Gibson Les Paul Faded vs Studio

Gibson Les Paul Studio FadedGibson Les Paul Studio Faded
Gibson Les Paul StudioGibson Les Paul Studio

The Les Paul Studio offers those looking to own a piece of Gibson USA history a more affordable alternative to the Les Paul Standard.

Even further down the price scale is the Studio Faded  - one of Gibson USA's cheapest models. The name implies merely a cosmetic difference - a faded finish that gives it a worn look beyond its years.

But what are the practical differences that justify the $700 premium on the regular Studio?

Let's take a closer look...

Les Paul Faded & Studio - side by side

Model Faded Studio
Rating 90
(over $1k)
Ultimate Guitar
Musicians Friend
Guitar Center
Ultimate Guitar (all models)
Harmony Central (all models)
Musicians Friend (2016)
Zzounds (2016)
Amazon (2016)
Sweetwater (2016)
Model Faded Studio
Weight 8.2 lbs 8.2 lbs
Tuners Grover Grover
Neck 1 pc. Mahogany
1 pc. Mahogany
Slim Taper
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Graph Tech
Graph Tech
Frets 22
Medium Jumbo
Medium Jumbo
Inlays Acrylic Trapezoids Acrylic Trapezoids
Body Mahogany
Maple Top (C Grade)
Maple Top (C Grade)
Pickups BurstBucker Pros 498T (neck)
490R (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap
Bridge Tune-o-Matic
Chrome Plated Zamak
Chrome Plated Zamak
Binding None None
Faded Studio

Faded Studio
Musicians Friend
Musicians Friend

Differences between The Faded & Studio LP

Les Paul Faded vs StudioFaded (left) vs Studio with its glossier finish.

Needless to say, they're very similar on paper...


The most striking difference is in the finish. The Faded Studio takes on an aged look, with several finishes available that expose the wood grain beautifully.

The Studio offers a wider choice of more traditional high-gloss finishes.


Rounded vs Slim Neck

In terms of construction, the only difference is the neck profile.

While the Studio shares the same, modern Slim Taper profile of the Les Paul Standard, the Faded sports a more traditional '59 rounded profile (pictured).

In terms of playability, the rounded neck is thicker, which can result in increased sustain and may be better for players with larger hands. The now common slim profile of the Studio is better for players with smaller hands and promotes faster playing up the neck.

Pickups & Sound

The only other difference is in the stock pickups.

While the Faded shares the same pickups as the Standard - BurstBucker Pros - Gibson have opted for the 498T and 490R on the Studio.

The Studio also has the added benefit of a push/pull coil tap, meaning you can get snappier, mid-scooped sounds out of the humbuckers.

Jamplay guitar lessons

The Faded lacks the coil tap and makes use of the newer BurstBucker Pro (Alnico V) pickups.

On first listen, the two sound identical. But once your ears rest into the nuances, you notice slightly more meatiness to the Studio. It'll fall below the radar for most people, but the Faded's BurstBuckers sound a tad thinner and more trebly on the bridge in comparison. But as many have stated, the difference is not so much about raw quality, but more about personal preference.

However, some contend that, overall, you can get a broad range of sounds out of the BB's, from jazz to metal. So if you have an eclectic taste in playing styles, the Faded, although it lacks the coil tap, will give you a well rounded palette.

▲ Compare Sound

The Case

The Studio comes with a hard shell case, whereas the Faded comes with a standard soft "gig bag".

Bottom Line

The pickups and coil tap do give the Studio a slight edge over the Faded in terms of tonal range... but not one that could easily justify $700 extra. Nor can it be said the Studio's hard shell case goes anywhere near filling the price gap.

If you've already fallen in love with the worn finish, and the idea of a coil tap doesn't particularly excite you, then the Faded will be the clear choice.

Gibson USA have proven that a working/serious musician's Les Paul can be made affordable - even more affordable that a USA made Stratocaster. We're just unsure how the massive $700 difference was arrived at. Some have cited more quality control issues with the Faded. But this can also be said about past batches of the far more expensive Standard.

Whatever the reasoning behind the price difference, you won't feel it, you won't hear it and you certainly won't regret the smaller hit to your finances.

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