A Guide to 2019 Gibson Les Pauls: Traditional vs Classic
In this article, we’ll be looking at the differences between the Gibson Les Paul Traditional and the Gibson Les Paul Classic. The names of both these guitars do sound similar and even to look at, there aren’t a great many differences. However, given that there is a few hundred quid difference between the Traditional and the Classic, you would expect that there are features that set them apart. And you’d be right.
Les Paul Traditional
Les Paul Classic
|Pickups||Burstbuckers 1 & 2 (Alnico #2)
Volume & tone knobs handwired with orange drop capacitors
|Burstbucker zebra 61 R & T
12″ fingerboard radius
12″ fingerboard radius
|Body||No weight relief||9-hole weight relief|
|Features||Vintage keystone style tuners
Grade AA figured maple top
Includes hard case
|Kidney Grover tuners
Plain maple top
Coil tap pickups
Push pull tone knobs for phase/pure bypass
Includes hard case
What’s The Difference?
Aside from the different pickups, the Les Paul Classic has a Slim Taper neck profile (closer to a 60s profile) which is really comfortable, especially for faster players whereas the Les Paul Traditional has a chunkier, Rounded neck profile – as they were in the late 50s. The Les Paul Classic has kidney Grover machine heads (similar to the ones some players swapped their keystone tuners for in the 60s) – the Traditional has got 50s style, keystone tuners. The Traditional also has no weight relief, whereas the Classic does. This means that the Classic will be a little lighter, which is definitely something to consider. In theory, the Traditional not having any weight relief, will mean that it sustains a little more, though that’s very much up for debate (you could argue that more air within the body of the Classic gives it a little extra resonance). Both guitars also come with a great quality hard case.
The 2019 Les Paul Classic is fitted with a pair of Burstbucker 61 rhythm and treble pickups. These are modern representations of the later era of the PAF pickup that helped create that iconic Gibson sound we all know and love. They use Alnico V magnets (as opposed to Alnico II on the Traditional), and to my ears, they’re a little more aggressive than the Burstbucker 1 & 2s, as well as being a touch brighter and have a little more attack. Playing through a Vox AC15, the Traditional was a little sweeter sounding, and seemed to have more harmonic overtones ringing out – whether that’s a result of the pickups, the wood, or other factors is subject for debate. Personally, I prefer the sound of lower output pickups, so for me, the Traditional would be what I’d gravitate towards, however, the Classic has everything you’d want in a Les Paul too.
It’s worth talking about the coil tap function on the Les Paul Classic too. If you lift up the volume knobs, you can basically make your humbuckers sound more like single coils. Having the coil tap function on this guitar does mean it’s really versatile – need a different sound for one part of a song during a gig? Just engage the coil tap and you’ve got it right there, without any pedals, or extra guitars. The Les Paul Traditional does not have this feature, though that’s how many purists want it.
I have been playing Gibson Les Paul Standards and Customs over the past 40 years. I have owned a 2002 Gibson Les Paul Classic Tobacco Sunburst and I currently own a very early 2019 Gibson Les Paul Classic Honey Burst. I do own a Gibson Les Paul Standard from 2013 and that one is my favorite. I really like the Classics for the neck shape, the tone of the pickups, and the ABR-1 Bridge and Aluminum Tailpiece. Given a choice between a Traditional and a Classic I would choose the Classic for the above stated reasons.
I have a 2018 Les Paul classic satin tea burst finish
No weight relief 57 alnico ll pickup and 57 plus in the
Bridge. The neck is more of a 59 rounded c shape definitely not a slim taper and not a chunky 58. It sounds and plays like a traditional. It should have been called a traditional classic. It does have the push pull volume pots. I have replaced The Nashville Tune-O- Matic with a Faber locking ABR style and 59 tail piece and the original owner replaced the Kluson tuners with locking Hip Shot. Best Les Paul I’ve ever played.