Review: Les Paul 2016 Studio Series Guitars

Just in from a second go-round of trying out the Les Paul studio series guitars at the local Sam Ash store.

Reason for the trips:

We use a variety of session guitarists on projects, I’m normally the bass player but occasionally lower budget clients will hire me as a “one man band” of sorts, including my lead and rhythm  guitar skills.

I have plenty of acoustics of all types (6 string, 12 string, gut string, etc.) available for tracking at the studio and a great Telecaster and Stratocaster, but I needed a better rock tone.

So I headed to Sam Ash and tried the “worn black” Les Paul Studio series on day one. I plugged  up to a Marshall stack and ran it through all sorts of riffs, chord sequences and licks all over the neck. It sounded very good. The Burstbucker Pro PAF-style pickups provided plenty of bite. Their out the door price was quoted at $730, Sam Ash web site price: $799.

I decided to sleep on it and do more research.

Digging deeper, I liked the Alpine White Les Paul 2016 T Studio model with gold trim but it was priced at $1,499 ($1,399 out the door) and it came with  490R & 498T neck & bridge pickups that were getting mostly horrible reviews online.

Returning to the store a couple of days later I intended to buy the “worn cherry” version at the $799 price point but thought I’d give the higher priced version a whirl first, just to cover all bases. It was quickly apparent the more expensive guitar had a meatier tone, more harmonic richness, better sustain and, in general, sounded like a Les Paul should sound .It also has the ability to split the coils providing tons of tonal variation.

There’s more to a guitar’s tone than pickups but obviously the 490/498 combo are getting a bad rap. They sound great. Better than the much heralded Burstbuckers in my opinion.

So I tried the worn Cherry through the same amp and although the tone was very good, it lost in the comparison test. Much thinner, less sustain.

I ended up purchasing the more expensive Alpine White Les Paul 2016 T Studio version. Your mileage may vary, and it deoens on what type of material you’ll be playing, but if you’re in the market for a Les Paul Studio I’d advise at least trying out both models. Forget the reviews you’ve read with your eyes, instead, listen with your ears. I won’t be at all surprised if you come to the same conclusion- B.E. Watson