Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s vs ’60s Guitars Compared


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.

Les Paul ’50s vs ’60s Standard

The Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard has a thicker neck compared to the ’60s Standard. The ’50s Standard pickups sound warmer in comparison to the Burstbucker 61R/ 61T pickups in the ’60s Standard which sound clearer and brighter. The ’50s Standard also has a P90 pickup option, unlike the ’60s Standard.

Here is a table to summarise the differences between the ’50s and ’60s Les Paul Standard guitars.

FeatureGibson Les Paul ’50s StandardGibson Les Paul ’60s Standard
Neck ShapeVintage ‘50s ProfileSlim Taper
Pickups‘50s Standard BurstbuckersBurstbucker 61R/ 61T
TunersVintage DeluxeGrover Rotomatics
P90 OptionYesNo
ColorsHeritage Cherry Sunburst
Tobacco Burst
Gold Top
Iced Tea
Bourbon Burst
Unburst
Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard vs ’60s Standard

Here are links to each version on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices:

Tone Difference

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.

Tuners

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).

Vintage Deluxe (’50s Standard)

Grover Rotomatic (’60s Standard)

Color Options

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).

Gibson Les Paul ’50s Standard

Tobacco Burst

Gold Top

Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Gibson Les Paul ’60s Standard

Iced Tea

Unburst

Bourbon Burst

Considering other LP models? Check out my complete guide to the Les Paul guitar range to learn more.

Similarities

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

Here are links to each version on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices:

Check out my article comparing the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Classic models.

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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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