One of the most famous guitar models is Gibson Les Paul and SG models. Well-known for their sound, they were and still are one of the most recognizable models out there. Apart from having different looks and sounds, these guitars have managed to go head to head with each other.
Everybody will first notice that these guitars have different body styles, but there is much more to it than the first look. The SG is significantly lighter than Les Paul. While the Les Paul looks and feels chunky, the SG model is slimmer.
These guitars have the HH pickup layout, but their sound is quite different. The tone of the SG models is, most of the time, brighter than the Les Paul models. With the SG, you will get a more pronounced mid and high range.
On the other hand, the tone of the Les Paul models is much warmer, and they have great lows. This is also part of the reason why you can see them being used by some Jazz players.
The Les Paul and SG are one of the World’s most famous guitar models. While there are many differences, throughout this article, we will go through the similarities between the models and do our best to give you insight into which one would be the perfect pick for you.
|Gibson SG||Gibson Les Paul|
|Body Shape||SG Standard||Les Paul Standard|
|Neck Construction||Set Neck||Set Neck|
|Fretboard Material||Rosewood||Rosewood, Ebony|
|Number Of Frets||22, Medium Jumbo||22, Medium Jumbo|
|Frets Material||Nickel Silver||Nickel Silver|
|Type of Bridge||Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar||ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic|
|Tuning Machines||Grover Rotomatics||Grover Rotomatics|
|Pickups||Dual 490R and 490T Humbuckers||BurstBucker™ 61R & 61T zebra, open-coil pickups|
|Pickup Selector||3-way toggle switch||3-way toggle switch|
|Controls||2 x volume, 2 x tone||2 x volume, 2 x tone|
|Weight||6 lbs (2.7 kg)||9lbs(4.08 kg)|
Gibson Les Paul History
Gibson Les Paul model is one of the most famous guitar models ever made. Since its creation, it has been part of the most famous songs ever recorded, and it is beloved by many guitarists to this day.
It was first introduced in 1952 by Gibson, and credits for the design go to Ted McCarty, John Huis, and Les Paul. Part of the reason for the creation of Les Paul is the models that Fender was introducing at the time. So as a response to those models, Gibson created the Les Paul model.
Over the years, Les Paul models have seen many changes. After a couple of prototypes, the design was finalized and put into production. Since the Gibson guitars were not as popular as they are today, Les Paul’s name was added to the headstock to help the guitar sell faster. Gibson will see the Les Paul model be one of the longest-running guitar models in the history of guitars.
Gibson SG History
The design of the Gibson SG models was born from one of the designs of Les Paul. Its SG name is short for “Solid Guitar.” An interesting fact is that this design was done without the knowledge of Les Paul and the original models had featured Les Paul’s name on the headstock.
Since Les Paul was not satisfied with the design, he asked Gibson to remove his name from the headstock of these models which led to this model being renamed SG. Like Les Paul models, it was put into production as a response to Fender guitars with lighter weight and slimmer bodies.
Introduced in 1961, the SG models have remained in production to this day, and you can find many copies of these models by different companies across the world.
One of the first things everyone will notice with these guitar models is the difference in shape and size. The SG models feature a double cutaway design, while the Les Paul models have a single cutaway design. While they are both made of mahogany, tonally they are quite different.
Another thing you will notice when holding these models is the weight. The SG models tend to be lighter than the Les Paul models, almost half of the Les Paul model’s weight. If you go more into detail, the Les Paul models have a maple cap/top and the archtop compared to the SG models, which do not have any of these.
Since the SG models are considered to have slimmer body style, their body is quite different from the Les Paul models. Most of the SG models have a body around 1.3” thick and weighs around 6 pounds, while the Les Paul model’s thickness is around 2.3” with 9 pounds of weight.
Neck & Scale Length Compared
Both of the models feature a similar neck made out of rosewood with the same 24.75” scale length and 22 frets. The first thing you may notice is the difference in the shape of the neck. Both of the models feature the C neck shape, but the SG models tend to have more of a D neck shape feel.
Another thing you may notice when playing these models is that the SG neck is more flexible apart from the rigid Les Paul neck. The reason for this may be the built-in whammy bar on the SG models, which gives it a more flexible feel.
The thickness of the neck is completely dependent on the particular model within the series. There are SG models that have thicker necks than Les Paul and vice versa. SG and Les Paul both have a set-neck construction and 3+3 headstock configuration.
The hardware components of these guitar models are almost completely the same, but the layout of them is quite different. The 3-way pickup selector on the SG is located on the lower horn of the guitar, and on the Les Paul models, it is located on the upper horn.
Both of the guitars have two volume and two tone knobs located. On the SG models, they are closer together than on the Les Paul models. On of the main reasons for this is the different body size between the models.
One of the noticeable things with these models is the output jack location. The Les Paul models are made in such way that the output jack is located on the bottom part of the body and on the SG it is on the fron of the guitar.
Pickup Configuration Compared
Both of these models have the HH pickup configuration to them. On most Les Paul and SG models, you’ll find passive humbucker or P90 pickups made by Epiphone or Gibson. Humbuckers are the most common and provide a warm and full tone, while the P90 pickups sound slightly brighter and thinner. SG and Les Paul have Fishman humbuckers instead of Epiphone.
Some guitars have humbuckers or P90 pickups, but not all are made the same. They have different voices and outputs, so that’s what you should look for when choosing a guitar. You may expect these models to have similar or the same tone due to the fact they have the same type of pickup configuration, but these guitar models have quite a different tone to them.
Gibson Les Paul Tone
The Les Paul tone is much thicker than the tone of the SG models. The main reason for this is the shape and size of the body. Almost every guitarist will be able to recognize the unique tone of the Les Paul. It has a unique bite that feels full when playing.
The specifications of the Les Paul tone will ultimately depend on which model you choose. This is because factors such as P90 humbuckers, hardware, and guitar capacitors all affect the sound. Before you buy, find out which model fits your ears.
It is important to note that the amp settings can have a major impact on the sound of both of these models. Both of these guitars, with the right amp settings, will have a wide range of use across all genres.
Gibson SG Tone
Tone-wise, SG has real brightness in its treble and midrange. This model is more appealing for guitarists who like brighted and more clean sound than the Les Paul models have The SG models are usually much less muddy than the Les Paul models, but for both models, this can be compensated on the amp settings.
The interesting thing about SG is that it has a “flexible” neck compared to Les Pauls. Basically, you can create a vibrato effect by pushing or pulling the SG neck slightly back and forth.
Since it has a light body which is one of the main reasons for its tone, it is most beloved by rock musicians, and you will find it being used in the rock genre often. This does not mean that the SG is made purely for rock music. You can find SG models being used by guitarists in almost all genres.
Gibson Les Paul Feel & Playability
When you mention the Les Paul models, the first thing people who use them will say is that they are heavy guitars Nonetheless, people still enjoy the classic Les Paul sound and are ready to accept the weight of the guitar. The weight of the guitar ultimately gives it its distinctive sound and gives it a sub-par feel.
While the Les Paul models are comfortable to play, they do not come close to the SG models. The Les Paul has a single cutaway design that limits access to the upper fret because the upper horn touches the neck at the 16th fret and the lower horn touches the neck at the 18th fret.
You will most likely notice that the neck of the Les Paul tends to tilt upwards, which many guitarists find comfortable and makes the guitar easier to play while standing up. Another thing guitarists noticed is that the neck strap button does not hold on to the strap as good as it should, so investing in some strap locks is always a good idea.
Gibson SG Feel & Playability
One of the selling points for the SG models is the feel and playability. By moving to a thinner body and shortening the fretboard, Gibson was able to reduce the valuable weight that was considered a Les Paul’s negative.
This had resulted in a much more playable guitar than the Les Paul. Although their initial intent was not to change the tone as dramatically as they did, with the release of SG, it became clear that many of these elements seen as Les Paul negatives are important in actually creating the SG sound.
The SG has better upper fret access due to its double-cutaway design and the fact the neck and body join at the 22nd fret. One thing you will notice with the SG models is the neck drop due to the light weight of the body, which can be annoying from time to time.
Gibson Les Paul Look
When you mention the electric guitar to someone, chances are they will imagine the Les Paul model. The reason for this is that these models have been around almost since the creation of the electric guitar and are part of many eras of music.
The Les Paul models are considered to be one of the prettiest guitars out there; hence many people love them. Although the Les Paul has retained its core in design, over the years Gibson will introduce many modifications to satisfy different guitarist’s needs.
Gibson SG Look
The SG look is one of the most iconic electric guitars looks out there. The iconic “Devil’s Horn” SG standard body shape, red nitrocellulose finish, and woody finish make this a great-looking guitar.
If you want to get out of the traditional zone, the guitar also has black and natural wood color options.
Famous Gibson Les Paul Players
The list of musicians who made Les Paul famous is almost endless. We will go through some of the most iconic musicians.
Les Paul is the man who had the most influence on the design of this model, hence its name is on the headstock. He was not famous only for being one of the invertors of Gibson Les Paul, for his time he was an outstanding guitarist.
The original Gibson Les Paul was nothing like the one we know today. Les Paul had called it “The Log” Eventually, Gibson will throughout the following years develop the model we know today.
The 80s will bring long hairs, loud rock music, non-stop parties, and the resurrection of Gibson Les Paul. This is thanks to the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, Slash. This band will mark this era of music with their unique rock sound, and Les Paul models have a huge impact on Slash’s sound.
You have most likely already heard about Slash, or at least be able to recognize him with his signature top hat and Les Paul in his hands. Both of these things are linked to him forever, and we are lucky that we can still hear him play.
In the time of single pickup mayhem, he resurrected the Les Paul and delivered a unique sound many guitarists today admire and consider to be the classic rock sound.
One of the people behind the Slash inspiration was Jimmy Page himself. You can consider Jimmy Page as the ultimate icon of the Gibson Les Paul guitars. While he was originally playing all kinds of different models at the beginning of Led Zeppelin, he will eventually shift to Les Paul models.
During his career, Jimmy Page will play many guitar models, but it was Les Paul who was forever associated with Jimmy Page and helped shape his sound in the glorious era of Led Zeppelin. Chances are if you Google Jimmy Page, you will see him with his EDS-1275 double neck.
Randy Rhoads is one of the most famous metal guitarists. He is responsible for recording guitar for anthems such as Crazy Train and Mr. Rowley. His classical guitar background introduced a unique playing style, never been seen before. He will remain an idol for many young musicians to this day.
One of the most notable guitars Rhoads played was his Jackson model that will later be named after him, but nothing stuck to him like the worn white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom. This guitar will be his working horse for both live and studio sessions. Unfortunately, he died in 1982 but he will remain remembered to this day as great musician and guitar idol.
You have most likely heard about ZZ Top by now, and you are probably thinking about fuzzy guitar sound and long beards. Apart from being one of the most iconic guitar players with his signature look, Billy Gibbons is the owner of one of the most interesting Gibson Les Paul models.
The guitar became known as Pearly Gates, a nickname previously associated with the car he sold to buy it. To this day, this model had kept stock of everything, including the frets. You can say the Gibbons is one of those lucky people who had managed to find a forgotten gem sitting right under their nose.
After Randy Rhoads passed away, Ozzy Osbourne found himself without a guitarist and a music partner. Although he tried with many people before Zakk Wylde, he will eventually close the deal with him. This was the spark that ignited the flame for a new Les Paul icon.
One of the most famous Les Paul models is the modified white Custom Gibson Les Paul which he nicknamed The Grail. It had a polished neck and a bullseye finish. It was a packing pair of EMG pickups and eyebolt strap buttons.
Wylde will eventually lose it during transport when it fell out of the back of the van in the period between 2000-2003. It somehow had managed to fall out of the van, but luckily, it was returned by a fan later on. Wylde will play many different Gibson models, but only one has remained the most famous, and that was and still is The Grail.
Famous Gibson SG Players
The SG models are played and have been by many legendary guitarists. The following guitarists have made it into history with SG guitars.
When you think Gibson SG, you will most definitely think about the lead guitarist of AC/DC Angus Young. For nearly 50 years, Young has been using countless SGs on AC / DC for stage and studio use and began a relationship with an instrument when he purchased the lead model in 1971. A rare thin neck from a guitar shop in Sydney.
Over time, as AC/DC became a global rock heavyweight, the relationship between Young and SG became even stronger. The lightweight construction and double-cut design of the guitar allowed him to move around the neck comfortably and play his signature duckwalk without tipping over on stage.
You may recognize Pete Townshend from the band Who and their ritual of destroying their gear after the gigs. Chances are you will connect the SG model to him. One of the most iconic signature moves is the windmill strum by Pete Townshend done on none of other than the SG model.
Townsend was a well-known fan of the Gibson SG Special during the productive streaks of British rock acts in the late ’60s, and the fat tone of the guitar was featured in creative LPs such as Tommy and Live at Leeds.
Eventually, Townshend will drift away from SG models when Gibson started making changes to the design. He will start to play other Gibson and Fender models more often.
Known as “The Godfather of Metals” is as part of SG as SG is part of him. But Tony Iommi’s career as a guitarist was almost over before it started. In 1965, an industrial accident while working on a Birmingham assembly line cut off the ends of Iommi’s middle and ring fingers with his hand. Inspired by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who wasn’t frustrated with two points due to burns, Iommi attached his thimble to his fingers.
Originally, he was a Stratocaster player but on one gig he had to use his spare SG guitar which he never used, and once he tried it he never came back to the Stratocaster. Over the years, Iommi’s has played a variety of SG models, including cream-colored SG Custom and a selection of specially commissioned Gibson Custom Shop models.
Although he enjoyed a good Stratocaster and occasionally Les Paul, people will most of the time affiliate the SG models with Frank Zappa. The iconic guitar player was often seen live with a selection of SG models, and two specific models, the “Baby Snake” and the “Roxy” SG have struck a chord with fans.
In true Zappa fashion, his two SGs have been significantly modified to enhance the tonal variety for live performances. The ‘Baby Snakes’ SG which, is actually a custom build, not a Gibson original has a preamp and phase switch integrated with the 23rd fret, while the ‘Roxy’ SG has a mirror top, preamp suite, phase switch, and active. The filtering makes it a very rich instrument that facilitates Zappa’s incredible fretwork.
Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark is one of the blues maestros of our age. He was found playing with a few different SGs both in the studio and on stage. For the past decade, he has used classic 1961 Les Paul tribute models with vibrato and a more traditional P-90 chip SG standard. C
Combining them with several effect pedals and fender amps, “This Land “and his blues work” When My Train Pulls In “feature some of the most sneaky leadwork on the track in the last decade. Clark will eventually earn his own signature SG model by Gibson with Gloss Yellow finish and P-90 pickups.
The SG and Les Paul models are one of the most famous guitars ever created. Ever since they have been created, they have been part of one of history’s greatest songs. The question of which model is better is an endless debate that may never conclude. For now, every guitarist has to decide for himself.
Many factors play important role in deciding which model is best for you. It is important to consider which model is in your price range, which one feels more comfortable for you, what kind of sound you prefer, which one looks better for you, and so on.
The best advice would be to go to your local guitar store and try both of the models. This way, you’ll know 100% that you’re making the right decision for yourself.
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