Gibson Les Paul model guitars have dropped in price. Not all of the models are experiencing price drops but some. The Les Paul Traditional and the Les Paul Satin models are available at a tremendous savings. Rather than bore you with some conjecture about why the prices have dropped - I'll tell you what is going on with these models.
The Les Paul Traditional Pro remains remains unchanged and has the 8 hole chambers. This guitar is selling for almost $1000 less than the Les Paul Standard. Great Value
The Les Paul Traditional Mahogany satin utilizes a bi-layed rosewood fret board and the guitar top is Mahogany instead of maple - Hence the word "mahogany" in the title of this instrument. I am tepid on the bi-layer fret-board but it might be more ridged due to the dual layer and inherent bonding process. Very affordable to the intermediate guitarist.
The Les Paul Classic custom - Approximately $100 more than the Traditional Mahogany due to the maple top but instead of a rosewood fret-board, this guitar has a torrefied maple fret-board. Torrefaction is a process similar to baking that is value adding by modifying the qualities of certain wood. This process makes the wood more stable. Good Value if you like a maple guitar top but with a non traditional torrefied maple neck. It should be noted that Fender has used none torrefied maple for decades [Ex.1].
Typical Fender Guitar Maple neck [Ex.1]
torrefaction is preferred to Richlite. Richlite utilizes the wood and polymers to bond and modify the density of materials while torrefaction basically bakes the wood to achieve densification.
The Gibson Les Paul Standard is a great as ever. All of the aforementioned changes do not apply to this guitar. It's not cheap but it's literally a standard of the music industry. Are these instruments made as well as they once were? Depends on which period you would like to compare the current model to because not ever year in the past has yielded great models. During the decade of the 1980's the Les Paul suffered when Norlin was running the company. I prefer the necks shape that have been used for the last 20 years and for me I really like the 1950's profile but the 1960 profile is very comfortable to play. The draw back to this instrument: the price point is similar to a tremendous number of brands of guitars available in this price bracket. Beware of analysis paralysis trying to decide which guitar to buy in this price tier.
My bucket list Les Paul model is the reissue 1959. But I'd take a 1958 VOS. Both of these guitar play well and sound well but they come with a price tag that weeds out the poor or neophyte players.
It's no secret, Gibson has had some problems this past year. They've had lousy public relations and in my humble opinion could have used a professional spokes person. However, this is a apple pie brand and it just needs to get it's name out of the gutter along with some unlikely brother in discourse, i.e., Netflix, Tiger Woods, and Borders books. I'd like to see a huge brand turn around and it has to come from within Gibson.
Two of my most prized instruments are Gibson guitars. They play well, they are built well and they get better with age - Sort of like old American cars.
If you are looking for a gift for the guitar player in your life, you might consider some of the guitars I listed above. If I had to pick a non traditional Les Paul as the winner it would be the Maple Top with the satin finish. I find the price to value ratio on this instrument though subjective - to be the best bang for the buck!
One observation: Gibson is decreasing the cost of introductory instruments while increasing the cost of the premium products. The decrease is to bring in new consumers and lock in brand recognition while those old time guitar snobs are already sold on their dream Les Paul and more than willing to pay the cost to play the boss! Smart move Gibson!