Gibson Les Paul Tribute vs Studio: What’s the Difference?

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most popular guitars on the market, and the Tribute and Studio models are both great options to go for in the Gibson range, but which is the best for you? In this article, I’ll take you through all the differences and similarities between the Les Paul Tribute and Les Paul Studio so you can decide which is most suitable.

Les Paul Tribute vs Studio

The Gibson Les Paul Studio has a higher output bridge pickup which gives it more sustain and makes it sound crunchier compared to the Les Paul Tribute. The Tribute has more rounded neck, and a satin finish whereas the Studio has a gloss finish. The models also have different color and styling options.

Gibson Les Paul Tribute vs Studio

FeatureGibson Les Paul TributeGibson Les Paul Studio
Pickups490R/ 490T490R/ 498T
Coil TappedNoYes
NeckRoundedSlim Taper
Hardware FinishNickelChrome
TunersVintage Deluxe (Keystone)Modern Kluson Style
ControlsAmber/ Gold Top HatsBlack Speed Knobs
SwitchCream, Un-MountedBlack, Un-Mounted
Pickguard ColorWhiteBlack
FinishSatin NitrocelluloseGloss Nitrocellulose
ColorsIced Tea
Tobacco Burst
Cherry Sunburst
Wine Red
Tangerine Burst
Smokehouse Burst
Average Price$1300$1600
Differences between the Gibson Les Paul Studio and Gibson Les Paul Tribute

Pickups and Tone

The Gibson Les Paul Tribute and Studio use the same neck pickup but have different bridge pickups. On the Tribute, you’ll find the 490T bridge pickup which uses Alnico II magnets and has a lower output compared to the 498T Alnico V pickup found on the Studio.

The Studio’s bridge pickup has more upper-mid range emphasis which gives it more crunch and better sustain compared to the Tribute’s bridge pickup which retains more clarity.

Check out this comparison of the 490T and 498T pickups to learn more.

The humbuckers on the Studio model are also coil-tapped unlike on the Tribute model. The coil-tap function allows you to split the humbucker by pulling the tone pot upwards to achieve single-coil type tones, making the Studio more versatile.

Here is a YouTube video comparing the tones of the Tribute and Studio.

Neck Profile and Finish

Gibson Les Paul Tribute guitars have a rounded neck profile, whilst Studio models have a slim taper neck profile. For players with smaller hands, the Studio is likely to be a bit more comfortable, whereas the Tribute will better suit players who are looking for that chunky rounded C neck found on the ’50s Standard.

Check out this comparison between the slim taper and rounded neck profiles to learn more,

The Gibson Les Paul Tribute has a satin neck finish which feels a bit faster to play on compared to the gloss neck finish found on the Les Paul Studio and most other Gibson Les Paul models.

Tuning Machines

The Gibson Les Paul Tribute uses vintage deluxe tuners (Keystone style) which are also found on models such as the ’50s and ’60s Standard.

The Les Paul Studio uses more modern looking Kluson-style tuners. The Tribute’s tuning machines feel a bit loser and give more resonance in the neck compared to the Studio.

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 (Tribute Model)

Kluson-Style (Studio Model)

Styling Differences

Most of the differences between the Gibson Les Paul Tribute and Studio are cosmetic.

The Tribute has a satin finish which is rarely seen on a Les Paul model, whereas the Studio has the traditional gloss finish. Conversely, the Tribute model is available in the classic color choices that you’d typically see on the Standard range, whereas the Studio model features more unique finishes. Both guitars have a maple cap, but the grain is more premium on the more expensive Studio model.

The Studio model has a more modern and darker look due to the color choices and the black pickguard, compared to the white pickguard seen on the the Tribute and most other Les Paul models. Both models have an un-mounted pickup selector, however on the Tribute models it is in cream and on the Studio models it is in black instead.

Additionally, the Studio uses black cylinder-shaped (speed) knobs whereas the Tribute opts for the more iconic top hat design in either amber or gold, depending on the finish selected. The Studio also uses darker chrome hardware compared to the Tribute’s lighter nickel-finished hardware.

Les Paul Tribute (image links to Amazon)

Les Paul Studio (image links to Amazon)

Top Hat Controls (image links to Amazon)

Black Speed Knobs (image links to Amazon)

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

The Similarities

Although there are plenty of differences between the LP Studio and Tribute, they do share many of the same features including the weight-relief, wood types, fretboard radius, fret size, nut width, scale length, bridge and controls/ switching systems. Both models are also available in a left-handed version.

Here is a table showing the similarities between the Gibson Les Paul Studio and Tribute models.

Body WoodMahogany w/ Maple Top
Neck WoodMaple
Fretboard WoodRosewood
Scale Length24.75”
Fretboard Radius12”
FretsMedium Jumbo
Nut Width1.695”
Nut MaterialGraph Tech
InlaysAcrylic Trapezoid
BridgeAluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic
Pickup Selector3-Way
Controls2 x Tone and 2 x Volume
String Gauge10
Case IncludedSoft-Shell
Left-Handed VersionYes
Gibson Les Paul Studio and Gibson Les Paul Tribute Similarities

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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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