doug and pat
i would suggest the change in wiring from the start to the end of the signal effects the sound. as for playability, with so much variety in the various sizes of the various body parts involved in playing the guitar trying to buy one without holding it, that is online, becomes a bit of a mostly miss situation. on youtube there are a couple of old american longhairs who compare gibson guitars from the various era's and play them through different amps. even though we get signal compression variation in sound is evident.
For a guitar, the sound is basically down to how the amp interprets the electrical signal from the pickup. If it's nice to play, it's trivial to buy some nice sounding pick ups and a nice sounding amp, but finding a guitar that *plays* well is much more difficult.
Sound plays a part too
personally, i couldn't care less where the components are from - i'm more interested in the level of quality control and finish. hell, i used to own a gibson les paul gothic - but i sold it and bought a cort z44, and imo it's a vastly better guitar for a fraction of the price. unless you're looking to sell guitars on down the line, just find one that's nice to play and forget the label on the headstock.