- The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most well-known and iconic electric guitar models in history
- Most popular guitar brands will try to have a Les Paul ‘style’ guitar in their catalog
- We take an in-depth look at our top 7 favorite Les Paul copy guitars
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic and well-known electric guitar models in history.
With its solid mahogany body and two humbucker pickups, it has been the axe of choice for some of the greatest rock heroes ever. Legends like Jimmy Page and Slash, jazz fusion master Al DiMeola and blues powerhouse Joe Bonammasa have popularised the model.
Which Are The Best Les Paul Style Guitar Copies?
Our pick for the best Les Paul style guitar is the Heritage Standard H-150. Produced in the original Gibson factory by ex-Gibson employees. The H-150 is considered by many to be even better than a Gibson Les Paul.
For those strapped for cash, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard is our best value choice. If you are a truly discerning player that needs the best and is willing to pay the price tag, the PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 is our premium choice.
Here are our candidates for the best Les Paul style guitar copies:
- Heritage Standard H-150 (our top pick)
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard (best value)
- PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 (premium choice)
- ESP LTD EC-401
- D’Angelico Premier Atlantic
- ESP USA Eclipse Flamed Maple
- Godin DS-1 Daryl Stuermer Signature
1. Heritage Standard H-150 (Our Pick)
As far as classic-inspired solid body electrics go, the Heritage Standard H-150 is the real deal. Its curly maple top is supremely eye-catching, and its single-cut body will feel as familiar as the back of your hand.
- Amazing tone, playability, and features
- Optimal feel and sustain
Heritage was born when Gibson moved its factory from Michigan to Nashville. Three former senior Gibson employees refused to move and instead founded Heritage Guitars at the same factory, they even some of the same machines as Gibson did back in the day.
Today, Heritage Guitars is recognized for its high-quality instruments, and as one of the most authentic manufacturers of Les Paul style guitars. Of which many argue is every bit as good as an original Gibson!
The Heritage Standard H-150 is our pick for the best Les Paul style guitar.
- Resonant mahogany body, topped with curly maple
- Seymour Duncan humbuckers to re-create the magic of the original PAFs
- Comfortable rolled Standard “C”-shaped neck with rosewood fingerboard
- Bone nut and medium-jumbo Jescar frets
- Non-locking Tune-o-Matic bridge and Grover 18:1 tuners
The Heritage Standard H-150 features a curly maple top that rests on top of a mahogany body, finished in a nitrocellulose lacquer.
The mahogany neck on this guitar features a Standard “C” shape profile with a 12-inch fretboard radius, 22 medium-jumbo Jescar frets, and a 24.75-inch scale length.
The rosewood fingerboard on this Heritage guitar has been precision Plek’d (computer-assisted fret leveling) to ensure maximum sustain and optimized playability.
Additionally, the classic-style trapezoid fingerboard inlays give this guitar that classic Les Paul look beloved by so many.
The Heritage Standard H-150 features a set of Seymour Duncan ’59 pickups. Although all the classic features are there, these vintage-inspired humbuckers exhibit mids that are slightly more scooped than the Seth Lover model and are vacuum wax potted for squeal-free performance.
To maintain a period-correct look, the Seymour Duncans are not labeled.
In short, the Heritage Standard H-150 is the ultimate Les Paul copy.
Truth be told, with this level of playability, tone, and features, you could argue that this guitar is better than the original. And it’s more affordable than the original to boot!
2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard (Best Value)
Hearkening back to 1960s-era Les Pauls, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60s brims with vintage character and legendary rock ‘n’ roll vibe.
- Comfortable to play
- Captures the spirit of Les Pauls
Many decades ago, when there were only a few electric guitar brands in existence, Gibson bought Epiphone to avoid competition. Today, Epiphone is the only brand that can sell Gibson designs without being sued by Gibson.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is an affordable copy of the original. Its price tag is lower because it is made in Asia and features more affordable, but still good quality materials.
If you want a Les Paul copy at a truly affordable price, this Epiphone might be for you.
- Warm and resonant mahogany body and a AA flame maple cap
- Mahogany neck with SlimTaper 60s C profile
- 2 ProBucker humbucking pickups
- LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge; stop bar tailpiece
- High-quality 2-Volume 2-Tone CTS electronics
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard features a 1960s-era Les Paul design with a mahogany body and AA flame maple top.
It is a comfortable guitar to play thanks to its Slim Taper ’60s C profile mahogany neck with 22 medium jumbo frets and the standard Les Paul scale length of 24.75 inches.
The fingerboard is Indian laurel with Pearloid trapezoid inlays for a real Les Paul look and feel. The nut is made by GraphTech with a width of 1.693 inches.
This Epiphone features Alnico ProBucker pickups on both the neck and bridge position. These produce that standard ’60s Rock N Roll bite and swagger that made Les Pauls a staple of that era.
Additional features on this Epiphone Les Paul include Grover Rotomatic machine heads, LockTone ABR Tune-o-Matic bridge with stop bar tailpiece, and high-quality CTS electronics.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard comes with Gibson strings gauged .010 to .046, and you can purchase a case or gig bag separately.
All these features culminate to create a guitar that is robust and stable enough for the modern player, while still honoring everything that made the original Les Pauls so great.
In short, a fantastic option and our pick as the best cheap Les Paul copy.
3. PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 (Premium Choice)
The PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 gracefully blends vintage elements and modern appointments and loads them into a classic single-cut solid-body electric guitar.
- Great tone, sustain, and versatility
- One of the best Les Paul-type guitars
When Paul Reed Smith first introduced single-cut designs in the mid-2000s, Gibson sued their pants off. Their argument being that the PRS single cut looked too much like a Les Paul, therefore it constituted plagiarism.
Gibson lost in court, and almost 20 years later, PRS single-cut models are some of the best Les Paul type guitars in the market.
The PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 is a superlative instrument and further proof of PRS’s single-cut design success. This guitar is our premium choice for this article.
- The neck features a 24.594″ scale length, ever so slightly shorter than normal
- TCI-tuned 58/15 LT (Low Turn) pickups deliver those vintage humbucking and single-coil tones
- The 4-knob layout allows individual control of each pickup’s volume and tone
- Comfortable asymmetric Pattern Vintage neck carve
- Vintage-style non-locking tuners
The PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 features a mahogany neck with an asymmetrical ‘Pattern Vintage’ profile.
The Pattern Vintage carve is slightly thicker and aids playability by working in tandem with the unusual 24.594″ scale length, which makes bends almost effortless. The fretboard is made of rosewood and features the traditional PRS birds inlays.
It also features PAF-style PRS TCI-tuned 58/15 LT humbucker pickups for great tone, sustain, and versatility. The lower wire turns of the TCI-tuned 58/15 LTs deliver great clarity and nuance.
Additionally, for increased versatility, you can pull up on the tone knob to coil-split the humbucker and get a true single-coil tone. This way you get full and independent control of each pickup by way of the 4-knob control layout.
Additional features on the PRS McCarty Singlecut 594 include:
- figured maple 10-top material
- gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish for the body
- bone nut with 1.6875-inch width
- PRS 2-piece stoptail bridge
- a 10-inch fretboard radius
This guitar comes with a hardshell case and PRS strings gauged .010 to .046 and is one of the best Les Paul-type guitars on the market.
4. ESP LTD EC-401
From chiming cleans to growling high-gain tones, the ESP LTD EC-401 guitar covers a lot of tonal territory.
- Blends classic looks with modern performance
- Affordable with ESP quality
- Great for hard rock
LTD is the more affordable tier of ESP (think what Squire is to Fender). But they offer stellar value for money in a wide array of guitars.
The EC-401 is no exception and a fantastic option for players that gravitate toward hard rock and metal who still want a Les Paul style guitar.
- Ideal for metal and hard rock, with great sustain and an aggressive tone
- Thin “U” profile mahogany neck to facilitate the modern player
- Dual EMG pickups with a high output to facilitate all those gain-heavy tones
- Tonepros locking TOM bridge/tailpiece for tuning stability and good intonation
- Set-neck construction for long-lasting sustain and excellent upper fret access
At the heart of the ESP LTD EC-401 are the dual EMG pickups, which are output and pack tons of sustain.
EMG has a solid reputation as the go-to active pickup for hard rock and metal, made famous by guitarists such as James Hetfield of Metallica and Mick Thompson of Slipknot. So no need for aftermarket pickups here!
The EC-401 features an EMG 60 on the neck position and an EMG 81 on the bridge position. Both of these pickups provide serviceable cleans when absolutely necessary, but can take you into doomsday distortion with an even response and sustain when need be.
When it comes to playability, the EC-401 also delivers. It features a thin U mahogany set neck, with a rosewood fingerboard, pearloid flag inlays, and 24 extra-jumbo frets.
The tuners on the ESP LTD EC-401 are Grover, and the bridge is a Tune-O-Matic with the same stop bar style tailpiece you’d associate with a Les Paul.
This guitar comes strung with D’Addario string gauged .010 to .046. Case or gig bag sold separately. In short, the ESP LTD EC-401 is one of the best Les Paul style guitars you can get at this price if you are of the rock and heavy metal persuasion.
5. D’Angelico Premier Atlantic
Whether your session calls for glassy PAF cleans or greasy single-coil leads, the Premier Atlantic delivers in a big way.
- Pickups deliver classic humbucking tones
- A D'Angelico spin on a classic single cut
- Killer resonance
Preferred by the likes of Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Jose James, and Isaiah Sharkey (John Mayer), D’Angelico’s solid body guitars have earned a reputation for being very well priced for how good they play.
The D’Angelico Premier Atlantic is a fantastic choice for the player that wants a unique take on a Les Paul type guitar for less than a grand.
- Comfortable “C”-shaped maple neck with smooth-feeling satin finish
- Low-profile neck heel for comfortable access to all 22 medium-jumbo frets
- Duncan Designed HB-101/102 humbuckers
- Pickups can be independently coil tapped for both the classic humbucker and single-coil sounds
- Tune-o-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece for accurate intonation and enhanced sustain
The D’Angelico Premier Atlantic features a contoured mahogany body that delivers a warm, full sound with great sustain.
The neck has a comfortable 14-inch-radius which strikes a good balance between being able to set your action nice a low, but has just enough curvature to facilitate those delicious bends during your rockin’ solos.
The nut is PPS with a width of 1.6875 inches, while the fingerboard inlays are white Pearloid blocks.
The D’Angelico Premier Atlantic comes with a set of versatile Seymour Duncan Designed humbuckers, great for a variety of styles. The HB-101 bridge pickup features an Alnico V magnet and winding specs based on a late-1950s PAF.
This vintage-inspired pickup handles everything from cleans to high-gain distortion. The HB-102 neck pickup also employs an Alnico V magnet but is a tad overwound for hot-rodded humbucker tones.
Additionally, the 3-way toggle switch allows for easy pickup selection. With each pickup featuring its own push-pull coil-tap knob for ultimate control over which pickup combinations you like.
The Premier Atlantic comes with D’Angelico Electrozinc strings gauged .010 to .046 and a gig bag. In short, a fantastic solid body guitar for those looking for a unique take on the classic Les Paul style for less than a grand.
6. ESP USA Eclipse Flamed Maple
When you take the ESP USA Eclipse out of its case, you'll have to pardon the stares. This is one eye-catching solidbody electric guitar.
- Aesthetically mesmerizing
- Looks just as good as it sounds
- Great playability
ESP is the preferred guitar brand for many metal and hard rock players, and for good reason.
Guitar icons like Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Vernon Reid, George Lynch, and Dave Mustaine are well known for both using and popularising the brand.
The ESP USA Eclipse is a premium Les Paul type guitar geared towards hard rock, metal, and beyond.
- Carefully selected tonewoods produce warmth, sustain, and the perfect amount of bite
- Active EMG 57 humbucker pickup on bridge and EMG 66 humbucker on neck position
- 3-piece mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard
- TonePros locking Tune-o-Matic bridge and tailpiece to enhance sustain
- Sperzel locking tuners for stable tuning
The ESP USA Eclipse features a solid mahogany body with a flamed maple top that produces serious bite and sustain, which looks just as good as it sounds.
It also features a super-stable 3-piece mahogany Thin U neck with 22 extra-jumbo frets, and a 24.75 scale length. To top it off the fingerboard is made of ebony, which provides a comfortable feel and great playability.
This ESP USA Eclipse comes with an EMG 57 humbucker pickup at the bridge position and an EMG 66 humbucker at the neck. These two pickups are characterized by a more vintage-style tone than the high-output character you’d normally associate with EMGs.
That said, you can engage their active electronics to add headroom and clarity when needed. In other words, these pickups provide you with a lot of versatility.
You can go from playing pushed metal and hard rock tones to styles that demand high dynamics and subtle, articulate playing.
Additional features on this fantastic guitar include
- TonePros locking Tune-o-Matic bridge and tailpiece
- a bone nut which is 1.653 inches wide
- ESP flags on the fingerboard inlays
- Sperzel locking tuners.
The Eclipse comes with D’Addario strings gauged .010 to .046 and a hardshell case. In short, this guitar sounds as stunning as it looks.
7. Godin DS-1 Daryl Stuermer Signature
The Godin DS-1 Daryl Stuermer Signature electric is a beautifully designed guitar loaded with great features and fine appointments.
- Beautifully designed
- Loaded with great features
- Tru-Loc Tremolo System
Godin is a Canadian guitar maker with a solid reputation developed over the last 3 decades. Some of its players include virtuoso jazz master John McLaughlin, Latin superstar Alejandro Sanz, Roger Waters, and Lionel Loueke.
Godin joined forces with Phil Collins and Genesis longtime lead guitarist Daryl Stuermer to develop the Godin DS-1 Daryl Stuermer Signature, a fantastic Les Paul type guitar that is offered at a great price.
- Designed in conjunction with Stuermer, lead guitarist for Phil Collins
- Lightweight, resonant basswood body with a flamed maple top
- Seymour Duncan humbuckers deliver a wide array of classic humbucking tones
- Tru-Loc Tremolo System for great sustain and tonal support
- Mahogany neck with Richlite fingerboard for great playability and a snappy response
The Godin DS-1 Daryl Stuermer Signature features a lightweight, resonant basswood body with a gorgeous flamed maple, gloss finished top.
The mahogany bolt-on neck features a 16-inch radius, 25.5 scale length, and a richlite fingerboard.
This guitar comes with a Seymour Duncan Custom SH-11p pickup in the bridge position for that classic PAF-style tone but with more punch.
Instead of the typical ceramic magnet commonly found on this type of pickup, this Duncan features an Alnico II which is the original magnet used in PAF pickups. This produces a softened bass with a midrange boost and a good amount of high-end punch.
For the neck position, Godin chose the Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2n humbucker pickup. This pickup is driven by an Alnico V bar magnet that is legendary for its scooped mids, glassy treble, and tight low end.
In combination with a 5-way pickup selector, this humbucking duo provides fantastic versatility that can accommodate a variety of styles.
Another fantastic feature of this Godin is the Tru-Loc Tremolo System. The base plate and knife edge in this system are made from Rockwell 45 steel, an ultra-hard, and durable steel that will not crush or lose its shape over time.
This ensures that your tuning and sustain remain consistent and rock solid. The Tru-Loc system is built with a “comfort zone” setting on the back that lets you set your tremolo arm so that it stays in the exact place you prefer when not in use.
In short, the DS-1 offers amazing tones and features at a good price point.
Why are Les Pauls so expensive?
Gibson Les Pauls are expensive because they are made in the U.S. by employees with good salaries. This is directly reflected in the guitar price.
Additionally, Les Pauls use the absolute best cuts of wood along with high-grade tops that add a heavy premium onto the sale price.
How can you tell a fake Gibson Les Paul?
You can tell a guitar is a fake Gibson Les Paul by the details. Things like exposed fret ends, unbranded potentiometers, too many screws on the truss rod cover, and a suspiciously low price may reveal a fake.
What is the best Japanese Les Paul copy?
The Tokai Les Paul is regarded by many as one of the best Japanese copies. Unfortunately, this guitar is discontinued, but you can sometimes find it on specialized sites online.