The best Les Pauls to buy in 2023: ten options from budget to premium
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The Les Paul: one of the most recognisable electric guitars on the planet, and today lives on in countless different formats. If you’re in the market for a new Les Paul, whether it’s your first electric or the last guitar you’ll need, you’re in the right place – let’s dive into the best of the myriad Les Paul options out there in 2023.
The best Les Pauls to buy in 2023, at a glance:
- Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s
- Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘60s
- Gibson Adam Jones Les Paul
- Gibson Les Paul Studio
- Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard
- Gibson Les Paul Tribute
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘50s
- Epiphone Les Paul Modern
- Epiphone Les Paul Special
- Epiphone Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Origins
Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s
The fifties was where it all started for what we now think of as a Les Paul. Here, Gibson has recreated the earliest of the two-humbucker incarnations: we’ve got a nitro-finished, bound, figured maple top on a solid mahogany body alongside a mahogany neck and bound, 22-fret rosewood fretboard.
Electronics consist of the vintage-voiced Burstbucker 1 and 2 in the neck and bridge respectively, offering a nice balance between vintage clarity and a bit of bite. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense guitar with a vintage sensibility, this might well be it: and, while its price reflects that it’s a premium made-in-the-USA instrument, it’s still quite a bit cheaper than a bona-fide $500,000 ‘59 Burst.
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s
Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60s
The 60s saw Gibson refine the Les Paul formula a little, and here we see some of those adjustments reflected. There’s a SlimTaper neck, offering quite a different feel to the thick ‘50s profile. The 60s-voiced Gibson BurstBucker 61 pickups also offer a little bit more aggression and bite, ready for some raucous 60s rock ‘n’ roll.
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘60s
Gibson Adam Jones Les Paul
A little more forward-thinking than the average vintage reissue, this guitar recreates Adam Jones’ own modified silverburst example, down to the reversed neck pickup and uncovered, high-output bridge pickup. The neck is carved to a 70s rounded profile with a volute, making a comfortable playing experience as you speed through riffs, and the silverburst finish is complemented by an ebony fretboard for a dramatic look. Could this be the next tool you need in your guitar collection?
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Adam Jones Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul Studio
This modern interpretation of the Les Paul formula is aimed at making the guitar acquiesce to the needs of the modern player. Sonically, there’s coil-splitting functionality for some extra sounds, and the humbuckers themselves are the tight, high-output
Ergonomically, the guitar has a SlimTaper neck profile, and takes away some heft with a weight-relieved mahogany body. Playing this thing is therefore less of a chore if you’re not used to the thick neck and weighty body of a more traditional Les Paul.
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard
Spec’d out in collaboration with, of course, one of the most notable Les Paul players of all time, the Slash Les Paul Standard takes a decidedly vintage approach. With no weight relief, midrange-heavy SlashBuckers as well as a chunky ‘50s-C neck profile, the guitar is an uncompromising rock machine ready to deliver speedy riffs and soaring bends.
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard
Gibson Les Paul Tribute
This sleek, satin-finished guitar has been made with the modern player in mind. The rounded neck profile and the satin finish make it great for speedy playing, and maple neck offers a little bit more of a snappy, bright sound than the traditional all-mahogany construction might.
There’s a pair of Alnico II 490 humbuckers, which offer reliable, rounded Les Paul punch. But for those who find ultra-traditional Les Pauls too heavy, the mahogany body has had some severe weight-relief applied, meaning this guitar is happy to be thrown around on stage all night with no concerns for the health of your spine.
Today’s best deals on the Gibson Les Paul Tribute
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘50s
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘50s is a great option for guitarists on a budget who want an authentic, vintage-styled Les Paul. With a 50s Rounded Medium C neck and all the mahogany and maple trimmings you would expect, the guitar is a great entry point into the world of Les Pauls. Two Epiphone ProBucker pickups with CTS potentiometers and 1950s-style wiring also provide excellent sounds, especially given the price point!
Today’s best deals on the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘50s
Epiphone Les Paul Modern
If you want a little less of a pure vintage experience from your Epiphone, then the Les Paul modern is for you. With a lighter body, asymmetrical neck profile and chamfered neck joint carve, it’s an entirely different – and much more approachable ergonomic beast than a 1950s reissue. There’s also three push-pull potentiometers which offer individual coil splitting of each pickup and a phase switch for some filtered, resonant middle-position sounds.
Today’s best deals on the Epiphone Les Paul Modern
Epiphone Les Paul Special
This stripped-back instrument was originally introduced as a student model in the 1950s – and now has returned as this updated Epiphone version. With a flat mahogany body and two soapbar P90 pickups, the Les Paul special offers a great platform for those who want a no-nonsense instrument loaded with a famously versatile set of pickups.
Today’s best deals on the Epiphone Les Paul Special
Epiphone Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Origins
Perhaps the most modern guitar on this list, Trivium Frontman Matt Heafy’s Epiphone Les Paul Custom comes with his signature set of active multi-voice Fishman Fluence pickups, as well as a chamfered heel joint for easier upper-fret access. The neck is a SpeedTaper D shape, meaning it’s – unsurprisingly – great for fast, aggressive playing.