New to Les Paul love - need to know the differences in them


Can you help? I've been a Fender guy for years, and recently have fallen in love with the Les Paul. I just don't know the differences in them. There are so many different types. Standards, deluxes, studios, supremes, historics, customs, etc...

Can you help me sort them out?

What should I get?

Budget is big enough, but not crazy. ie- no real 59' les pauls

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Silver Supporting Member
Historics (Historic Reissues) are the top of the heap and are built in the Custom Shop to the highest standards. They are typically referred to as 'R's (for reissue)....R9='59 Reissue, R8='58 Reissue, etc. The rest are priced according to embellishments, woods, etc. All are USA built.


Oh jeez, there have been SO MANY variants over the years, it's near impossible to sit here and spout facts! I'll try to generalize.

Standard: modernized features like asymmetrical neck profiles, nashville bridges, etc. Plenty of finish options. These are weight relieved, too - the body has a bit of wood removed to lighten it, but not for tonal reasons like a chambered guitar.

Deluxe: The modern ones are based on the old 70's guitars. Main thing here is the mini humbucker pickups. 50's neck profile (fat and round), I believe.

Studio: No-frills guitar. These lack binding on the neck and body and (most) don't have a maple cap - they're just mahogany. 50's or 60's (flat/wide) neck. There's actually quite a few Studio variants right now, including some with P90s, some with maple caps, and some that are chambered. Some also have matte finishes.

Supreme: You don't see a lot of these. Fancy bling guitars with maple on the top AND back. No control plates - electronics are fed through the jack plate.

Custom: Fancier binding on the bodies, block inlays, gold hardware, bound headstocks, and ebony fretboards traditionally. These teeeeend to be heavy, but again, I'm generalizing here. Extremely handsome guitars!

Historics reissues are a whole family of guitars out of the Custom Shop. They have long neck tenons (stronger neck joint with more wood contact), vintage features like ABR-1 bridges, upgraded hardware such as lightweight aluminum tailpieces, and are based off certain years of vintage Les Paul: R9 refers to a 1959 Reissue, R4 for a '54 Goldtop (or Custom), and so on. I think TGP will generally agree that these are the way to go, if you can swing 'em.

You didn't mention them, but there's other variants too, like Traditionals, older Classics, and so on. Just check the spec sheets, keeping in mind that the features people most care about that change from model to model are:
- Neck profile
- Pickups
- Maple cap or not
- Binding (body and neck)
- Solid vs weight-relieved vs chambered

Again, this is EXTREMELY generalized because, frankly, you've asked a lot, but I do hope it helps!


Gold Supporting Member
check out MyLesPaul forum......way too much info to get you drawn in further.


Silver Supporting Member
Junior - one p90 (usually). No binding, slab body

Special - two p90s (usually). sometimes neck binding, slab body. Dots or mini traps. Sometimes have two humbuckers.

Studio- two humbuckers, two piece body/carved top, no binding, early had dots, more common with trapezoids. Ebony or rosewood fretboards.

Studio Custom- carved top, block inlays. Seem to be pretty rare.

Studio Standard- carved top, dot inlays, bound neck & top of body

Standard- binding on top of body and neck, trapezoid inlays, carved maple top on mahogany body, rosewood fretboard (until recently, anyway). The most popular/famous.

Recording: Low impedance electronics(?). Odd two piece pickguard and slanted pickups. The ugly duckling of the LP family.

Custom- Body binding front and back, headstock and neck bound, ebony fretboard, block inlays. Some have mahogany tops and back, some have maple tops. Some have three humbuckers. Split diamond headstock inlay. It's worth nothing that it's a trim level, not necessarily a custom guitar.

There are endless varieties on those basic themes, I'm sure the more knowledgeable will add/correct.
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To me,its all in the necks...

Chunky to slim taper (from what I tried):
R4-R8-R9-50/60(as seen on 1999-2001 standard)-60's-slim taper


I own 4 Teles and 2 Strats so I guess you could say I'm a Fender guy as well. Just shopped for and bought my first LP last year. What I found was that just like Fender the biggest difference between the various models is price. They're all basically the same guitars with superficial/marketing differences that can cost you a lot and get you very little. Check out the Studios. Best bang for the buck.


Play a ton of them and then check out a PRS DGT.

This is what I did. It sent me running back to the historic LPs.

If you can swing 2200-2400 for a used historic then that's the way to go. Nothing else sounds like one. With historics it's mostly about the neck size. The 60 historic (RO ) has the thinner neck. The R7 - usually a goldtop or black beauty- has the thicker necks. The r8 is a pretty big neck. the r9- usually the most expensive for various reasons among which are that Jimmy page played them- are in between r8 and RO.

That's a generalization but it's a start.

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