An Expert Buyer’s Guide to Gibson Les Paul Guitars

Gibson Les Paul Guitars are some of the most recognisable in the world, played by countless famous musicians from Jimmy Page to Slash. 

Credited for shaping the sound of rock ‘n’ roll ever since they were released in 1952, Les Pauls are genuinely iconic, and having been around for over 60 years, the popularity of Les Paul is certainly not fading anytime soon. 

Whether you’re looking to add a new guitar to your repertoire or ready to start the learning process, follow our guide to find the answers to some common queries and discover which model is best for you.

Gibson Les Paul Guitar

Table of Contents

  1. What’s the difference between the Les Paul Models?
  2. Best budget Gibson for beginners
  3. Best Gibson Les Paul for classic rock
  4. Best Gibson Les Paul for metal
  5. How long can a Gibson Les Paul last?

What’s the difference between the Les Paul models?

  1. Les Paul Standard ‘50s

The Les Paul Standard ‘50s is the flagship model and best for purists. Although heavier, it has the most authentic, richest sound with thick low-end warm mid-range.

  1. Les Paul Standard ‘60s

With the traditional features of the ‘50s version, the ‘60s guitar has a thinner neck profile for a more contemporary feel and different pickups for a more powerful, biting sound.

  1. Les Paul Custom Shop

Les Paul Custom guitars are premium models with fine attention to detail from some of the best luthiers in the world. Offering a totally customised build, these are the greatest hits of Gibson guitars.

  1. Les Paul Modern

Think classic Gibson guitars with a modern twist. With more of a focus on playability, these are lighter guitars with a slimmer necks and easier access to the upper frets.

  1. Les Paul Classic

With retro styling and classic features, the Les Paul Classic is reminiscent of the early days of Gibson. But with modern designs under the surface, the Les Paul Classic is lighter, has a slimmer neck, and has more flexibility with the tone controls. 

  1. Les Paul Studio

The Les Paul Studio is a more streamlined version of the flagship Standard models. Lighter in weight, with a plain maple top and slim neck, you can enjoy the classic Gibson sound but with better playability and at a more affordable price.

  1. Les Paul Tribute

With a stripped-back look, the Les Paul Tribute is a more affordable model in the Gibson range. Although lighter in weight, they still deliver the iconically powerful Les Paul tone. 

  1. Les Paul Junior

Designed without any complicated features, Les Paul Juniors are one of the most affordable models with no added frills. But with a quality sound, it remains a quality guitar that can still pack those punchy tones.

  1. Les Paul Special

The Les Paul Special has an edgier tone with enough power to deliver the rock sounds that Gibsons are known for. The design is more pared back, giving it an affordable price point but still paying tribute to the earlier classic Gibsons.

Best budget Gibson Les Paul for beginners

Gibson Les Paul Studio Ebony


Body Material: Mahogany Top: Maple Neck: Mahogany

Fingerboard: Rosewood Scale length: 24.75″ / 628.65mm Frets: 22

For beginners looking for a budget-friendly option, the Gibson Les Paul Studio is a great place to start. A stripped-back version of the classic Les Paul design, the Studio has a simpler finish and no binding on the body or neck.

Although it’s a ‘no-frills’ guitar, the Les Paul Studio delivers the same Gibson quality sound and playability. With a mahogany body and neck, a rosewood fretboard, and a pair of Gibson’s 490R and 498T humbucking pickups, you can expect the full, rich tone that a Gibson promises. But with a slim-taper neck profile, it is more lightweight and comfortable for beginners or players with smaller hands.

The Gibson Les Paul Studio is also more affordable, thanks to its stripped-back nature. Second-hand models can be found for even less, making the Studio a great option for beginners on a budget who want to experience the classic Les Paul sound and feel.

Best Gibson Les Paul for Classic Rock

Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s


Body Material: Mahogany Top: Maple Neck: Mahogany

Fingerboard: Rosewood Scale length: 24.75″ (628.65mm) Frets: 22

The Gibson Les Paul Standard is the best guitar option for classic rock as it boasts a classic Gibson design with an upgrade to extend the guitar’s tone. 

It features a solid mahogany body with a maple top, a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard and trapezoid inlays. However, it’s the wiring options that really allow it to reach those classic rock sounds. 

As each pickup can be turned into a single coil by pulling up the volume knob, the classic rock tones that originally couldn’t be reached on the original Les Paul can now be enjoyed. 

The neck pickup on the Les Paul Standard has also been given more consideration, integral to expanding the guitar’s capabilities. It offers three distinct sounds in single-coil mode, and the bridge humbucker boasts a unique attribute where the volume and tone controls are eliminated from the single path when the tone knob is pulled up. This ‘Pure Bypass’ mode enhances tonal flexibility to achieve that classic rock sound.

Providing the classic Gibson sound with more tone options than before, the Gibson Les Paul guitar is a hard guitar to beat.

Best Gibson Les Paul for Metal

Gibson Les Paul Modern


Body Material: Mahogany Top: Maple Neck: Mahogany

Fingerboard: Ebony Scale length: 24.75″ (628.65mm) Frets: 22

Gibson has always been cutting-edge, but that doesn’t stop them from innovating their guitar models for more impressive sounds.

The Gibson Les Paul Modern is built for comfort and speed, with an ultra-modern weight relief design to prevent backache when playing for longer sets. With easier access to the upper frets, the neck profile and ebony fingerboard give the guitar a slink feel – particularly useful for playing metal!

The Les Paul Modern comes fitted with Gibson’s Burstbucker pro humbucker pickups, known for their powerful output and fierce sound. This is perfect for unleashing heavy metal riffs and leads. Plus, with a crisp high-end sound and firm low-end, you’ll get exceptional clarity, even when playing fast or intricate songs.

By taking some of the best bits from previous Gibson guitars and adding some modern tweaks, the Gibson Les Paul Modern is certainly not one to be missed.

How long can a Gibson Les Paul last?

If taken care of correctly, Les Pauls can last for a very long time. With quality construction, the guitar’s body and neck are made of solid wood, usually mahogany, which is a hardwearing, dense wood. As the neck is usually made of mahogany, it resists warping and twisting to last for years of playing.

Designed to be a rock ‘n’ roll guitar, the hardware and electronics on a Les Paul can also last for a long time if they are maintained and repaired as needed. The pickups, bridge, and tuners are all designed to withstand heavy use, but they may need to be replaced or repaired over time.

Shop our selection of Gibson Les Paul Guitars

Gibson Les Paul guitars are some of the most legendary instruments used by some of the most famous guitar players in the world. 

Find the perfect model to suit your sound, whether a beginner or a professional, with our full selection at Reidys.


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