Gibson Les Paul Junior vs Special: Which is the Best Option?

If you want the iconic Les Paul shape with P90 pickups, then the Gibson Junior and Special models are the best options to look at, but which is the best for you? In this article, I’ll compare the Gibson Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Special electric guitar models so you know all the similarities and differences between the two.

The Quick Answer

The main difference between the Gibson Les Paul Special and Junior models is that the Special has an additional P90 pickup located in the neck position. The Les Paul Special also has neck binding an a pearl headstock logo. Also, the color options for each model are different.

The Les Paul Special is approximately $100 more expensive than the Les Paul Junior in the USA, and £200 in the UK.

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

FeatureGibson Les Paul SpecialGibson Les Paul Junior
Pickups2 x P901 x P90
PickguardBlack Flat DesignBlack/ Tortoise Shell Flat Design
Neck BindingYesNo
Headstock LogoPearlGold
ColorsTV Yellow
Vintage Cherry
Vintage Tobacco Burst
Average Price (USA)$1700$1600
Average Price (UK)£1500£1300
Differences between the Gibson Les Paul Junior and Special Models

Tone Difference

The Gibson Les Paul Special has two P90 pickups which allows you to achieve more versatile tones compared to the Les Paul Junior which only has one P90 pickup located in the bridge position.

The additional P90 pickup in the neck position on the Special produces a warmer and fatter tone with more emphasis on the bass frequencies compared to the bridge pickup which sounds brighter and crunchier.

So what if you only use the bridge pickup? Is there a difference in how the P90 in the bridge sounds on these two guitars?

The bridge P90 pickup on the Les Paul Tribute sounds slightly brighter and more searing compared to the P90 bridge pickup on the Les Paul Special which sounds a little bit warmer. The bridge pickup on the Jr also has slightly more sustain because the Special is affected by the pull of the neck pickup.

With that said, the tones are incredibly similar and only when playing one after the other would you be able to notice the very subtle differences.

Check out this YouTube video comparing the tones of the Les Paul Special and Junior models.

Styling Differences

The Gibson Les Paul Special and Junior share many of the same cosmetic features such as the black flat pickguard, gloss finish, acrylic dot inlays and black top hat controls. However, they are available in different colour options:

  • Special: TV Yellow and Vintage Cherry
  • Junior: Ebony and Vintage Tobacco Burst

On all Special models you’ll get a black pickguard. On the Vintage Tobacco Burst Jr model you’ll get a black pickguard, but on the Ebony model the pickguard is tortoise shell.

The look of the two guitars also varies since the Special has an additional pickup and hence a pickup selector and additional tone and volume controls.

Gibson Les Paul Junior

Gibson Les Paul Special

Images link to Amazon

Is There a Difference in Feel?

The Gibson Les Paul Special and Junior are very similar feeling guitars because they have the same scale length, neck profile, weigh roughly the same and both have a gloss finish. The only notable difference is that the Special has binding on the neck which feels more premium and makes the fretboard edges smoother compared to the Jr model.

The Similarities

Body WoodMahogany
Fretboard WoodRosewood
Neck ProfileVintage ‘50s
Scale Length24.75”
Fretboard Radius12”
Nut Width1.695”
Fret Number22
Fret SizeMedium Jumbo
InlaysAcrylic Dots
Tuning MachinesVintage Deluxe (White Button)
ControlsBlack Top Hats
Case IncludedHard-Shell
Left-Hand AvailableYes
Similarities between the Gibson Les Paul Junior and Special Models

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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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