The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most popular electric guitar models of all time and the “Standard” version is one of the most popular options in the range. There are two variants of the Les Paul Standard, the ’50s and the ’60s guitars, but what are the differences between them?
In this article, I’ll compare both Standard Les Paul models so you can learn about the differences and similarities and ultimately help you decide which is the best option for you.
The Quick Answer
The main differences between the Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard and ’60s Standard models are the pickups, neck profiles and color options. The ’50s Les Paul Standard has a more rounded neck and warmer tone whereas the ’60s Standard has a slimmer neck and brighter tone.
Here is a table to summarise the differences between the ’50s and ’60s Les Paul Standard guitars.
|Feature||Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard||Gibson Les Paul ’60s Standard|
|Neck Shape||Vintage ‘50s Profile||Slim Taper|
|Pickups||‘50s Standard Burstbuckers||Burstbucker 61R/ 61T|
|Tuners||Vintage Deluxe||Grover Rotomatics|
|Colors||Heritage Cherry Sunburst |
|Iced Tea |
The ’50s Les Paul Standard comes in 2 variants, the humbucker variant and the P90 variant. The humbucker version suffers less from feedback and sounds fuller and warmer than the P90 version. Let’s compare the humbucker versions of the ’50s and ’60s guitars now.
The Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard has ‘50s Standard Burstbuckers 1 and 2 pickups which Alnico II magnets, whereas the Gibson Les Paul ’60s Standard has Burstbucker 61R and 61T pickups which have Alnico V magnets.
The Alnico V magnets in the ’60s Les Paul Standard have a higher output compared to the Alnico II magnets in the ’50s Standard. The ’60s Standard pickups also sound brighter and have more clarity compared to the ’50s Standard which sound warmer and more mellow.
Although the tones are slightly different, both guitars still sound unmistakably like a Les Paul.
Check out this YouTube video to listen to the difference between the ’50s and ’60s Gibson Les Paul Standard models (with humbucker pickups).
Difference in Feel
The Gibson ’50s Les Paul Standard has a more vintage neck profile compared to the ’60s Les Paul Standard’s Slim Taper neck profile. The ’60s Standard neck has a more modern feel which will suit players with smaller hands and feels a bit faster. The ’50s Standard suits players who prefer a chunkier neck.
The fretboard radius is the same for both models, and they each have medium jumbo frets. Neither model has weight-relief, making them both pretty heavy and potentially uncomfortable for some players when playing for prolonged periods of time.
The Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard has Vintage Deluxe tuners and the ’60s Standard has Grover Rotomatic tuners. Grover tuners feel more precise and sturdy compared to Vintage Deluxe tuners. Grovers are heavier and absorb more of the string vibration compared to Vintage Deluxe tuners which result in more resonance.
The look of these two types of tuners is also different. Here are some images to show the difference (images link to Amazon).
Both the ’50s and ’60s Les Paul Standard models come in three different color choices, however the options are different for each version. The ’50s Standard comes in Heritage Cherry, Sunburst Tobacco and Gold Top. The ’60s Standard comes in Iced Tea, Bourbon Burst and Unburst.
Here are some images to show the different colors available (all images link to Amazon).
There are many similarities between the ’50s and ’60s Les Paul Standard models including the tone woods, finish, controls and inlays. Here’s a list of the similarities between the two models.
- No Weight Relief
- Mahogany Body with Maple Cap
- Mahogany Set Neck
- 12″ Fretboard Radius
- Medium Jumbo Frets
- Top Hat Controls
- Nickel-Plated Hardware
- 1.695″ Graph Tech Nut
- Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
- ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge
- Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
- Left-Handed Versions Available
- 3-Way Pickup Selector and 2 x Tone and Volume Controls
- Includes a Hard-Shell Case
- Made in the USA
Check out my article comparing the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Classic models.
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