Many guitarists go looking for the ultimate Les Paul guitar will be confronted with the huge varieties that exist. Why so many different types? Because as the best set-neck, solid-body guitar many people want to use it, but not all will be able to in its standard format. So with a small change here and there, it can be used by many different players for many different styles of music.
This wide variety is in no way a new development. Many of the golden year Les Paul guitars have such variations on the standard model. The most notable difference lies in the neck and fret dimensions, giving the guitar a very different feel. Some very small but important differences exist between the models of the Les Paul as far back as the ‘50s.
Normally the 1958-’60 Custom Shop Les Paul VOS variants share many similarities. They are more similar than different in fact. By a close look you can see the differences in specs that will try to simulate different model years of the original Les Paul to suit different players. The 1958 Standard VOS has a larger neck to reflect the rounded profile of the guitars of the year that gives it its name. In the past the necks were profiled by hand, so each year came with a generally different shape of neck. Models just a year or two apart could have fairly different shape because of this. The 1960 Les Paul has a much thinner, tapered neck that is far different from those before it. These later models also came with wider frets more like the original. In this three year span, the guitar has changed a good deal in shape.
A lot of players prefer the fatter tone of the early ‘50s necks, and the 1958 profile gives them the guitar that they want. The thin vintage-gauge frets give a more accurate chord and single note that many players find attractive. Rock and blues player like the thinner necks and wider frets because they can speed up their music and use more wide bends respectively. Eric Clapton used a Les Paul, most likely a ’58 or ’60, with a thinner neck to create his blues-rock noises. Not even he knows which year it was as it was stolen from him in ’66. Jimmy Page’s best Les Paul was a ’58 with a custom, elliptical neck remade my Gibson as the Jimmy Page Signature Model Les Paul.
The perfect Les Paul is not an objective thing. Because of the many different variants based off of the different years of the Les Paul, you will have to find one to fit you and your playing style. The ultimate guitar is out there, but you will have to put a good deal of time into your research to find the one that plays your style music and fits your grip the best.