Differences Between the Gibson Les Paul Special and Les Paul Studio
Pickups, top piece, style, neck, and aesthetics.
In our opinion the Studio is a much better value than the Special, and certainly the more versatile between the two. A figured AA-grade Maple top, extended controls, Grover tuners, and an overall better aesthetic are all reasons (among others) we'd recommend the Studio over the Special. That said, the Special has more of a vintage and bluesy vibe, given the P90 pickups and flatter body design. For heavier, go with the Studio, and for lighter, go with the Special.
|Gibson Les Paul Special
|Gibson Les Paul Studio Plus
|Mahogany with AA Maple Top
|Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer (TV Yellow)
|Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer (Heritage Cherry Sunburst)
|Number of Frets
|22, Medium Jumbo
|22, Medium Jumbo
|2 single-coil P-90
|490R and 498T Humbucking (with coil-taps)
|2 x volume, 2 x tone
|2 x volume (push/pull coil-tap), 2 x tone
|Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Stopbar
Les Paul Special and Studio Price Guide (compare pricing)
Prices updated Thu, February 29th, 2024.
5 Biggest Spec Differences
- Les Paul Special: Equipped with two P-90 single-coil pickups.
- Les Paul Studio Plus: Features 490R and 498T humbucking pickups with coil-tap functionality for greater tonal versatility.
Body and Top Construction:
- Les Paul Special: Does not have a top piece and is instead a single, solid piece of Mahogany.
- Les Paul Studio Plus: Has a separate top piece made of AA-grade Maple, and carved or "figured" with the more nuanced Les Paul body contour.
- Les Paul Special: Vintage '50s mahogany neck, typically thicker and rounder.
- Les Paul Studio Plus: SlimTaper Mahogany neck, designed for faster playability and comfort, akin to '60s Gibson necks.
Aesthetic and Finish:
- Les Paul Special: Simple, classic design with a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish in TV Yellow.
- Les Paul Studio Plus: Has the Maple top we mentioned, with a custom nitro finish, and comes in Heritage Cherry Sunburst, which gives off a more luxurious appearance, in our opinion.
- Les Paul Special: Hand-wired with Orange Drop capacitors.
- Les Paul Studio Plus: Coil-tap functionality on the pickups, adjustable via push/pull volume controls, offering a broader range of sound options.
Which Les Paul is the better value?
When I wrote this page the Les Paul Special was actually a little more expensive than the Studio Plus, so make sure to check the price guide above for updated numbers. But even if the Studio was the more expensive instrument, I think the value there is far better, especially if you're looking for a heavier, more modern, and more powerful guitar.
The Special is going to have less punch and more subtlety, given the single body piece and single coil pickups.
So there's an argument to be made for the Special if you're in lighter styles like blues or other genres that don't require thicker guitar tones.
But overall, I'd take the Studio Plus instead of the Special.
If you disagree or want to just share your thoughts on this comparison, feel free to reach out via the comments section below.
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