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, available in two different iterations. The Standard stays close to the iconic design, whilst the HP (High Performance) line is tailored towards modern players, with wild finishes, high-output Burstbucker Pro+ pickups and “slim taper” neck profiles.
The Gibson Les Paul Traditional gives a flavour of a vintage Les Paul, with classic styling and features inspired by the original formula. A Gibson Les Paul Classic will get you even closer, with dual P90s exactly like the early 50s models.
If you’re looking for something less expensive, the Gibson Les Paul Studio is a great option. Boasting the iconic tones and features you'd come to expect, the Studio and Gibson Les Paul Tribute guitars are full-fat, American-made tone machines. But if you’re craving a super-simple, no-frills workhorse, the Gibson Les Paul Junior will deliver with its single punchy P90 pickup.
Gibson produce affordable versions of their instruments through their Epiphone brand. Manufacturing officially-licensed Gibson designs, Epiphone Les Paul guitars are modestly-priced but amazing for the money. The Epiphone Les Paul Standard offers similar tones to its high-end counterpart, whilst the stylish Epiphone Les Paul SL is available for under £100!
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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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