Currently, the winner in Les Paul Custom vs Standard is one of the hotly discussed topics among guitarists. A number of people believe that the aesthetics of each guitar is the key difference but the truth is far from that. Continue reading to make the right call and get your money’s worth.
A Bit of History
Those who love a Gibson must know of a Les Paul guitar, at the least. Some should have played one, as it’s such an iconic guitar, especially for rock players in the ‘60s. The big and bold tone of Les Pauls is definitely hard to forget so let’s have a quick recap of Les Paul’s history.
In 1954, Les Paul, the pioneer of solid-body guitars, decided to have a new and fancier look of his Les Paul guitar. For those who have been close to Les Paul, the Custom version came to life because he “wanted a Gibson Les Paul in a tuxedo.” Hence, when you can take a hold of a Les Paul Custom, you can see that all the small details and beautiful trimmings are put out meticulously, which cost more money.
The Les Paul Standard, on the other hand, was introduced in 1958. This version of the Les Paul was made to be lighter with a much thinner neck. It has adopted more modern locking tuners, pickups and the coil-splitting feature. So, instead of bigger sound, you can get a thinner sound.
The Main Differences
Though they are both great Les Pauls, they are completely different – aside from the aesthetics, of course. These electric guitars will be compared in detail in terms of design, tonality, and price. But, to give you a sneak peek, here’s a gist of the comparison:
- Custom has a one-piece mahogany neck, while Standard has an asymmetrical slim-taper neck.
- The Les Paul Custom has a slightly lower output than the Standard.
- Custom has a traditional weight-relief system, but Standard has a modern one.
- Custom is heavier than the Standard
- Lastly, the Custom version has metal “tulip” tuners, while the Standard has lock Grover tuners.
Design & Playability
The Les Paul Custom is hand-crafted by Gibson – everything is done by hand. It’s made from the Gibson Custom Shop factory in Nashville. It’s much heavier than the Standard – Custom weighs over 9 pounds, while the Standard weighs around 8 pounds.
Both guitars have a weight-relief system. The Custom has the Gibson’s traditional 9-hole weight relief system, while the Standard has the modern version. The former resonates more than the latter.
Les Paul Custom has evolved through the years, but it still has retained all the goodies of the 1957 model. It’s the Standard that has changed a lot over time, adapting to the new demands of the modern-day players. The most prominent modification the Standard model gets is the split-coil pickups. At the pull of a volume knob, you’ll get the single-coil sound output.
In terms of playability, it’s the Standard version that excels, particularly the thinner neck profile and the locking Grover tuners. It’s also much lighter, which allows you to play longer – but, players always have their own preferences when it comes to the weight of the guitar.
Get a more comprehensive comparison through the table below, from Reidys.com.
Tonality & Pickups
One of the differences that they have is the pickups. Since they are equipped with different pickup systems, it’s expected that they sound differently. The Custom retains that dark and mellower sound of the Les Paul because of its 490R neck pickup with Alnico II magnet and 498T bridge pickup. As mentioned in the previous section, the Standard model has thinner sound because of the Burstbucker Pro bridge and neck pickups.
It’s very obvious that for metal players (and some hard rock fanatics), they choose the Les Paul Custom. This is because the pickup system is more versatile than that in the Standard. It’s perfect to cut through mixes because it has more emphasis on the upper frequencies. Here’s a very good comparison of these two.
Since the Custom is handmade, down to the minute details, no wonder it’s way more expensive than the Standard. For beginners and budget buyers, they are both expensive, given the price tag of no less than $2000. But then, it’s a Gibson – made of premium materials, pickups and hardware. Getting these guitars is an investment, and you’re owning a piece of history.
About the Epiphones?
Yes, you can also find Epiphone Les Paul Custom and Standard. In fact, they are very similar to the original Gibsons, but you can spot their difference in the headstock. Gibson has the classic kicked up edges, while the Epiphones have rounded wing-shaped headstock. Epiphones are more appealing too, because of the affordable price tags.
Just one thing to note, while they are very identical aesthetics-wise, they aren’t made of premium materials. Epiphone Les Pauls are budget-friendly alternatives of the original Gibsons so you won’t expect them to be equal. However, some players actually prefer the cheaper Epiphone than the premium Gibsons. Professional musicians Gary Clark and Noel Gallagher are just two of the many players who love Epiphones.
Playing a Gibson Les Paul is like holding a piece of history in your hand. Choosing a model from the various models emerging, is challenging, though. However, this article has made a clear comparison between Les Paul Custom vs Standard – two of the most popular Les Pauls.
If you are a metal player and want to achieve that big, loud sound of the classic Les Paul, get a Custom. Yet, for more versatility and much thinner sound, the split-coil feature of the Standard Les Paul can serve you well.
They are just expensive. Yet, you can always get the Epiphone Les Pauls. In terms of sound, playability, and price, everyone can afford it. And, Epiphone Les Pauls are worth checking out as well. They may not be at par in terms of the premium materials used, but they sure sound like the classic Les Paul.
Hi music fan! I am Jeff. Hope that you enjoy some stuff I shared here in my personal blog.
About myself, Currently I am in charging as Artist Manager/Music Supervisor at 72 Music Management. I did managed album to Grammy Award in 2017 with 7 Nominations from 2014-2020 and had the opportunities to work with : A.J. Croce, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bobby Rush, Dom Flemons, Dustbowl Revival, Sarah Grace
Governor of the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy is one of a award that I am lucky to achieved. My profile: Linkedin.