Les Paul Vs SG Showdown

With the SG originally developed as a slimmer, double cutaway modification of the Les Paul, the similarity between these two best-selling guitars is evident.

So what might make someone choose the SG over the Les Paul, or vice versa?

On this page we examine the key differences between these two highly sought-after axes. We start by comparing the Gibson USA Standards, although we've opted for the Les Paul Studio as it's closer to the price of the SG Standard without sacrificing key Les Paul features.

We then move on to the budget offerings from Epiphone to see how they compare at both ends of the market.

Gibson Les Paul Studio vs SG Standard

Gibson USA have been putting out both the LP and SG for over fifty years. At over a grand each (USD), they are among some of the finest quality guitars available.

Model Les Paul Studio SG Standard
Rating 90
(over $1000)
89
(over $1000)
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Model Les Paul Studio SG Standard
Manufacturer
Website
Gibson.com Gibson.com
Weight 3.7 kg / 8.2 lbs 2.9 kg / 6.5 lbs
Tuners G FORCE (2015 only) 40:1 G FORCE (2015 only) 40:1
Neck Set Mahogany
Slim Taper
Set Mahogany
Slim Taper
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Material Brass Brass
Nut Width 1.795" 1.795"
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Fingerboard Radius 12" 12"
Frets 22
Medium Jumbo
22
Medium Jumbo
Inlays Mother of Pearl Mother of Pearl
Body Mahogany
Flamed Maple Top
Mahogany
Pickups Gibson USA 57 Classic (neck)
Gibson USA 57 Plus (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap  
Gibson USA 57 Classic (neck)
Gibson USA 57 Classic (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap 
Bridge Tune-o-matic Stopbar
Tune-o-matic Stopbar
Hardware Nickel Chrome
Binding None Neck - Cream
Tonal Differences
Model Les Paul Studio SG Standard
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Epiphone Les Paul Standard Vs G-400

At the budget/entry level end, we have Epiphone's Les Paul Standard and G-400 (now the G-400 Pro). While a grand cheaper than the Gibsons, the defining characteristics are still there...

Model Les Paul Standard G-400
Rating 88
($300-$500)
86
($300-$500)
User Reviews
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Ultimate Guitar
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Model Les Paul Standard G-400 Pro
Manufacturer
Website
Epiphone.com Epiphone.com
Weight 3.85 kg / 8.5 lbs 3.1 kg / 6.9 lbs
Tuners Grover Wilkinson Vintage Classics 14:1
Neck Set Mahogany
Slim Taper
Set Mahogany
Slim Taper
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Material PVC PVC
Nut Width 1.68" 1.68"
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Fingerboard Radius 12" 12"
Frets 22
Medium Jumbo
22
Medium Jumbo
Inlays Pearloid Pearloid
Body Mahogany
Mahogany
Pickups Alnico Classic humbuckers Alnico Classic PRO (neck)
Alnico Classic PRO (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap 
Bridge Tune-o-matic Stopbar
LockTone Tune-o-matic Stopbar
Hardware Chrome Nickel
Binding Cream None
Les Paul Standard G-400 Pro


Model Les Paul Standard G-400 Pro
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Key Differences between the les paul & SG

While a side-by-side spec run-down doesn't reveal any major technical differences between the two guitars, there may be enough difference, upon closer inspection, to sway you one way or the other...

Look, Feel & Playability

Les Paul Vs SG body profile

Starting with the obvious - the SG has a double cutaway and a later neck-body join (20th fret) than the LP (16th fret), meaning it's easier to reach those higher frets.

This extra cutaway, along with the slimmer, flat body, contributes to the lighter weight of the SG. It lacks the carved top of the Les Paul. We'll get to how this affects tone in a moment.

However, because of the slightness of its body, while retaining the same neck and head config as the Les Paul, many players describe the SG as "neck heavy". It's not something you should have a problem getting used to, but when strapped and standing you can't just let it hang free like a Strat or LP... or you may hear a disconcerting thud as gravity has its way with the head!

Other than weight distribution, you're basically holding the same slim taper, flat radius neck as a modern Les Paul.

Sound

With (as good as) the same pickups and electronics, and the same neck profile, it's all down to the body to define any noticeable tonal differences.

And it's what you might expect - the SG's slimmer, flat body brings out a touch more mid-range presence. A touch more growl under gain. It's subtle, but it's enough of a fray to the edges of that smooth Les Paul tone to make the SG preferable for many rock guitarists.

Overall, the SG delivers a brighter, crisper tone than the Les Paul and more harmonic feedback to boot.

Clean, you'll hear more chime from the SG, sacrificing some of the warmth and depth that Les Paul players love.


◀ More Les Paul Comparisons

◀ More SG Comparisons