Gibson Les Paul Studio

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Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Les Paul Studio c.jpg
Manufacturer Gibson USA
Period 1983 — present
Body type Solid (chambered for weight relief) Lites had Cromyte Insert to replace some body wood weight with
Neck joint Set neck
Body Mahogany (often with a maple top)
Swamp ash (rare)
Neck Usually Mahogany
Maple on some select models
Fretboard Usually Rosewood
Bridge Tune-o-matic with stopbar tailpiece
Pickup(s) Usually 2 humbuckers
2 500T & 496R & NSX on M-IIIP-90s
Colors available
Various sunbursts
Translucent Red,Translucent Blue, Translucent Amber, Wine Red, Ebony, White, etc.

The Gibson Les Paul Studio is a solid body electric guitar produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation since 1983. It is similar to the traditional Gibson Les Paul Standard, but without upscale features such as binding.


Responding to a gap in their model lineup for a lower-priced Les Paul in 1983, Gibson introduced the Studio model. The Studio was designed to attract guitar players who desired traditional Les Paul sound without having to pay for cosmetic features of upscale models. In order to produce a lower-cost Les Paul, features such as body binding, neck binding, and headstock inlays were not available. Additionally, the body was ⅛ inch thinner than a standard Les Paul. Initially made of alder from 1983-1985, Gibson moved back to maple top/mahogany body combination after the alder body proved prone to lacquer problems.[1] The name "Studio" comes from the idea that this model would be sonically indistinguishable from a Les Paul Standard or Custom in the recording studio, and that the flashier guitars would be reserved for stage use.

Models and variations[edit]

Studio Standard[edit]

The Studio Standard was produced from 1983-1986 and was very similar to the Studio Custom, including the "dot" inlays, but had a single-ply binding around the body and neck, chrome hardware, and white pickup rings and pick guard. It was also available in different colors, such as Cherry Sunburst and Ferrari Red.

Studio Custom[edit]

The Studio Custom was produced in 1984-1985. It was introduced before the design of the Studio was finalized, and mostly had the features of a Standard with a variety of features mixed in from other models. It had a mahogany neck and mahogany body with a maple top, single-ply binding around the neck and three-ply binding around the body, and gold hardware with black pickup rings and pick guard. The 1984 models had two-piece tops, while 1985 models had three-piece tops. The fingerboard was made from rosewood on some models, ebony on others, and had mother of pearl dots for inlays, instead of the usual trapezoids. The neck profile was slim-tapered, like a Standard, and the frets were low, like a "Fretless Wonder" Custom. According to limited information from guitar forums, some of these had the sought-after Tim Shaw pickups.

Vintage Mahogany/Studio Faded[edit]

2008 Gibson Les Paul Studio Vintage Mahogany, worn brown finish

The Vintage Mahogany model has a carved mahogany body, top and neck, a rosewood fretboard and Alnico V BurstBucker Pro humbucker pickups, the same humbuckers used in the Les Paul Standard model. The model is available in worn brown and worn cherry finishes, featuring a "satin" nitrocellulose finish. It has garnered a 9.5 rating out of 10 at and a 9.4 rating out of 10 at Gibson's website product page.

In 2009, the Vintage Mahogany was renamed the Les Paul Studio Faded. These models (adding worn blue and worn ebony as color choices, as well as "satin" fireburst and yellow) featured the carved maple top of other Les Paul models. In 2013 model year, the Studio Faded was replaced with the "LPJ" model.

Studio Lite[edit]

In the mid 1990s Gibson produced the Studio Lite and Studio Lite M-III. The Lite models were produced with balsa wood (referred to as "chromyte" in advertisements) portions of the body to reduce the guitar's weight, responding to some players' complaints about the heaviness of a standard Les Paul after several hours of playing. The Studio Lite M-III was produced with a new pickup configuration: two humbuckers with a single coil in the middle. The pickup selector switch gave five single-coil options in the "up" position, and four humbucker combinations in the "down" position, plus an "off" position. The name M-III refers to the Gibson M-III model, which was a Superstrat-style guitar, for which these electronics were originally developed.[citation needed]

Gem Series[edit]

1996 Gibson Les Paul Studio Limited Edition Gem Series Topaz

The Gem Series (1996-1998) had P-90 pickups and special finishes in "gemstone" colors: Amethyst, Sapphire, Topaz, Emerald, and Ruby.

Gibson produced a small number of Les Paul Studio guitars using the leftover paint from the Gem Series. These are rare and highly sought after. However, these are not to be considered original Gems, as they did not include the special P-90 pickups.

SmartWood series[edit]

The SmartWood series consists chronologically of three models; the Exotic, the Studio and the Swamp Ash models. The SmartWood series is certified environmentally "responsible" by the Rainforest Alliance via their SmartWood program. Gibson is independently audited on an annual basis by the Rainforest Alliance to ensure that only FSC-certified wood is used in the construction of Gibson's SmartWood line of instruments.[citation needed]

SmartWood Exotic[edit]

The SmartWood Exotic line (1996-2002), which was composed of six models. The SmartWood line featured tops made from different woods: Curupay has a deep chocolate-walnut richness; Peroba recalls the orangey hue of the old pine ceiling beam; Banara has a golden, banana-like glow; Ambay Guasu boasts the even lightness of maple; Taperyva Guasu is reminiscent of a sun-bleached rosewood, and Chancharana is a deep, warm-brown russet. The fretboards are all made from "Curupay" harvested from forests certified in accordance with the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The mahogany used in the construction of this model is from similarly certified forests. The SmartWood Exotic had a thinner, belly contoured, body than the Studio (somewat similar to that of the Les Paul Custom Lite), and had "smart wood" written on the truss rod cover.[2]

Studio SmartWood[edit]

The Studio SmartWood (LPEXMUGH1) was constructed from wood certified by the Rainforest Alliance. While the back and the neck are made from the usual mahogany, the carved top is made from Muiricatiara, along with a Preciosa rosewood fingerboard.[3] It was in production from December 2002 until 2008 and had a standard body, no pick-guard, gold hardware, dot-type fret markers, mother of pearl Gibson headstock logo, and a unique metallic green-leaf within the truss rod cover.[4]

Studio Swamp Ash[edit]

Gibson Les Paul Studio Swamp Ash
2002 sa lespaul.png
Manufacturer Gibson USA
Period 2003 — 2011
Body type Solid
Neck joint Set
Body Swamp Ash
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Ebony or Rosewood
Bridge Tune-o-matic
Pickup(s) Dual Humbucking
Colors available
Natural Satin

The Studio Swamp Ash (LPSANSCH1) was manufactured between 2003 and 2011.[5] Built in Nashville, Tennessee, its body is made of a carved swamp ash top over a multi-piece swamp ash back. The neck is made from mahogany and is "set" into the body. The fretboard may be either ebony or rosewood, depending on production year. It has a standard body, no pick-guard, chrome plated hardware, and dot-type fret markers, a silkscreen Gibson headstock logo and the usual studio truss rod cover.[6]


During 2000-2002, Gibson released a series of six guitars dubbed "Gothic" models. Guitars other than the Les Paul Studio in this series were the Gibson SG, Flying V, X-plorer and Nikki Sixx Blackbird Bass.


The "Voodoo" series followed which included an SG as well as Les Paul Studio. The series was discontinued in 2005.