Gibson Les Paul Vs SG. Who Does it Better? 3 Go Head to Head 

It’s time to look at the differences between the two powerhouses of the Gibson Electric Guitar collection. The Gibson Les Paul Vs Sg. Two classic huge selling guitars rich in history. 

Let’s put them head to head and find out the main differences. 

Growing up I learned to play on a Les Paul, which I later owned and gigged with an SG in a working band. So I’ll give you my opinion on both in various situations. 

With many different scenarios to cover, I’ve included my favorite Les Paul or SG in the following areas. Lower Budget, Standard, and Top Tier

There are many qualities and details you may be unaware of, so let’s jump straight into Les Paul Vs Sg and see what guitar matches you best. 

Product Range Comparison

Quick View: Les Paul Vs Sg

  1. Les Paul Special Electric Guitar Vs Sg Standard Electric Guitar (Budget Battle)
  2. Les Paul Standard ’50s Electric Guitar Vs Sg Standard ’61 Electric Guitar (Standard Scrap)
  3. Les Paul 1959 Standard Ultra Light Aged Vs Custom 1963 Sg Junior Reissue (Top End Tussel)

Overview Of Sound Differences

It’s impossible to pick exact tonal characteristics between the two guitars. There are so many models to consider. Yet we do know that the following is true when comparing the Gibson Les Paul Vs SG:

The lightweight narrow-type body of the SG allows for a stronger bottom end at ‘mid range’ chords.

That being said, a Les Pauls‘s strength is its ability to dig into some of the best low end tones you’ll get on any electric guitar. Don’t be confused by the two descriptions. The Les Paul also has a superior warmth throughout that deep low end, where the SG‘s ‘mid range’ low tones are excellent.  

On the flip side to this, the SG possesses a sharp-edged, brighter raw growl. Especially in the mid to high end spectrum. This is where the SG and Les Paul are extremely distinctive.

If you’re thinking of playing something a little more intricate, skillful and beautiful, then, in my opinion, you’d get a lot more clarity on an SG.

Don’t be put off by the thicker, stocky heavyweight body of a Les Paul. Les Paul guitars have pumped out some of the most unique amazing tones ever heard. The build design of a Les Paul gives you better resonance. 

This is all down to the individual design of each guitar. Although people say they are very similar when it comes to playing rock music, I’m not so sure. 

Obviously, depending on your humbuckers, hardware, pedal, pick, amp, and technique were all going to sound different. But for me, the Les Paul has more ballsy power when playing riffs and power chords. Solos are thicker and creamier on a Les Paul in comparison to the crystal clear SG sound.

Tone is completely subjective, but the above gives you an idea of what will fit your music and style the best. If I could afford it, I’d, without doubt, own both guitars. 

Les Paul scale length. sg standard and les paul studio pic maple cap

10 Differences You May Need To Know

Here are some small factors you may want to consider before buying either guitar
  1. It is important to consider weight. The SG is much lighter as it’s built from a solid piece of wood. A Les Paul has a bulky build making them substantially heavier, especially noticeable when in the standing position. 
  2. Les Pauls tend to have a maple cap. Generally made from Alder, Ash or Basswood. It’s a layer of maple wood over the top of the guitar body. Les Pauls usually exhibit a maple top over a mahogany body. SGs on the other hand are produced from solid wood. 
  3. The slender design of a Gibson SG weighs in around 2.7kgs. Whereas a heavier, more bulky Les Paul weighs a beasty 4 to 5.5kgs. That’s quite a considerable difference. 
  4. Comfort wise, the SG is slim line and may suit a beginner or a smaller player. A Les Paul can be cumbersome in comparison, and can take some getting used to. 
  5. The SGs neck joins the body at the 20th-22nd fret, meaning you can get around the higher parts of the fretboard easier. The Les Paul neck is much sturdier, as it is joined at the 16th fret. 
  6. The output jack on the Les Paul is on the edge of the guitar, at the bottom. The SG jack is on the face of the body. Meaning you can’t really practice a Les Paul sitting back in your sofa or chair whilst being plugged in. I found the cable on the SG pointing outwards to be a distraction when playing live. It would often knock into my mic stand, or the bottom of my strumming hand if you’re pounding heavy chords in the Pete Townshend Windmill style.
  7. Gibson electric guitars use the scale length of 24 and ¾ inches on most of its models. The Gibson SG and Les Paul both use this measurement. 
  8. I would say the SG is slightly more ‘player friendly’ as it’s lighter and a little easier to get around the higher frets. 
  9. Standing up with a heavy guitar for long periods isn’t for everyone, so consider this if you’ve never owned a Les Paul before. It’s kinda accepted in the guitar world today as it’s such an outstanding guitar. 
  10. The Les Paul is a more expensive guitar. The simple reason is: They take longer to build as they use more wood, and they’re the more popular model between the two.   

Les Paul Vs SG: Best Electric Guitar. Head to Heads

Gibson Les Paul Special Electric Guitar

Your Les Paul Starting Point
Gibson Les Paul

A throwback from the 1950s, a step up from the Les Paul Junior (they look very alike). The original guitar came with P-90 pickups but today you have a choice of those or humbuckers. 

The legendary P90s are a must for the live guitarist. 

When plugged in, The Les Paul Special sounds just like it should! A beasty no-nonsense ax with an outrageous amount of power. It sits comfortably on the verge of break-up at medium volume. This is something guitarists spend $100s on to achieve. 

A thick bluesy tone can be found around the ¾ mark of your volume knob. Cranking it up gives you that clear shimmery crunch just like a Les Paul of old.

The Finish is a thin coat of gloss nitrocellulose. This is an important feature and aids tone and allows the guitar to breathe. Ask any Gibson Les Paul addict!

Gibson Les Paul

A 24.75″ scale length neck. Shaped from mahogany, giving you a Vintage ’50s profile. The fretboard is rosewood, lined with 22 medium jumbo frets and acrylic dot inlays.

A solid affordable Les Paul starter guitar in my opinion. Very popular (so that tells you something). 

Gibson SG Standard Electric Guitar

Mr. Versatile

The SG Standard is a perfect place for you to start your Gibson career. 

A solid popular performer used in many situations across the musical spectrum. And one of the lowest price instruments in this review. 

A real all rounder when it comes to power, control, comfort, and tone.

The Dual 490 R (neck) and 490 T pickups give you endless possibilities. They have the minerals to deal with such genres as Rock, Metal, Funk, Blues, and Beasty Riffs. 

The raw grit and clarity the Standard SG can handle cannot be competed with by a Les Paul within this price range. It’s as simple as that. An outstanding feature that is present with every model of SG. 

The neck is a 12’ radius, very slim, and super easy to get around. The comfort factor of this guitar should definitely be considered for newer players and beginners. 

The slim tapered body design gives you a lightweight manageable guitar. Especially a good starter ax for children. 

Although you’re not going to get the vintage hardware you would with the higher priced SG. This really is a guitar I hold in high regard, as it served me so well over the years. I have nothing negative to add. 

If you’re looking to not break and want a real Gibson SG, here is your starting point. A reliable beast that holds a superb array of tonal possibilities. It won’t let you down. 

Les Pauls vs SG Standard

This is the guitar I had when I played in a working band for four years. Its growling tones and a superb array of clarity make it an easy winner in the lower-priced category. 


Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s Tobacco Burst

The Real Deal
Les Paul

Now back to the roots of this iconic guitar with Les Paul Standard 50s. 

The unique PAF Style Burstbuckers brought inspiration to generations of Gibson players. Gibson has handpicked the hardware to bring you the classic 50s blueprint.

Vintage tuners with those delicious amber top hat control knobs. A lush nickel plated binding feel that tells you a story from way back in the day. 

The tone is vibrant vintage and crunchy. Boosting up into the thick and creamy neck position for fat feisty riffs that’ll vibrate the ground.

The clears are high and shiny. With Strumming chords, you can hear every individual note. Just like the guitars made in the 50s.  

An incredibly dynamic guitar with a beautiful vintage tone that would suit the Les Paul purist. 

The design is original and offers the same craftsmanship as you’d get buying in the 1950s.

The neck is a rounded chunky mahogany feel. I have a few Les Paul playing friends, this is the feature they love most about the guitar. 

The big style neck gives you plenty of resonance and gives you the natural boost you’ll need when playing your slow deep blues licks. 

Les Paul

Rosewood fretboard gives you an unrivaled smooth fingering experience, this could become very addictive, beware! 

A distinguished and dominant sustain enables you to feel the full Gibson Les Paul experience. 

Gibson SG Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola Electric Guitar Vintage Cherry

Most Comfortable

The instantly recognizable horn shaped guitar is known all over the world. It offers its services to many genres of music. 

The Gibson SG has been superbly used by such legends as Angus Young, Robbie Krieger, right through to the early blues recordings of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Now that’s versatility right there!

The Gibson SG Standard Sideways Vibrola 61 takes the classic vintage aesthetics from the original. But updates the hardware and electronics with a perfect blend of vintage and new. 

A beautiful vintage cherry stain color and slim taper mahogany neck give you an unrivaled sustain. 

Dual Burstbucker 61 Humbuckers enable you to match the classic rock and blues tones of old. 

Les Paul Gibson SG Standard

Superb clarity and huge low end punch give you the choice to smash out big angry riffs or power chords. 

The vintage stop bar tailpiece and deluxe cream tuners make it look exactly like the original 60s model. The spacious 22 fret fingerboard is made from mahogany and feels like silk under your fingertips. 

A three-way toggle switch, two-tone, and two volume controls give you many sounds to choose from. A crystal clear shimmer can be ideal for the quiet bedroom type scenarios or you can go full blazing face melt and show everybody who’s the daddy.

The Sideways Vibrola tailpiece adds that vintage look that’s unique to the Gibson SG. Not only is this a super unique feature, but it’s also actually doing a very important job keeping your strings perfectly in tune when utilizing the tremolo system. 

If you’re already a big Gibson fan, you must absolutely own an SG. 

Standard Level Winner: Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s  Tobacco Burst

Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard Ultra Light Aged

The Most Fashionable Sought After Guitar In History
Les Paul

So here we have the holy grail. The 1959 Tom Murphy ‘Ultra Light Aged’ Les Paul Standard. 

Possibly the most all-round Les Paul on the market today. With a delicious array of sweet tones and hefty beef to impress your audience.

A Custom Shop work of art. Every tiny aspect of the build has been perfectly executed by the Gibson Custom Shop team, overlooked by legend Tom Murphy. 

Unfortunately, the pictures do not show the aging look of this Les Paul. It’s truly outstanding in its appearance and worth a look. 

If you love Custom Shop guitars and love the thought of a top notch, Les Paul, with a 70-year appearance, the Ultra Light Aged edition is the epitome of that. 

With a lightly aged finish to the body and wear n tear effect on the hardware. It oozes the authentic vibe, character, and cool look of a guitar that’s been around the block. 

The biggest difference between this 1959 Reissue and the other top-end range of Les Pauls, is the resonance. 

Although you can spend thousands of dollars on pickups, pedals, and amps. You cannot alter the resonance from the instrument itself.

This is a louder, more resonant Les Paul, which then provides you with a more superior tone. 

Mix that natural resonance with the Dual Custombucker Alnico 3 pickups. You can then shape the tone into something that cannot be reached with the alternative top-end models. 

The components and high quality build features of this custom build beauty are in essence the heart and soul of a high quality tone.  

With Sweet trebles and an array of glassy high end accents to be discovered. Your lead tones are going to sound like nobody else on the circuit.

Les Paul

The middle pickup supplies you with a cutting edge that gives you that classic Gibson tone we all love. 

Plenty of thick fat punch, low end power for riffs and hefty chord rock. I have to say this guitar is light years away from anything else in the review. An absolute monster!  

If you have an obsession with Les Paul guitars, and you want the utmost best instrument for all occasions. The Tom Murphy studio has recreated an absolute dream of a guitar for people like you.  

Gibson Custom 1963 SG Junior

The Ferrari Of Electric Guitar

The Gibson 1963 SG Reissue is a no-nonsense, no-frills, just plugin and make massive noise. It’s very similar to a car that wants to go faster and harder with very little effort. 

It can be thrown around as it’s so light. It can play stadiums but also beautiful intricate chord progressions with its impressive spectrum of mids. 

In my opinion, this is what makes the SG so popular. One minute they’re capable of catapulting The Doors and Robbie Krieger into one of the best known bands ever. Yet here they are with Carlos Santana’s Latin swing and aiding Angus Young in ripping stadium roofs off. 

They’re right up there with the Telecaster for being one of the most versatile creatures around. 

The SG junior reissue made my list as it’s so very easy to play. It’s the best bang for buck electric guitar in the SG collection. 

Some guitarists don’t want the aggravation of carving out and dialing in to find exceptional tones. Some people just wanna get down to playing asap. 

The Junior reissue has a superior build with a solid, sturdy 1 piece mahogany body and nitro finish. After a short time, the nitro finish will give you that authentic road-worn look naturally. Just like the original guitars from 1961. 

sg vs Les Paul

If you haven’t heard of P90 pickups, they could indeed be one of the most famous pickups in history. The Dog Ear P90 pickups installed are nothing short of raunchy and possess the girth to whack out an astonishing amount of clout. This is without having to even try! It’s almost like driving an automatic car. 

If your budget is within the medium range, and you want a ‘proper’ Gibson SG built with the best hardware and electronics. Then here is your next instrument. Undeniably reliable, powerful, comfortable, and easy to play. 

What more do you need? (earplugs maybe?) 


About Lee

Lee has been playing guitar for over 25 years. In the 1990's he made a few TV appearances in London and supported a few big bands at festivals. He's recently sung on radio and worked as a full-time guitarist/singer. Lee is the founder of Authority Guitar, a site where he wants readers to enjoy every aspect of learning the guitar.

Leave a Comment