Information courtesy of MLP forum:
This post mainly applies to newer Les Pauls. Nowadays, there are two types of Les Pauls – Gibson USA and Gibson Custom Shop.
Weight-relief started around 1982/1983. Every Gibson USA Les Paul between 1982 – 2007 is weight-relieved. They do not have solid-body construction. Weight-relief is also known as “swiss cheese holes” and refers to the nine holes drilled out of the body in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.
Chambering officially began for 2007 but the late 2006s are also chambered. Any Les Paul made after October 2006 maybe or likely is chambered. Every 2007 and newer Gibson USA Les Paul is chambered, except for the Les Paul Traditional. The Les Paul Traditional has swiss cheese holes. Chambering is essentially hollowing out the body. Again, this is in order to reduce the weight of the guitar.
Gibson Custom Shop
Gibson’s Custom Shop makes regular production guitars and historic reissues. The regular production guitars, such as the Les Paul Custom, are also weight-relieved. They do not have solid-bodies.
The historic reissues are solid. All historic reissues, be it Standards or Customs, are solid. The exception being the chambered reissues. Chambered reissues are often referred to as Cloud 9 guitars. They are identified by their serial number, which begins with CR. chambered-reissue.org
A 2003 Les Paul Classic is weight-relieved
A 2008 ’57 reissue is solid
A 1995 Les Paul Standard is weight-relieved
A 2009 Chambered ’58 reissue is chambered
A 2008 Les Paul Studio is chambered
A 1987 Les Paul Custom is weight-relieved
This is what a weight-relieved Les Paul would look like:
Some Les Pauls have long neck tenon, while others do not.
Short: Standards (before the 2008 “new” Standard), Customs, Studios Classics.
Long: Historic reissues, 2008 Standards.
Gibson guitars made between 1968 – 1986.
R2 = reissue of the 1952 Gibson Les Paul
R9 = reissue of the 1959 Gibson Les Paul
CR8 = chambered reissue of the ’58 Gibson Les Paul
There is no R3 or R5.
Historic Customs are often referred to as B4, B7, R4BB or R7BB. BB meaning Black Beauty.
Gibson’s VOS – Vintage Original Spec line. The terms VOS, historic, reissue & historic reissue all refer to the same guitar. There is only one difference, VOS refers to the aged finish on the top and hardware. The ones that do not have the VOS finish are referred to as “gloss” or “high gloss” reissues because (obviously) they have a high gloss finish. Websites like Guitar Center list the two guitars as VOS and “reissue.” Reissue refers to the high gloss. I think this has caused some confusion with some people but rest assured, they are all the same guitar. Again, one looks brand new and the other does not look brand new – that’s the only difference. VOS costs $300 less.
Standards have mahogany bodies and maple tops. Historic Customs have mahogany bodies and mahogany tops (while modern/regular Customs have maple tops). The Custom will likely weight around a pound heavier but that’s about it for differences.
Another reissue that never seems to be on gibson.com is the ’68RI. These are the same as the B7s, only difference is they have maple tops, different pickups and Gibson USA electronics.
R8 vs. R9
This question gets asked a lot !!
They are the same guitar. All reissues are essentially the same guitar with minor differences. These differences are neck thicknesses, pickups, weight of each individual guitar, finishes & tops. The best way to get an understanding of the neck sizes is to actually play them. Me explaining that R8s have thicker necks than R9s and R7s have thicker necks than R8s doesn’t mean jack unless you sit down with the guitar and see for yourself.
R9s list for $1,500 – $2,000 more than R8s. Why? The answer is because R9s have flame maple tops and the R9 should weigh less than the R8. That’s it.
Les Paul Backs:
R9, R0 – 8 pounds or less
R8 – 9 pounds or less
GT – 9.6 pounds or less
Bs – 10.6 pounds or less