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The 6 Best Les Paul Copy Reviews

Photo by Nicholas Lazarine

If you’re looking for the best Les Paul copy for your money, you’re certainly not the only one. That’s because for decades, guitarists who don’t have the moolah for the original Gibson has gone with the copies instead.

That’s the main problem with the Gibson original Les Paul Guitars. Do they have to be so darn expensive?

There’s really no point arguing about how good a Les Paul guitar really is. Set aside the technical discussions, and just remember that famous musicians through the years have loved this design.

If musicians like Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton went for a Les Paul, what can we mere mortals can say? We just go for these guitars because we want to sound like our rock guitar heroes.

Now we mortals with non-millionaire budgets can go with the top Les Paul Copy, and get the same sound without laying out too much money.

Which just begs the question: which are the good Les Paul type guitars? That’s the question we will be addressing—and we’ll factor in your budget into account!


Top 6 Les Paul Copy: Comparison Chart

Special-II LE package
  • Other features: Tune-o-matic bridge and Stop-bar tailpiece
    With lots of accessories
  • Pickups: Dual humbuckers 650R/700T
  • Neck: Hard maple
  • Body wood: Alder
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Oscar Schmidt OE20G
  • Other features: Tune-O-Matic bridge design with stop-tail bridge
  • Pickups: Dual generic humbuckers
  • Neck: Maple
  • Body wood: Mahogany
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Glen Burton GE320
  • Other features: 2 Volume and 2 Tone Controls with 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Pickups: Dual humbuckers
  • Neck: Maple
  • Body wood: Ash
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Epiphone Les Paul SL
  • Other features: adjustable intonated “wraparound” stop-bar tailpiece
  • Pickups: 700SCT (bridge) and 650SCR (neck) ceramic single-coil pickups
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Body wood: Poplar
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  • Other features: Push/pull tone pots
  • Pickups: ESP LH-150 humbuckers
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Body wood: Mahogany
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Sawtooth Heritage Series Flame Maple Top
  • Other features: Adjustable Stop-tail Bridge
  • Pickups: Sawtooth Alnico V Humbucker Pickups
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Body wood: Mahogany with flame maple top wood
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Best Picks of Les Paul Copy

# 1. Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Package

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No list of Les Paul copies will be complete without mentioning the Epiphone brand. For those in the know, Epiphone is the brand for Les Paul clones because Gibson (the maker of the original Les Paul) owns this brand as well.

What’s great about this particular purchase is that you get a complete package with most of the things you need to start right away. You get medium picks, a clip-on headstock chromatic tuner, a guitar strap, and a gig bag that makes your guitar a lot more portable.

You also have a 10V amp with the package, so you’re able to play right off after setting up the guitar. You may want to go with a more powerful amp in the future, but this amp works well enough for newbie practice.

The guitar here is the Les Paul Special-II LTD, which is especially designed to make it easy to play for beginners. At the same time, its tone will satisfy more advanced guitarists as well.

The LTD in its name refers to its special Vintage Sunburst look, which isn’t very common. At least you’re unlike to meet someone with a guitar that looks like yours.

This also has alder for the body and hard maple for the neck, along with dual 650R/700T humbuckers. You get that characteristic sound of the classic Les Paul, which is more important.

It helps that you get the Tune-o-matic bridge and Stop-bar tailpiece that you find in many other Epiphone LPs. These components make sure you get that “all day long” sustain the Les Paul is known for.

This guitar also features the non-rotating heavy-duty output jack, the unique heavy-duty 3-way pickup selector toggle switch, and the standard 500K Ohms potentiometers.

Highlighted Features
  • Alder body with maple neck
  • Dual humbuckers
  • Tune-o-matic bridge and Stop-bar tailpiece
  • 3-way pickup selector
What I Like
  • You won’t waste time buying accessories separately
  • This comes with a Les Paul copy that beginners can easily play
  • It features the characteristic hardware, electronics, and tone
What I Didn’t Like
  • Pretty soon, you’ll want to upgrade the amp
  • New strings would be nice as well

# 2. Oscar Schmidt OE20G Electric Guitar

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This is available with an engineered wood fretboard, but we went with the rosewood to mimic that particular Les Paul feature. In fact, this is so similar to the Les Paul that it’s virtually a sibling.

This has the characteristic LP design, including the iconic LP shape. It’s just that the people behind the Oscar Schmidt brand made enough tweaks here to avoid a lawsuit.

This also comes with the usual mahogany body with the maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. The neck is bolted on instead of set, but this is a common feature to cut down on manufacturing costs.

Other features you’ll find here that you’ll find in an LP include the 24.75-inch scale length, a raised pickguard, 22 frets, and nice trapezoid block inlays. Even the headstock looks good, with the abalone inlay and great binding.

Here you have 2 humbuckers as well, along with the classic Tune-O-Matic bridge design. You also get the usual chrome die cast tuners and the stop-tail bridge.

The humbuckers are rather generic, but they do the job well enough. You also have a volume and tone control for each humbucker, plus a 3-way pickup selector.

This isn’t just a Les Paul copy, however. This is a Les Paul copy for beginners, as it is very affordable while also easy to play.

The sound is terrific, but then it’s a Les Paul sibling. The tone is clean, crisp, and quite articulate. You can really play this for classic rock, especially with the punch you get when it’s overdriven.

Highlighted Features
  • Mahogany body with maple neck
  • Generic dual humbuckers
  • Tune-O-Matic bridge design with stop-tail bridge and chrome die cast tuners
  • Volume and tone control for each humbucker
  • 3-way pickup selector
What I Like
  • Very affordable
  • Versatile sound
  • Looks terrific
  • Impressive tone
What I Didn’t Like
  • Plastic nut doesn’t hold up well
  • Strings may have to be replaced

# 3. Glen Burton GE320-GLD Classic Single Cut Style Electric Guitar

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This is available in several color schemes, including Cherry Burst and the striking Black/Tan, but we went with the Gold/Tan look because it somehow feels lighter. It’s not really that heavy as it comes with the traditional Les Paul heft, but the lightweight “feel” is a bit more encouraging for newbies.

This is a Les Paul copy, even if its marketing text doesn’t mention “Les Paul” at all. You have here the classic LP features, such as the 2 humbuckers with volume and tone controls and the 3-way toggle, and the rosewood fretboard.

The switches and knobs feel secure and screwed in tight, which is great (especially at this price point). The frets have also been nicely filed and rounded down.

Even the maple neck is set instead of bolted on, though the neck profile is a bit chunky. It’s not easy for newbies to deal with, but many intermediate guitarists will like how the neck feels in their hand.

So, what’s different? Well, the body is made with solid ash instead of mahogany. This changes the tone somewhat, but newbies won’t be able to really tell the difference.

All in all, if you’re looking for an affordable Les Paul copy then you have a terrific guitar in this price range. It looks great, sounds nice, and plays very similar to a Les Paul.

Highlighted Features
  • Solid ash body, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard
  • Neck is set instead of bolted on
  • Dual humbuckers with master volume and tone controls each
  • 3-way pickup selector
  • Rectangular inlays
What I Like
  • Looks nice
  • Has characteristic LP features
  • Sturdy like the Les Paul, but not too heavy
  • Very affordable
What I Didn’t Like
  • You’ll need to oil the fretboard
  • Strings will have to be replaced
  • The neck profile may not be too easy for newbies

# 4. Epiphone Les Paul SL, Pacific Blue

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Looking for a Les Paul while you don’t really have a lot of money to spend? Epiphone calls this their most affordable Les Paul copy, so you really save your money on this one.

This is a “student model” version, and it looks like Epiphone merged the Les Paul Junior and Melody Maker variants to come up with this version.

Of course, cheap guitars can make you wary. In fact, if you read some of the reviews on this one then you’d realize that it has had some quality control issues.

But this particular 2017 Les Paul SL should assuage your concerns. Look to the back of the headstock, and it should have that signed inspection sticker to let you know that the unit you have doesn’t have quality control issues.

Foremost among the features here are the P-90 ceramic pickups, which really give you that oomph that you can find on older Les Pauls. The tone is nice and bright but the ceramic brings out the lower midrange tones.

This does have a slim body made with poplar, but the relatively light weight is great for newbies. It’s easier to handle, and not as tiring to play for all-day gigs.

It also helps if you get the Pacific Blue color scheme, because this particular look really makes it seem lightweight and airy. It does come with the hefty feel of the Les Paul Junior, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome at all.

You also get the usual features: a mahogany neck, a slim-taper D-profile neck shape, 22 medium jumbo frets, and an adjustable intonated “wraparound” stop-bar tailpiece. You’ll also find the master volume and tone controls plus the 3-way pickup selector switch.

This does come with single-coil ceramic pickups, which is a new thing compared to the P90 pickups in the Junior. You get clear and muscular tones, with lots of roundness and body.

Overdriven with a cranked-up amp, and it still sounds defined and balanced. The flat 12-inch radius along with the adjustable wraparound bridge makes it suitable for slide, though it’s also terrific for rock and blues.

Epiphone is well-known for its attentiveness to its setup, and you can see that for yourself with this guitar. Thanks to the nice setup, it plays flawlessly.

Highlighted Features
  • Clear and muscular tones due to the ceramic single-coil pickups
  • Lightweight due to the poplar body
  • Comes with usual Les Paul electronics and hardware
  • Adjustable wraparound bridge
  • Flat 12–inch radius
What I Like
  • Easy to handle due to light weight
  • Can be suited for slide guitar or for blues rock howling
  • Great clear and brawny tones
  • Playable for newbies
What I Didn’t Like
  • May be too lightweight for some
  • Others may prefer humbuckers instead

# 5. ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar, Black Satin

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ESP boasts that they’ve taken some of the (“cooler”) features you’d find in their more expensive EC series guitars, and then put them in this more affordable model. They also don’t really mention that this ESP LTD EC-256 is an Les Paul copy, but that’s evident upon closer inspection.

That starts with the body design with its unmistakable Les Paul vibes, especially with the single-cutaway shape. It has a mahogany body along with a mahogany neck that’s been set instead of bolted in.

Other familiar features include the 24.75-inch scale length and the 22 extra jumbo frets. You also have the ESP LH-150 bridge and neck humbuckers, along with the 3-way pickup selector and push/pull tone pots.

What’s different here is that the fretboard is made of either jatoba or blackwood. This is probably due to how rosewood is now considered an endangered wood type.

The tone is also great for a wide range of musical genres, though it’s a bit warm and dark. However, you can tweak it so it sounds brighter (like a Les Paul ought to).

Highlighted Features
  • Mahogany body and neck
  • Set neck construction
  • ESP LH-150 bridge and neck humbuckers
  • Coil-splitting
What I Like
  • Sounds great for many types of musical styles
  • Feels easy to handle without being too bulky
  • Rich and warm tone
What I Didn’t Like
  • Needs tweaking for brighter tones
  • Fretboard isn’t rosewood

# 6. Sawtooth Heritage Series Flame Maple Top Electric Guitar

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A quick check on the features here gives you lots of Les Paul standards: mahogany for the body and neck, rosewood fretboard, 22 medium jumbo frets, adjustable stop-tail bridge, and even vintage-style tuning keys.

You’ll also like the Sawtooth Alnico V humbucker pickups that offer that Les Paul sound, though you do need to get a professional setup first. For a learning guitar, that sound sure is sweet.

Just make sure you have realistic expectations when it comes to the quality, because the price sure is low. The tone and volume knobs may not be perfectly smooth, but then these are minor quirks that you’ll learn to live with.

Overall, the action is smooth and easy to play, and that’s what matters more to newbies. It’s lighter than usual, but that’s something that beginners will appreciate as well.

Highlighted Features
  • Mahogany neck and body with rosewood fretboard
  • 22 medium jumbo frets with adjustable stop-tail bridge
  • Sawtooth Alnico V humbucker pickups
What I Like
  • Looks great
  • Easy to play
  • Lightweight
  • LP sound
What I Didn’t Like
  • Absolutely needs a pro setup
  • Tone and volume knobs may not turn smoothly

What Is Les Paul Copy?

Basically, this is a guitar with most of the defining characteristics of the Les Paul guitar design. Except that this time, you don’t have the Gibson brand—and you don’t pay Gibson prices either.

Some of these brands don’t have Gibson’s permission to make copies, which then lead to these guitars being termed as Lawsuit Les Paul guitars.

Who Makes the Best Les Paul copy?

This is a rather subjective topic, but you can consult our list to check out some of the other brands.

However, the most famous brand that manufactures more affordable Les Paul copies is obviously Epiphone—Gibson does own that brand, after all!

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard comes with the usual LP features, except that you get a lot of savings. The best Epiphone Les Paul variants can be expensive though, and may even be costlier than Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars.

You can also check out some guitars that have rather obvious Les Paul characteristics. Just stick to the more famous brands like Ibanez, so you’re certain about the quality of the build.

One brand you should also look at is ESP, which makes the terrific, pro-sounding Edwards Les Paul. Edwards guitars aren’t meant for newbies, as they’re made for finicky pros and intermediate guitarists.

Why Buy a Les Paul copy?

You buy a Les Paul because its distinctive tone and sound is fantastic for rock, blues, and even jazz. Many famous rock gods have used Les Pauls, so you’re able to get the same sound as your heroes.

These guys even include Bob Marley, Steve Perry, and a very long list of respected musicians. It’s hard not to fantasize about being one of these guys in the future, when you have a guitar that feels and sounds like the ones they use.

But the main reason you get a copy is because you’re able to afford the lower price it comes with. If your ears can’t tell the difference between the sound of the original Gibson and a copy, then your bank account can certainly note the difference in the prices.

However, some brands do offer special features that you may not find on a Gibson (aside from the more affordable price).

For example, some guitarists have worked with the Epiphone brand to create Les Paul copies with particular features that these guitarists want. These musicians include Joe Bonamassa and many others.

These signature guitars may not be part of the Gibson line at all.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Les Paul Copy

The first thing you’d probably consider is the price, since that’s the factor that’s probably preventing you from buying an expensive Gibson Les Paul in the first place.

Note how much you can afford to lay out, and then check out the guitars in this price range. The best Les Paul copy under $1000 ought to give you a lot of value for your money.

If you’re best Les Paul copy for beginners, then you also need to factor in easy playability. You may want to go with a comfy neck design, along with a lightweight body for easier handling.

As a newbie, you should also be on the lookout for accessories that you might need, such as picks, a strap, and a gig bag. Some packages come with amps so you can virtually play right out of the box.

Other factors you need to consider include:

  • Faithfulness to the Les Paul design. These include the mahogany body with the rosewood fretboard, 24,75-inch scale length, P90 pickups or humbuckers, and a set neck instead of a bolt-on. You may also want the angled head stock, the volume and tone controls, and the 3-way pickup selector.
  • Wood. You may have different wood for the body and neck aside from mahogany, which will change the weight and the tone of the guitar. Rosewood for the fretboard is still common, but other brands may use pau ferro or jatoba instead.
  • Electronics. It’s up to you if you want humbuckers (the more popular option), though some go for the brightness of the P90 pickups. Alnico pickups are great, though you may want to go with ceramic for more low-range tones.
  • Tuners. If you can find the same Grover tuner in your copy, then you’re in luck as that’s the same tuner in the original Les Pauls. However, chrome diecast tuners can be a good alternative.
  • Durability. How long will the guitars last? You can’t know for sure, though you may want to check out the Les Paul Copies reviews written by customers to see if there are too many complaints about breakdowns.
  • Looks. This is entirely subjective, but you need a great color scheme to make you feel like a rock god. If you’re a newbie, you’ll be more encouraged to play if the look of the guitar seems to entice you to practice more.

Tips for Using and Maintaining Les Paul Copy Guitar

  • When you get your Les Paul copy, take it to your local pro for a nice setup.
  • Think about changing the strings, because many affordable copies tend to cut down on costs by putting in cheap strings. Sometimes you may find that your tuner isn’t really the problem—changing the strings can give you the sound you were looking for.
  • In fact, change your strings regularly. This is also a great time to clean the guitar as well.
  • Use compressed air spray or a small and clean paintbrush to get rid of the dust,
  • Only use cleaners that are specifically made for guitars. These cleaners can clean your guitar wood without changing the sound of the guitar.
  • Squirt the guitar polish on the cloth first, and not on the guitar itself.
  • Never ever use furniture polish—this will change the sound of your guitar.
  • You can use a moist cloth for most of the guitar parts—except for the pickups. For pickup covers, always use a dry, clean cloth.
  • Use a bit of glass cleaner on a cloth to polish the metal tuner.
  • A somewhat damp cloth will do fine to get rid of any grime on your bridge.
  • If you’re not using the guitar, keep it in its case. Buy a case for the guitar if your purchase doesn’t include one.
  • Put the guitar someplace where people don’t bump into it. Never leave it under direct sunlight.
  • Treat the copy like it’s the original—don’t just throw it into the back of the pickup when you’re done playing!


Did Bob Marley really use Les Paul guitars?

It’s true, as he did use a modified Gibson Les Paul Junior with P90 pickups.

Is it true that the favorite Les Paul wasn’t actually made by Gibson?

This was the guitar that Slash used for the seminal Appetite for Destruction album, and it was a Les Paul Standard that wasn’t a Gibson. It was made by Kris Derrig of MusicWorks.

What’s the most expensive Les Paul copy?

These are probably the Elitist models made by Epiphone. Some of these guitars are more expensive than a few Gibson Les Paul models.

Of course, you can go to a specialist store and get a customized Les Paul. That can be quite expensive!

Final Verdict

It’s great that the Best Les Paul guitar for your budget doesn’t have to bear the Gibson brand. Gibson is great, but they sure make it hard for you to buy these terrific guitars for a price a regular guy can afford.

But now, with the best Les Paul copy, you can now get that iconic sound and rock, without weeping for your lost money. You can play your guitar with a smile, savoring the fantastic tone while you also know that you got a terrific bargain with your copy!

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