Strapped on, you can really feel how dense this body is – its a hefty bugger, so perhaps the wood is not as well dried as it could be. Balance is fine though. And going on the hefty theme, the neck is a beast. It feels
like a chubbier profile than the studio and with the added width…well, this will take some getting used to. I’ve got big hands and it was a good hour before I begun to feel comfortable. The extra width on the 2015 neck felt much more intrusive than on the Studio. But frets and fretboard were smooth and well set up which really helped.
As I like to do, I used Yonac’s superb Tonestack for clean tones and Bias for overdrive. Clean, there was a pleasing biting clarity to the bridge unit- frankly, good enough for country. I’ve played these 61 pickups on a few Gibsons, and they are crackers. The neck had a warm rounded quality that never sank into mush as an LP neck pickup can so easily do and both together had a creamy, phasey tone that cries out for some Nile Rogers riffs.
Overdriven, that clarity really picks up. It’s not a traditional Les Paul tone, it feels livelier and more modern than that. It’s not a sharp, brittle clarity, it just adds a degree of definition to everything you play, in fact it brings more than a hint of SG to the Les Paul party. That is alright by me, I really like SGs.
Whack up the distortion and the tone still hangs together – that neck probably makes too much frantic shredding a bit of an ask, but the tone is still there.
So the cheapest 2015 Les Paul is a very interesting little thing. It’s a well put-together basic guitar that nails its own character by really not being very Les Paul-ish at all. Those excellent 61 pickups give it a flavour of a bastard child of an SG and perhaps a Telecaster Custom. It’s hugely versatile and ironically the tone palette it is weakest in is the traditional warm Les Paul sounds, its too assertive for that.
On the downside, that neck is a handful. After 3 hours, I was much more comfortable with it. But I like meaty necks so if you have doubts, spend as much time as you can.
So £799 including G-force tuners (which worked very well) and a handsome case. At £100 more the Studio has a more compromising neck and lovely pickups that have more Les Paul warmth and coil-taps as well. It is also 17% prettier. But the LPM has many virtues and if you are after a cheap Les Paul with more than a bit of bite, then I recommend that you give it a go.