SOLVED! - Les Paul Tribute vs Studio – Comparing the More Affordable Les Pauls

Gibson Les Paul is a range of stunning guitars that really deliver the iconic Les Paul tone. In this guitar collection, you’ll have the core range including the Standard (50s and 60s), Classic, Modern, Studio, Tribute, and Junior. There has been a lot of articles about the Classic, Standard, Modern, etc., yet only a few about the Les Paul Tribute vs Studio. So, we’ll dive into more details about these models and how we can best use them.

Les Paul Tribute

An affordable Les Paul than the Studio, the Tribute has a more retro and stripped-down look to match with the old-school sound. It comes with a much smoother satin lacquer finish with sleek neck profile for a wonderful performance. Speaking of the neck, this guitar has a ‘Rounded’ profile, which surely is an interesting thing for traditionalists.

The Les Paul Tribute features Gibson’s ‘Ultra-Modern’ method for its weight-relieved body – you can feel it’s lighter and more ergonomic. Sporting a 490T humbucker in the bridge and 490R pickup in the neck, the Tribute can deliver great sounds. You can recreate the powerful Les Paul tone with enough punch and bite for rock, blues, and the like.

You can watch this step by step video to solve this issue:

Les Paul Studio

First released in 1983, the Les Paul Studio is a more streamlined version of the Standard models, but is offered at a more affordable price. Promises to retain the classic Les Paul tonality, you can enjoy Les Paul Studio like you enjoyed the Modern version. Even with longer hours of jamming, you don’t feel stress or strain in your back because it has weight-relieved via Gibson’s ‘Ultra-Modern’ process.

Still comes with the classic mahogany/maple body, which offers a more rustic look to complement the classic sound it produced. Its neck has ‘SlimTaper’ profile for faster and more comfortable performance. You’ll enjoy varied sound outputs from the 490R neck humbucker and 498T bridge pickup. In addition, the push/pull coil-tap feature allows you access to some single-coil sounds you might need.

The Comparison

Nice words for these guitars in the introductions. Therefore, it’s very important to give you a head-on comparison of these two guitars, so you will have an idea of which to buy. You may check this YouTube video for comparison, especially regarding the playability, sound, and design.

Although some important specifications were already discussed in the video, you may check the complete details in the table below. This will help you compare objectively, especially with the small details of its specifications.

LES PAUL TRIBUTE  LES PAUL STUDIO
Body Type Solidbody, Ultra-modern weight relief Solidbody, Ultra-modern weight relief
Body Material Mahogany body with Maple top Mahogany body with Maple top
Body Finish Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck Shape Rounded Slim Taper
Neck Material Maple Mahogany
Scale Length 24.75″ 24.75″
Fretboard Material Rosewood Rosewood
Fretboard Radius 12″ 12″
Number of Frets 22, Medium Jumbo 22, Medium Jumbo
Pickups neck pickup: 490R Humbucker
bridge pickup: 490T Humbucker
neck pickup: 490R Humbucker
bridge pickup: 498T Humbucker
Controls 2 x volume, 2 x tone, 3-way toggle pickup switch 2 x volume (push/pull coil-tap), 2 x tone, 3-way toggle pickup switch
Bridge and tailpiece Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar

Design & Playability

As mentioned in the overview, the Les Paul Tribute seems more classic-looking than the Studio. And, yes, one of the main differences between them is the finish. Tribute’s Satin finish seems to wear off easily. This could be because Tribute has thinner nitro coat, while the Studio has thicker one.

You can find Tribute guitars with dot fretboard inlays and the Studio have classic block inlays. Yet, in this article, both Les Paul Tribute and Studio have block fretboard markers. The quality of both guitars is excellent – no argument about it, as almost all Les Paul guitars have superb build and finish.

They both have weight-relieved bodies using Gibson’s ‘Ultra-Modern’ process. However, there’s not much known correlation between weight relief and sound. What’s known advantage of weight-relieved guitars is that, you’ll just enjoy lightweight guitars, ideal for hour-long live performances. Though they have different neck materials, both guitars offer smooth premium necks, for that classic Les Paul feel and response.

Pickups & Sound

You’ve heard from the video comparison above; just how great these guitars are. If you want to achieve a cleaner and more modern crunch with an option to enjoy single-coil clucks, you might need the Les Paul Studio. Thanks to the coil-tapped 490T/498T humbuckers, you’ll unlock more creative musical ideas you have never known before.

On the other hand, the pair of 490 humbucking pickups in the Les Paul Tribute help you access the ’57 classic sounds, but with a slight increase in the upper mids. The 490R (on the neck) offers the tonal characteristics of the original PAF, while the 490T (on the birdge) gives you the ideal mids and highs. With the 3-way pickup switch, you will enjoy tons of different tone-shaping options at your fingertips.

Price

Taking into consideration the specifications, design, and sounds you’ll get from these guitars, it’s really hard to pick one. Unless you have specific criteria in mind, both guitars are a great grab, except…the Les Paul Tribute is more affordable than the Studio. However, the glossy look of the Studio is hard to resist – and spending a few hundred dollars for the attention-grabbing guitar is something you won’t regret.

Conclusion

Gibson Les Paul guitars are among the most played, well-sought solid-body guitars in the market. However, they are usually associated with a more expensive price tag, hence, choosing which one for you is critical. In this article, we compare Les Paul Tribute vs Studio – two of the less expensive Les Paul you can choose from.

From the comparison of their specifications, you can see that they are almost identical – stuffed with all-premium parts and materials. If you want a simplistic, more rustic look of a Les Paul, get the Tribute. Otherwise, you have to spend a few hundred dollars more on a Studio. While they are neck-to-neck in terms of their aesthetics, sound, and  construction, you really need to hold them in your hands and play them yourself to decide.