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Classic vs. R0 - what's different besides the price?

dj335

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Oct 16, 2008
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Hello all,

This is a callout for information from those on this forum who are really familiar with the nuances between the various models of Gibson Les Paul's. I have a 2005 Les Paul Classic Goldtop ("1960" on the pickguard), and I'm really curious as to what the differences are between my guitar and a Custom Shop R0 1960 Reissue (besides the obvious Nashville USA vs. Memphis Custom Shop).

This is what I think is different between the two. Please review and comment on my list below:

Long neck tenon on R0, short neck tenon on Classic
Burstbucker p/u's on R0, ceramic p/u's on Classic
Non-weight relieved R0, weight relieved swiss cheese holes on Classic
Bumblebee caps & 500k pots on R0, 300k pots & cheaper caps in Classic
Pots attached to maple cap on R0, pots on metal plate in Classic
ABR bridge on R0, Nashville bridge on Classic

R0's have a nicer looking case & fancy Certificate w/ binder...

Oh, yeah, my Classic has those lovely snot-green fretboard inlays....

Other than the items listed above, I see the R0 and my Classic to be very close to each other in construction. I met with a dealer product specialist for Gibson at the local Sam Ash store in my area recently, and he confirmed that the two guitars are essentially built the same way, but the Historics get the better, lighter woods. He also said that he can't tell the difference between a long tenon vs short tenon while playing them side by side, and that the wood used has much more effect on the differences between any two similiar guitars then the neck tenons would.

My Classic has a one piece mahogany neck with the thin '60's profile that I really love (don't like the 50's necks - too much like a baseball bat to me), and a one piece mahogany back (many Classic's I have seen are two piece backs, split along the neck line). The maple cap shows below the binding at the cutaway side of the body just like an R0. Mine is light weight, with a lively acoustic sound. Haven't found an R0 in any local store to play & compare.

I changed the nasty sounding ceramic p/u's to nickel covered Gibson '59 Classic & Classic Plus p/u's, switched the tailpiece to a Gotoh aluminum light weight one, and replaced the caps with vintage Westcap paper in oils. I changed the truss rod cover to a blank one, and switched the backside black cavity covers to brown colored ones, so it really looks like a 1960 Les Paul Standard Goldtop (still has the "Les Paul Classic" decal on the headstock though). This guitar now kicks major A.., sounds great, plays great, and in my opinion looks pretty nice. I have a total cost with purchase and upgrades of around $1500 or so.

So how is my Classic that much different from an R0 that sells for $5999? I'd really like to hear your thoughts and replies.

Dave from So Cal
 
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Schtang

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for $ value and satisfaction the Classic is a much better guitar. My 2004 Classic has an ABR bridge, are you sure your's has a Nashville bridge?
 

grimlyflick

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When I bought my Classic back in 2005 they were retailing for £250-300 less than a Standard. Once I'd upgraded the pickups, wiring and bridge/tailpiece I'd still spent less than the price of a Standard and had a Les Paul tailoured specifically to my taste.

They are great guitars for (at the time less money) modding if you like the 60's neck profile and were great value too.

Oh, and I prefer the green inlays too. :salude
 

IRussell

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Dec 28, 2006
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...Other than the items listed above, I see the R0 and my Classic to be very close to each other in construction.

Indeed, practically the exact same thing!

:rofl

But seriously, and I'm not saying that Classics are bad at all, but there are other fundamental differences in construction between them (binding, nitro, plastics, top carve, routes, headstock veneer, ...)

They're close in that they use Maple and Mahogany and the same basic shape :)
 

pist0lpete

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that slim 60's neck you will not find on an R0, R0 necks are about as thick as 50's rounded for comparison. people may argue with that, but i don't think they will argue with the fact that the R0 does not have that slim taper neck that came on classics or as an option for standards
 

Soup's Uncle

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I have never played an R0, but I always told myself if I got a Historic, that would be it b/c of the neck. But now I hear they are thick.

My Classic is actually pretty heavy. Compared to my standard, it's gotta be at least 5 pounds heavier. The acoustic sound is also very bright.

I too dig the green inlays. Mine are like a light (barely noticeable) green. When I point out that they are green, most people didn't even notice it until I said something.
 

steve10358

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All the RO's I have played are lighter, way more resonant and have a slightly fatter neck. As a former classic owner, I can honestly say the RO is a much better guitar.
 

bigconig

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All the RO's I have played are lighter, way more resonant and have a slightly fatter neck. As a former classic owner, I can honestly say the RO is a much better guitar.


Agreed. Aside from all of the minor list-able differences, the biggest difference is the feel. I am a huge fan of LP Classics (still own and play a couple all the time), but the first time I played a historic I knew I had to get one.
 

dj335

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IRussell,

I was not implying that my Classic and an R0 are "practically the same thing!"... There better be some things different that justify the $6000 price tag (unless perhaps it's an inside joke for Gibson for all the Historic owners out there...).

If you read the part of my post that you clipped & reposted, I said that I see my Classic and an R0 to be very close to each other in "construction" , ie: in the way that they are built. I'm not talking about cosmetic details such as holly veneers, plastics, bindings, finishes, etc., or electronics. I'm talking about my Classic having a one piece back, maple cap w/ thin binding, small headstock, '60's neck, etc, stuff that makes it look and feel like a 1960 Les Paul. Gibson themselves said that they created the Classic back in 1989 to be like a 1960 reissue, long before the Custom Shop came out with the now current R0.

My Classic does exactly what I want it to do, at 1/4 the cost of a Historic R0. I think that's something worth talking about, and by the replies I've gotten to my post, there are other forum members that agree with me.

Dave in So Cal
 
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pist0lpete

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if you search for the thread I am sure you will find it, but it showed all the neck profiles, it was an eye opener at least for me. I believe that the classic is one of the necks compared. I would say that is the biggest difference between a classic and an R0. in fact I really do not know what the slim taper sixties neck is supposed to be modeled after.
 

dj335

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Schtang,

My 2005 Classic definitely has a Nashville bridge, as I thought all the Classics had. Did someone change your bridge out in the past to an ABR-1? I recall seeing a retrofit kit that will convert the ABR posts to fit the Nashville inserts made by a company in Europe (?).

Do you like having the ABR over a Nashville? Personally, I don't know how much of a tonal difference there is between the two. Anyone else care to comment? Is there a big difference? My '72 ES-335 has an ABR, and to me, they both hold the strings and allow for intonation adjustments.

I would think the Nashville transfers vibrations to the guitar body better, given that the posts are larger. If not, then why did Gibson change to the Nashville type? I have been told by guitar luthiers that if you lower down the stop tailpiece to the bottom to "improve sustain", the increased angle and pressure on an ABR bridge can cause it to sag in the middle over time. I would think the Nashville bridge would keep it's shape better, given the extra thickness of the casting.

Dave in So Cal
 

koss59

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Dec 10, 2005
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The angle of the neck joint is different between these two guitars, put this together with the long neck tenon and you have a very different sounding and playing guitar.
I once had a classic and 2 standards, I now have an R7 and R8. For me the gap between a classic and historic is about as big as an Epiphone to a classic. Very different guitars.
 

Triplet

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I think Classics had the ABR through 2004. Nashvilles after that. My son has a 2003 with the ABR.
 

bangkok

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Gibson themsevles said that they created the Classic back in 1989 to be a 1960 reissue, long before the Custom Shop came out with the now current R0.

I have both a 1992 Classic (the first one of 1992) and also a 08 R0, both are incredible guitars but the R0 is in a different league. My Classic has the ABR-1 and "Thank God!" it is pre green inlays (I don't know how anyone can say they like or prefer those!).

As for Gibson saying that this was supposed to be a 1960 RI, I have never seen them say that. But, back in 92 when I bought it, it was toted as Gibsons answer to the SuperStrat, hence thin shredder neck and high output ceramic pickups all on a familar body (the Les Paul). This is what they told me at the time and the brochure had "reissues" and the Classic was not listed with them or anything mentioned as it being such. The 1960 on the pickguard is misleading and the so called 60's like neck is too.:)
 

dj335

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Bangkok,

You're right in that Gibson did not officially call it a 1960 reissue. The brochure that I printed from their website back before the Classic was discontinued states the following:

"The Les Paul Classic brings together the slim-taper neck of a '60 Les Paul Standard and the raw power of modern ceramic magnet humbuckers. The result is a screaming fast Les Paul - a new classic for rocking through the twenty-first century."

However, Gibson did engrave "1960" on the pickguard, so in a way I guess I should call this a throwback to a 1960 Paul, instead of an actual Historic Reissue.

Dave in So Cal
 

Schtang

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Schtang,

My 2005 Classic definitely has a Nashville bridge, as I thought all the Classics had. Did someone change your bridge out in the past to an ABR-1? I recall seeing a retrofit kit that will convert the ABR posts to fit the Nashville inserts made by a company in Europe (?).


Dave in So Cal

the 2004 models had the ABR bridge as stock.
 

BobV

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If your particular Classic has a great feel and sound, then that's what's important. The grading of woods suggests that you have a better chance of getting a resonant guitar from the Historic series, but it's not a guarantee.

Another difference to be appreciated, but certainly not a deal breaker, is the inlays on the Historics are really pointy, whereas the USA's are more rounded. You almost wouldn't notice it unless you scrutiized a Historic and got spoiled.
 

bangkok

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Another difference to be appreciated, but certainly not a deal breaker, is the inlays on the Historics are really pointy, whereas the USA's are more rounded. You almost wouldn't notice it unless you scrutiized a Historic and got spoiled.

My Classic has pointy inlays, as did at least the early Classics. That is one of the reasons that the word Model was change to Classic on the decal on the headstock. The early Classic was more accurate in detail than the 59 of the time.
 

michaeljames

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read Mike Slubowki's article on Classics. The early to mid 90s were essentially the same as 'reissue 60s', which is why Gibson changed the headstock logo and binding width...dealers were, at the time, making @ $25 part changes and selling what was a Classic as a Reissue and scamming the buyer for an additional $1000 bucks or so. The guitars were that close. Gibson got smart and made some subtle changes to the Classic so they could keep the dealers from continuing the scam. At least thats how I read it...

Of course, over the years (and more recently) Gibson has really ramped up their 'Reissue' specs...but in the early 90s, not much difference between a Classic and a 1960 Reissue.
 
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