Which guitars are folks purchasing over $1000?
Not too long ago, while several of us writers were sitting around the figurative ‘pickle barrel’, someone – we’re blaming Smitch – wondered which of the more expensive guitars people were buying “now-a-days.” After a little research, I decided it was worth passing on what I learned.
You may also be interested in: Top 11 Most Popular Guitars Under $750
1 – Gibson Les Paul Standard Traditional Pro ($1799-$1999)
No surprise there. I’ve played this puppy and it is a superb guitar. All Classic ’57 with coil splitters, Grover locking tuners and the Plek ’60s neck. When I played it, it was listed at $2900! Glad to see it more reasonable. Good choice for Numero Uno.
2 – Gibson Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess ($3999 – $4299)
This one is a surprise. There must be lots of Lifeson fans out there. This LP has a Floyd Rose Trem and the “Life-O-Sound” output, in addition to the normal ceramic magnet neck and Alnico V bridge humbucker out, with series/parallel options. The trem is loaded with GraphTech “Ghost” piezo string saddles and the whole assortment is controlled by 4 push-pull pots. Whew!
3 – Gibson Les Paul Standard Traditional Plus ($1949 – $2999)
This LP is basically a Classic ’57, as most of the high end LPs are, ‘Plus’ a figured Maple top. No coil splitters, nothing fancy here except a Plek neck. The Plek machine measures all the frets and dresses each one to provide the lowest possible action without buzz. Most of the LPs are getting this Gibson exclusive treatment for great action. A little nicer looking than the #1 Pro.
4 – Fender American Standard Strat w/Maple neck ($1099 – $1199)
My personal baby. The iconic rock and roll guitar, as designed by Leo Fender, made its debut in 1954. Little has changed since then except improvements in electrics and hardware. The basic guitar is still the same as Leo conceived it. A wonderful all around playing guitar.
5 – Fender American Standard Telecaster w/Maple neck ($1099 – $1199)
The de-facto standard country guitar. Country music would have evolved differently if it wasn’t for this guitar. You were a genius, Leo. This guitar, my second favorite in the world, is exceptional at jazz, rock, blues and, of course, country twang. Every guitarist should own one of these at some time in their lives.
6 – Gibson ES-339 w/30/60 neck ($2599)
I have not played the 30/60 neck guitars, but I have played the 339 with the standard neck. It plays well, but not as nicely as a thinner neck profile, for me. The 30/60 neck is 30 thousandths thinner, front to back, than the standard neck. The 339 also has new pots that keep the highs on as you roll the volume down. No muddiness at lower volumes. It looks and feels like a 3/4 size 335 so it’s easier to play for smaller people.
7 – Gibson ES-335 (Dot, Memphis Reissue, Figured Top, Bigsby – $2699 – $3799)
Another popular favorite, in several trims. Just to give you an idea, a 1958, 335 Dot, in Vintage condition (slightly used, aged, but perfect), will bring you about $55,000. I showed the Figured Top model but they are all pretty much alike except for minor things like neck inlays, or hotter pickups. A very nice and versatile guitar… and a great investment.
8 – Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe ($1399)
This LP has all the essential elements of the LP Standard, without frills like binding and the pickguard. A Burstbucker Pro Bridge pickup and a 490R at the neck, complete with coil spitting and mixing features from all four push-pull pots. This LP has the “Fat Neck” that is popular today and is the reason I don’t like it. It is a very nice guitar if you have the hands for that big neck.
9 – Fender American Standard Stratocaster w/Rosewood neck ($1099 -$1199)
A little less popular than the maple neck version but still the iconic rock-and-roll guitar. The rosewood fingerboard version is just a tad warmer in tone than the maple. A great blues guitar for that reason alone. Personally, I like the playability of the maple over the rosewood and that offsets the tonal difference. My meager collection still needs one of these. A truly excellent guitar for any type of player.
10 – Gibson ’61 Reissue SG (Satin, Gloss $1099 – $1599)
Gibson redesigned the Les Paul in 1960. A bold move, what with the success of the original. It paid off, big time, for Gibson as the SG, for solid guitar, was born and became a solid success in its own right. This reissue is complete down to the faded finish, ’57 humbuckers and baked maple fingerboard. A great guitar to own.
11 – Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus ($1999 – $2289)
The Plus has the chambered body of the Pro, with a figured Maple Top, Burstbucker Pro pickups for the PAF sound with more brilliance, and the Plek neck all the Standards have. This neck is the popular larger neck of the new Standard Les Paul. Players with smaller hands will probably be more comfortable with the LP Traditional models.
Honorable mentions go to the Gibson ES-335 Plain Top, Gibson Les Paul Custom, Gibson Firebird, and the Music Man JPX1-6 John Petrucci. All great guitars.
Kudos go to Gibson for taking 8 out of 11 and proving that, even though they make some expensive guitars, there is no lack of support and appreciation for their efforts. It’s also interesting that 5 of those have the ’50s or ’60s profile necks… are you listening Gibson? Maybe you should make the old profile as the standard and make the “fat neck” the extra cost option. Just sayin’…