Updated by Danielle
Updated on March 7th, 2023
Checked product links for accuracy and availability (in stock). Also made minor changes to copy and article formatting. Enjoy it!
I won’t tell you it’s easy to find a cheap Gibson guitar.
Gibsons are expensive for specific reasons, many of which are controlled by external economic circumstances. Take the price of wood, for example. Gibson buys high-quality wood (usually Mahogany) - the price of which is predetermined - thus factoring into the final retail cost of the guitar.
The same is true with any product and certainly all parts of an expensive guitar.
Thus, getting the price of a Gibson to drop, is fairly rare. Still, there are ways to get one at a budget-friendly price. There are two lanes you can use to avoid paying $2000 - $3000:
- Buy a new Gibson that simply retails cheaper.
- Buy a used Gibson via Reverb, eBay or Craigslist at a steep discount.
The first one simply means you buy one of the Gibsons that aren’t so expensive.
There are actually a lot of cheap Gibson guitars retailing below $1000, and they’re solid instruments. I'll highlight seven Gibson guitars for cheap (at least when compared to the typical Gibson price) in this article:
Roundup of Cheap Gibson Electric Guitars (top 4 picks)
Gibson Les Paul JR
Gibson SG Special
Gibson Les Paul Special
Gibson Les Paul Studio
The Les Paul Junior will appeal to the minimalist who wants a simple configuration and Gibson tone. Note that the "Junior" designation doesn't mean it's small or intended for kids. It's shipping weight is about 20 pounds, while the guitar itself weighs around seven.
The Les Paul Junior is one of the best Gibson options for beginners, thanks largely to its friendly price tag.
That price, combined with a straightforward setup, gives the Junior wide-ranging appeal from beginners to the professional performer. Stylistically the Junior can handle nearly anything, as it commonly falls into the hands of rock, country, blues and even jazz guitar players.
Gibson uses Mahogany for both the body and neck of this guitar, giving it a thick push on the low-end frequencies and some extra weight.
Session and gigging guitarists alike can make it work.
Features and price tag
Additional features include two P-90 pickups and two controls, one for volume and one for tone, rounding out one of Gibson’s simplest guitars. Most of them retail around the $750 mark, making it one of the cheapest Gibson Les Pauls available.
IDEAL FOR: Versatility, multiple styles, sessions, and basic gigging
2. Gibson SG Special
The Gibson SG Special, compared to the SGM and the other Les Pauls in this list, gives you a lot of the same features we've already seen.
You might notice Gibson's cost-cutting involves a combination of the '61 Zebra pickups, a Mahogany body, and Maple neck. However, the finish on the SG Special seems to be a little nicer, with a gloss lacquer that shines more than the SGM.
Note: Some versions re-up the P90 pickup set like we see in the Junior.
Everything else about this guitar is consistent with what we've already seen. The tone from the Zebra humbuckers provides plenty of good sustain and sounds best when paired with a grungy distortion pedal like the Pro Co Rat or Boss DS-1.
Just a style difference from the Les Pauls?
Some folks prefer the SG over the LP simply because of the looks and shape.
If you like that aspect of the SG, there's no need for concern that you're missing out on better features with the LPs.
In this list, at least, they're extremely similar.
IDEAL FOR: Heavier tones, recording, classic rock, versatile playing styles, rhythm
3. Gibson Les Paul Special
The SG Special looks a lot like the JR, right down to the set of P90 pickups.
It also adds the pickguard and the dual volume tone controls.
You'll get a little more versatility tone versatility and control. This could be more palatable to someone who likes the Junior but would miss the flexibility added by nicer pickups and dual volume/tone controls.
To be blunt, most people in that situation would likely be happy with the Special or the Junior.
This model does cost more, retailing around $1600 which is about $100 to $200 above the Junior. Price difference is primarily due to the slightly nicer P90 pickups and extra electronics for both volume controls.
If you like the design (perhaps the pickguard specifically), this is a nice second option alongside the Gibson Les Paul Junior.
IDEAL FOR: Lead/rhythm hybrid playing styles, classic rock, blues
The price of the Gibson LP Studio is low enough that you can often snag one for around $1500.
It’s our favorite Gibson in this price range, partly because it so closely looks the part of a Les Paul Classic. It also has some of the higher-end Les Paul features with a carved Maple top and an upgrade in wood quality and grain.
Push-pull volume and tone controls for each pickup, lighter construction and the classic Les Paul look and feel are the most notable features.
The Gibson Les Paul Studio pickups
The Gibson Les Paul Studio pickups are the '57 Classic and '57 Plus, both Gibson brand offerings that sound fantastic and give you a significant upgrade over the pickups we've seen in many of the other models.
It's one of the only Gibson guitars with '57 classic pickups, in this price range.
Made in the United States, '57s are the best Gibson pickups for blues, rock, metal and almost any style that uses any amount of distortion.
The '57s versatility is a big part of how the Gibson Studio models have become such fantastic all-around guitars, regardless of style. They're consistently one of Gibson's most popular options, both for their versatility and affordability.
The pickups by themselves retail for around $150, though there are some deals available when you buy them in pairs.
What does “Studio” mean?
The Studio model Les Paul isn’t exclusively intended for sessions guitarists or those who work in a recording studio. Calling it a “Studio” model simply means that it was designed with recording sessions in mind. However, these specs don’t preclude it from being a viable guitar for most any situation.
In fact, the lower price of the Les Paul studio has made the Gibson brand more accessible to a wider range of players and situations. In other words, you don’t have to be Hank Garland to own one.
It’s still just a regular guitar.
IDEAL FOR: Rock, heavier tones, metal, versatility, lead/rhythm hybrid playing styles
Finding Discount Gibson Guitars
I mentioned before that you can either buy a Gibson guitar that retails low or you can go about finding one used with a steep discount.
Since discounts and bargains come and go, I can’t post specific guitars or links here that will be helpful to you.
What I can do is show you how to find those deals yourself.
In this “tutorial” portion of the buying guide, we’ll use three different sites to find these discounts, none of which should surprise you.
All three of these websites provide opportunity to find nearly anything at a steep discount.
And while Gibson guitars might be more elusive, they can often be had on websites like these, far below retail value.
What we’ll do is list the most optimal step-by-step instructions for each website.
- Navigate to your nearest locality (larger cities are better).
- Search, without quotes: “gibson, guitar“
- If you get a lot of Epiphone guitars in your results, try this query: “gibson, guitar, -epiphone“
- Select the “Gallery” option (so you can see pictures).
- Sort price Low-to-High (don’t set a price range).
Craigslist is hit or miss, but when you hit, you can get some fantastic discounts.
Also keep in mind that Craigslist is haggling territory. You can make offers, ask about trades and engage in a more organic form of purchasing.
Craigslist doesn’t insure your purchase or bear any responsibility for your satisfaction.
Shop at your own risk.
- Use one of the following search terms: “Gibson Les Paul” (with quotes - or substitute your model of choice: SG, Flying V, etc.), “Gibson, Guitar“
- Add the “Epiphone” tag to any search query if you need to.
- Click the “Buy It Now” Filter
- Click on “Electric Guitars” under Categories.
- Set the price range at: $300 - $1500
- Sort by price, lowest to highest.
The wild card with eBay is their auctioning system, which can score you an even lower price if you have the patience to sit through a few days of bidding.
Personally I like the ease of the Buy It Now button, but it’s not the only option.
- Use a simple search term like “Gibson Guitars“
- Under “Show results for” click on “Electric Guitars“
- Under “Brand” click the check-box for “Gibson”
- Under the price range fields, put $0.01 as the starting price and $1500 as the ending price.
Deals are easier to spot here, since essentially all the options are used and sold by third parties.
Each of these sites have their pros and cons, many of which you’re likely familiar with.
The point is that you can find cheap Gibson guitars if you know where to look and what to look for.
Gibson Guitar Prices
Another thing you can do to help increase your odds of finding a good deal is to orient yourself with Gibson’s pricing model. For example, you can quickly see that the Gibson Memphis and Custom lines - retailing between $2000 and $8000 are not likely to be good “deal” candidates in most circumstances.
At the same time, we know that the Junior, SG Special, and Studio models are easily attainable at a reduced price.
If you know all that ahead of time, it’ll be easier to spot good deals.
Do you have thoughts or perhaps a success story to share about getting Gibson guitars for cheap?
Let us here about it.
You can get in touch via the comments section below.
See you there.
Scott brady says
Another option is to look at Studio + models. By that I mean Limed Edition Studio models. Deluxe and alike. I bought 2 2014 “Studio Pros” which was a anniversary year. It was so marked on the 12th fret. Besides this difference it also had a Burstbuster Pro pickup in the bridge position and special paint that was for this year only. Also coil splitting. Still miles cheaper than a Standard price.
There are lots of errors on this. where to start?
#1 I don’t know what kind of crack you’re smoking but a les paul jr does not weight 20 lbs, you just looked up the SHIPPING weight on amazon. In that case a 12Oz SIPP Mojo Berry Soda weighs 21oz (empty cans are 0.5 oz) Try half or a third of that.
( I am going to be honest and say this is kind of funny, Because of how wrong half of this is, you cant even get the picture of the right guitar … Google Sir is your friend )
#2 you say “”Since it only has the one pickup””…. Are my eyes broken… because it has TWO in the picture. NOT ONE P90 but TWO
#3 You say””Gibson removes the pickguard, adds a second cutaway and a second dog ear pickup. Our result is the Les Paul Special Double Cutaway”” and the picture you use is a SINGLE CUTAWAY, HAS a PICKGUARD and does NOT have dog ear pickups.
( by the way the picture is of a S Series Les Paul Custom)
#3.5 It also does not weight 20 lbs …its 7.5 Lbs(the S Series Les Paul Custom that is)
#4 You say “”perhaps more palatable to someone who likes the Junior but would miss the flexibility added by a second pickup and selector switch”” But Again the Jr in the picture has two pickups and because of that it has… you guessed…. a selector switch.
It seems you just slapped this thing together and sent it out, i really don’t think you looked at this thing twice. How could you think Any guitar weights 20 lbs, hell i got a tele with a bigsby and it is only 9 lbs.
i don’t know about you but im going to drink my 21Oz 12Oz soda, lift some 7.7 lbs 5 pound weights and play my single cut Stratocaster with 5 dog ear p90 humbuckers.
Bobby Kittleberger says
This is a newer version of the Junior. The older one had one pickup and no selector switch. Also, I intended to reference the shipping weight.
Thanks for the quality control on a super old (pre Gibson bankruptcy) article.
Lee Baker says
This guy is right Bobby your way off on all the things he mentioned, I was absolutely laughing while reading and looking at these pics for the guitars you picked to represent the chosen guitars even for the year this was written. this article is absolutley ridiculous! I cant believe u have worked for all the company’s it says u do and it’s funny you even try and defend these mistakes and who cares that this is a pre Gibson bankruptcy article
Bobby Kittleberger says
Not sure what your issue with the pictures would be. Guitar models change, so does availability. The other mistakes cited by the OP were addressed.
Kay Smith says
He says the shipping weight is 20 pounds and then goes on to say the guitar is 7 pounds. I’m guessing the shipping weight includes the box and wrappings. Sometimes we miss details if we read too fast.
Bobby Kittleberger says
Hard to tell even with the shipping weight. I shouldn’t have just trusted the Amazon description. Still, people get way too worked up about stuff like that.
Jerry Snow says
I would like a guesstimate on a playable 1939 Gibson acoustic guitar that we have in good shape. Concidering selling if the price is right. Thanks. Jerry
Bobby Kittleberger says
Hey Jerry – do you have photos of the guitar? Also, have you checked for comparables on Reverb? That would be my first stop.