If you’re looking for a more affordable American-made Les Paul then the Tribute and Junior models are excellent choices. Despite being similarly priced, the features of both guitars are pretty different. In this article, I’ll be comparing the Tribute and Junior Les Paul models and highlighting all the similarities and differences so you can decide which is the best guitar for you.
The Quick Answer
The Gibson Les Paul Tribute has two humbucker pickups whereas the Gibson Les Paul Junior has a single P90 pickup. They also have different bridges, finishes and neck profiles. Both guitars have a left-handed version available.
The Gibson Les Paul Junior is approximately $300 more expensive than the Tribute model in the USA, and £300 more expensive in the UK.
Here is a table showing the differences between the Gibson Les Paul Tribute and Junior models.
|Feature||Gibson Les Paul Tribute||Gibson Les Paul Junior|
|Pickup Configuration||H-H||Single P90|
|Neck Shape||Rounded||Vintage ‘50s|
|Inlays||Acrylic Trapezoid||Acrylic Dots|
|Pickguard||Cream||Black/ Tortoise Shell|
|Pickup Selector||3-Way (Not Mounted)||None|
|Control Color||Gold/ Amber||Black|
|Case||Soft Shell||Hard Shell|
|Average Price (USA)||$1300||$1600|
|Average Price (UK)||£1000||£1300|
|Color Options||Iced Tea|
The Gibson Les Paul Tribute has two humbucker pickups (490R/T) whereas the Gibson Les Paul Junior has a single P90 pickup in the bridge position. The bridge pickup on the Junior sounds warm in comparison to the bridge pickup on the Tribute which sounds more crisp.
However, the extra pickup on the Tribute adds some more versatility to the guitar and has a warm and mellow tone in comparison to the bridge pickup. Also, since it has a 3-way pickup selector you’ll also be able to have both pickups activated at the same time to achieve a more balanced tone.
The Junior only has two controls (volume and tone) to adjust the single pickup. The Tribute has two volume controls and two tone controls (a set for each pickup).
Here is a YouTube video where you can listen to both guitars played back-to-back.
Feel and Playability
The Les Paul Special has a Vintage ’50s neck profile which feels a bit thicker than the neck on the Tribute/ Special Tribute. Both necks are quite thick though and may be a little difficult for players with very small hands. It’s always recommended to try the guitars in the store to see which neck profile feels best to you.
The Gibson Les Paul Tribute has a weight-relieved body unlike the Junior, however the Junior is still a lighter guitar due to it’s thinner body. Tribute models typically weigh between 9-10 lbs whereas Junior models generally weight between 7-8 lbs. Hence, when playing for long periods of time, the Junior is a bit more manageable and will put less strain on the shoulder when stood up.
Check out my comparison between weight-relieved and solid Les Pauls to learn more.
The Les Paul Junior model has a wrap-around bridge, whereas the Tribute model features a more traditional tune-o-matic bridge. The wrap-around bridge improves sustain, however the tune-o-matic bridge makes it easier to get the correct intonation on the guitar. If you are purely interested in looks and want your Les Paul to look like a Standard or Classic version, then you’ll prefer the bridge design of the Tribute model.
The Gibson Les Paul Junior and Tribute are very different looking guitars. There are the obvious differences in appearance due to the pickup configurations, number of controls and bridge designs, however there are also some more subtle ones.
- The Tribute has a satin finish whereas the Junior has a gloss finish.
- Tribute models have more traditional acrylic trapezoid inlays whilst the Junior models have acrylic dots.
- The Tribute has a cream pickguard and gold/ amber controls whereas the Junior has a either a black or tortoise shell pickguard and black controls.
Both guitars are also available in different colors:
- Tribute: Iced Tea, Honeyburst, Tobacco Burst and Cherry Sunburst.
- Junior: Ebony and Vintage Tobacco Sunburst.
Images link to Amazon
Despite there being many differences between the Les Paul Tribute and Junior there are many similarities between the guitars as well.
Both the LP Tribute and Junior have mahogany bodies and necks with rosewood fretboards. They also have the same scale length, fretboard radius and 22 medium jumbo frets. In terms of styling, neither guitars have any binding and they both have hardware with a nickel finish and top hat controls.
Here is a table highlighting the similarities between the Junior and Tribute.
|Fret Size||Medium Jumbo|
|Nut Material||Graph Tech|
|Control Style||Top Hats|
|Left-Hand Version Available||Yes|
Here are some more articles you might find useful: