The Gibson Les Paul Junior is one of the oldest and simplest ‘Pauls, but why it so popular?
The Gibson Les Paul Junior has been a part of the Gibson catalogue for an astonishing 58 years. During the mid ‘50s, the popularity of the solid-body electric guitar was increasing rapidly. The number of brands building solid bodied instruments was also expanding, and Gibson wanted to cement its position as the market leader in this fledgling market. It aimed to produce a solid electric guitar for every price point, and the Gibson Les Paul Junior was the entry-level instrument.
Released in 1954, the Les Paul Junior featured the same single cutaway body shape of the Les Paul Gold Top, but constructed of a simpler, solid mahogany, flat slab. The absence of a carved maple top greatly reduced production costs. A mahogany set neck remained, however. A single P90 pickup featured with a volume and tone control. Despite its simplistic design, the Gibson Les Paul Juniors was constructed to the impeccable standards for which Gibson was renowned.
The Les Paul Junior is available today, relatively unchanged from the 1954 template, so clearly, it has a bit of ‘magic’ in its streamlined design. So what makes it so special?
Keeping things simple, and keeping things cool…
Here are some of the reasons that the Gibson les Paul Junior is still the number one guitar for an army of pro guitarists.
- Simple is good – Whilst there will always be a place for those on a lifelong quest to find the perfect tone, many players, just want to turn up, plug in and play. Plus, limiting the tonal palette available from the guitar can have the effect of forcing the player to be more creative musically. The LP Junior was perfect in this regard.
- Mid-range P90 ‘Bite’ – One of the key aspects of the Gibson Les Paul Junior’s design that saw it become increasingly popular in rock and blues during the ‘60s was the tone generated by its P90 ‘Dog-ear’ pickup. The P90 has a bigger, thicker sound than a typical single coil, but more mid-range bite than a humbucker. This provides the Junior with a warm, full clean tone, but when overdriven, it takes on an aggressive, edgy ‘crunch’. Lovely stuff…
- It’s lighter than an average solid-body – The Junior’s solid mahogany body is far slimmer than a typical Les Paul, and as such, far lighter and easier to handle.
- They don’t have a ‘Baseball Bat’ neck – the neck of the early Gibson Les Paul Junior models became infamous for its overly chunky profile. This was something of an acquired taste. Nowadays, the junior generally has the more modern, Slimtaper profile, although period correct versions are still available.
- If it’s good enough for John Lennon, Peter Frampton, Bob Marley, Mick Jones, Billie Joe Armstrong… - the number of players who have chosen to arm themselves with a Gibson Les Paul Junior over the years is a great indicator of its hugely appealing sonic character, and creative potential. From John Lennon, to Billie Joe Armstrong, via Bob Marley and more, the list of those enamoured by the Junior’s charms grows every day.
The Gibson Les Paul Junior is available in a myriad of guises, and is a keystone in the Gibson range. If you would like to experience its inimitable character and playability for yourself, visit one of our stores. Alternatively, call our customer service team (01925 582420) for more information, or order online today.
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