Les Paul Guitars
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the two most iconic guitar designs in the world. Renowned for its single-cutaway body shape, the Les Paul has been the benchmark for many modern guitar designs and continues to set the trend in the 21st Century.
The Les Paul is adored for its beautiful aesthetics and versatility, used by a huge number of players from a variety of different genres. Providing powerful full-bodied tones with its dual humbuckers and Mahogany tone woods, the Les Paul has established itself as a staple in the guitar world since its inception in the 50s.
The appeal of the Les Paul is far-reaching, with many legendary players using it as their weapon of choice. With Slash (Guns ‘N’ Roses) and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) using the Les Paul to form their signature hard rock sounds, many modern players such as Matt Heafy (Trivium) and Lee Malia (Bring Me The Horizon) use Les Pauls to pioneer their cutting-edge metal style.
History of the Les Paul
Unveiled in 1952, Gibson enlisted the help of renowned musician Les Paul to collaboratively design a solid-body electric guitar that could contend with Fender’s Stratocaster. The Les Paul is arguably Gibson’s most successful and fabled model amongst their established catalogue.
Originally sporting P90 pickups, from 1957 Gibson decided to offer the Les Paul Standard with dual humbuckers for improved sonics. Subsequent models however have featured different configurations, including a triple-stack of humbuckers in early Gibson Les Paul Custom guitars.
The Les Paul Range
The Gibson Les Paul Standard is the flagship model and is available in both 50s and 60s versions, staying close to the formula of those originals. The two versions feature a few aesthetic differences and the 60s versions feature hotter pickups and a slimmer neck.
The Gibson Les Paul Classic takes the traditional formula and gives it a modern touch with Burstbucker 61 pickups, a weight relieved body, as well as push/pull electronics for coil tap, pure bypass, and out of phase tones.
For something even more advanced there’s the Les Paul Modern. The Modern features Burstbucker Pro pickups, Ultra Modern weight relief, and the same push/pull electrics as the Classic expanded with internal dip switches - all of that in several sleek, modern finishes.
If you’re looking for something less expensive, Gibson offer a range of more affordable guitars. The Les Paul Studio and Les Paul Tribute guitars are American-made, stripped-back models that still maintain the tone and essence of the Les Paul. is a great option. If you’re looking for something simpler, there’s the Junior and Special versions of the Les Paul which offer no-nonsense, powerful P-90 or humbucker tones.
And if you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further than Gibson’s Custom Shop Les Pauls. Featuring the highest quality craftsmanship, the Custom Shop offer the closest thing to vintage Les Paul look, tone, and feel without busting the bank for an original!
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Les Paul FAQs
What’s the difference between a Les Paul Standard and Les Paul Studio?
The Les Paul Standard is the textbook Les Paul. Most Les Paul Standards are modelled after the classic '50s/'60s models, featuring a weighty mahogany body, chunky vintage neck profile, Burstbucker pickups and nickel hardware. The Les Paul Studio usually features a weight-relieved (lighter) body, a slimmer neck profile, hotter 490-series pickups and chrome hardware.
What’s the difference between a Gibson Les Paul and an Epiphone Les Paul?
Epiphone make fully-licensed Les Paul guitars at a cheaper price point. This means that they often feature alternative wood types and electronics that are modelled on the Gibson originals. Because Epiphone guitars are licensed by Gibson, they aim to offer a very similar feel and sound. Some more expensive Epiphone guitars feature genuine Gibson USA parts.
How much does a Les Paul weigh?
Les Pauls are notoriously heavy due to their dense mahogany bodies and necks. Most typical Les Pauls weigh between 4.5-5kg. Some older models have been known to weigh in excess of 6kg. Gibson introduced weight relief to certain models in the '80s, with some lighter models weighing less than 4kg.
How does a Les Paul toggle switch work?
When in the 'down' position (treble), the bridge pickup is selected. This gives you a brighter tone. In the 'up' position (rhythm), the neck pickup is selected. This gives you a warmer, bassy tone. In the middle position, both pickups are selected in parallel. This gives you a honky tone with an emphasis on the midrange.
What’s the difference between a ‘50s and ‘60s Les Paul?
The general formula for a '50s Les Paul is a mahogany body and neck (with a chunky vintage profile), with maple top and rosewood fretboard. You also usually get Burstbucker 1 & 2 pickups, offering a warm PAF-style chime. A '60s Les Paul will feature the same woods, but with a slimmer neck and Alnico V-equipped Burstbucker pickups for a slightly hotter sound.
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