The Gibson Les Paul LPJ is one of Gibsons budget models first introduced in 2013 and updated for 2014 (Not many changes and this review is of the 2013 model). Along with the SGJ these models are designed to be the cheapest way to get yourself a "real" Gibson guitar. The name has caused quite a lot controversy with Gibson fans, however the general consensus seems to be that the J stands for Junior and in the same way the original Les Paul Juniors were designed to make Gibson guitars affordable these are modern takes on that same idea.
At £499 ($750) the guitar has to compete with the guitars such as the more expensive offerings from Epiphone and the Fender Standard guitars from Mexico. As you can see the competition is stiff at the price range so the Gibson will need to be good.
Body Material: Mahogany with Maple cap
Neck Material: Maple
Neck Shape: 50's profile
Number of frets: 22
Scale Length: 24 3/4"
Pickups: 490R & 498T
Colour Options: Worn Cherry, Rubbed Vintage Burst, Chocolate, Rubbed Trans White
All Gibsons are produced in the United States. This model in particular is produced at their factory in Nashville Tennessee alongside other guitars that are sold for nearly 5 times as much. Thus as you would expect the build quality is very good. The materials used in production are mostly the same as in their more expensive guitars, Gibson doesn't buy cheaper wood for the cheaper guitars, they just use the wood that doesn't look as nice from the batch they have (Still looks nice however). The LPJ's are also made on the same production line by the same people as the more expensive guitars. On my guitar there are no flaws that I could find, the quality is perfect, frets are finished smoothly, the nut is well cut, no complains there at all. This build quality is something other guitars at the same price really struggle to match, for example Epiphone use a maple veneer rather than a cap.
The LPJ has divided opinion over its looks, the guitar is much more basic than a Les Paul Standard with no pickguard or binding. The finish on the guitar is also a satin finish rather than high gloss, this is done because it saves Gibson a large amount of time and thus money in finishing the guitar. I personally like the look of the satin look on my Worn Cherry model, the guitar still has a shine whilst not being like a mirror. The fretboard has trapezoid inlays, unlike lots of guitars at similar prices which just have dot inlays, I personally really like this as well. The guitar comes with a very nice padded gigbag instead of the hardcase supplied with many other Gibsons, this is understandable so Gibson can achieve the price that they sell it for.
Some people like the look of the LPJ some don't, if you are considering purchasing this guitar then definitely go and have a look at one in a shop before buying.
The guitar plays just as you would expect for a Gibson, very well. The action can be set super low without fret buzz by using the easy to adjust tune-o-matic bridge. The tuners are smooth and accurate, however you won't need to use them very often as the guitar stays in tune very well, partially thanks to its Corian nut. The LPJ has the 50's profiled neck, this is very fat if you compare to a stratocaster neck, however it doesn't impair playing and if anything feels much nicer as it completely fills your hand. The knobs used on the guitar are the black speed knobs, as well as looking very nice the serrated edge makes them easy to grip to change the setting quickly this is very useful in a stage environment where you may be sweaty. All Gibson guitars are ran through their PLEX machines, these make sure all frets are correctly level when the neck is under tension, It has worked on my guitar as proven by the lack of fret buzz.
Whilst the 490R and 498T humbuckers are not the most modern of Gibsons pickups they are a dependable source of good tone. They give nice meaty rock tones right up to screaming metal depending on your amp, pickup selection and your tone control settings, the humbucking nature also means there is very little hum. I must mention however clean tones can sound a little soul less compared to a stratocaster or other single coil guitars.. As with all genuine Les Pauls the combination of the woods used gives brilliant sustain, whether or not you believe all of Gibsons marketing reasons exactly why this is you cannot argue with the results with notes that hold forever. The LPJ's pickups are not coil tapped which would improve the clean tone, whereas the Epiphone Standard Plus Top Pro's are for almost the same price.
The Gibson LPJ is a brilliant guitar, even if you ignore its prestigious name or the fact its made in America then it is still a brilliant guitar for rock and metal sounds. The guitar is very well built and will probably out live you if it is taken care of, that isn't something you can say about many guitars at the same price range. Top of the range Epiphones may have more bells and whistles however they often lack this key aspect of quality.
Bellow is a review of the SGJ and LPJ by Andertons music store.