Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Teemu Suomala
Author: Teemu Suomala
I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.
I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.
I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).Hide The Rambling▲
Remember unboxing your first guitar? Excitement, joy, pleasure, you are going to be a rock star…that’s what I was feeling when unboxing my first Gibson (this Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite). But that joy quickly changed to notifying the retail store so that I could return my Gibson for a refund…Let’s find out why!
Note! I have already closely inspected this guitar and played it for hours (approx. 5h). But I’m updating this review soon to include the results of my full tests. Also, this is a non-sponsored review, I bought this guitar with my own money (I eat only noodles for couple of months now).
Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite
How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?
-Great quality hardware
-Slimtaper neck ensures easy playability
-Thin body paired with just the right sized contour is comfortable
-Stays in tune well
-Comes with good quality Gibson Softshell Case
-Not comfortable fretboard & fret edges
-Looks and feels a bit cheap
-At least with this my copy, value for the money is not there
I didn’t want all this to end up like this…this hurts me, but I have to say it: this Gibson is not worth the money to me. It sounds great, is fun to play, and has good hardware…but the finish and build quality just isn’t there…
A new Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured looks cool, maybe I’ll try my luck with that…but it costs almost $3k…Is that a price you have to pay to get a good Gibson nowadays?
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Check the unboxing video :
Check our favorite Gibson electric guitars here.
Build & Finish Quality
I’m not going to bore you by rambling on the looks itself, it’s too subjective. But, would you want a guitar that costs $1.5k to have finish issues? Would you let that kind of stuff slide? Reveal your thoughts in the comments down below, we all want to hear them.
Let’s go through the issues quickly…
The tape that’s wrapped on the pickup… doesn’t look good. This is Gibson. One of the most iconic and expensive guitar brands out there.
I checked the product photos on music stores (check image below), and yes, even on those copies, the look finis on pickups is not spot on, but in this my copy it was surely worse. The left side of the bridge pickup was the main issue (see image above).
At the top of the fretboard, lies more issues, you can see this better from the unboxing video. But it looks like something has scratched the surface. This small scratch/defect runs from the side of the fretboard all the way up to the G string.
Glue stains near the nut. I must say that with dim light or lights off, you won’t see these stains much. But in bright daylight, these are really visible. This happened with the Squier Bullet Strat I reviewed 2 years ago. But that guitar cost $179 (stains with the Squier were worse).
When doing the unboxing video, I was just about to say “As expected no finish issues at the backside…” But nope. A small glue stain near the electronics backplate.
When looking at the right light, I could see more glue near this spot. My guess is that glue spilled here, but it was poorly wiped. I didn’t want to scratch it off, since this could damage the finish.
When I moved to inspect the neck, I almost skipped this as a part of the finish. But after closely inspecting the overall finish, I came to the conclusion… it was a small scratch. Yes I know, it’s a small thing. But the price of this guitar is not.
Other than these 5 issues, the finish and built quality seem really good. The paint job is good otherwise and the neck joint looks how it should, etc. But this is far from perfect.
In terms of hardware, this guitar shines. It has Gorver Rotomatic tuners, that hold the tune really well. Even tho you usually have to tune new guitars & strings a bit more, this thing stayed in tune extremely well right out of the gate.
Graph tech nut ensures that you get better sustain than with cheap plastic or synthetic bone nuts.
The aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge with a Stop Bar works as should and I found palm muting to be really easy and comfortable with this thing.
Fretwork has been done well and there is no frett buzz.
The hardware is on a level that I want to see from a guitar priced like this.
Let’s tackle the bad stuff first…
Fret and fretboard edges are not comfortable. I wouldn’t call them rough but not smooth either. For example, my ESP LTD MH-400 (around $700 guitar), has way more comfortable edges of the fretboad.
The action was not spot-on for my test. The action is just a little bit too high and I think I have to adjust the truss rod a little in order to get the setup just right.
This Gibson was featured in our popular 9 guitar blind test recently…check the electric guitar blind test out here.
Then the good stuff.
Slimtaper neck shape, 24.75″ scale length, and thin body with really nice contour ensure that this guitar is easy and fun to play.
The upper fret access is definitely not the best, but other than that, I felt that every corner of the fretboard was easy to access.
But when I think about the price of this guitar, and the kind of playability you should get….this Gibson unfortunately falls short.
With the hardware, the sounds are another thing that this guitar gets right.
Gibson 490R (neck) & 498T (bridge) Humbuckers that were also on now discontinued Gibson Les Paul Studio models really shine. Now discontinued “cheap” Gibson Les Paul Tribute had a Gibson 490T & 490R combo. These weren’t necessarily worse than 490R & 498T, just different.
I will mention a couple of my favorite things about these pickups…
- Excellent charity (with distortion too)
- Excellent low end (boomy)
- Cleans are extremely soft, gentle, and round
If you are wondering what kind of stuff this Gibson can handle, to me, it handles pretty much anything. From blues to rock and from country to metal. It’s really versatile.
Check the full no-talk sound demo I recorded:
Value for The Money
No. Value for the money is not there for me. It’s a $1500 guitar, it has minor finish issues, and the neck is not extremely comfortable.
Yes, the hardware is great and this axe sounds excellent. but the overall quality of this instrument just isn’t on the level where the price is.
But I must say that if you get a copy with a perfect finish and you prefer a playability that’s not that smooth, then the value for money most likely is there.
I’m disappointed. I expected a guitar for life. Guitar that I can use when testing tons of different amplifiers. Instead, I got a great-sounding guitar with good hardware, ok playability, and finish issues. I would sum this guitar like this:
“Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite is an excellent sounding guitar with really good hardware, but it suffers from poor quality control and mediocre playability”.
Am I a Gibson hater? Absolutely not. Gibson Les Paul Custom is one of the best guitars I have ever played and Gibson is still one of the most iconic guitar brands. But this new “cheap” lineup of theirs doesn’t seem to be one of their best business moves…
I have 3 differently priced Epiphones comin in soon…let’s see how thsoe compare to this. I will do a blind test for some of my guitarist friends where they can thest those 3 Epi’s and this Gibson. Let’s see how that goes. Stay tuned and drop a comment down below!