It's one thing finding cheap Les Paul guitars, another finding LPs that
Time and time again I come across a review or forum post stating how
ridiculous the price gap is between the $2000+ Gibsons and the sub-$300
"copies". In the guitar world, the old rule of "you
get what you pay for", although still relevant, is becoming less and
less an indicator of
quality, as you'll
see and hear.
Top 5 Cheap Les Paul Copies
If you're looking for a Les Paul style guitar on a budget, there has
never been a
better time. I've whittled it down to 5 solid picks based on the
opinions of both new and experienced players.
The top 5 at a glance (click the table to enlarge)...
Classic Les Paul cut & controls. Solid mahogany body. Alnico
Classic pickups. Locking Tune-o-Matic stopbar. Medium frets.
What users say
For many budget musicians, the Les Paul
Standard is a
crucial step up in quality from
the even more modestly priced LP100 and Special II models offered by
Epiphone. The main differences are an arched (as opposed to flat) top,
set-in neck and
solid mahogany body (that's one piece as opposed to several pieces
The result is a look, feel and tone very close to the
The general consensus is, if you were considering
either the LP100 or Special, it's worth saving the extra
150 or so bucks for better durability, more
sustain, harmonic response and a meatier Les Paul crunch.
The Standard Plus-Top
(add about $50) gives you the option of a flame maple top, although not
quite as detailed as the impeccably hand finished USA Gibsons.
Standard delivers that rich, warm and gutsy tone all Les Paul players
fell in love with. When the inevitable comparison is made between the
Epiphone and Gibson Standard, the Epi perhaps lacks some mid-range
depth and bite, due to cheaper materials, electronics and stock
pickups, but the fact that it is 6
than the Gibbo quickly puts things into perspective. You can always
upgrade the pickups and pots. The solid foundations are there.
Some players (and not just inexperienced players) can't even tell the
difference or simply think the two sound different,
rather than one sounding "better" or "worse". This ultimately boils
down to your personal judgement when you try out in store (which I
Classic Les Paul cut & controls. Set-in maple neck. Ceramic
humbuckers. Solid mahogany body. Jumbo frets.
users say Just unbelievable value for
money. Rondo Music are known for their beautifully crafted
copies with seemingly no corners cut. The reviews
that truly stand out are
those by more seasoned players who don't just see their AL-2000 Les Paul copy as a
backup or "beater", but a solid, no-nonsense gigging and recording
A little upgrade work, such as pickup change, electronics, a $40 setup
and you'll be very close to the Gibson standard. Or keep it stock and
you'll still have something very playable.
There's attention to detail here, such as the pickups'
wax potting, which helps keep feedback under control at high
volume/gain. The tone on the 2000 is more faithful to the original
standards than the slightly hotter Epiphone. The ceramic pickups
a tight vintage crunch whilst not sacrificing that beautifully fat LP
In contrast to the other cheap Les Paul guitars on this page, the AL-2000 features a set-in maple
neck as opposed
to mahogany which gives you brighter, crisper overtones against the
natural darkness of the deep mahogany body. A balance that many players
appreciate, especially those who are buying their first LP from perhaps
owning a smaller bodied guitar.
You can also get the AL-2000 with a Floyd Rose tremolo and in a
selection of finishes and with options such as gold hardware. Credit to
at Rondo for giving those of us on a budget such a huge range of
Widely available in UK for est. £220.
US residents should check Ebay and local ads for best deal.
Classic Les Paul spec. Vintage ceramic humbuckers. Set neck. Jumbo
users say Hailing from Britain and the family run John
Hornby Skewes' factory, the Vintage V100 has become one of the most
respected, authentic Les Paul copies available. Residents outside the
UK should be able to get hold of a V100 through Ebay or local
Users note how versatile the V100 is, with that fat, deep and
gutsy LP warmth as the foundation for many different styles of playing.
The tone knobs are surprisingly responsive and sweeping for a guitar of
this price, without muddying or muffling the tone when things are
The set mahogany neck and thick body (only a couple of pounds lighter
than the Gibson Standard) help towards producing excellent sustain and
The V100 offers everything players look and listen for in an original Les Paul
(see below for more modernised interpretations) at a fraction of the
cost and the quality has surprised even the most experienced of players.
Split coil humbuckers. Optional distressed finish (aged look). Thin U
neck profile. Thinner, lighter body than standard LP profile. Extra
users say Modified to meet the requirements of the
modern player, yet posing an aged, "distressed" finish (a worn look)
that alone might determine whether or not you look any deeper. Mind
you, so will the split coil, which adds a whole new dimension to your
tonal options not offered by the others.
The thinner neck and lighter body does not seem to take away the depth
and richness LP lovers demand, meaning those who prefer a less bulky
profile can still enjoy the meaty tones. The coil tap allows you to
effectively switch the humbuckers into single coil mode for a skinnier,
noise-free strat like chime and twang.
Users are impressed by the stock ESP pickups - noiseless, punchy, well
balanced and never dark or muddy. In fact they're a little brighter
than your typical Les Paul clone. The EC-256 stands out from
this page in that there is little to no expressed desire from users to
change the stock pickups.
Extra jumbo frets give you that scalloped neck feel and, coupled with
the slim U neck profile, puts this axe confidently in shredding
territory, confirming it as one of the most versatile cheap Les Paul
style guitars available.
for metal and modern styles. All mahogany for a rich, warm tone.
Fast, slim profile neck. Set-in neck for more sustain. High output
What users say
So here we have a Gibson scale mahogany bodied beauty with a
set-in neck, rosewood fretboard, two high output humbuckers and a fixed
Gibralter III bridge. No nonsense, basically. Oh, and big bloody strap
buttons. Nice touch.
Reviewers have raved about the finish and setup
of the guitar right out of the box. Consistently high quality output,
solidly built and stunning aesthetic detail, right down to the 12th
fret pearl inlay. The Artcore's
very modest price tag suggests costs have been cut
intelligently and discretely, without sacrificing overall quality.
Ibanez has positioned this axe as a metal
chopper. However, owners of the ART100 have generally been pleased
its versatility. The stock Artcore pickups are hot and
definitely built to
handle cranked gain, but there's enough chime and richness in the
bridge and neck pickups respectively for some very articulate clean
It's seriously difficult to find a poor review of this
guitar. Like all the great cheapo guitars, long time players
inevitably compared it to the sub $1k/2k Gibson/PRS greats and felt
they have just avoided a mugging.
helpful? Please let others know, cheers...