A mini guide to a streamlined powerhouse – the Les Paul Studio
The Les Paul Studio is a guitar model that is such a key part of Gibson’s catalogue, that its hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. Remarkably, the Studio appeared as recently as 1983, and has been available in various guises ever since.
The question that is often asked regarding this guitar is, ‘What is the difference between the Les Paul Studio and the Les Paul Standard?’ There’s quite a difference in price, so it’s a question well worth asking. To answer this, we’re going to go through a little bit of Les Paul history, and outline some of the key differences, alongside the unique features that define the current, 2012 model.
Are you seated comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
The ‘Birth’ of the Les Paul Studio
The Les Paul Studio’s ancestors are, of course, the Les Paul Gold Top, Les Paul Custom and the Les Paul Standard. In those early days, Gibson guitars were very much a premium choice, and commanded a price tag to match. As such, their aesthetics exuded an air of ‘expense’.
The Les Paul Standard first appeared, unofficially, in 1958. Equipped with the legendary ‘PAF’ humbuckers, cherry sunburst finish and Tune-o-matic bridge, the guitar was pretty much in the form we know it today. In 1959, a flamed maple top was added, and the picture was complete. It wasn’t until 1960 that it became known as the Standard however. The modern Les Paul had been born.
The luxurious aesthetics of the Standard meant a price tag that was out of the reach of many players, however. Gibson had released more affordable alternatives, such as the Les Paul Junior, as early as 1954. The simple slab mahogany body design, and single dog-ear pickup meant that this was quite a step away from the twin ‘PAF’ and maple/ mahogany body combo of the Standard, however.
At the time, music was primarily live performance, so a premium instrument for the professional (the Standard), and a student instrument for those who were learning (the Junior) made sense. Recorded music was not yet the huge industry it was to become…
Fast forward to the 1980s, and the music industry was at its peak. Recorded music generated millions in revenue, and the recordings themselves had become something of a science. Gibson recognised that for many studio players, the more opulent aesthetics of the Les Paul Standard were unnecessary, but the performance the Standard delivered was essential.
So, in 1983, they unveiled the Les Paul Studio. This was equipped with all of the key ingredients of the standard model (maple top and mahogany body, tune-o-matic bridge, twin humbuckers) but with far simpler cosmetics, and at a lower price.
The key differences between a Les Paul Studio and a Standard
The most immediately obvious difference between the Les Paul Studio and Standard is the lack of a flamed maple top, lack of neck and body binding. The guitar is a far simpler prospect visually. Beneath, a mahogany body is matched with a maple top (albeit a very slightly thinner top).
The neck is the familiar, set mahogany type, with a familiar profile shape. The Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece provide the legendary sustain and stability, whilst the two humbuckers deliver classic Les Paul tone at a much lower cost. In short, the Les Paul Studio sounds, plays and feels just like a ‘full-fat’ Les Paul.
The Les Paul Studio 2012
The Les Paul Studio 2012 model maintains the straightforward, ‘streamlined’ ethics of the Studio model, but adds a few unique twists. The body is chambered mahogany, with a carved maple top, with a mahogany neck (shaped to a ‘60s slimtaper profile) and rosewood fingerboard. Tonepros tuners and a Tune-o-matic bridge provide more Les Paul staple features.
However, the onboard electronics are a major addition to the classic formula. The two Alnico based pickups (a 490R humbucker at the neck position and a 498T at the bridge) can be coil tapped via push-pull volume pots. This allows the coils of each pickup to be ‘split’, to create single coil tones, adding immeasurably to the versatility of the Studio.
The Popularity of the Les Paul Studio shows no sign of waning, and with the 2012 model no offering such a huge amount for the price, it looks unlike to for some time. If you are looking for the most straightforward, cost effective way of getting Les Paul tones, then look not further. The Les Paul Studio 2012 is available now. Call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420), or order online today.
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