Les Paul and SG: Studio, Special, Standard, Custom?


I'm new to Gibson's, which models are better. I'm interested in getting a Les Paul, maybe an Sg. But I don't know what standard, special, studio etc mean in terms of pricing and quality.

Little help?
Sorry, but help is difficult to come by when gibson abruptly, randomly, and illogically changes model names. F'rinstance, SG Special used to be a really cool, good-looking, well made SG with P-90 p.u.s. What they call an SG Special now is some budget gtr with an ugly, cheapo looking, non-shiny finish and humbuckers. I'd try the internet, if I was you.


Silver Supporting Member
Gibson.com and MusiciansFriend.com list all the details about the various models.


The "special faded" SG is the half-painted variant. There is still a "SG special" (non-faded) will full paintjob. It is a humbucker special with a batman pickguard.

In general, the cheaper the model Gibson will dump the worst wood on you, in particular bodies made from many pieces. Faded specials can look like chessboards. However, although Gibson will tell you that SG Standards are all 1 or 2 piece bodies you have no trouble finding 5-piece body SG Standards, e.g. recently on MLP.

In the end, I see many people come out liking SG specials (non-faded) best, after playing. A possible explanation is that although they use leftover wood it is wood that was left over when making expensive LPs and the multi-piece construction hurts less than bad wood (definitely the case).

There's no regular SG Custom right now, and the old ones can have excessively thin necks.

Don't forget the '61 and the Classic.


Think of the Special as the entry model.

The Studio is a notch above.

The Classic is next.

The Standard and Traditional models are positioned as the best of the regular production models, but that's a matter of personal opinion.

Then you have the Custom Shop, which creates the high-end models. At that level, it essentially becomes a matter of tastes.

You'll have the Custom, which was ironically a production model until recently.

And there's the Historic series, which you will often see referred to with an R and a number. The R refers to "reissue" with the number referring to the year.

And then there's a whole other mess with Limited Editions, Double Cuts, Juniors, Fadeds, Signatures, Deluxes, etc.

It's tough to unravel at first.

But honestly, you really can be happy with whichever one you decide on. Don't let the snobs talk you into top-of-the-line if your budget and needs can't justify it.


Senior Member
This is an SG Special, circa 1964
It does it all.


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