Gibson Les Paul Tribute vs Junior: Which is Best for You?


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.

FeatureGibson Les Paul TributeGibson Les Paul Junior
Top WoodMapleNone
Pickup ConfigurationH-HSingle P90
Pickups490R/TP90 Dog-Ear
FinishSatinGloss
Weight-ReliefUltra-ModernNone
Neck ShapeRoundedVintage ‘50s
Nut Width1.69”1.70”
InlaysAcrylic TrapezoidAcrylic Dots
BridgeTune-O-MaticWraparound
PickguardCreamBlack/ Tortoise Shell
Pickup Selector3-Way (Not Mounted)None
Control ColorGold/ AmberBlack
CaseSoft ShellHard Shell
Average Price (USA)$1300$1600
Average Price (UK)£1000£1300
Color OptionsIced Tea
Honeyburst
Tobacco Burst
Cherry Sunburst
Ebony
Tobacco Sunburst
Gibson Les Paul Tribute vs Junior electric guitar models

Tone Differences

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.

Bridge Designs

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.

Cosmetic Differences

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.

Gibson Les Paul Tribute (Cherry Sunburst)

Gibson Les Paul Junior (Ebony)

Images link to Amazon

The Similarities

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.

FeatureSpecification
Body WoodMahogany
Neck WoodMahogany
Fretboard WoodRosewood
Coil TapNo
Scale Length24.75”
Fretboard Radius12”
Fret Number22
Fret SizeMedium Jumbo
Nut MaterialGraph Tech
BindingNo
Hardware FinishNickel
Control StyleTop Hats
String Gauge10
Left-Hand Version AvailableYes
Similarities of the Gibson Les Paul Tribute and Junior 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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