The Gibson Les Paul, the most iconic Gibson guitar. There’s no doubt as to why it is one of the most sought-after guitar models on the market, but not everyone has the cash to chuck at an original Les Paul. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best Les Paul copies on the market right now.
Originally designed by Lester William Polsfuss – better known as Les Paul – and first sold by Gibson in 1952, the Les Paul is a guitar that’s not going anywhere, having surpassed generations and genres as one of the most stylish and versatile guitars.
The Gibson Les Paul is perhaps most associated with heavier styles of music like rock and metal, however this popular guitar can also be well-suited to jazz. After all, Les Paul was a jazz player himself.
Before diving into all the details, we present to you our top 3 picks:
Look back into the history of jazz guitar and you’ll find a number of great guitarists who used the instrument, such as Jim Hall who was often seen playing his Gibson Les Paul Custom.
Although jazz players are traditionally drawn to the mellow tone of a semi-acoustic, hollow-bodied guitar, younger generations of jazz musicians are increasingly attracted to solid-body guitars such as the Les Paul Standard or Les Paul Classic.
Compared to other solid-bodied guitars, its tone is relatively warm which lends itself to traditional jazz, while its high frequencies allow for jazz players to dabble in more contemporary fusion genres as well.
If you have just started to learn the guitar or you’re on a budget, there are many great Les Paul copies that are worth considering instead. Take a look at the best Les Paul copies we have rounded up below.
Our Favourite Les Paul Copies
Best Overall – Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Pack
Here we have not just one of the best Les Paul copies for your buck, but one of the best starter guitar packs on the market.
Affordably priced, yet with an offering that boasts a Les Paul Special II LTD, 10-watt amp, guitar lead, guitar carry bag, guitar strap and branded plectrum set. Epiphone have outdone themselves with this package, which is simply everything a new guitarist needs to get started.
What we love here is the beautiful vintage sunburst finish – a Les Paul staple – and the fact that it’s made by Epiphone, Gibson’s subsidiary company.
Really, you can’t go wrong.
- Complete – This starter pack has everything a budding guitarist needs to start playing.
- Epiphone – A trusted brand, owned by original Les Paul manufacturers Gibson.
- Vintage Sunburst – One of the best colors for a classic-looking Les Paul guitar.
- Affordable – For everything you’re getting, the price is easily justified.
- Entry-level – While it’s a great buy, this isn’t the best Les Paul copy for more experience guitarists.
Best Budget Les Paul – Ivy ILS-300 EGR Les Paul Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Strapped for cash? The ILS-300 EGR, designed by Korean company IYV (manufactured in Vietnam), is a budget-friendly Gibson style guitar that you’re not going to be disappointed with for the price.
Straight out of the box, the IYV ILS-300 EGR gives you a mahogany body and neck, a half-decent jatoba fretboard and nickel strings for a guitar that you can lug around without having to worry too much about.
And as a Les Paul copy guitar, you can’t argue with the craftsmanship – it looks the real deal, boasting two covered humbuckers, pickup selector, four bronze knobs, a raised pickguard, trapezoid Les Paul fret markers and a standout Emerald Green finish.
- Cheap – Rest assured the budget-friendly IYV ILS-300 EGR isn’t going to set you back.
- Design – It’s a Gibson Les Paul copy guitar that, despite the price, looks impressive.
- Mahogany – Strong, industry-standard tonewood that is both resilient and warm-sounding.
- Quality – The IYV ILS-300 EGR might not provide the build, tonal quality or lifespan you’re looking for.
Best Mid Range Copy – ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar
Japanese company ESP has been a recognizable name in the guitar industry for a while now, manufacturing a range of mid-to-high-tier electric guitars that have earned the loyalty of several high-profile guitarists, including James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett.
And it just so happens that they make some of the best Les Paul copies out there.
One of these is the ESP LTD EC-256FM, a great guitar that comes at an affordable mid-range price if you have a little extra cash to spend.
For your buck, you’re getting a mahogany body and rosewood fretboard – a bargain for what is in an LTD model – in addition to ESP LH-150 humbuckers, push-pull tone pots and LTD tuner heads that you can rely on.
It looks just as stunning as any Les Paul in dark brown sunburst, with ESP’s trademark shaping on the headstock.
- ESP – A trusted name in the guitar industry.
- Mahogany body and rosewood fretboard – Expect to be satisfied by the build and the way the neck and fretboard feels right out of the box.
- Quality – The push-pull tone pots, ESP humbuckers and ESP tuner heads are great features for guitarists of any level.
- Mid range price – As an LTD model, some guitarists might have expected a little more from ESP for the asking price.
Best Option for… Slash Fans – Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar, Heritage Cherry Sunburst
This Les Paul style guitar is perhaps a little on the gimmicky side with its close resemblance to Slash’s classic Les Paul Standard.
But, for a beginner, this is a great guitar for getting started and its Slash-inspired design is quite a bit of fun.
The Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT with the classic Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish is our favourite, and we’re not arguing with the zebra-striped open coil humbuckers, either.
It’s an Epiphone, so you know what you’re getting in terms of quality and longevity, and it sits at an affordable price for both beginner players and guitarists of several years looking to add something new to their collection.
- Iconic-looking – For fans of Slash, the Cherry Sunburst Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT is a guitar to fall in love with.
- Versatile – A guitar for both beginners and long-time players.
- Epiphone – Expect good quality from Gibson’s own subsidiary company.
- Affordable – Despite the name tag, this stunning Les Paul copy is easily affordable for most guitar shoppers.
- Zebra humbuckers – The white and black open coil humbuckers aren’t for everyone.
Best Premium Les Paul Copy – ESP LTD EC-1000 Electric Guitar, Black
If you are looking for one of the best Les Paul copies and have some extra cash to spend, you might find just what you’re looking for in the ESP LTD EC-1000.
This Les Paul Deluxe Series ESP comes in four stunning finishes – Black, See Thru Black Cherry, Koa and Vintage Black – with gold LTD locking tuners, gold knobs, a slick rosewood fingerboard, TonePros bridge and a set of active high-gain humbuckers from pickup giants EMG. It also boasts a maple top which gives the guitar a slightly more premium feel than the other guitars on this list.
In other words, this guitar is ready to be played loud if you sway towards the heavier side of jazz-rock.
As usual with any ESP guitar, the design is given a stylistic touch on the headstock, fret markers and body with a sharper, pointier cutaway. This is a Les Paul copy that looks the real deal, but with added character.
- Premium – The ESP LTD EC-1000 is a premium Les Paul copy with the features, and colored finishes, to back it up.
- Loud and proud – If you like your guitar tone thick, the active EMG humbuckers will deliver on heavy rock, classic rock and metal.
- ESP – One of the most recognized names in the guitar industry.
- Costly – You’re getting your money’s worth, but the price is steep for what is still a Les Paul copy.
Best Lightweight Model – Epiphone Les Paul Special VE
Not everyone likes a big guitar. And while the Les Paul isn’t considered bulky, the stripped-down, smaller Les Paul Junior garnered a following among many Les Paul fans following its re-release in 2001.
The Epiphone Les Paul Special VE, another budget-friendly Les Paul copy from Gibson’s subsidiary company, is a lightweight guitar that follows in the footsteps of the Les Paul Junior in terms of its weight and design.
While it does feature two open coil Epiphone humbuckers – unlike the single-humbucker Les Paul Junior (not necessarily a negative point) – the Epiphone Les Paul Special VE does come with a lightweight poplar body, SlimTaper okoume neck, dotted fret markers and just two knobs for no-nonsense volume and tone control.
It also gives you the choice of three head-turning colours: ebony, vintage sunburst and cherry red.
The company also produces the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, which- as the name suggests – recreates the design and sound of the classic Gibson Les Paul Standard. It is slightly more expensive than the other Epiphones on this list but if you’re willing to spend an extra couple of hundred pounds it is an excellent alternative to the original Gibson guitar.
- Design – The lightweight Epiphone Les Paul Special VE is a Les Paul copy that is as close as it gets to Gibson’s smaller Les Paul Junior.
- Lightweight and minimal – An ideal option for those who prefer lighter, stripped-down guitars.Affordable – For an attractive Les Paul copy by Epiphone, the price justifies itself in terms of value.
- Poplar wood – Some guitarists will be turned off by the cheaper quality, and flatter tone, that comes with poplar.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Les Paul Replica?
Although guitars like these are generally referred to as Les Paul copies, they are in fact replicas.
A Les Paul replica is any electric guitar that copies the design of the Gibson Les Paul, but is not manufactured by Gibson.
In terms of design, the Gibson Les Paul is recognizable by its single-cutaway body, dual humbuckers, raised pickguard, four volume and control knobs, trapezoid fret markers and three-a-side tuner machine heads.
Is Epiphone A Real Les Paul?
While not technically real or original Les Pauls, Epiphone is a guitar company that has been owned by Gibson since 1957.
For first-time guitar buyers and those with a limited budget, Epiphone Les Pauls, and other Epiphone guitar models, are cheaper alternatives to buying Gibson guitars.
Epiphone guitars look identical in design, but with more affordable features.
We hope you found this article helpful in your search for the best Les Paul copies. Got a question? Let us know in the comments!
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!