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Opinions and insights on the 2023+ Les Paul Supreme?

overtonezaudio

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Jul 9, 2024
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I'm 40+ now and it's been my mission since the teenage years to own a proper Gibson Les Paul. I've got a Gibson LP Tribute 2017 and it's a fantastic guitar, but it's fuzzy on whether it's a "proper Gibson Les Paul" with it being a budget model. Anyways, I saw that the Moderns and Supremes came out with the carved neck heel and that solved the upper fret access which was one of my main gripes with LPs, the other being that they should have SS frets. I don't like the look of the Moderns, none of their tops appeal to me. The Supremes look great to me - both the ebony and fireburst. I want something that I can gig with - lightweight, 60s slim taper neck, fret access, and the Supreme seems to check all the boxes.

I'm just looking for thoughts, opinions, insight on the new Supreme. Like, what market was Gibson trying to serve with the new Supremes? Any information on the guitar is welcome. I just want to develop a well rounded understanding on where the new Supreme fits in the LP catalog.
 
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jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
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The Modern/Supreme essentially are the older HJ-era 'Standard' carried forward, with the addition of the neck heel carve.

Supremes are between that HJ-era 'Standard' and the Axcess Custom model, minus the full Custom trappings, also lacking the Apex headstock volute and with a different neck heel carve than the Axcess' more rounded overall....

Think of the current, new LP Supreme as basically the top-tier Modern aesthetically; after the Modern with metallic finishes, then the Modern Figured with some burst finishes. The Supreme adds more bling in terms of multi-ply binding, the Super 400 split inlays, and the new Archival 40s headstock pattern. Otherwise, same essential functional / performance specs.

So, it really is a 'looks thing' as far as market target, all 3 Modern Collection LPs for the more 'modern' playability market....

The most salient aspect being something you didn't explicitly mention -- a compound radius fretboard. Which were the hallmark of the older HJ-era 'Standard'...

Happy hunting!
 

jb_abides

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Thanks! What is the HJ era?

HJ-era = The period from 1985/6 when Gibson was owned by Henry Juszkiewicz and partners, prior to the recent bankruptcy and takeover by KKR, being run by [first JC Curleigh, and now] ]Cesar Gueikian in 2019.

Prior to the HJ-era, was the Norlin/CMI era.

Prior to that, would be the Ted McCarty years.
 

overtonezaudio

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Jul 9, 2024
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I was not aware of any era where the Standard ventured outside of what the Standard is now but I'm no Gibson historian.
 

jb_abides

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I was not aware of any era where the Standard ventured outside of what the Standard is now but I'm no Gibson historian.

They absolutely did stray, and that's what the fanfare was about in 2019/2020 about returning to more of an 'original recipe' for the name, whereas for prior ownership the philosophy was the 'Standard' was the 'standard-bearer' for the brand's aspirations for pushing the envelope of modernizing the brand and the 'Traditional' [and also the 'Classic'] model became the representative of their storied past.

Look at 'Late-Teens' specs including the HP = High Performance models and also the aberrant year of 2015 with wide-necks, zero frets, etc. So the 'standard-bearer' idea didn't hold in the minds of the very conservative Gibson market base, and caused confusion for those who's mind was set on a USA Standard harkening back to 58-60 bursts. It was seen as a marketing fail. And therefore the new product architecture, and the realignment of models into the Original and Modern Collections. The Traditional is gone, and the Standard has retaken its more traditional specification i.e. 'give the people what they want' and not to ignore the more modern feature inclinations for players, the Modern Collection has guitars oriented to that sort of spec. Note: HJ-era made an attempt to differentiate using the 'T' model suffix, but frankly their scheme was a godawful mess.

The new naming scheme keeps clear those oriented and seeking models made famous by the brand, but also allows a line for incorporating more innovative features without confusion.

This does create a different form of confusion for those shopping in the used market, comparing models to the current lineup. For example, a 2018 or 2019 spec Les Paul Standard is nothing like a 2020 or 2021 spec Les Paul Standard in the detailed features, apart from the obvious, they are both the Les Paul shape and basic platform of maple over mahogany, with a mahogany set-neck.
 
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overtonezaudio

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Ah yeah, I was always a bit confused about the Traditional.

If it was me, I'd make all Les Pauls more modernized - SS frets, better upper fret access, locking tuners, maybe a 25" scale, weight relief. To me, these are mods that don't affect the classic Les Paul ethos but make the guitars higher performance with a broader application. But I'm sure that 60% of the LP crowd are conservatives folks who wouldn't take kindly to these changes. Also, maybe getting more modernized can be bad for its image as it might be seen as stooping to the level of an ESP EC or Kiesel CS. I'd probably fail as Gibson CEO.
 

jb_abides

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Ah yeah, I was always a bit confused about the Traditional.

If it was me, I'd make all Les Pauls more modernized - SS frets, better upper fret access, locking tuners, maybe a 25" scale, weight relief. To me, these are mods that don't affect the classic Les Paul ethos but make the guitars higher performance with a broader application. But I'm sure that 60% of the LP crowd are conservatives folks who wouldn't take kindly to these changes. Also, maybe getting more modernized can be bad for its image as it might be seen as stooping to the level of an ESP EC or Kiesel CS. I'd probably fail as Gibson CEO.

You would, indeed. :ROFLMAO:
 

MikeSlub

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Jul 15, 2001
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15,268
What frustrates me is when they use the name "Les Paul Supreme" for a guitar model that morphs into something completely different than its origins. Here is a link to my article from when the Les Paul Supreme model was first introduced in 2003 as a front and back flamed maple guitar. I still have mine and love it!



IMG_0286.jpeg
 
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overtonezaudio

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Jul 9, 2024
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You would, indeed. :ROFLMAO:

Honestly I think Gibson walks a very fine line which makes the job for their leadership tricky. Try to make any changes and you upset the status quo. Don't make changes and you don't gain new markets as music progresses. They are in a weird spot. Other companies are lauded for innovation, new technologies. For Gibson they will get flak for putting in technology.
 

MikeSlub

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Joined
Jul 15, 2001
Messages
15,268
Ah yeah, I was always a bit confused about the Traditional.

If it was me, I'd make all Les Pauls more modernized - SS frets, better upper fret access, locking tuners, maybe a 25" scale, weight relief. To me, these are mods that don't affect the classic Les Paul ethos but make the guitars higher performance with a broader application. But I'm sure that 60% of the LP crowd are conservatives folks who wouldn't take kindly to these changes. Also, maybe getting more modernized can be bad for its image as it might be seen as stooping to the level of an ESP EC or Kiesel CS. I'd probably fail as Gibson CEO.
Actually, they've tried some of those things. They used different fret material in the original 2003 Supreme (nickel-free, gold color). Gibson Custom also did a limited run of a long scale (25-1/2, like Strats) Les Paul. I own one of both models. And they've done weight relief guitars. There was also a period of time when Wildwood paid a premium to Gibson to find the lightest wood and made what they called "featherweight" Les Pauls. I owned one of those, about 7 lbs.

2003 LP Supreme with gold fretwire:

2003_Gibson_Les_Paul_Supreme_Cherry_Sunburst.JPG

2014 LP Custom Shop Long Scale LP:

2014 Gibson Les Paul Long Scale.jpg

But you are correct - many guitarists are traditionalists. That's why Les Pauls, Stratocasters and Telecasters are still the biggest electric guitar sales.
 
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