Gibson Les Paul Classic vs Standard: What are the Differences?


The Gibson Les Paul Classic and Standard models are both amazing guitars, but what are the differences between these two heavyweights? In this article, I’ll compare all the features and the tones of the Gibson ’50s Standard, ’60s Standard and Classic versions of the Les Paul guitar.

The Quick Answer

The Gibson Les Paul Classic sounds brighter compared to the Les Paul Standard models which sound warmer and fuller. The Les Paul Classic is weight-relieved and has a coil tap function unlike the Les Paul Standard. The Standard version is approximately $400 more expensive than the Classic.

There are two versions of the Les Paul Standard, the ’50s and the ’60s models. These guitars have slightly different features and the ’60s Standard is more similar to the Les Paul Classic than the ’50s Standard is.

Check out my comparison of the ’50s and ’60s Gibson Les Paul Standard models to learn more.

Here is a table comparing the differences between the Gibson Les Paul Standard models and the Gibson Les Paul Classic.

FeatureGibson Les Paul ’50s/ ‘60s StandardGibson Les Paul Classic
Weight-ReliefNone9-Hole
Coil TappingNoYes
Neck ShapeVintage ‘50s Profile/ Slim TaperSlim Taper
Pickups‘50s Standard Burstbuckers/ Burstbucker 61R and 61TBurstbucker 61R and 61T
Pickup StyleCoveredZebra
TunersVintage Deluxe/ Grover RotomaticsGrover Rotomatics
ColorsHeritage Cherry Sunburst (‘50s)
Tobacco Burst (‘50s)
Gold Top (‘50s)
Iced Tea (‘60s)
Bourbon Burst (‘60s)
Unburst (‘60s)
Heritage Cherry Sunburst Honeyburst
Translucent Cherry
Ebony
Average Price$2700$2300
Gibson Les Paul Standard vs Classic Electric Guitars

Here are links to the different models on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices:

Tone Comparison

The Gibson Les Paul Classic sounds brighter than the ’50s and ’60s Standard models which sounds warmer and fuller. The Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s sounds the warmest of the two Standard models.

The other notable difference we need to discuss when comparing the tones, is that the Classic model has coil tapped humbuckers, unlike either of the Standard models. The coil tap function which can be activated using the push/ pull tone pot, allows you to split the humbucker to achieve single-coil type sounds, making the Classic a bit more versatile than the Standard.

Check out this YouTube video to hear a comparison between the Les Paul ’60s Standard and the Classic.

Differences in Feel

The most notable differences in feel between these models is related to two things: neck profile and weight-relief.

Neck

The Gibson Les Paul ’60s Standard and the Les Paul Classic both have a slim taper neck profile, however the ’50s Standard has a vintage profile. The ’50s Standard neck feels chunkier and may be less suitable for players with smaller hands. The fretboard radius is the same for both models, and they each have medium jumbo frets.

Weight-Relief

The Gibson Les Paul Standard models do not have any weight-relief, whereas the Les Paul Classic has 9-hole weight relief to make the body lighter. The Les Paul Classic weighs around 9.5-10.0 pounds on average, whilst the Les Paul Standard models weigh approximately 12 pounds.

Weight-relief has very little impact on the tone of the guitar. Some players notice that weight-relieved guitars have slightly less low-end, however it is incredibly difficult to detect a difference and in many cases is probably just a placebo-effect.

The lighter Les Paul Classic is noticeably more comfortable to play with for longer periods as it reduces the amount of stress on the player’s shoulder. With that said, it’s still a heavy guitar compared to most other electric guitar models on the market.

Cosmetic Differences

The Les Paul Classic and Standard models are fairly similar looking and both retain many iconic features including the top hat control design, acrylic trapezoid inlays, mounted pickup selector and gloss finish. However, there are a couple of differences.

  • The Les Paul Classic has zebra-style humbucker pickups, whilst the Standard models have a more traditional covered design.
  • The color options for the Les Paul Classic, ’50s Standard and ’60s Standard models are all different. The only color that is available on both the ’60s Standard and Classic at the time of writing is Heritage Cherry Sunburst.

Here are some images to show the different colors available (all images link to Amazon).

Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard

Tobacco Burst

Gold Top

Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Gibson Les Paul ’60s Standard

Iced Tea

Unburst

Bourbon Burst

Gibson Les Paul Classic

Translucent Cherry

Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Honeyburst

Similarities

The Gibson Les Paul Classic and Standard models share many of the same features including the wood types, set-neck construction, scale length, fret size, gloss finish, bridge design and top hat control style. They are both made in the USA and come with a hard-shell case.

Here is a table showing the similarities of the Gibson Les Paul Standard (’50s and ’60s) and the Gibson Les Paul Classic.

FeatureSpecification
Body WoodMahogany w/ Maple Cap
Neck WoodMahogany
Fretboard WoodRosewood
ConstructionSet-Neck
Scale Length24.75”
Fret SizeMedium Jumbo
Frets22
Fretboard Radius12”
Nut Radius1.695”
Nut MaterialGraph Tech
ControlsTop Hat Style
InlaysAcrylic Trapezoid
BridgeABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge
FinishGloss
Left-Handed AvailableYes
CaseHard-Shell
Manufactured InUSA
Strings10-Gauge
Similarities between the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Classic Electric Guitars

Here are links to the different models on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices:

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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