Gibson Les Paul Studio Review – 2020 Guide

Vlad
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

Frankly, it would be impossible to imagine the guitar world without the Gibson Les Paul model. So many years have passed since it was made and it’s still considered an industry standard at so many levels.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Slim taper neck design is included
  • Titanium adjustable zero-fret nut and saddles
  • Comes with a set neck design for durability
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PROS

  • Excellent soft case
  • Exceptionally affordable
  • Typical Gibson sound included
  • Gibson regular build quality included

CONS

  • Mediocre factory strings
  • May lack a bit of warmth

Gibson Les Paul Studio Specs 

  • Type of Guitar: Electric guitar

  • Body Size and Type: Solid body with a single cutaway design

  • Number of Strings: 6-string guitar

  • Tonewood: Mahogany body with Maple top

  • Orientation: Available for both right and left-handed players

  • Neck Profile: 1-piece Maple neck and 43mm TekToid nut width

  • Hardware: Vintage Deluxe tuning machines and Aluminium Tune-o-matic bridge

  • Fretboard: 22 Medium frets on a Rosewood fretboard

  • Scale Length: 24.75 inches

  • Color: Satin Iced Tea, also available in Satin Tobacco Burst color

  • Pickup Type: Dual humbuckers - 490T on the bridge and 490R on the neck

  • Weight: 8.1 lbs

Pros

The following are some pros of this guitar:

Typical Gibson Sound Included

The number one reason you’re buying a Gibson guitar is probably the sound. This Studio model has a lot to tell you about it. 

The design such as single-cutaway and hardware layout is the same just like on premium models - the same four knobs, same 3-way switch selector, and even the same pickup configuration. If you had a chance to play a premium model the response will be pretty much the same on this Studio model as well.

And just like Gibson flagship models, the Studio version has the same full sound, so, if we’re about to try the blind test we would have a hard time guessing the premium model out.

Exceptionally Affordable

Apart from the sound, Gibson models are pricey and not your everyday purchase. Fortunately, Studio models are made just to fix this belief, at least for intermediate players' price range, so it might be odd at first, but with Les Paul Studio models, you’re really getting all the Gibson sound much cheaper with no agendas included.

It really feels like entering a cheat code to get your real Les Paul much cheaper.

Gibson Regular Build Quality Included

While you will lack that premium Gloss finish, the actual build quality is about the same. There is nothing low quality found on this model and we assure you that these models are made to last. Tuners keep the intonation in perfect tune while the truss rode is completely adjustable to all kinds of required tension.

Excellent Soft Case

Getting an affordable model may result sometimes in excluding some options, like getting a hard case for example. Luckily, the soft case Gibson provided instead seems to be really durable so it might be at the sweet spot between soft case portability and hard case protection.

Cons

However, it comes with some drawbacks, including:

May Lack a Bit of Warmth

Pickups installed on this instrument are a bit hotter than usual which combined with the neck configuration may lead to a bit brighter sound. It’s still a Gibson sound but a bit more modern than you may expect.

Mediocre Factory Strings

Some Studio models come with the .009” string gauge set and we feel it’s almost like an abomination to have it on a real Gibson. That’s why we would advise you to swap it to the proper .010” set as soon as you get the chance and max out the sonic potential in this guitar.

What Recent Buyers Report

It’s a real struggle to find a bad word about this instrument as buyers are in love at first play. It is widely recognized as one of those Gibson Les Paul models where you can get the most of its value at the least money invested. And when you think about it, getting a real Les Paul seems almost incredible for this price.

They mostly brag how they got all the regular Gibson Les Paul sound content. The sustain seems to be marvelous and they are so glad they are able to trade Gloss finish for such a significantly lower price. 

Even those who aren’t fans of Gibson guitars, in general, bought this instrument just to complete the collection.

However, more experienced players prefer the Burstbucker Pro pickups instead of 490T, so if you care about getting the real and authentic LP sound, be prepared to either upgrade pickups at some point or to invest another grand.

Also, it seems that Gibson dropped the price in trade for having not such a severe quality control. Some models are reported to come with the frets that would need additional polishing, so we would advise you to check it on arrival and be prepared for possible minor investing.

What Are the Components of the Gibson Les Paul Studio? 

Gibson Les Paul Studio is made in the USA and it comes with a chambered Mahogany body and Maple Top with Satin Faded finish. There is a 1-ply white small pickguard on the top as well. Neck is made of 1-piece Maple with 43mm width at nut and 52.5mm at 12th fret while the strings span from 36mm at nut and 51mm on the bridge position.

What Pickups Are in a Gibson Studio Les Paul?

Studio model comes with a typical Gibson dual humbuckers (HH) configuration which includes regular 490T on the bridge and 490R on the neck along with a 3-way switch selector above the neck and individual volume and tone control for both pickups.

What Are Gibson Les Paul Studio Guitar Nuts Made of?

Nut found on the Studio model is made from a material called Tektoid, synthetic self-lubricating graphite-like material which Gibson has been implementing on their guitars since 2014. 

What Type of Strings Does Gibson Use on Les Paul Studio Guitars?

Usually, the stock strings used on Gibson models are 0.010" - 0.046", but it may also come with 0.009 - 0.046” string gauges.

What Types of Music is the Gibson Les Paul Studio Best For?

Gibson Les Paul Studio shares all the common traits with the original Les Paul models and if we remind you that, for example, the sound of Guns N’ Roses is made exactly by premium Gibson Les Paul models it should probably say a lot to you about the music orientation for this specific model as well. 

Besides classic rock n’ roll sound, it’s also suitable for both country or heavy metal tones, indie rock, punk, and blues music, too, so, besides genres that lean on clean sound a lot, we can’t find any specific genre that Les Paul can’t cover well.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Gibson Les Paul Studio Suitable For?

As its name says, this guitar was intended for studio purposes. This means it fits all kinds of advanced players - studio enthusiasts, session players, and even professional players who would need a good but affordable Gibson Les Paul in their arsenal at some point.

Speaking of skill level further, you’re about to trade a tremolo to a fixed bridge system so it might be a hit or miss. But even if you rely on a tremolo bar while playing lead sounds it might be a good practice to encounter the same melodies with a bit of different technique.

Where are Gibson Les Paul Studio Guitars Made?

Gibson Les Paul Studio guitars are made in the USA facilities in Nashville.

History of Les Paul Guitar

Let’s do a quick run over the history of Les Paul guitars:

What Year Was the First Gibson Les Paul Made?

The first Gibson Les Paul prototype was made in 1952. 

Officially, they were called Classic, but they are more familiar by the name Goldtop. The Gibson Les Paul we know today was actually first made in 1954 and it included the regular Mahogany and Maple combination along with dual humbucker configuration.

What Year Did Gibson Introduce the Les Paul Studio?

Les Paul Studio was invented back in 1983. The name is pretty much self-explanatory - it was intended for studio musicians and the main focus was set at the sound so only those traits of Les Paul were used.

What is the Most Valuable Gibson Les Paul?

If you’re a bit into Gibson Les Pauls, you may know that guitars from 1957 to 1961 are being sold for even six-figures. But, those 650 units of LP Standards made in 1959 are even more special and they are being sold for about $500,000.

What is so Amazingly Special About 1959 Les Pauls?

Frankly, it’s all about myth, hype, and inconsistency.

First of all, rock legends such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck played this specific model and it’s what they recorded that raised the value so high. Truth to be told, those instruments were quite affordable back in those days.

Then it’s about Gibson’s decision to use all the equipment available to prevent production slowdown made some models unique. So, eventually, the more the instrument got off-grid, the more valuable it became.

The only real reason why those models could be really unique is because of hand-made pickup winding and the uncertainty if all the coils had exactly the same number of windings in total.

What Makes the Gibson Les Paul Studio Stand Out From the Competition?

When compared to other LPs in a similar price range, Gibson Les Paul Studio guitars share a lot in common, but with one important difference.

While they tend to impress you with their gorgeous Gloss finish, Studio is more focused to deliver you those Gibson studio traits first. It’s all about the content, not showing off with the fancy and shiny parts useful for stage performance only. 

So, in general, it will sound like a Gibson and you could definitely tell it looks like one, but it won’t break your bank so hard. 

If you like Gibson’s sound, we don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t grab one right now.

Comparison Overview 

Let’s see how Gibson Les Paul models stand against other brands and different Gibson models:

Gibson Les Paul Studio vs Standard

While those two models share a lot in common regarding design and layout, the main difference lays in pickup configuration - Standard model is equipped with Burstbucker Pro pickups that provide you with the classic PAF sound that even those who aren’t a fan of humbucker pickups appreciate, while Studio comes with standard Gibson 490 series. Bridge system found on Standard appears to be Pro version and the Maple top is AAA graded. Also, the finish found on the Standard model is Glossy, while the Studio comes with Satin.

But, we also may state the fact that all those premium content found in the Standard version come with a significant price difference, so you may almost purchase two Studio models for the price of the new Standard.

That’s why you may ask yourself do you really need all the content coming with the Standard model or does the Studio provide you with everything you may need.

ESP LTD EC 1000 vs Gibson Les Paul Studio

The ESP model is in general a clone version of Gibson Les Paul design and it’s a bit more affordable. It’s also a more modern looking guitar equipped with the EMG dual humbucker configurations and a golden hardware design. 

It provides you with 24 Jumbo frets instead of 22 found on Gibson models. ESP bridge system is considered In terms of weight, it’s lighter than a Gibson for about 0.7 lbs and that does affect a bit of a sustain along with a 3-piece neck profile, so the Gibson may perform better in this field.

So, to conclude, if you don’t mind having a clone version, ESP LTD EC 1000 might be a better purchase for you.

Gibson Les Paul Tribute vs Studio

Those two guitars are pretty much the same in general. The only real difference is a bit higher price for Studio models and the fact that the finish on the Tribute model is referred to as “faded”. In other words, Studios models have a thicker nitro coat when compared with the Tribute.

Epiphone Les Paul vs Gibson Les Paul

Epiphone is owned by Gibson and it’s being used for creating entry level models that share the design and sound traits in general.

That being said, just like the price the sound and build quality are about the same difference. But, we guess you would probably tell that once you find out that Epiphone is made in China, while Gibson makes their models in the USA.

Simply put, everything is different and in favor of Gibson Les Paul models. But, for newbies, Epiphones models might be a much more affordable solution that at the end of the day may fit their needs just fine. 

Even if you have the money to buy a Gibson model, perhaps you could invest in a good amp instead of first. And we might add that Epiphone models may work better than expected for all beginners once you upgrade the pickups.

How to Clean a Gibson Les Paul Studio 

Gibson Les Paul Studio comes with the Satin body finish that’s a bit more resistant to fingerprints than the usual Les Paul body so maintaining this instrument is a bit easier.

The first thing you should take care of is lubricating your fretboard from time to time. The actual period may vary based on how often you play guitar. Clean all your frets in both ways with a piece of plastic (actually a credit card will come really handy) and wipe it with the clean cloth. 

Then, use fingerboard oil and put a few dots on every fret and rub it in. Don’t worry about the actual amount as the wood will take only how much it is needed. After two minutes wipe it off.

Regarding body polishing, the routine is even more simple - spray the polisher on the body and wipe it with the dry cloth. Any household cotton cloth will do. Speaking of household items, toothbrushes may come really handy for getting into smaller areas such as saddles or pickups interiors. Doing this from time to time may prevent bridge corrosion.

If you would like to see a video tutorial of what we have just described visit a link provided below:

How to Spot a Fake Gibson Les Paul Studio

As modern technology advances, fake models are getting better every day. They tend to copy all the visual traits of the real Gibson Les Paul Studio. But if you take a look at the details and hints that we will provide you you should spot the fake model more easily.

It’s not a guarantee, but it may help you detect a fake model easier:

Check the Bridge

If you can place the slotted screwdriver into the bridge, you can be sure the bridge is imported. The original bridge has small poles instead.

Selector Switch

The original switch on a real Gibson is usually placed about the level of the guitar body. If you notice that switch is sticking out high, you probably have the fake Gibson.

Truss Rod and Its Cover

If the Gibson you’re looking at has three screws on the truss rod, it’s definitely a fake model. If you’re able to open it check out for the nut that allows you to adjust the truss rod. If you have to use the Allen wrench instead, and the interior is not painted, it’s a bad sign.

Fine Work Differences

If you had a chance to take apart any part of the Gibson, you will notice the huge amount of care invested in cutting those slots precisely. Fake models are more about covering the holes instead of doing fine work.

If you would like to see those differences in a video, please check the link below:

Conclusion 

Gibson Les Paul Studio models seem to be the best way to get an authentic LP sound these days. They have balanced the price nicely and cut the corners just on those traits that aren’t so important and that’s why Studio models are our favorite best bang for buck choice on the current market. 

People Also Ask

This section is intended to be similar to an FAQ section. Please provide a concise reply to the question(s) below and begin the discussion with a short intro.

What is a Chibson?

The Chibson is slang for a fake Gibson model made in China. They look a lot like the original models except both sound and build quality is very questionable. So if you’re looking for a really cheap spare model, you may end up with a decent piece somehow as long as you don’t expect Gibson from it.

Is the Gibson Les Paul Studio Hard to Play?

If you’re used to Fender or Ibanez guitars, Gibson may feel a bit larger to you in both body and neck parts. But, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The more weight also means a longer sustain so depending on your playing style it may be even easier to play.

Is a Gibson Les Paul Studio Any Good?

Gibson Les Paul Studio is as good as the Classic version. If you don’t care so much about visual content, you may end up getting a usual Les Paul quality at a lower price.

How Many Pieces is a Gibson Les Paul Studio Body?

There is no precise way to tell how many wood pieces are found on the Les Paul Studio body. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the bottom and locating the end grain. This way you will detect all the joints even if the grain is matched as the growth rings difference will be noticeable.

How Much Does a Gibson Les Paul Studio Weigh?

Our reviewed model Les Paul Tribute 2019 weighs about 8.1lbs. It’s a bit heavier than Les Paul Studio 2019 Limited Edition (7.7lbs) and lighter than all the Standard Les Paul models. Studio models are one of the lightest Les Pauls out there.

How to Tell if Gibson Les Paul Studio Has Mahogany or Maple Cap

Most of Gibson Les Paul Studios are made with Maple Cap. If it has a Mahogany cap, it will be probably pointed out as a unique feature worth mentioning. You can also tell it by the one-color (no burst) finish on the top as well.

Bear in mind that the sound print might be different as well.

Which Gibson Les Paul Has the Warmest Tone, the Classic or Studio?

The sound differences are subtle, but in general, as its name says, Studio models have a bit louder pickups. You would appreciate a higher signal to noise ratio in controlled environments which would lead in additional clarity. 

That being said, Classic is probably your better pick if you’re looking for a warmer tone.

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.