the difference. Iíve got the sound dialed in perfectly now. Absolutely amazing crunch for rhythm chords, and solo notes/octaves just sing with awesome clarity and sustain.
My only complaint was that the setup was not quite right out of the box, which I find surprising with Sweetwaterís ď55-point inspection.Ē I had to tweak some of the pole pieces on the bridge pickup to dial out an obnoxiously loud B string. But now that Iíve got it set up and playing perfectly, I donít think Iíll ever need to look for another guitar again. It sounds just like a vintage Les Paul to me, looks great, and is incredibly comfortable to play. All in all, a great guitar that just screams ďplay me!Ē And the customer service from Sweetwater is the best I have EVER seen in my many years of buying instruments and equipment online. Hands down. There just is no comparison. Thanks, Ed!