2020 Review Of The Best Les Paul Copies

Whatever is right for your application, your style, and your tone is a great choice.

But when it comes down to the guitar line of big names like Les Paul, everybody seems to find no lemon of a model.

Does this mean that all Les Pauls out there are good?

Well…not really.

Genuinely, the majority of Les Pauls are heavy whilst others are lagging in the latest technology.

To help guide your buying decision, I have reviewed 10 of the best Les Paul Copies I can vogue for.

Closest to the conclusion of this page, you’ll find my discussions on some of the controversies around the 2006-launched guitar design.

My list first.

The Complete List Of 2020 10 Best Les Paul Copy on the Market

  • Best Overall; ESP LTD EC-256
  • Best For Beginners; Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar
  • Mid-Range Dominator; Paul Reed Smith 245 Standard Electric Guitar
  • Best Non-Gibson; Oscar Smidcht OE20 LP Electric Guitar
  • Big Budget Choice; PRS SE Mark Tremonti Custom Electric Guitar
  • Another Choice For Beginners; Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Pack
  • Perfect Imitation; Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro Electric Guitar
  • Budget Pick; Glen Burton GE320 Electric Guitar
  • Studio-Quality; Epiphone Les Paul Special; P90 Electric Guitar
  • Oldie; 1977 Ibanez Les Paul Custom Lawsuit Era

See the reviews below.

  1. Best Overall; ESP LTD EC-256

Coming first on the list, ESP LTD EC-256 is a blend of traditional pointy design body of the ‘80s with modern-day hardware. At a glance, it has the distinct shape shared among all of the oldies Les Paul but a closer look reveals a rather pointy and aggressive cutaway molded in a mahogany-design back and a maple top. While that may be a sign that this is just an imitation, the Mahogany set-in neck of ESP LTD together with the rosewood fretboard calls back to mind what an LP truly looks like. ESP LTD equally features the 22 number of frets that you would expect of an LP but the waved-back trapezoidal marker inlays are quite different from those of the original Les Pauls.

ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar, Snow White

Though featuring an all-new controls setup, however, the ESP copy has the same two number of high powered humbucker pickups that are responsible for all the rock sonics and the increased headroom you get from the instrument. An overview of the features as shared below gives you an idea of what the ESP stands to offer.

Features

  • Scale; 24.75”
  • Nut width; 42mm
  • Body material; mahogany
  • Neck material; 3pc mahogany
  • Fingerboard radius; 350mm
  • Fretboard material; roasted Jatoba
  • Molded nut
  • Gold hardware
  • Tom and Tailpiece bridge
  • Passive electronics
  • ESP designed LH-150N neck pickup
  • ESP designed LH-150B bridge pickup
  • Layout of electronics; tone (push and pull)/volume/volume/toggle switch
  • EC guitar Form gig case

Pros

  • Modern Les Paul design
  • An upgraded control layout
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Solid and original Les Paul tones
  • A lot of headroom

Cons

  • Might need tweaking it up for a full-blown performance
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  1. Best For Beginners; Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar

If you’re new to LP or a complete beginner to 6-stringing, this is for you. The Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT positions itself as the real thing among other copies of LP, perfectly matching what a Les Paul should look like. For one, it features the classic LP single-cutaway body design in the right proportion, carved with a real mahogany top. The set neck is also set in mahogany and that extends into a rosewood fingerboard in which blocks of trapezoid frets are set as a remembrance for what a real LP’s inlays used to be. And since this is rather a shorter scale at 24.57, it’s a comfortable platform that establishes a straight learning curve for all LP aspirators.

Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar, Ebony

The medium jumbo frets on the neck together with the white binding of neck to body enable easy transition of fingers on a clean and classy-looking 6-strings electric guitar. Other than boasting LP’s standard of electronics, a batch of additional features has been added to push this model from Epiphone to the very edge. First off, the two integrated humbucker pickups are controlled individually by tone and volume control knobs alongside a 3-way switch for the pickup selector. Then again, there’s a push-and-pull pot for making coil-tapping on the side. These and other added features such as the sealed Grover tuners, the stop bar tailpiece, and the Tune-O-matric bridge together establish this copy as the modern-age holy grail LP.

Feature

  • Scale; 24.75”
  • Fretboard radius; 12”
  • Number of frets; 22
  • Set-in joints
  • SlimTaper neck
  • Mahogany neck material
  • Nut width; 42.67mm
  • Single-cutaway body
  • Carved maple top wood
  • Medium Jumbo frets
  • 2 neck ProBucker pickups
  • Passive pickups
  • push/pull volume controls
  •  Volume controls
  • 2 tine controls
  • Grover tuning machines
  • Stopbar tailpiece
  • 3-way pickup switch
  • Tune-o-Matic bridge

Pros

  • Exclusive coil-tapping capability
  • Great build quality at a steal price
  • Looks exactly like a real Gibson LP
  • Impressive tuners and Grover
  • High-end pickups

Cons

  • Not really impressive for the harder rock style
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  1. Mid-Range Dominator; Paul Reed Smith 245 Standard Electric Guitar

PRS is one big name among the widely recognized musical instrument manufacturers with their production of quality musical solutions. And with the Paul Reed Smith 245, they were able to take a big stride into the LP market with a masterpiece for midrange. This model here coming right from the Standard Electric series has a mahogany body that offers comfort, elegance, and warm tone profile as inspired by Les Paul. this is for the discerning guitarists out there with an eye for a 24.5” scale length electric that has the needed wide-fat contour neck profile for a  beefy and smooth midrange tone. On the side, the lightness of this model together with its professional feel in terms of playability makes it the ideal choice for stage performers who play over a long span of time.

PRS 6 String SE 245 Electric Guitar, Tobacco Sunburst, Right Handed (245TS2)

And just like the previously reviewed model from the house of Epiphone, PRS’ version of LP features 2 humbucker pickups that are adjustable in tone and volume via a 3-way selector switch. Equally, both the body and the neck meet in white bindings and the final finishings are Paul Reed Smith’s motifs that laid into the fretboard made out of rosewood. Check below for the complete features, pros, and cons.

Features

  • Scale length; 24.5”
  • 2 frets
  • Single-cutaway body
  • SE 245 treble humbucker bridge pickup
  • SE 45 5 bass humbucker neck pickup
  • Passive pickups
  • 3-way pickup switch
  • PRS tuning machines design
  • Inlays type; Birds
  • Fretboard material; rosewood
  • Set-in neck joint
  • Solid mahogany body material
  • Mahogany top
  • Gloss body finish
  • PRS stop-tail

Pros

  • Enhanced look and playing comfort
  • A traditional configuration of electronics
  • Great for metal and jazz
  • Rich finish with a smooth neck
  • Tunes hold longer and the tuners are super-responsive
  • Great action with nice pickups

Cons

  • Might turn up with some fret buzz
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  1. Best Non-Gibson; Oscar Smidcht OE20 LP Electric Guitar

For all of us who have played one of the 1956 Les Paul standards that were widely adopted by famous rockstars of then, the Oscar Smidcht brings back those distant memories. While all the OE20 made so far spot a mahogany body, there are 2 distinct fingerboard types to choose from. For an aggressive player in the club, you may just go for the engineered wood option of the fingerboards. Otherwise, the traditional rosewood fingerboard compositions would be a better choice for the conservative player who wants to be closest to playing the vintage instrument of the old times. Right?

 

But here’s what makes the difference. While other copies may have their pickups exposed, the Oscar Smidcht OE20 features 2 rather covered humbucking pickups that are passive, tone-revealing, and responsive. Pickup 1 has its own dedicated tone switch and a volume switch. Likewise, the second pickup has its own configuration switches; a toner and a volume adjuster. These and the integrated Tune-O-Matic style bridge together establish the OE20 as one of the best copies of Les Paul that add a touch of vintage to both their outlook and tone performance. The only downside, however, is that a beginner may find this design daunting to practice due to the extended scale length and how professional-oriented it is. Overall, for a professional guitarist in need of a copy of LP that is not made by Gibson, this is a good choice.

Features

  • 3-way pickup switch
  • 2 humbucker pickups
  • Tone and volume controls
  • Body material; mahogany
  • Stop tailpiece with Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • Tuning machines; chrome diecast
  • Neck material; maple
  • Single-cutaway style
  • Fingerboard material; tonewood
  • Scale; standard scale

Pros

  • Quality performance
  • A brilliant look of gold
  • Les Paul for less money
  • Smart intonation and great action
  • Descent pickups and hardware
  • The thin neck enables easy finger-to-board transition

Cons

  • Not so great for the beginners

 

 

  1. Big Budget Choice; PRS SE Mark Tremonti Custom Electric Guitar

If style and being up to the Jones matter so much to you, then this is the perfect LP copy for you. A perfect mashup of Les Paul and Paul Reed Smith for all those who’d go the extra bucks to get value. The PRS SE Mark Tremonti is a custom-made LP copy for the premium-value-demanding end of LP’s market. It is a classic signature of Les Paul with the final touches serving as a reminder of what type of PRS quality should be paid for. The transparent finish over the carved mahogany top says it all, giving it a striking resemblance of the oldies classics.

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Mark Tremonti Electric Guitar with Gig Bag, Gray Black

The only problem with this design, however, is the wide-thin fingerboard that may turn out to be too wide for players with short fingers. But as long as you can put these 6-strings under your fingertips, control the 10” fretboard radius, you can play a 25” scale engraved in rosewood. The maple neck of it is also a comfort to the hands, allowing easy access into dynamic tones. Though the control layout remains the same for all LP copies, what sets PRS SE Mark Tremonti apart is the all-new PRS Tremolo bridge. Meanwhile, another snag to notice is the inclusion of a rather low-quality gig bag that should be discarded in lieu of the hardshell cases that come with the high-end LP copies. See more on the features below.

Features

  • Number of frets; 22
  • Birds fretboard inlays
  • Scale length; 25”
  • Maple neck wood
  • Maple top wood
  • Mahogany back wood
  • Nickel hardware
  • PRS SE Tremonti bass pickup
  • PRS SE Tremonti treble pickup
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • A 3-way toggle pickup selector
  • PRS custom-design tuners
  • PRS designed Trem bridge with Trem-up route
  • Fretboard radius; 10”

Pros

  • Solid-body with a transparent finish
  • High-end Tremo bridge integrated
  • Comfortable to play
  • A picture-perfect for the stage performers
  • Aesthetic and lightweight

Cons

  • The low-quality gig bag is a joke for a model at that price point
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  1. Another Choice For Beginners; Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Pack

If you’ve played the Gibson Les Paul Special or have had any experience with it from a friend’s you’d love this one. For the fact that Epiphone is a part of the Gibson group, it makes sense that they were able to engineer a real Les Paul. And with this LP Electric Guitar Pack, a beginner has an entry-level instrument into what playing a Paul feels like on a 6-stinger. Other than just spotting the iconic mahogany body of Les Paul, and the Tune-O-Matic bridge style together with the regular 2 humbucker pickups recognized with all LPs, this one here is a complete kit of everything that a beginner needs to get up and running.

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar (Vintage Sunburst)

First off, you get a 10W Electar guitar amplifier in your pack alongside a standard 10ft connection cable to use to set things up right out of the box. Then there’s a guitar strap, added especially for the stage performer, vocalists, or a guitarist for the choir in a church who performs over a long span of time at a time. There’s also a set of picks to use for the time being. As the icing on the cake, Epiphone adds a guitar-shaped gig bag, though not the hardshell case style but a rather durable gig bag to keep your investment safe when traveling for a gig.

Features

  • Fingerboard radius; 12”
  • Les Paul Special body design
  • Alder body with a gloss finish
  • Hard maple neck
  • Scale length; 24.72”
  • Medium jumbo frets
  • 42mm nut width
  • Hard maple neck
  • Bolt-on neck joint
  • Dot inlays
  • LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • 14:1 tuning machine
  • Stopbar tailpiece
  • Chrome hardware
  • 650R open-coil neck humbucker
  • 700T open-coil bridge humbucker
  • Master tone and master volume control
  • ¼” output jack
  • 10” connection cable

Pros

  • Medium picks and gig bag added
  • Electar 10-watts guitar amp included
  • An entry-level guitar for the beginners
  • Easy to strap on and play
  • Comfortable and has less tweaking duty for the player

Cons

  • A luthier help is needed to adjust intonation and action at first
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  1. Perfect Imitation; Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro Electric Guitar

No one seems to does it better than Epiphone when it comes to imitating the real and original LP. but they did hit the nail on the head with this one. The LP Standard PlusTop is a professional electric guitar for the discerning guitarists who are the die-hard fans and lovers of LP. right from the mahogany body design carved in a single-cutaway for natural headroom before amplification. To the maple material of the 12” radius fingerboard neck that elongated into a 24.57” rosewood fingerboard. Down to the block trapezoidal inlays of the original LP series, this is just the perfect imitation and the holy grail for a die-hard fan.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO - Limited Edition - Electric Guitar, Cherry

What’s better? Low price. While others push their price above 600 bucks, this baby makes playing a real LP possible to all those with a $500 budget without making a compromise on quality. In fact, reversal is the case. The Standard TopPro offers a cutting edge set of tuners, the all-new Grover Rotomatic tuner machine heads with coil-splitting, and a phase switching system. Whilst retaining the look of the ‘50s LP, Standard PlusTop Electric Guitar is available in both Heritage Cherry sunburst and honey burst. See the complete features, pros, and cons below.

Features

  • Number of frets; 22
  • Fingerboard radius; 12”
  • Mahogany body material
  • Plain maple cap top
  • Cream neck-body binding
  • Body finish; gloss
  • Mahogany neck material
  • SlimTaper profile
  • 43mm nut width
  • Medium Jumbo frets
  • Graph Tech nut material
  • Grover Rotomatic 18:1 tuners
  • LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • Stopbar tailpiece
  • Gold with nickel insert control knobs
  • ¼” output jack
  • 3-way Epiphone toggle switch
  • Alnico classic pro humbuckers for bridge and neck pickups
  • 2 volumes and 2 tones
  • Indian laurel fingerboard material
  • Scale length;24.75”
  • Trapezoid inlays

Pros

  • The truss rod is super easy to adjust
  • The perfect imitation for the ‘50s LP
  • Great craftsmanship
  • Deep, warm sounding

Cons

  • Not for the harder rock style
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  1. Budget Pick; Glen Burton GE320 Electric Guitar

Now, this may not look like an LP at first glance when you look at it from the strap pin all the way up to the headstock. But don’t be deceived, the Glen Burton GE30 an aesthetic copy of Les Paul that takes an innovative approach to add a not-so completely new look to what the major LPs look like. Don’t get me wrong, GE30 has the same galactic classic body shape, a carved top, and the regular solid body of an original LP. it features the same rosewood fretboard that you would expect of a Gibson copy. And the fretboard inlays choice, a block trapezoid, is still the same. But here’s what makes the difference. Color and finishing choice.

 

Not only does GE320 rebels the usual gold or brown color shared among all Gibson’s with its super-sleek ebony black or sleek white color, but it equally owes its exceptional vintage look to the hard stop tailpiece integrated along with the separated tuner machines. Also, GE320 has been able to achieve a better intonation and a smoother string action than most of its peers. But what’s rather fascinating is that GE320 falls unto a much lower price category compared to other LPs at the price point of $210. Overall, this is a great choice for beginners and budget professionals alike.

Features

  • 3-way toggle switch
  • 2 volumes and 2 tones
  • Solid ash body material
  • Set maple neck material
  • Rosewood fretboard material
  • Pickups material; dual chrome
  • Rectangular inlays
  • Humbucker pickups

Pros

  • Nice tones
  • Easy playability
  • Decent weight
  • Good sustain
  • Feels great in the hands

Cons

  • Low-quality strings

 

 

  1. Studio-Quality; Epiphone Les Paul Special; P90 Electric Guitar

For all your studio production both at home and at the commercial studio, this the studio-quality electric guitar. The P90 is a part of Epiphone’s Les Paul Special series engineered most specifically for the studio producers. Also for the audiophiles and those who are looking to lock in on the details of their tones, this bold black design of LP style integrates soap bar pickups that are completely different from the humbuckers you’d expect. This pickup choice gives the P90 a completely new standard both in tone and volume. You’d instantly notice an increase in the treble’s frequency response. In lieu of the warm, fat tone the humbucker-based LPs, this P90 has a rather bright, warm voice, delivering mid-range across its two pickups.

Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 Electric Guitar Worn Cherry

Another difference is the singularity of the volume control knob. P90 doesn’t have the usual 2 volume control but rather a master volume control plus 2 tone controls. This may turn out to be a restriction as you won’t be able to adjust the tones coming from each pickup separately. But that shouldn’t be a major concern. Besides, the 2 pickups are just the same. Right? Overall, this is another budget-friendly LP style electric guitar you can get on the market whether for live performance or for your rehearsals. The body build is solid, retaining the same single-cutaway that is the beast mark of every other LPs out there.

Features

  • Scale length; 24.75”
  • Number of frets; 22
  • Fingerboard radius; 12”
  • Profile; vintage ‘50s
  • Medium Jumbo frets
  • 43mm nut width
  • Graph Tech nut material
  • Pearloid dot inlays
  • Lightning bar bridge
  • Nickel tuner
  • Vintage style deluxe tuning machines
  • Pro-90 soap bar pickups on bridge and neck
  • 3-way Epiphone toggle pickup selector
  • ¼” output jack
  • Black top hats control knobs

Pros

  • A brighter, warmer voice
  • Deep midrange
  • Gibson LP Special design
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Sharp frets limitation
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  1. Oldie; 1977 Ibanez Les Paul Custom Lawsuit Era

Appearing last on the list is Ibanez’s contribution to the LP style guitar market. This model is for all the oldies and the young guitarist that are bleak. It is a flashback to 1977, the lawsuit era when Les Paul ran into trouble. Well, that as that, this is one of the true 1977 LPs you can get at a reasonable price.

 

It combines all the features the LP designs made during that period both in hardware and body structure. This will make a good setup for your studio especially if you’re expecting to connect through your PA system for amplification. But that’s pretty much it. I don’t have the complete spec list of it but here are my likes and dislikes about it.

Features

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Comfortable to play
  • It has the superior outlook of the oldie LPs
  • Easy to set up for use

Cons

  • Quite heavy

As promised, here are my answers to most of the asked questions about Les Paul style guitars.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best Les Paul copy: in terms of tone, price, portability, and playability, my choice is the Epiphone’s Les Paul Standard Electric guitar.
  • Who makes the best non-Gibson Les Paul; Paul Reed Smith, in my opinion.
  • Is PRS better than Gibson; what I’d rather say is that Paul Reed Smith sounds smoother than Gibson.

Conclusion

I hope you’re finally able to decide among the best Les Paul copies reviewed so far. Use the comments below for further recommendations.

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