How Do Les Pauls Differ from Each Other?

With 57 varieties (at least), you’d be justified wondering, how do Les Pauls differ from each other?

How Do Les Pauls Differ? - Les Paul Standard

‘One guitar- many, many varieties’. That could be the advertising strap-line for the Les Paul, such is the number of different models available. There are several ‘standard’ models that have been around for decades, however.

Here, we aim to answer the question ‘how do Les Pauls differ from each other?’ (well, the most well known and enduring models, at least…)

Les Paul Standard

How Do Les Pauls Differ? - Standard Cherry

The Les Paul Standard is the highest spec ‘standard’ model (i.e. not custom shop or limited edition). Effectively, it is the evolution of the original Les Paul model, with in the late ‘50s gained humbuckers, and in ’59 and ’60, sunburst finishes.

Characteristic features

  • Mahogany back and carved maple top with quarter-sawn mahogany set neck.
  • ‘Burst Finishes (current range also features plain finishes, however).
  • AA or AAA flamed maple top (‘burst finishes).
  • Modern weight relieved body (mahogany body is chambered with modern pattern).
  • Twin humbucker pickups (Burstbuckers on current model).
  • Trapezoid inlays.
  • Body (front) and neck binding.
  • Tune-o-matic bridge.
  • Grover tuners.
  • ‘60s neck profile (slimmer).

Les Paul Custom

How Do Les Pauls Differ? - Les Paul Custom

The Les Paul Custom was the second Les Paul model to be launched, in 1954. It was conceived as a more luxuriously appointed, ‘tuxedo’ model, for black-tie events.

Characteristic features

  • Mahogany body with carved maple top, and quarter-sawn, single piece mahogany set-neck.
  • Solid, opaque finishes (commonly ebony or white, though other finishes are available).
  • Front and back multi-ply binding, plus headstock and neck binding.
  • Weight relieved with strategically routed holes (original models were solid).
  • Tune-o-matic bridge (the Custom was the first to feature this).
  • Twin humbucker pickups (490R and 498T on current model).
  • Block inlays.
  • Tulip tuners.

Les Paul Traditional

How Do Les Pauls Differ? - Les Paul Traditional

The Les Paul Traditional may look a lot like a Les Paul Standard, but there are several key differences. Essentially, it’s designed to be more like an older Les Paul Standard. Sort of…

Characteristic features

  • Mahogany body with carved maple top, and quarter-sawn mahogany set-neck.
  • ‘Burst finishes (other finishes also available).
  • Flamed AA maple top on ‘burst finishes.
  • Solid mahogany back – no weight relief.
  • Twin humbucker pickups (PAF style ’57 classics on the current model) with Orange Drop tone capacitors.
  • Body (front) and neck binding.
  • Tune-o-matic bridge.
  • Trapezoid inlays.
  • ‘50s neck profile (chunkier).
  • Tonepros tuners.

Les Paul Studio

How Do Les Pauls Differ? - Les Paul Studio

The Les Paul Studio was launched in the ‘80s, offering a more pared-back Les Paul model aimed at gigging players who didn’t want to take their prized Standard to gigs, or who didn’t want to pay for premium aesthetics when it would be used in a Studio. It is, however, a ‘full-fat’ Les Paul in every other sense.

Characteristic features

  • Mahogany body with carved maple top, with quarter-sawn mahogany set-neck.
  • Pared-down aesthetics – typically solid finishes (though current range also features vintage sunburst).
  • Modern weight relief.
  • No binding or flamed maple top.
  • Twin humbucker pickups – Modern Classics range (490R and 498T).
  • Tune-o-matic bridge.
  • Trapezoid inlays.
  • ‘60s neck profile.
  • TonePros tuners.
  • Also available with MinEtune motorised tuners (current model).

See our website where for a full range of Gibson Les Pauls, or call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420) for more information or advice.

Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.

Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.