Gibson Les Paul Classic Vs Standard (Comparison)
Our pick: The Gibson Les Paul Classic
The Classic has everything I want to see in a Les Paul (Burstbucker pickups, Grover tuners, the fancy body carving), all for $500 less than the Standard. Given the relative similarities of the two models, I'd recommend taking the Classic and the built-in discount.
When comparing the Les Paul Classic and Les Paul Standard, it's important to note that there are multiple versions of the Les Paul Standard. Primarily you have the '50s, '60s, and Slash signature versions of the Standard.
All of them are more expensive than the Les Paul Classic.
There's really only one Gibson Les Paul Classic, with varying color and finish options.
So for our Gibson Les Paul Classic VS Standard comparison, we'll be focusing on the Les Paul Standard '50s version, which is one of the most popular models. We'll also mention some features in the Standard '60s version, which differ slightly from the '50s model.
Just to recap, we have three "players" in this comparison:
- Gibson Les Paul Classic
- Gibson Les Paul Standard '50s
- Gibson Les Paul Standard '60s
Though I think prospective buyers will find little difference between these two guitars.
We can start with our comparison tool for a quick look at each model:
Gibson Les Paul Classic VS Standard Comparison Tool
Gibson Les Paul Classic
Gibson Les Paul Standard (50s)
As you can probably tell, the differences between the two on the spec sheet are fairly minimal. At the same time, we have a $500 price difference tilting towards the '50s Standard.
So what exactly accounts for this price difference?
Why is the Les Paul Standard more expensive?
One might look at the 61R and 61T Burstbuckers in the Classic and suppose those pickups are cheaper. However, the 61R and 61T are in the '60s Standard as well, which is also $2500.
One of the only things we can surmise is that the Standard series gets more "by-hand" work than the Classic series. The product description specifically mentions hand-wired electronics for the '50s Standard, but not the classic.
Any time you have work done by hand on a guitar, it tends to significantly run up the price.
That's probably what we're seeing with the Les Paul Standard being more expensive than the Classic, because it's not an issue of pickups, tonewood, electronics, or a Plek'd fretboard, all of which are nearly mirroring each other in the two guitars.
Gibson Les Paul Classic
With 9-hole weight relief, the Les Paul Classic is a bit lighter than the Standard, which might also account for some of the price difference.
The Classic, being cheaper, also throws in Grover brand tuners and the 61R and 61T Burstbuckers we mentioned earlier. For being cheaper than the Standard, it definitely seems to provide some higher-end features that makes us feel really good about saving the $500 and going with the Classic over the '50s Standard.
Gibson Les Paul Standard ('50s version)
The '50s Standard ships with Gibson stock tuners (which are still quite good), and the Burstbucker 1 and 2 humbuckers instead of the 61R and 61T. It's not necessarily a downgrade, but disappointing considering the '60s version of the Les Paul Standard adds these back in while maintaining the $2500 price tag.
With these guitars, you're just not going to find a lot of distinction in the specs sheets, which is why we're fairly certain the price difference accounts for more care in production and hands-on work.
Summary of Comparison
If you've narrowed your decision down to these two guitars, I'd strongly recommend going with the Les Paul Classic, since you get the Grover tuners, Burstbucker pickups and everything else that comes in the Standard models, yet for $500 cheaper.
When you're looking at guitars in this price range, differences in quality become very subtle and hard to pin-down.
That's when you can go with just the best value/price option, or even pick based on the color you like or which one you think looks better.
From a sound quality and feature perspective, there just isn't much difference.
Both are excellent guitars.
Your Questions and Comments
If you still have questions about these two guitars, feel free to drop those in the comments section down below. I'll jump in and help out as much as I can.
Written by GC Editorial on Electrics and Comparisons
Written by GC Editorial on Electrics and Comparisons
Taki Pappas says
I am torn between the PRS CE 24 and Gibson les paul classic.
I found a whale blue CE24 with a black neck, and black headstock in the blue finish which I have never seen before. Also, previously owned a CE 24 and loved it but the finish, I had to pass on. Any thoughts on your part with respect to versatility between the two and what may actually hold great value over time? Thank you!
Bobby Kittleberger says
Do you know the year of the CE 24 you found? My black PRS with the gold hardware is a 2005 CE 24 and I absolutely love it.
If it’s a unique PRS, I’d grab it. They are – in my opinion – the best manifestation of versatility. I like them for metal and heavy stuff, but tons of players use them for just about everything.
I’d say the LP Classic is more of a safe bet in this case. I hope this helps!
I had a CE 24. I currently have a Gibson Les Paul classic and a PRS core 24. Both the CE 24 and the Les Paul classic are outstanding guitars and sound fantastic. The PRS gives you a beautiful flame top… but I love the plain translucent cherry finish on my classic too. Both guitars have great pickups…on par with each other. The PRS is waaay lighter and had a more focused modern tone, but it’s way more versatile. The PRS much brighter snappier tone The Les Paul had that fat low end classic tone. It really boils down to the your playing style and tone… and what you prefer. The coil tapping is great on the PRS and useless on the Gibson… night and day. I would play both to see what you prefer. Good.
donald Peckler says
Are the frets the same size classic vs standard
Should be. Both should be medium jumbo with 22 frets.
If I wanted the classic “just because”
Could I have pickup covers installed after the purchase if I decided too?
I think you would need to get entirely new pickups. (edit) See below:
I have put new nickel plated Seymour Duncan covers on several Gibsons. They are a perfect fit. All you need is soldering skills.
Why were the Classic’s push/pull pot options not mentioned? I think that alone offsets the $500 delta in price!
Thanks for sharing, Bill. I stand corrected on my previous comment as I misunderstood the OP. Thanks for helping correct this.
By the way, I stand corrected! Both BurstBuckers have the same pole spacing, so a standard Gibson nickel plated bridge pickup cover DOES NOT fit. You have to use two neck pickup covers.
Bill – thanks for mentioning this. Much appreciated.
I have both. The Gibson Les Paul Classic in Honeyburst and the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50’s with P-90’s. Just received the latter and haven’t had a chance to play it yet (work work work). The Classic was purchased from Sweetwater 2 years ago. The only frustrating thing about my Classic is the fret work. Some of the frets are not as smooth as you’d expect on a $2,000 guitar. Not something I can feel by hand but when bending, that’s when I can feel the lack of smoothness of the frets. And it’s been like this from the first day I received it so it makes me wonder whether Sweetwater actually inspected it prior to shipping it out. One other issue with the Classic, at least mine, is it never has sustained as well as one would expect from a high end guitar. I’m hoping my new Standard doesn’t have these issues.
Sweetwater is generally pretty good about inspecting their guitars before they send them out. Sorry to hear about the hang ups with the Classic. Both guitars should be pretty solid.
My classic is my favorite guitar now. Purchased from Sweetwater….. when I got it the action at the nut was atrocious. I had to spend a few hours and a few hundred bucks on nut files. Let’s just say Sweetwater’s inspection is complete BS.
Ryan Byrne says
Any thoughts on a Classic+(which comes with a AAA maple burst top) vs a Standard 50s? The Classic plus is $3299Cdn vs $3599 for the Std 50s. Slash standards are $3699. I’m leaning towards the Classic plus, just wanted a few opinions. Thanks!
Hey Ryan – you talking about something like this? https://www.gibson.com/en-US/Guitar/DMOC3G385/Les-Paul-Classic-Plus/Blueberry-Burst
Looks like a pretty significant mod, but that one is cheaper.
If that’s the wrong one – do you have a link to the one you’re thinking of?
Great article this really helped me out , now I know the classic is the one plus I prefer the cherry sunburst
Thanks Jeff. Glad you found it helpful.
I have a Sunburst Classic 2021 . Every thing about it is Great . I do have to drop my pickups down , a little lower than I normally do , it mellows it out .
Had to the same on my 60s standard which has the same pickups.
Jim wood says
Bobby, i have a Les Paul Classic, 2014. With the 15 DB boost switch and coil tap. It s also 120th anniversary model. What are your thoughts on this model?
I’m not sure about versions that are that old, but I’d aassume it’s comparable to this? https://reverb.com/p/gibson-les-paul-classic-2014
Jim, I’m a fan of the anniversary models. I have one myself. How do you like yours?