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Gibson Les Paul guitars are the Holy Grail for rockers who want a distinctive sound and look for their instrument. Few guitars are as easily identifiable as the Les Paul, with their single-cutaway shape and big mahogany and maple body.
But you don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to get a similar sound and design to this classic guitar! The best Les Paul alternatives will have humbuckers, a single-cutaway design, and the same deep resonance of this classic guitar.
Here are the six best alternatives to Les Paul guitars. They’ll get you as close to the Les Paul sound as you can get without breaking the bank.
What are the Best Les Paul Copies and Alternatives?
Les Paul Copies and Alternatives Reviews
This is the signature guitar of Creed founding member Mark Tremonti. If you want to recreate that heavy rock sound, you can rest assured that the PRS SE Mark Tremonti is tried and true!
The fingerboard is made of rosewood and has 22 frets, all of which are accessible with its single cutaway. Its body is even carved so that it sits comfortably against you as you play, even more so than the classic Gibson model.
The humbucker pickups were also designed with Tremonti and offer a great, clarifying tone. It’s perfect for high-gain leads, giving you a saturated sound that metal players who need tons of distortion will love.
With a mahogany body, a maple top veneer, and a maple neck, this is constructed so similar to a Les Paul that few people will be able to tell the difference. Guitarists willing to spend a bit more for a Les Paul copy will love the SE Mark Tremonti.
- Carved mahogany body that is comfortable to play with.
- Custom humbucker pickups are perfect for high-gain leads.
- Unique look that manages to resemble a Les Paul.
- A bit more expensive than many other Les Paul copies.
Epiphone Les Pauls look and sound almost identical to the real thing! The Les Paul 100 is built with a slightly slimmer body than a Gibson Les Paul, so you’ll find that it’s not too heavy and easy to play.
The Les Paul 100 comes with a LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge, so you can adjust the tone from the bridge as well as the neck. It uses open-coil humbuckers and has four individual tone controls to alter your sound as you play.
Additionally, the Les Paul 100 is also significantly cheaper than many other alternatives on this list without sacrificing quality. If you’re a beginner who doesn’t want to sink a lot of money into a guitar and doesn’t want to cheap out, this is one of the best Les Paul copies.
- Slim body helps make guitar easier to play.
- Cherry sunburst style closely resembles the real thing.
- Considerably more affordable than other Les Paul copies.
- Some reviewers found problems with this guitar's hardware.
The ESP LTD EC-256FM has what is called push-pull coil splitting. A push-pull pot can be used to “split” a humbucker pickup, making it sound more like a single-coil pickup.
Humbuckers are used on real Les Pauls to get a thick, meaty tone, but single-coils have a bite to their tone that some players love. Being able to split the coil means that you can get the best of both worlds.
This guitar has a mahogany body and set-in mahogany neck instead of a bolted-on neck. This seamlessness will give your tone much greater sustain, and look great. It’s also much less likely to break at the neck.
The super sharp cutaway design gives you easy access to every fret on the neck and looks great, too. Metal guitarists might love the look of this guitar even more than a classic Les Paul.
- Ability to coil-split means you can play a wide variety of genres and styles.
- Tune-o-Matic bridge helps you stay on key.
- Set-in neck adds a deep resonance to your sound.
- Sharp cutaway style for a unique appearance.
- Body has a thirteen-inch radius, which may be too large for people who play sitting down.
The Electromatic G5220 is a chambered body rather than a solid body. Chambered body guitars will soften your tone and take the attack way down. If you want a more complex sound from your Les Paul copy, this model will give you what you need.
The classic mahogany body is attached to a black walnut fingerboard, which has similar tonal qualities to maple fingerboards but with a dark sheen that looks great up on stage. The thin neck also lends itself to easy playing—bar chords will be a lot less hard on your fingers.
With a pair of humbucker pickups, this is a powerful guitar that will get you a classic rock sound. It also has a “V”-shaped stoptail bridge that will keep you in tune and look great up on stage.
- Chambered body that gives you a sweet, textured tone.
- Multiple design styles strongly resemble a real Les Paul, including a metallic Dark Cherry and Casino Gold.
- Thin neck for easy playability.
- Some players prefer rosewood fretboards.
The Les Paul SL from Epiphone is known as the cheapest Les Paul ever made. That might make advanced guitarists wary, but new players might find that they can’t distinguish between the sound of a real Les Paul and this copy.
The Les Paul SL has a poplar body and mahogany neck, so you’ll still get some of those sweet, sustained sounds. It also uses single-coil pickups instead of humbuckers. They won’t have the same meaty tone of a double pickup, but some guitarists like the biting tone of a single pickup anyway.
Parents of teenagers who want to give the guitar a try might prefer to buy a cheaper model, just in case their child gives it up after a few months. The Les Paul SL is the best Les Paul copy for beginners who want to try out this popular style without spending much money at all.
- Arguably the most affordable Les Paul on the market.
- Offers the sound of a Stratocaster with the look of a Les Paul.
- Perfect for beginners and younger musicians.
- Some will find that the single-coil pickup doesn't give them the deep, resonant tone they want.
If you want a guitar that’s perfect for hard rock, the Schecter Solo II is perfect for you. It uses Pasadena Plus humbucker pickups, Schecter’s custom design created for Zacky Vengeance, guitarist for Avenged Sevenfold.
It comes with a push-pull function, so you can coil split and drastically alter your tone. Locking tuners will keep your strings from falling out of tune quickly, meaning you won’t have to tune up nearly as often.
And despite its sturdy appearance, the Solo II weighs only eight pounds. You won’t have trouble with a bulky, heavy guitar if you’re used to a lighter one.
Just like the real Les Paul, this is made of mahogany and figured maple, giving you both warmth and a quick attack. In other words, this is a classic-looking guitar that’s tricked out with modern technological features.
- Nearly as high-quality as an actual Gibson Les Paul.
- Push-pull coil-splitting so you can alter your sound.
- Locking tuners will keep you on key.
- The most expensive guitar listed here.
Buyer’s Guide to Les Paul Alternatives
The best Les Paul-style guitar that isn’t as expensive as the real thing will not simply look like a Les Paul, but will also have some of the same design features and technology. There are a few qualities that are distinctive to the Les Paul that will make it easy to pick out an alternative that sounds just as good.
Here’s how you can find the best Les Paul alternative for you.
What Features To Look For in Les Paul Alternatives
- Single-cutaway design. One of the best things about a Les Paul is that the single-cutaway design helps you access every fret on the fretboard. A good Les Paul copy like the ESP LTD EC-256FM will have one cutaway where the neck meets the body.
- Humbuckers. If you want a guitar that gets as close to the Les Paul sound as possible, you’re going to want a humbucker pickup as they have. If you want the sound of a guitar like a Stratocaster with the look of a Les Paul, however, single-coil pickups are fine.
- Mahogany body. Les Pauls have a beautiful, resonant sound from their solid bodies made with mahogany wood. They’re often fitted with a maple top as well, adding an extra tonal layer.
How To Choose the Best Les Paul Alternative
- Think about what kind of music you like to play. The kind of music you play will determine if you need a humbucker or not. The PRS SE Mark Tremonti Electric Guitar’s humbuckers will give you a chunky sound perfect for layering distortion. On the other hand, the single-coil pickups like the ones in the Epiphone Les Paul SL Electric Guitar are better if you want a straightforward, cleaner sound.
- Choose your favorite look. There are so many great Les Paul copies out there that you will have a wide variety of designs to choose from. Les Pauls can be colored gold, cherry red, or styled with a sunburst just like the Epiphone Les Paul 100.
- Make a wish list of other features you want. Gibson Les Paul’s won’t always have some of the extra features or alternative designs that Les Paul copies have. If you want to coil-split there’s the Schecter Solo II Custom Electric Guitar. If you want to have a chambered body instead of a solid body, you may be able to find a great alternative such as the Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT Electric Guitar.
You may not be able to buy the classic Gibson Les Paul, but there are so many high-quality substitutes that might just be better than the real thing. Try any of these six Les Paul copies out for yourself!