Gibson Les Paul Studio Vs Standard

Gibson Les Paul StudioGibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Les Paul StandardGibson Les Paul Standard

Both the Gibson Les Paul Studio and Standard have been the go-to guitars of professional, working musicians for decades. As far as quality, you don't get much better than Gibson USA.

But for those looking to own their piece of Gibson USA history, the burning question is: how does the Studio stand up against its bigger, more expensive Standard brother?

At more than double the price of the Studio, the Standard represents a good few months rent/mortgage for most people. So clearly, the more modestly priced Studio represents a significant saving. But where have costs been cut? How much of a compromise does opting for the Studio over the Standard truly represent in terms of tone and playability?

Is the Studio really less than half the guitar of the Standard?

Model Studio Standard
Rating 90
Reviews Ultimate Guitar (all models)
Harmony Central (all models)
Musicians Friend (2016)
Zzounds (2016)
Amazon (2016)
Sweetwater (2016)
Ultimate Guitar (all models)
Musicians Friend (2016)
Zzounds (2016)
Amazon (2016)
Sweetwater (2016)
Model Studio Standard
Website 2016 model
2016 model
Weight 3.7 kg / 8.2 lbs 3.9 kg / 8.6 lbs
Tuners Grover Green Grover Locking
Neck Mahogany
Slim Taper
Slim Taper (Asymmetrical)
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Frets 22 22
Inlays Acrylic Acrylic
Body Mahogany (med. density)
Maple Top (grade C)
Mahogany (low density)
Maple Top (grade AAA)
Pickups 498T (neck)
490R (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap
Rhythm Burstbucker Pro (neck)
Lead Burstbucker Pro (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap
Bridge Tune-o-matic
Chrome Plated Zamak
Tone Pro Tune-o-matic
Chrome Plated Zamak
Binding None Cream
Studio Standard

Studio Standard
Musicians Friend
Musicians Friend

Bottom Line

Bar a few very minor (and mostly cosmetic) differences, it's difficult to see just where most of the extra $1-2k is hiding in the Standard. This is reflected in the comparative reviews and ratings.

Studio owners, even those who have owned and played Standards for years, don't feel like they are "missing" anything in terms of what the Les Paul is known for.

The Standard may look sharper and offer more bling. But when it comes to the meat and potatoes of tone and playability, the Studio represents all the Les Paul a working musician could want and a seasoned LP player would expect.

Differences Between the Studio & Standard Les Paul

The Les Paul Studio is marketed as a "stripped down Les Paul". But underneath its coat lies the same DNA that makes the LP such a gutsy, reliable workhorse.

The Studio is crafted using same high quality mahogany as the Standard. Only the maple top is compromised, a modest C grade compared to the rarer AAA maple on the Standard.

The weight difference, with the Studio being a touch lighter, is due to a combination of the lower grade maple and a slightly thinner body (about 1/8 inch) than the Standard.

The 2016 Standard boasts locking tuners vs non-locking on the Studio. This, in theory, should mean the Standard will hold its tuning more reliably than the Studio.

Slim Taper (Studio) Vs Asymmetrical (Standard) neck profiles

Coming out of the same Gibson USA factory, you can expect the same high level of quality control for which Gibson are renowned. But with higher level quality control comes a higher price.

The 2015 model was criticised for its especially high mark-up compared to previous years. But 2016 has seen a welcome 25% reduction in price.

Probably the most practical difference between the Standard and Studio is the neck profile, although again, quite subtle. The Studio uses Gibson's "slim tapered" neck, whereas the Standard neck has an asymmetrical taper.

This basically means the curve on one side of the neck is flatter than the other side, which is supposed to provide more ergonomic grip.

Binding on the Les Paul Standard

On the cosmetic front, binding is absent from the Studio (the white line you see around the edge of the body and neck) along with the choice of elaborate maple top designs and "Mother of Pearl" inlay markers. There's also an enhanced carve to the Standard's body, highlighting the natural grain patterns.

Comparing the pickups on paper reveals a potential difference in tone, in reality very subtle to even the most discerning of ears.

Stock in the 2016 Studio are the 490R and 498T, with the slightly more hotly wound Burstbucker Pros in the Standard. However, as you can hear from the demonstrations above, any difference to which these pickup variations contribute is barely audible.

There's an undeniable thrill about owning a Les Paul Standard, but the Studio is no cheap imitation. All you are really sacrificing is a lower grade maple top and some cosmetic preferences.

It's perhaps time to be honest about just how much more the Standard offers you, versus the Studio, and how much this difference really means to you as a guitarist.

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