Are you looking for the best solid-body guitar to slay your next performance? If so, you’ve come to the right place, as this article will examine two of the greatest solid-body guitars in the market – SG vs Les Paul. Gibson has made it very tough for rock players to choose between these two.
Actually, it’s not a problem if you choose one over the other because they are both iconic guitars. This only means, whether you have one or the other, you’re going to give a great performance. But that’s not going to mean you’ll just mindlessly pick any. You also have your preferences. And, that’s where this article comes in – to help you assess your preferences and get the perfect guitar for your unique playing style.
The battle between Gibson and Fender has a very long history. And, when the Fender Telecaster became more popular, Gibson Les Paul was born in 1952. It was the first ‘goldtop’ guitar inspired by the great Les Paul. It has a mahogany body with maple top and the famous P90 single-coil pickups. Gibson Les Paul became an electric guitar range with the Les Paul Custom released in 1954, and later on, the ‘goldtop’ version became the Standard. In this range, you could also find Les Paul Junior, Special, etc.
Yet, in 1961, Gibson had poor sales again and was struggling to compete with the Fender Stratocaster. So, Gibson has to redesign the Les Paul, giving it a lightweight mahogany body, slim neck, and humbuckers. It became a hit, but Les Paul didn’t like it that much and wanted his name off this double-cutaway guitar. Thus, it was then referred to as SG (for Solid Guitar). A few years later, the demands for the original Les Paul peaked again, and it came back strong. Yet, the Gibson SG still remained. That’s how these two are still available up to today.
If you are fond of the rock’n’roll sound of the classic recordings like the AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black,’ you are also interested in the Gibson SG. This ‘supposed’ Les Paul modified version has gained popularity ever since. Perhaps, primarily due to its lighter and sleeker body, but more so with its unique sound quality.
It just totally changed the face of Gibson Les Paul with a double-cutaway body and flat top. It did away with maple, which is very common to Gibson, to reduce weight but still retain the sound.
However, though it didn’t exactly recreate the true sound of Gibson Les Paul, it has introduced to the market a new and completely unique guitar.
Sound & Feel
No single genre can define the SG. From classic rock to funk, and blues, just check the array of guitarists who used this guitar as their main instrument. It’s quite versatile, probably because of the thinner body and shortened fretboard. You can easily access the higher frets, thereby increasing the maneuverability of the guitar. Overall, you have a guitar that gives real brightness to its highs and mids.
Guitar players like Robbie Krieger, Frank Zappa, Angus Young, and Frank Marino are just among the great musicians who loved their Gibson SG.
Gibson Les Paul
Getting a Les Paul is really a pride. This is an iconic guitar, and not getting a Les Paul is a hard pass. It has stood the test of time. This means it deserves to be called an icon – which has a great contribution to history. Compared to the SG, it has retained its irresistible looks, sound, and feel. No wonder why Les Paul didn’t want the SG to be in the Les Paul range – he might have known before that this guitar will go down in history.
Les Paul’s design is something you couldn’t miss. The single-cutaway body with rounded edges and slim-taper neck – you’ve seen such guitar played on stages around the world. Some players find the Les Paul more challenging to play the upper frets, and it’s also thicker than the SG.
The maple top of the mahogany body helps give that classic look, and of course, that distinct sound only of a Les Paul. If you want to get the classic Les Paul sound, you have to get the Les Paul.
Sound & Feel
The iconic Les Paul sound is thicker and fuller with a great bite. As you have read about the history, Les Paul is a range of electric guitars, so basically, the sound differs from model to model – a slight difference, though. Such differences can be attributed to certain elements like the humbuckers, hardware, and capacitors.
Les Paul feels heavy and big. Yet, for you to get the classic Les Paul tone, it’s inevitable that you have to put up with the guitar’s weight.
Among the popular names who have been playing Les Paul are Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Gary Moore and so much more.
SG vs Les Paul: Comparison Summary
Just to give you a refresher before wrapping up this comparison, here’s a great YouTube video telling the history and comparing the tone of SG vs Les Paul.
Here are the major points of difference between these two great Gibson guitars:
- Les Paul is heavier, while the SG is lighter
- Les Paul has chunkier, while the SG has a slimmer neck profile
- Neck joint of the Les Paul is on the 16th fret, while the SG is on the 22nd
- Les Paul has great lows while SG has brighter mids and highs
The battle between SG vs Les Paul isn’t about which is better. It’s more on which is the best for you in terms of your playing style and preferences. Both guitars are undoubtedly among the best in the market. They have been played by famous guitarists and have been used for countless music recordings since the day they were introduced in the market.
Yet, in some cases, buyers may eventually opt for an SG because Les Paul is a bit expensive. The price of the Les Paul may be attributed to the maple cap and all the details given to the archtop guitar. However, even though some guitarists ended up buying an SG instead of the classic Les Paul, eventually, they began to love it. So, whether you opt to have an SG or a Les Paul, you’ll always get the best out of these Gibson guitars.
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.