Is The Les Paul Standard The Most Versatile Gibson?

The Gibson Les Paul Standard is the flagship model in their USA range of guitars and for good reason. It’s versatile and captures all that classic Gibson vibe in a single instrument. But it’s also incredibly powerful and you should read on to find out just how powerful it is…

Jed Van Wyngaardt

Jed Van Wyngaardt

What most people don’t realise though is just how incredibly versatile the Les Paul Standard can be. And when we say versatile, we don’t mean that it’s versatile in a gimmicky way.

The Les Paul Standard genuinely has loads of cool features on the hood that aren’t incredibly clear if you don’t know they’re there. But when you do know how to harness them, you won’t look at an LP Standard the same way again.

Construction

The way a guitar is built will have a massive impact on its tonal output. Gibson have definitely got a formula and have stood by this formula for many years and it’s proven to be a success. By simply looking at the plethora of players that have picked up a Les Paul Standard as their weapon of choice over the years, you’ll see how effective this formula really is.

In essence, it’s a thick Mahogany back with a Maple top and a Mahogany neck with a stop-tail bridge. That’s the make-up of a Les Paul Standard and pretty much any other LP worth its salt.

In recent years, they decided to combat complaints about the weight of some of their guitars by introducing weight relief.

Does weight relief make the LP Standard better or worse?

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to questioning how weight-relief might affect a guitar’s tone. Yes, it no longer has a chunk of wood inside it anymore but isn’t it this air and space that gives an acoustic and a semi-hollow that extra bit of sustain? Also, having it under the wood without giving the sound somewhere to escape from (like on an f-hole) will arguably improve the sustain without sacrificing any tone.

The pickups are still mounted on a chunk of wood and so you’re still getting plenty of resonance from the guitar itself, you just won’t have to worry about back problems when playing for a couple of hours on end! The Gibson Standard uses the Modern weight relief on their current models and we can only suspect that after  years of iteration and finding out which weight-relief works best, this is the one they’ve chosen.

Here’s a diagram of the different types of weight relief that Gibson use on their guitars:

DIP, Split & Tap

The humble Les Paul has been taken to new heights with it’s switching options and the control you have over your instrument. Did you know that the Les Paul standard has 5 internal DIP switches that’ll completely modify your tone depending on how they’re used?

These are easy to access by simply taking off the back cover plate.

The volume and tone knobs are also uber powerful as each one will change how a pickup responds. These may seem like the simpler options to understand however, even the coil-tap on the neck and bridge pickup can be changed to a coil split instead!

The difference between Coil Tap and Coil Split

Coil Tap: The pickup coils are accessed through a filter which effectively accents a particular frequency for a ‘tuned tap’. The result is a fatter, P90 style sound with balanced output and lower noise and hum than a true single coil pickup.

Coil Split: Isolates one coil in the humbucker pair and changes the humbucker into a single coil. The result is a brighter sounding single coil pickup with lower output than a humbucker.

Below is an image of the 5 DIP switches inside a Les Paul Standard:

The Tone Knobs

Both of the tone knobs have switching options that can be accessed by ‘tapping’ them in a similar way to the volume controls.

Tapping the neck tone control: This will put the pickups out of phase in the middle position giving you that highly sought-after ‘Peter Green’ Les Paul sound.

Tapping the bridge tone control will act as a blowout switch which sends all of the signal to the jack and bypass all of the internal guts for a pure, outrageous signal!

 

What do the 5 internal DIP switches do?

This is where it does get confusing and the combinations you could choose from are outrageous! As long as you know what each DIP switch does, then you can make up your own mind as to what you want your Les Paul Standard to be able to do.

DIP 1 controls your neck pickup.

  • DIP 1 off = neck pickup coil tap.
  • DIP 1 on = neck pickup coil split.

DIP 2 controls your bridge pickup.

  • DIP 2 off = bridge pickup coil tap.
  • DIP 2 on = bridge pickup coil split.

DIP 3 is a Neck Volume High Pass Filter. As the volume is turned down on most guitars, the high frequencies are reduced and you end up with a muddy, dark tone. This high pass filter will counter that and allow you to keep the crispness of your tone as you reduce volume with the neck volume pot.

  • DIP 3 on = out of circuit.
  • DIP 3 off = in circuit

DIP 4 is a Bridge Volume High Pass Filter. This is the same principle as DIP 3 except it’s applied to your bridge pickup instead.

  • DIP 4 on = out of circuit.
  • DIP 4 off = in circuit

DIP 5 is a Transient Suppression switch. Or in other words, a compressor built into your guitar! This will block harsh transients or tones (like pick attack or noise) from destroying your guitar sound! This is especially good when used with any sort of digital equipment (like recording into a DAW like Pro Tools or Logic) because you’ll ensure that you don’t cause a spike and ruin a recording take.

It’s also worth noting that the compression is really transparent so you won’t have to worry about colouring your sound.

  • DIP 5 on = out of circuit.
  • DIP 5 off = in circuit

Conclusion

There’s no denying that options are there that make this an incredibly versatile instrument. The key is to know what you want to get out of it and then adjusting those DIP switches to get those tones!

You could have a Les Paul that has fat P90 tones in the neck with outrageous overblown bridge humbucking tones that never lose any top end OR a Les Paul that is both balanced and simple.

Whether you’re into recording or playing live, there’s a case for the LP Standard being the most versatile Gibson around. Can you think of any others that might take that crown instead? Let us know in the comments below!

Shop for Les Paul guitars by clicking here!

Jed Van Wyngaardt
Jed Van Wyngaardt
Jed has worked on our shop floor, handled guitar content on the site and now leads the digital content team. He's equal parts rock frontman/guitarist in Pandora Fox and wannabe folk singer-songwriter. Jed's a PRS, Tele and Orange Amps lover with an unhealthy obsession with fuzz, octave and ambient effects.

Responses & Questions

One response to “Is The Les Paul Standard The Most Versatile Gibson?”

  1. Chris Franklyn says:

    You explain weight relief, but don’t say which the Les Paul Standard uses.

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