Any Gibson LP you can afford, that you like, will suit your needs. The learning curve is no steep and with a little time it all makes sense.
Oh, lighten up on finding all these "issues" and get on the goodfoot.
Playing one in person will rule out Wildwood and Ebay; leaves GC and Craigslist.
Thanks again for the comments.
Actually, I wouldn't surprised to see the 14/15's become collectible, but likely only if they are kept intact.
I've seen many cars and motorcycles that people hated and wouldn't sell become collectible. Anybody remember the Edsel? Honda made a little bike called the GB500. They sat on the showroom floors collecting dust until the dealers discounted them heavily. Once discontinued they became collectors items and still are.
A lot of models, a lot of variables, a lot of choices. You're doing the right thing by researching and asking first. You also need to go to stores and play them and find what you like. It may turn out that you just fall in love with a Studio... or that you're more of Traditional or Standard guy... or Reissue guy. Tough to tell for sure until you get some hands on first person perspective. I started off "thinking" I wanted a Standard. Got one (a 2014) really didn't care for the Burstbucker Pro pickups in it. Returned it and discovered (after some more trial and error) that I am a Traditional guy all the way (and became a convert to the thicker 50s profile necks in the process). So now I have 2 Trads (and have had a total of 4).
Things to be aware of (not necessarily "look out for" or "avoid" because every guitar is its own animal and it's possible to get one that stinks from what's generally considered a "good year" and vise-a-versa).
Anyway... here's a few things I "discovered" at least about the models of the last few years (say from 2011 till now) while I was trying to decide what model and what year LP I wanted (I've not owned an LP older than 2011).
Be aware of weight relieving methods that exist on varying modes. Gibson has used everything from solid bodies, to traditional weight relief (ie, 9 swiss cheese holes) to modern weight relief (lots more holes) to full on chambering. People will argue about whether this weight relief method or that weight relief method makes a difference vis-a-vis tone, etc. Point is, it's pretty subjective and there's no real "right" or "wrong" answer... just what you like. So if you find yourself just intuitively thinking you don't want any weight relief at all... then stay away from Standards and Studios and even most year Traditionals have some form of weight relief (in the case of the Trads it's the conservative traditional weight relief... except from 2013-2015 when they built them non-weight relieved). Also, as an FYI... 2011 was the last year they chambered the Standard. In 2012 it went to modern weight relief.
2011-2012: Something to be aware of here is the fretboard issues Gibson had back in late 2011 through early 2013. They had a ton of rosewood (and ebony IIRC) confiscated by the feds. And for a while during the 2012 model year (and even some into early 2013s that I've seen) many of their guitars (not just LPs) were receiving 2-piece laminated fretboards. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was different and did cause some heartburn back in 2012 among the LP faithful. There are fears that future refretting could be problematic with these 2-piece boards (I personally doubt it though... there are plenty of old Strats from the 60s with very thin rosewood boards laminated onto maple necks that have survived multiple refretting jobs). That said... 2012s could conceivably suffer from a resale perspective (might also be cheaper for you to buy too as a result). Just something to be aware off. The real issue with the fretboards in 2012 for me wasn't the laminating of the 2 pieces of rosewood together... it was the general lack of good quality rosewood that was available to them (lots of light colored, sub-grade-A rosewood being used back then that IMO didn't look great even if it sounded fine).
2013: At least from a Trad perspective is considered a particularly good year. They went to non-weight relieved bodies and fatter early 50s profile necks. Other models seem to be generally well regarded in 2013 as well. I think the neck delaminating thing is pretty anecdotal. This is also the first year Gibson started making the MinEtune robot tuner optional on many models. I don't like 'em... YMMV.
2014: More MinEtuner on more models. Also all models in 2014 (except for some special order retailer models like GC's Trad Pro II models) received the somewhat controversial 120th Anniversary 12th fret inlay. I personally have ZERO problem with the inlay. I have it on my 2014 Trad and I think it's tastefully done and I even kinda dig it. But some people just couldn't get over the fact that Gibson put it there. That said, nowadays I think most folks have probably chilled out considerably about the inlay (no doubt because of the massive changes that followed in 2015 that REALLY gave people something to complain about). Anyway, generally though, from a build perspective 2014 is a pretty decent year (other than those infernal MinEtune gizmos). The Trad in particular in 2014 is a treat. It not only retained the non-weight relieved body, and the early 50s neck profile, but also has the very excellent 1959 Tribute humbuckers. These appear to have only been a 2 year option (2014-15) as the new 2016 Trads have gone back to their usual 57 Classic/57 Classic Plus pickup config (which is what the Trad had always had before 2014). I'm not sure why the 59 Tribs didn't make it into the 2016 Trads...but I have an as yet uproven theory that they have moved them over to Custom Shop usage only (they are/were that good!).
2015: The year of the train wreck! :dang Now, some people are actually fans of many of the 2015 "innovations" but I am NOT one of them (and I dare say I am in the majority!)... so I mean to offend no one here, but hey, I'm writing this so I'm gonna call it as I see it. In 2015 Gibson flat out lost their minds! They made many sweeping across the board changes the entire line up that it was frankly stunning to many in the LP community... and to top it off introduced a massive price increase (as much as 29% IIRC on some models). I won't go into all the gory details (you can EASILY research this yourself and see all the changes they made and the resulting backlash)... but suffice it to say, history will likely record the 2015 model year as definite black mark on the LP's storied history. I personally would avoid them like the plague. Frankly you couldn't give me one without me immediately turning around & selling it to fund a different year... any year!
2016: The Great Gibson Comeback? After the disasterous 2015 model year it appears that Gibson got the clue and has returned once again (thankfully) to building LPs in the time tested and traditional manner. Gone are the etuners and wide necks and holograms and brass nuts and metal flake paint that polluted the 2015 year. Basically it appears that Gibson went back to building them like the built most models in the 2010-2012 timeframe. AND... they even reduced the price back to close to 2012-13 levels. FULL DISCLOSURE: I bought a new 2016 Trad a week and a half ago... and I do have to say... it's awesome!!!!!!!!! If someone would have handed it to me and said, "Check out this 2011 Trad" I'd have totally believed them until I noticed the larger strap buttons (a good carry over from 2014-15) and the "2016 Model" stamping on the back of the headstock. It appears Gibson has righted the ship and gone back to making them as they should. This same holds true for the Standard and the Studio, et al. That said, there is talk that the Gibson USA line will actually be split in 2016 to include the "Traditional Line" (dubbed "T" as in "Les Paul Standard T" or "Les Paul Traditional T") and a new as yet to be released "Modern Line". This Modern Line presumably will be the home experimental gizmos and other things that they tried to make standard across the board (and failed miserably at) in 2015. Time will tell if the Modern Line succeeds or not. But at least right here, right now... for at least one more year... we can get an LP built the proper way with the "T" line. Which is why I snapped one up myself.
Anyway, regarding other older models... I'll leave that to you to research... I've already been obnoxiously long-winded with this and if you've made it this far in reading this post you probably deserve some kind of medal. :3zoneHope it helped. :salude
Most people would assume a Les Paul Standard would be traditional. It is Gibson who does not seem to understand.
DON'T GET HUNG UP ON MINUTIA!!!! Set your budget, decide if you want new or used, forget the commodities stock broker hang ups, try as many as you can, AND GO WITH THAT WHICH MAKES YOU MOIST!!!
You can over think and over analyze this to the point you freeze up and can never make a decision. Relax and enjoy the process.
Gets the green one...