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Best new Gibson guitars to buy on a budget in 2016 - you can buy each one new for less than $900!

Updated on July 1, 2016
Here we show a range of new Gibson guitars (each priced under $900): Les Paul CM T; SG Special T; SG Faded Series T; Les Paul Studio Faded Series T; Les Paul '50s Tribute T; and Les Paul '60s Tribute T (from left to right).
Here we show a range of new Gibson guitars (each priced under $900): Les Paul CM T; SG Special T; SG Faded Series T; Les Paul Studio Faded Series T; Les Paul '50s Tribute T; and Les Paul '60s Tribute T (from left to right).
Angus Young playing a Gibson SG
Angus Young playing a Gibson SG
Bob Marley with his Gibson Les Paul
Bob Marley with his Gibson Les Paul
Pete Townshend playing a modified Gibson Les Paul
Pete Townshend playing a modified Gibson Les Paul
Marc Bolan playing his Gibson Les Paul
Marc Bolan playing his Gibson Les Paul

Gibson guitars have attained and maintained an Icon-like status - particularly in respect of their electric guitars - since at least the 1960s due in part to the tonal qualities of the instruments, in addition to their association with seminal guitarists of the period.

Some of the guitarists that are strongly linked with Gibson guitars include:

  • Angus Young (AC/DC) - Gibson has even produced an Angus Young Signature SG model to celebrate the association with Young (that Model included lightning bolt inlays on the fretboard);
  • Frank Zappa;
  • Neil Young;
  • Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Pride, Glory and Black Label Society);
  • Ronnie Wood (Faces and The Rolling Stones);
  • Derek Trucks (The Allman Brothers Band and The Derek Trucks Band);
  • Pete Townshend (The Who);
  • George Thorogood;
  • Paul Stanley (Kiss);
  • Slash (Guns N' Roses, Slash's Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and Slash's Blues Ball);
  • Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones);
  • Jimmy Page (The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin);
  • Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy and Skid Row);
  • Bob Marley;
  • John Lennon;
  • Robby Krieger (The Doors);
  • Lenny Kravitz;
  • B B King;
  • Mick Jones (The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Carbon and Silicon);
  • Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath);
  • Billy Gibbons (Z Z Top);
  • Ace Frehley (Kiss);
  • Peter Frampton (Humble Pie);
  • The Edge (U2);
  • Dave Davies (The Kinks);
  • Marc Bolan (T Rex);
  • Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds);
  • Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day);
  • Duane Eddy;
  • Dave Grohl (The Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures and Nirvana);
  • Sheryl Crow; and
  • Joan Jett.

As you make your way through this Hub, you will see that we have included some links to products available through Amazon throughout this Hub, but don't forget you can get some wicked discounts by dealing directly with Guitar Center (and other online or bricks-and-mortar stores). To give you an idea of the discount you can access, you will typically be able to negotiate 10-15% with Guitar Center simply by making a call and asking for a sharper price. Alternatively, there are also coupons that may be available online through various sites, or (and this is handy if you intend to buy more through Guitar Center), you can take advantage of promotions they run where they give you "Guitar Center bucks" (of around $10 for each $50 spent - that's an effective discount of 20%).

For now, thought, join us in exploring the "budget" options for buying a new Gibson electric guitar (all the options we show can be purchased new for under $900).

Gibson Les Paul CM T (Satin Ebony)
Gibson Les Paul CM T (Satin Ebony)

Gibson Les Paul CM T

Let's start with the least expensive of the current Gibson electric guitars - the Les Paul CM T.

It is a stripped down version of a Les Paul.

Consequently, it has limited features compared to the usual Les Paul configuration offered by Gibson.

The price, however, is a little less than $700.

This price-point makes for a great value, all-American Gibson electric guitar.

For this model, Gibson has stenciled Les Paul's signature in gold on the headstock.

Features of the Gibson Les Paul CM T guitar include:

  • a hand-oiled Rosewood fingerboard;
  • a traditional glued-in Mahogany neck;
  • a single Classic 61 humbucker (in the bridge position);
  • traditional Grover Green Key tuners;
  • TekToid nut;
  • acrylic dot inlays;
  • hand-finished setup;
  • a satin nickel wrapover bridge;
  • classic contoured Les Paul body (Maple carved top with Mahogany body); and
  • a padded gigbag.

The Gibson Les Paul CM T is available in Satin Ebony finish only.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson Les Paul CM T.

Gibson Les Paul CM 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Ebony
Gibson Les Paul CM 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Ebony

While the Gibson Les Paul CM T provides a very accessible opportunity to purchase a new Gibson, some may consider the tonal potential and performance of the instrument to be compromised by the inclusive of one pickup only (rather than two that are traditionally featured on Gibson electric guitars) - this may be a "deal breaker".

 
Gibson SG Special T (Satin Vintage Sunburst)
Gibson SG Special T (Satin Vintage Sunburst)

Gibson SG Special T

The next most reasonably priced Gibson of the current year's offerings is the SG Special T.

Carrying the classic SG "double-horn" body, the SG Special T varies only slightly from a traditional SG configuration, insofar as the humbuckers are of the "mini" variety.

Certain aesthetic features are a consequence of the price-point for this guitar.

Those aesthetic features including the block inlays (rather than the traditional Trapezoid inlays for which Gibson is famous) and the hand-sprayed finish, but these make little difference to the tonal capabilities of the guitar (or, for that matter, the aesthetic appeal of the instrument).

Features of the Gibson SG Special T guitar include:

  • SG body (solid Mahogany with double-cutaway);
  • set neck (Maple);
  • Rosewood fretboard (thicker than the 2015 model);
  • Grover Green Key tuners;
  • TekToid nut;
  • mini block inlays;
  • Alnico powered Rhythm Tribute (neck) and Lead Tribute (bridge) mini humbuckers;
  • Tune-o-matic bridge;
  • Stop Bar tailpiece;
  • Nitro cellulose finish; and
  • a padded gigbag.

The Gibson SG Special T is available in Satin Ebony, Satin Vintage Sunburst and Satin Cherry finishes.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson SG Special T.

Gibson SG Special 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Cherry
Gibson SG Special 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Cherry

At less than $750 (before any discount you may negotiate), the Gibson SG Special T provides a brilliant price-point for accessing many of the traditional features of a Gibson SG electric guitar. Some guitarists may prefer the sound (and look) of traditional humbuckers, but for those who like the tonal and visual aesthetics of mini humbuckers, the Gibson SG Special T is a great option.

 
Gibson SG Faded Series T (Worn Cherry)
Gibson SG Faded Series T (Worn Cherry)

Gibson SG Faded Series T

The Gibson SG Faded Series T is at the same price-point as the SG Special T.

It differs, however, insofar as it has traditional Alnico 490R and 490T humbuckers (positioned at the bridge and neck).

There are other cosmetic differences between the models.

The SG Faded Series T, for example, has a different integrated pickguard and selection of knobs and switch-gear for controls.

Those differences are aesthetic variations only.

Features of the Gibson SG Faded Series T guitar include:

  • SG body (solid Mahogany with double-cutaway);
  • set neck (Maple);
  • Rosewood fretboard (thicker than the 2015 model);
  • TekToid nut;
  • Grover Green Key tuners;
  • dot inlays;
  • Alnico 490R and 490T humbuckers;
  • Tune-o-matic bridge;
  • Stop Bar tailpiece;
  • Nitro cellulose Satin finish; and
  • a padded gigbag.

The Gibson SG Faded Series T is available in Worn Brown and Worn Cherry finishes.

Of course, as with all new Gibson guitars, the SG Faded Series T is supplied with a Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7 Customer Support.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson SG Faded Series T.

Gibson SG Faded 2016 T Electric Guitar, Worn Brown
Gibson SG Faded 2016 T Electric Guitar, Worn Brown

Available for a little under $750 (before any discount you may negotiate), the Gibson SG Faded Series T is brilliant buying for those looking for traditional SG looks and performance.

 
Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T (Satin Fire Burst)
Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T (Satin Fire Burst)

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T

The Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T are the least expensive of the current models that provide the traditional features of a Les Paul.

Unlike the Les Paul CM T, the Les Paul Studio Faded Series T carry two humbuckers (in the form of upgraded Burstbucker Pro pickups) at the neck and bridge position. These provide for a much greater range of tonal variations for the instrument and a more accurate PAF-inspired sound (with wax potting, these will also reduce squeal in high-gain situations).

The Les Paul Studio Faded Series T lacks body and fingerboard binding and it is finished with a faded nitrocellulose presentation, but these are purely and simply cosmetic cost-saving issues that do not affect the superb performance of the guitar (while they do, otherwise, contribute to making it accessible at a lower price-point).

All the important traditional Les Paul features are here, including:

  • a body composed of a carved Maple top matched with a weight-relieved Mahogany back;
  • a Mahogany neck (with a historic '59 rounded profile);
  • a Rosewood fingerboard (with traditional Trapezoid inlays);
  • Burstbucker Pro humbuckers (made to exacting PAF standards with wax potting to squelch squeal in high-gain situations);
  • TekToid nut;
  • controls for Lead Volume, Rhythm Volume, Lead Tone and Rhythm Tone (in addition to a Rhythm/Treble switch);
  • Grover Green Key tuners;
  • pickguard;
  • Nitro cellulose Satin finishe;
  • Tune-o-matic bridge;
  • Stop Bar tailpiece;
  • padded gigbag.

The Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T is available in Worn Brown, Worn Cherry, Fireburst and Ebony finishes.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T.

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Ebony
Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Ebony

At a little less than $800 (before any discount you may negotiate), the Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded Series T is a brilliant way to purchase a new Gibson featuring the essential traditional functionality of a Les Paul. The Burstbucker Pro pickups are well regarded and for all intents and purposes, the only differences between this guitar and much more expensive Gibson Les Paul models are the lack of coil-tapping (a minor issue in respect of functionality), a more stripped back finish and a padded gigbag (rather than a hard case). The savings you make by foregoing coil-tapping, binding, a high-gloss finish and a Gibson hard case can go to more important things (like a proper road case [Gibson's hard case is really just candy that will not stand up to the rigors of road use], a tube amp and speaker and plenty of effects) ... it's a "no brainer".

 
Les Paul '50s Tribute T (Satin Gold Top with Dark Back)
Les Paul '50s Tribute T (Satin Gold Top with Dark Back)

Gibson Les Paul '50s Tribute T

The Gibson Les Paul '50s Tribute T provides some slight variations on the Les Paul Studio Faded Series T - with the intention of producing tonal qualities consistent with the Gibson Les Paul electric guitars from the 1950s.

These variations cause the Les Paul '50s Tribute T to be at a higher price-point (it is around $100 more expensive that the stripped down Les Paul Studio Faded Series T). The finish on this guitar is Satin (through a nitro cellulose coating) - again to save cost without sacrificing tonal performance.

Unlike the Les Paul Studio Faded Series T, the Les Paul '50s Tribute T carries two Alnico humbuckers (in the form of 490R and 498T pickups) at the neck and bridge position. It also has a slightly different '50s rounded profile neck.

The Les Paul '50s Tribute T incorporates traditional Les Paul features, including:

  • a body composed of a carved Maple top matched with a weight-relieved Mahogany back;
  • a Mahogany neck (with '50s profile);
  • a Rosewood fingerboard (with traditional Trapezoid inlays);
  • Alnico humbuckers;
  • Graph Tech nut;
  • controls for Lead Volume, Rhythm Volume, Lead Tone and Rhythm Tone (in addition to a Rhythm/Treble switch);
  • Grover Green Key tuners;
  • pickguard;
  • Nitro cellulose Satin finish
  • Tune-o-matic bridge;
  • Stop Bar tailpiece; and
  • padded gigbag.

The Gibson Les Paul '50s Tribute T is available in Gold Top (with Dark Back), Honeyburst (with Dark Back), Ebony and Vintage Sunburst finishes.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson Les '50s Tribute T.

Les Paul '60s Tribute T (Satin Honeyburst with Dark Back)
Les Paul '60s Tribute T (Satin Honeyburst with Dark Back)

Gibson Les Paul '60s Tribute T

The Gibson Les Paul '60s Tribute T also provides some slight variations on the Les Paul Studio Faded Series T - with the intention of producing tonal qualities consistent with the Gibson Les Paul electric guitars from the 1960s.

These variations cause the Les Paul '60s Tribute T to be at a higher price-point (it is around $100 more expensive that the stripped down Les Paul Studio Faded Series T). The finish on this guitar is Satin (through a nitro cellulose coating) - again to save cost without sacrificing tonal performance.

Unlike the Les Paul Studio Faded Series T, the Les Paul '60s Tribute T carries two P90 humbuckers at the neck and bridge position. It also has a slightly different '60s profile neck.

The Les Paul '60s Tribute T incorporates traditional Les Paul features, including:

  • a body composed of a carved Maple top matched with a weight-relieved Mahogany back;
  • a Mahogany neck (with '60s profile);
  • a Rosewood fingerboard (with traditional Trapezoid inlays);
  • P90 humbuckers;
  • Graph Tech nut;
  • controls for Lead Volume, Rhythm Volume, Lead Tone and Rhythm Tone (in addition to a Rhythm/Treble switch);
  • Grover Green Key tuners;
  • pickguard;
  • Nitro cellulose Satin finish
  • Tune-o-matic bridge;
  • Stop Bar tailpiece; and
  • padded gigbag.

The Gibson Les Paul '60s Tribute T is available in Honeyburst (with Dark Back), Ebony (with Dark Back) and Vintage Sunburst (with Dark Back) finishes.

Below (and to the right), we show a link to a YouTube review of the Gibson Les '60s Tribute T.

Gibson 2016 T Les Paul Studio 60's Tribute Electric Guitar, Satin Honey Burst
Gibson 2016 T Les Paul Studio 60's Tribute Electric Guitar, Satin Honey Burst

Available new for a little under $900 (before any discount you may negotiate), the Gibson Les Paul '60s Tribute T is a great purchase for those looking for the combination of traditional Les Paul features, in addition to P90 humbuckers and a '60s profile neck (and with the money you save on this "stripped down" Les Paul, you could purchase a genuine road case, a tube amp and plenty of effects ... you won't regret it).

 

Which budget-friendly Gibson would you choose?

When considering buying a new Gibson for under $900, which guitar would you choose?

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    • spiritoftheages profile image
      Author

      Spirit of the Ages 17 months ago from Sunshine Coast (Australia)

      Thanks for the comments ... the new Gibson Les Paul CM T looks to be an alternative budget offering to the single-cut Melody Maker models of 2015 (it seems to "sit" somewhere between those Melody Maker models and the former LPJ). It is, of course, a significant improvement on the Melody Maker approach as it incorporates key Les Paul features that are critical to the tonal performance (such as the tone woods used in construction). Individual preferences will, of course, be the ultimate determining factor of whether the stripped down functionality and finish is suitable.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 17 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Damned fine work you did here. I wasn't aware of that single humbucker Les Paul model.