- There are affordable Les Pauls copies that sound pretty close to the real thing
- We look at the best options for Les Paul-style electric guitars under $1000
- With guitars from brands like Epiphone, PRS, ESP, and Schecter
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic electric guitars alongside Fender’s Stratocaster and Telecaster, and everyone who plays electric guitar probably has had strong desires for a Gibson Les Paul at some point.
For most budgets, an American-made Gibson Les Paul is out of the question. But fortunately, there are affordable Les Pauls that sound pretty close to the real thing.
What Are The Best Les Paul Copies?
Our top pick for this list is the Epiphone Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul Standard, which is an authentic copy of the legendary 1959 Gibson Les Paul model.
For the people looking for an even cheaper option, the Epiphone Les Paul Special is our choice for the best value Les Paul copy. Our premium choice is a beautiful Les Paul just under $1000 by Schecter, called the Schecter Solo II Custom.
- Epiphone Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul Standard (Our Pick)
- Epiphone Les Paul Special (Best Value)
- Schecter Solo II Custom (Premium Choice)
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s
- PRS SE 245
- ESP LTD EC-256
- PRS SE Mark Tremonti
1. Epiphone Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul Standard
The Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard supplies all the hallmarks of the unforgettable ’59 Gibson at an irresistible price.
- High-end specs at an affordable price
- Comfortable to play
- Great for many different styles of music
Epiphone Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul Standard is a rare find because it offers incredible quality at a decent price, and it’s a chance for players to experience the hallmarks of the most legendary Les Paul model.
The Epiphone Limited Edition 1959 Les Paul Standard offers a surprisingly-close replication of many of the legendary features like body wood, neck profile, and pickups.
This guitar is our pick for the best Les Paul copy under $1000 and offers you a chance to experience the gold standard of the Les Paul guitars.
- Full-mahogany body with Figured AAA maple top
- American-made Gibson USA Burstbucker pickups
- Rounded medium “C” mahogany neck
- Mallory 150 polyester film tone capacitors
- CTS Pots and Switchcraft toggle and jack
- Aged gloss finish for a luxurious look
The Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul is as authentic as a Les Paul copy could be. The main recipe for a late-’50s Les Paul is a mix of good quality mahogany and maple, and this guitar has a beautiful full-weight mahogany body with a solid AAA flame top to round things out.
This wood produces the quintessential rich, resonant, and even punchy Les Paul tone that we all know and love.
The neck is a rounded medium “C” mahogany at a 24.75-inch scale, and the measurements of the neck stay true to the original ’59s. Along with 12-inch radius and medium-jumbo frets, the neck is very comfortable for playing and moving around, and the higher frets are easy to reach.
To finish up this beautiful guitar, it also comes with USA-made Burstbucker pickups, which do an amazing job at replicating the Seth Lover PAF pickups.
Both the neck and the bridge pickup positions will give you a diverse range of tones from snappy to silky and soft.
The pots and caps inside the guitar are also top quality- a set of Mallory 150 polyester film caps, with CTS pots and a Switchcraft toggle and jack.
The attention to detail in this guitar is spot-on and renders this 1959 Les Paul copy very authentic and close to the original model.
2. Epiphone Les Paul Special
Whether you're after the looks or the tone, the Epiphone Les Paul Special delivers the goods at a great value.
- Iconic 1950s Les Paul copy
- Very affordable but great quality
- An array of versatile tones
Next up, we have a Les Paul copy that can be considered as a beginner guitar but comes with killer tones and looks that makes it so much more.
Les Paul Special has a special place in the history of electric guitars because they were one of the early versions of the Les Paul in the ’50s.
Epiphone’s version of the Les Paul Special is a mix of both the classic model and modern refinements, and it’s our pick for the best value Les Paul copy under $1000.
- Unique P-90 Pro pickups for snappy tone with a lot of midrange
- Premium components like Graph Tech nut and CTS electronics
- Mahogany body and mahogany neck
- Individual volume and tone controls for each pickup
- 12-inch fretboard radius with medium jumbo frets
The Epiphone Les Paul Special showcases an amazing mix of vintage and modern at an affordable price.
Visually, it looks like the original 1950s Gibson guitar, and it features an all-mahogany body and neck. The Epiphone Les Paul Special also comes with the original color – which is the iconic TV Yellow finish.
Mahogany provides a solid base for a tone that is full of fatness and clarity and combined with the Vintage 50s neck, you can get some thick and harmonically rich tones out of this guitar.
Modern additions like a Graph Tech nut help improve the tone and keep the tuning stable.
On top of that, the 12-inch fretboard radius with medium-jumbo frets makes the playing experience effortless so you can get more out of each note.
One unique feature about the Epiphone Les Paul Special is the use of P-90 pickups instead of humbuckers. These single-coil pickups give a rich and sparkling tone that really stands out.
3. Schecter Solo II Custom
The Schecter Solo II Custom solid body is the electric guitar for you when you want the look and feel of a classic with modern features that offer a wider tonal range and a more enjoyable playing experience.
- Solid build quality with a classic look
- Hot-rodded PAF-style humbuckers
- Touches for modern performance
Schecter Solo II Custom is our pick for the best Premium Les Paul copy, and this guitar is a modern Les Paul that you can use for modern rock and pop.
At just under $1000, the Schecter Solo II Custom has a classic look but has the capabilities of a modern high-end Les Paul. Based on the traditional Gibson Les Paul, Schecter provides an authentic playing experience for Les Paul Fans.
- Mahogany/maple wood combination for the body
- Schecter USA Pasadena pickups
- Push-pull knob for coil split
- Schecter locking tuners
- TonePros bridge and tailpiece
Instead of just copying the old Gibson Les Paul, Schecter created their own Les Paul-inspired sharp single cutaway design.
Schecter uses a combination of mahogany and maple for the body, and this perfect mix provides a tone that is full and warm with lots of sustain.
The 3-piece mahogany neck is a thin “C” neck profile and is topped off with an ebony fretboard. This is ideal for shredding fast notes and doing wild bends or vibratos.
The pickups are USA-made Schecter USA Pasadena-series humbuckers. They were originally designed for Zacky Vengeance of Avenged Sevenfold, so it has boasted upper midrange.
Finally, Schecter also added some modern touches to this guitar, like the Schecter locking tuners, which are crucial for keeping in tune when playing hard rock or metal.
Schecter Solo II Custom also comes with a coil-split function through a push-pull tone knob, and this function gives you access to single-coil tones on humbucker pickups.
Overall, Schecter Solo II Custom is a great guitar for advanced players who love playing rock and metal.
4. Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s
Hearkening back to 1960s-era Les Pauls, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s brims with vintage character and legendary rock ‘n’ roll vibes.
- Powerful Les Paul that is perfect for rock music
- Beautiful looking vintage guitar
- Comfortable guitar with killer tones
Epiphone’s Les Paul Standard ’60s is one of the best-selling Les Paul copies in the world. It’s a versatile Les Paul that comes with classic looks and the specs of a ’60s Gibson Les Paul.
With a beautiful flame maple top, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s is a masterful recreation of a legendary rock’n’roll guitar that we’ve seen in the hands of icons like Slash.
- Authentic clone of ’60s Gibson Les Paul
- Mahogany body with AA flame maple cap
- Mahogany neck with SlimTaper 60s C Profile
- ProBucker humbuckers
- LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge with stop bar tailpiece
With the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s, what you see is what you get. The body design is visually striking with a gorgeous finish and a vintage look, and the guitar plays and sounds like vintage Gibson Les Paul.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s features an all-mahogany body with an AAA flame maple top, and the neck is a comfortable Slim Taper ’60s C profile neck.
The tone is harmonically rich with plenty of punch and snap, and combined with some overdrive, you can get some pretty killer tones in no time.
The pickups on this guitar are Epiphone ProBuckers, which were designed to imitate the vintage PAF humbuckers.
They have Alnico II magnets in them, and with individual tone controls for the neck and bridge pickup, the possibilities are endless.
5. PRS SE Standard 245
The PRS SE 245 solidbody electric guitar is a fantastic example of a vintage-flavored 6-string that boasts the best of modern construction and quality.
- A great mix of PRS design and Les Paul specs
- Comfortable playability
- Classy, yet subtle appearance
PRS SE Standard 245 is Paul Reed Smith’s take on a Gibson Les Paul. It’s a very light guitar and showcases an old-school single-cut performance at an affordable price.
If you like PRS-style guitars and Les Paul guitars, you get the best of both worlds with this guitar. PRS SE Standard 245 is diverse in its use and has a natural and classic look that you won’t get sick of.
- Single-cut solid body with all-mahogany
- Aesthetically pleasing body shape and comfortable neck
- PRS 245 “S” humbucking pickups
- PRS hardware like tuners and tailpiece
With this guitar, PRS has managed to take the general shape of a Les Paul and make something of their own.
The name SE 245 comes from the 24.5-inch scale length, and following the Gibson tradition, the PRS SE 245 has an all-mahogany body with a classy translucent finish, and you can see the wood grains in the body design.
The SE 245’s all-mahogany body and neck deliver warm tones that will remind you of a Gibson Les Paul but are slightly upgraded with a modern twist.
The neck profile is a vintage-style Pattern Wide Fat neck, and it has an ergonomic neck joint that allows you to reach the top frets comfortably.
In terms of hardware you get PRS designed tuners and a PRS Adjustable stop tail tailpiece, both known for their reliability and stability.
Finally, the PRS 245 “S” humbuckers are fat and punchy and work well with a lot of high gain as well as basic clean tones.
6. ESP LTD EC-256
You'll find the fast playability, flexible tone, and quality construction of the Eclipse EC-256 far surpasses most guitars in this price range.
- Amazing value for a great quality rock guitar
- Can handle a lot of distortion
- Exceptional sustain and aggressive tone
The ESP LTD EC-256 is a powerhouse and it’s one of those Les Paul clones that are designed for rock and metal.
Powerful and rich tones are what you can expect with the ESP LTD EC-256, and if you love shredding and a lot of distortion, this might be the one for you.
- Modern features like Push-pull coil-splitting and TOM bridge/tailpiece
- Classic-looking with lots of sustain and aggressiveness
- Dual ESP humbucking pickups for maximum power
Out of all the Les Paul clones that we have looked at in this article, the ESP LTD EC-256 is the most powerful Les Paul.
ESP’s LTD EC-256 has a mahogany body with a flamed maple top. The set-neck design really brings out the sustain. The neck profile is a Thin U shape and is designed for maximum speed and playability.
ESP designed the body very ergonomically, and the slightly arched top in the body shape makes it easier to find a comfortable hand positioning.
And there’s more – the super-sharp single cutaway makes it effortless to play on the highest frets.
On this guitar, you’ll find ESP-designed tuners and a Tune-o-Matic bridge with a tailpiece, and they both provide excellent tuning stability.
The solid hardware requires little maintenance and can set you up for a lifetime of playing.
Pickups on this guitar are ESP LH-150N and ESP LH-150B humbuckers. They are very powerful and perfect for rock and metal. You get a push-pull knob for the coil-splitting function, which will open up the possibilities for so many different tones out of the LTD EC-256.
7. PRS SE Mark Tremonti
Mark Tremonti demands a few things from his signature axe, including playability, powerful tone, and reliability. The SE Mark Tremonti certainly delivers on those demands.
- Lightweight, with great playability
- Built to last
- Mark Tremonti's signature model
The PRS SE Mark Tremonti is Mark Tremonti’s signature guitar, a founding member of Creed and Alter Bridge.
Mark Tremonti is known for his powerful, rich distorted tones, and you can expect these qualities from this best-selling PRS guitar.
- Mahogany body with flame maple top
- Signature Tremonti “S” humbuckers
- Wide Thin neck profile made for shredding
- PRS Patented Molded Tremolo
PRS SE guitars are crafted in South Korea, a country known for excellent build quality that is very impressive for the price.
The PRS SE Mark Tremonti is among the best-selling Korea-built PRS guitars, and it’s easy to see why.
Like all the other Les Paul guitars we have looked at, the Tremonti signature has an eye-catching mahogany body with a maple veneer top .
But the neck is a little different, and the Tremonti signature comes with a Wide Thin maple neck sporting a rosewood fingerboard.
PRS and Mark Tremonti collaborated to design the set-in 3 piece maple neck, and it’s the ideal neck for high-speed soloing and playing powerful rock guitar riffs.
The hardware is also quite impressive, and PRS is known for its strong and reliable hardware like the PRS Patented Molded Tremolo and PRS designed tuners.
The pickups were also designed specifically to fit this guitar, and the Tremonti “S” humbucking pickups are bring maximum power and produce a very responsive vibrant tone.
As you would expect, these pickups perform extremely well with a lot of distortion and also have a soft and mellow side when you are playing clean tones.
These features make this guitar a great recording guitar as well, and so the PRS SE Mark Tremonti is an excellent choice for guitarists after an affordable recording and gigging guitar.