| May 24, 2023 |

Types of Gibson Les Paul Models—Everything You Need to Know

Its single-cutaway body shape, carved maple top, and set-neck construction are iconic

Beginning With the Very First Les Paul Electric Guitar

First introduced in collaboration with legendary artist Les Paul in 1952, the Gibson Les Paul™ electric guitar has a long and rich history of shaping sound. The Les Paul initially launched in a Goldtop finish with two P-90 pickups and a trapeze tailpiece. Over time, the Les Paul underwent numerous iterations and versions—not least the fabled sunburst Les Paul Standard models produced between 1958 and 1960—and has remained a coveted staple of just about every genre of music.

The current line-up of Gibson Les Pauls remains true to the original sound and build quality of its predecessors from 70 years ago. The classifications of the Les Paul guitar types help to distinguish the different feature sets of each guitar, so that players can find the perfect version for their needs. Each of the guitar’s product pages will have you covered for details beyond this guide.

Gibson Custom Les Pauls  

The ultimate Les Paul experience

The artisans at Gibson Custom create their one-of-a-kind guitars in a dedicated craftory in Nashville, Tennessee. Any guitar crafted in the Gibson Custom Shop represents the pinnacle of Gibson craftsmanship and excellence, and Gibson Custom’s recreations of historic models represent a love-letter to the golden era.

Presenting a cross-section of the Les Paul’s evolution over the decades, the Gibson Custom team has recreated various Les Paul models, including Standards, Specials, Juniors, and the Les Paul Custom. Regardless of the model, each Gibson Custom Les Paul recaptures a part of history.

In the video that follows, Dinesh Lekhraj is playing a Gibson Custom Les Paul, and Joe Bonamassa is playing a Gibson Custom Les Paul with Murphy Lab aging.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard  

Just like the good old days

The Les Paul Standard is the quintessential Les Paul. For the player looking for the truest and most authentic Les Paul experience, the Standard is the model to get. Everything about today’s Les Paul Standard aims to create the same playing experience and sound of the Les Pauls from Gibson’s golden era.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard is a true solid body guitar with no weight relief in its mahogany body. This solidbody design presents a rich tone while mitigating resonant feedback. The Standard’s solid mahogany body also helps to give it the same weight and feel as the Les Pauls that rolled out of the Kalamazoo factory back in 1952.

These guitars also come equipped with 60s Burstbucker pickups, recreating the sound of the original P.A.F. Humbuckers™. The Standard also includes audio taper potentiometers and Orange Drop® capacitors to dial in your tone. And just like the models of old, the Standard has Gibson’s signature binding.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard has set the bar for Gibson’s excellence in craftsmanship and engineering since 1952.

The Gibson Les Paul Studio  

Everything you need, nothing you don’t

The Les Paul Studio is a perfect addition to any professional or hobbyist recording studio. It has many premium features like 490R and 498T humbucking pickups, push/pull pots for extra tonal variety, and Gibson’s ultra-modern weight relief system.

The Studio stands apart from other Les Pauls in its improved accessibility, though it’s not at the expense of the guitar’s great sound or features. Most of the Studio’s cost savings come from not including Gibson’s signature neck and body binding. But this is intentional, as the Studio offers modern-day players versatility and the Les Paul tone without the frills.

The Gibson Les Paul Modern  

If the Standard went faster than 88 mph…

The Les Paul Modern brings forward the best in new features to improve the Les Paul’s playability without affecting tone. Sporting Gibson’s ultra-modern weight relief system, the Les Paul Modern makes the guitar lighter while retaining maximum tone from the classic Les Paul body. The Les Paul Modern also features the new contoured heel for better access to the higher frets.

The Modern also comes with a set of unique pickups in the Burstbucker™ Pro and Burstbucker Pro +. The unmatched bobbin windings and Alnico 5 magnets serve up fatter, meatier tones with slightly more attack. Grover® locking Rotomatic® tuners accompany clear push/pull pots as additional features.

Unlike the Studio, the Modern has all the bells and whistles and more to boot. It features the best of the Gibson Les Paul’s seventy-year legacy in sound, with the features that today’s players desire and appreciate.

The Gibson Les Paul Junior  

Much more than simply a student guitar

Gibson originally introduced the Les Paul Junior as an affordable option for students and teachers, but the Junior’s claim to fame didn’t end in the classroom. Many artists like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Keith Urban have become longtime users of the Les Paul Junior. The Les Paul Junior is the perfect option for players who find beauty in simplicity.

Gibson’s craftspeople carve the Les Paul Junior’s body out of a single slab of mahogany and equip it with a P-90 bridge pickup. This combination of solidbody construction with a P-90 creates heavy tones that artists have loved since its introduction.

The Gibson Les Paul Special  

Simplicity meets versatility

The Les Paul Special was based on the Les Paul Junior and was first introduced in 1955. In keeping with the themes of the Junior, the Special keeps it simple by including an additional P-90 neck pickup, complete with its own set of volume and tone controls. The additional P-90 pickup, controls, and 3-way toggle switch provide extra versatility in the tones players can create.

The Les Paul Special uses the same mahogany slab body construction of the Junior but adds binding to the fat 50s style neck. The Les Paul Special strikes a perfect balance between timeless simplicity and added versatility.

The Gibson Les Paul Tribute  

An homage to the greats

The Les Paul Tribute aims to achieve everything the original Les Pauls did but at a friendlier price than other premium Les Paul models. It comes with two humbucking pickups. The Tribute also comes with two volume knobs and two tone controls. Like the Studio, the Tribute also has Gibson’s ultra-modern weight relief system. These features recreate the classic Gibson Les Paul tone for a wide variety of players.

The Les Paul Tribute is like the Studio because it aims to be an accessible option for players while still providing an authentic Les Paul experience. The Les Paul Tribute differs by omitting push/pull pots. The bridge pickup is also different, with a 490T in the bridge position on the Tribute, and the Tribute has a lower price. Despite this, the Tribute still features unique traits from the Studio, such as classic nickel-plated hardware. It is the only Satin Nitrocellulose finished model in the entire Les Paul lineup. All of this makes the Tribute an excellent fit for newer players who want a Les Paul for its classic heavy tones.

The Gibson Les Paul Deluxe  

The cherry on top

Originally introduced in 1969, the Les Paul Deluxe introduced the mini humbucker to the Les Paul lineup. The Deluxe’s mini humbuckers provide a brighter and clearer tone on average compared to regular humbuckers. The Deluxe stands in line with other entries in the classic Les Paul collection, featuring zero weight relief and various traits that align with the original Les Paul Deluxe of the 70s.

Using mini humbuckers gives the Deluxe added versatility. Should a player want to, they could swap one or both ‌pickups out for a completely different tonality, and there’s a world of custom pickups out there to experiment with in search of your ideal tone.

The added versatility and unique pickups are all accompanied by Gibson’s premium details, like body and fretboard binding and solid-body construction.

Introducing the New Custom Color Series  

Choose from Figured Top models, solid colors and metallics

With bold new colorways available on our most iconic models—the Les Paul Standard 50s and 60s—the Custom Color Series introduces a new and exciting array of aesthetic options while maintaining the quality, tone, and playability that players have loved for generations. With transparent finishes showing off the AA flame maple on the Figured Top models, and solid colors and metallics on the Plain Tops, there’s something for everyone.

Below, Dominggus Pfaff demos the sounds of the new Custom Color Series.

The Gibson USA Les Paul Supreme Series  

The headstock is adorned with a striking new mother-of-pearl inlay inspired by a design from the 1940s

The Gibson USA Les Paul Supreme guitars feature a maple top on a mahogany body with Ultra-Modern Weight Relief to ensure a full-bodied, rich tonality as well as a lighter feel when holding it, ensuring those longer playing sessions are as enjoyable as can be. Available with a beautiful AAA-figured maple top as well as an exclusive ebony, these are amazing guitars.

The mahogany neck has an ebony fretboard with a compound radius and Super Split Block mother-of-pearl inlays. The neck has a Modern Contoured Heel for exceptional upper fret access so that you can shred on the higher registers with ease, and the headstock is adorned with a striking new mother-of-pearl inlay inspired by a design from the 1940s that was discovered in the Gibson archives, instantly making it a guitar for the collectors out there.

The Les Paul Supreme guitars all feature Burstbucker Pro and Burstbucker Pro + pickups, which are paired with push/pull Volume and Tone potentiometers for flexible coil tap, phase, and Pure Bypass switching, making the Supreme series Les Paul’s some of the best electric guitars for those who need multiple sounds at their disposal.

The Les Paul Modern Lite—Guaranteed to Turn Heads  

A vast array of tonal possibilities suitable for every musical genre

The Les Paul Modern Lite embodies the classic style of the Les Paul™ but with a new, thinner all-mahogany body that is both lighter and well-balanced. The body also features a belly cut on the rear for additional playing comfort. The mahogany neck features a rosewood fretboard and fast-playing SlimTaper™ profile.

The Les Paul Modern Lite is powered by open-coil 490R and 498T humbucker™ pickups, which provide a wide range of sonic capabilities that are perfect for any style of music. Available in five attention-grabbing satin nitrocellulose lacquer finishes and for the first time on a Core Les Paul model, each Les Paul Modern Lite also includes a matching headstock, adding to its visual appeal. A soft shell case is also included.

The Gibson Artist Collection  

Nuances and customizations for every taste

Gibson USA and the Gibson Custom Shop have produced many signature Les Paul models for the Artist Collection, including guitars created in collaboration with SlashKirk HammettAdam Jones, and Rick Beato.

Epiphone also offers a range of Artist models, including Les Pauls for Alex Lifeson and Adam Jones.

The First Collaboration Between Epiphone and Gibson Custom  

Made in partnership with Gibson Custom, the Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul™ Standard is Epiphone’s stunning recreation of the rare vintage classic.

Featuring a mahogany body with a maple top with a AAA figured maple veneer, comfortable 1959 hand-rolled neck profile with long neck tenon, aged finish, Gibson USA BurstBucker™ 2 & 3 humbucking pickups, Switchcraft® selector switch and output jack, CTS® pots, 50s era wiring, Mallory™ capacitors, non-beveled pickguard, new Epiphone Deluxe vintage tuners, and a vintage-style brown hard case.

It also comes with an Epiphone Limited Edition metal medallion toggle switchplate. Available in Aged Dark Burst and Aged Dark Cherry Burst.

Epiphone also offers an Inspired By Gibson collection, in both Original and Modern flavors.