Gibson Les Paul Classic vs Studio: Which is the Best Option?

If you’re looking for an iconic Gibson Les Paul then the Classic and Studio models are great options to consider, however there is a big price difference between them.

You’re probably looking at the Gibson Les Paul Classic and wondering if it’s worth the extra cash over the Studio, so in this article I’ll be comparing them head-to-head so you can decide which is the best LP model for you.

The Quick Answer

The Gibson Les Paul Studio sounds warmer and heavier compared to the Les Paul Classic which sounds brighter and cleaner. The Les Paul Classic is weighs more and is more expensive but comes with premium features such as a hard case and body/ neck binding. The Studio comes in more modern color options.

Here is a table highlighting the differences between the Gibson Les Paul Studio and Gibson Les Paul Classic electric guitar models.

FeatureGibson Les Paul StudioGibson Les Paul Classic
Pickups490R/ 498TBurstbucker 61R/T (Zebra)
Hardware FinishChromeNickel
BridgeNashville Tune-O-MaticABR-1 Tune-O-Matic
Tuning MachinesKluson StyleGrover Rotomatics
Pickup SelectorNot MountedMounted
Control ColorBlackAmber/ Gold
Control StyleSpeed KnobsTop Hats
CaseSoft ShellHard Shell
Average Price (USA)$1600$2300
Average Price (UK)£1300£1800
Color OptionsWine Red
Tangerine Burst
Smokehouse Burst
Translucent Cherry
Heritage Cherry Sunburst Honeyburst
Differences between the Gibson Les Paul Studio and Classic

Here are links to each guitar on Guitar Center so you can compare the current prices:

Pickups and Tone

The Gibson Les Paul Classic has a Burstbucker 61R pickup in the neck position and a Burstbucker 61T in the bridge position whereas the Gibson Les Paul Studio has a 490R in the neck position and a 498T in the bridge position.

The humbuckers in the LP Studio are a bit hotter so distort more easily causing them to sound heavier than the humbuckers in the LP Classic which sound a bit brighter and cleaner. The Studio is more suited to aggressive rock and metal, whilst the Classic suits more rock ‘n’ roll tones.

One big advantage both guitars have over many of the other Les Paul models, is that they both have a coil tapping function allowing you to achieve single-coil type sounds from the humbucker pickups to give the player some more versatility.

Check out these sound demos using the same amp to decide which guitar you prefer the tone of.

Gibson Les Paul Classic

Gibson Les Paul Studio

Feel and Playability

The Gibson Les Paul Classic and Studio are very similar feeling guitars since they have a similar body thickness and the same Slim Taper neck profile. The only really noticeable difference between the two is due to the weight.

Both models are weight-relieved however they use different methods:

  • Gibson Les Paul Studio: uses ultra-modern weight relief and typically weighs 8.0-8.5 lbs.
  • Gibson Les Paul Classic: uses 9-hole weight relief and typically weighs 9.5-10.0 lbs.

Hence, the Studio may feel slightly more comfortable when playing for long periods of time whilst stood up as it puts less strain on the shoulder.

Check out my comparison between the different types of Gibson weight relief methods to learn more.

The only other difference is that the Classic also has binding on the neck which some players prefer as it makes the fretboard edges feel a bit smoother. This is a common feature on more expensive guitars.

Cosmetic Differences

In addition to there being some differences in the way these two guitars sound and feel, there are also several other specifications which give them different appearances.

  • The Gibson Les Paul Classic has binding on the body and neck giving it a more premium look compared to the Studio which does not feature any binding.
  • The Les Paul Studio has a chrome-finish on the hardware whereas the Classic has a nickel-finish.
  • The pickup selector is mounted on the Classic unlike on the Studio.
  • The Studio has a black pickguard and black speed knob controls whereas the Classic has the more iconic cream pickguard and amber/ gold top hat controls.
  • The Classic has zebra style humbuckers whereas the Studio has covered humbucker pickups.

In addition to these cosmetic differences, the guitars are also available in different color options. The Studio opts for more modern and unique colors which aren’t commonly seen on other LP models, whilst the Classic goes for more traditional finishes.

  • Gibson Les Paul Studio: Wine Red, Tangerine Burst, Smokehouse Burst and Ebony.
  • Gibson Les Paul Classic: Translucent Cherry, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Honeyburst and Ebony

Gibson Les Paul Studio (Wine Red)

Gibson Les Paul Classic (Heritage Cherry Sunburst)

Images link to Amazon

The Similarities

Although the Gibson Les Paul Classic and Studio have many different features, they also share some common specifications which makes them both fit the bill if you’re looking for an iconic Les Paul guitar.

Both the Gibson Les Paul Classic and Studio have mahogany necks and bodies with a maple cap and rosewood fretboards. They have two humbucker pickups which can be coil tapped as well as the same slim taper neck and 22 medium jumbo frets.

Here is a table highlighting the similar features these two LP models share.

Body WoodMahogany
Top WoodMaple
Neck WoodMahogany
Fretboard WoodRosewood
Pickup ConfigurationH-H
Coil TapYes
Body and Neck FinishGloss
Neck ShapeSlim Taper
Scale Length24.75”
Fretboard Radius12”
Nut Width1.69”
Fret Number22
Fret SizeMedium Jumbo
Nut MaterialGraph Tech
InlaysAcrylic Trapezoid
String Gauge10
Left-Handed AvailableYes
Similarities between the Gibson Les Paul Classic and Studio models

Here are links to each guitar on Guitar Center so you can compare the current prices:

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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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