I wanted to show off a bit! My wife got me a 2018 Les Paul Studio in a beautiful Smokehouse Burst finish for Christmas. I waited to post this because I wanted to have more than first impressions. Paradoxically, I’ll start with my first impressions! First of all, the guitar is lighter than I expected. It is one of Gibson’s “Ultra Modern Weight Relief” models, and is about 8 lbs. Lighter than my Squier Telecaster Custom II, for example, and my Classic Vibe Tele too. Somehow, the lack of heft bugged me a bit. I was expecting a bit of an anchor! I find the finish absolutely stunning (though understated I suppose), and the fretwork is perfect - PLEK. The guitar came well set up, good low action, intonation spot on. Lighter strings than I’m used to, and on the shorter Gibson scale feels quite different. It comes with 9-46 – a hybrid mix of 9s and 10s. I’m getting used to the ease of bending these as opposed to the 10s on my Teles and Strat. I think I could get used to this, and might try them on my Fender-scale guitars. The pickups are Classic 57 neck, and Classic 57 Plus bridge. Alnico 2 – very warm and articulate, modeled on PAFs. Takes overdrive very well. Both pickups capable of some serious attitude! More detailed impressions – flatter fretboard radius, and seemingly wider frets (are they?) makes bending a breeze. Neck binding is perfect. Coil tap for both pickups gives a whole other range of useable tones – a bit like P90s, though not as punchy. Nitro finish is beautiful. But the thing is, it’s not a better guitar than, for example, my Classic Vibe Tele (which I turned into a Nashville with the help of Rose Pickups): That disappointed me a bit, I must say. A nearly $2000 Gibson versus my $550 Squier. However, this has made me more closely consider what we mean when we say one is better than the other. Surely this is largely, but not wholly, subjective. We’ve all played/owned bad guitars – poorly finished, impossible to set up well and so on. Objectively worse. But where things like fit and finish, playability, appearance, fretwork, sound, feel, ability to stay in tune, whatever, are all very positive (approaching flawless), I think it becomes somewhat meaningless to say one guitar is better than another. In other words, my disappointment was unfounded. The Gibson is wonderful in every way, and creates a very different set of sounds than my Tele. And the Tele is wonderful in every way too. And, come to think of it, so is my wife!