Ah, the Gibson Les Paul. To you, it’s the guitar, the end-all, be-all. It’s also ridiculously out of your price range. Still, you’d love to rock a Les Paul style copy guitar on stage or among your friends, just so you can get the street cred. Which kind of guitar should you be looking for?
Table of Contents
The 15 Best Gibson Les Paul Style Copy Guitars
We recommend these 15 Les Paul style copy guitars:
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard
- PRS SE 245
- ESP EC-1000
- Epiphone Les Paul 100
- Schecter Solo II Custom
- Eastman SB59
- Ibanez Les Paul
- Edwards Les Paul
- Tokai Les Paul
- Greco Les Paul
- Burny Les Paul
- Agile AL-3010
- Wolf WLP 750T
- Harley Benton SC-550
- Firefly FFLP
Are you ready to go on a supersonic adventure into the world of good Les Paul style guitars? Some of these picks are truly unique, such as Japanese Les Paul brands that you can only find used. Others have a more metal sound, such as the ESP EC-1000. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to truly appreciate how many Les Paul copycats are out there.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard captures the same look, feel, and sound like an original Gibson Les Paul at a fraction of the price.
Read our full Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review
My first pick for Les Paul alternatives is by another big-name brand, Epiphone. Founded by Anastasios Stathopoulos in 1873, the company is actually owned by Gibson, so that’s a fun fact. Before that, Epiphone and Gibson were sworn rivals.
The name Epiphone comes from the guitar brand’s proprietor, whose name is Epaminondas Stathopoulos, or Epi phone for short.
Since Epiphone is owned by Gibson, they have the rights to the Les Paul design and name. Epiphone Les Pauls are not copies. They are real Les Paul guitars in every sense of the word.
Nowadays, Epiphone is known as Gibson’s subsidiary company that creates Gibson style guitars at an affordable price. Epiphone Les Paul’s are excellent for people who want the true Gibson tone with the price tag.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro has a solid body with a single cutaway. You can choose from several finishes, but the body is always made of solid wood with mahogany and carved flamed maple top wood.
Dual humbucking pickups, known as the Epiphone ProBuckers, include split coils for great distortion, awesome sustainment, and warm, meaty tones. The fingerboard, made of rosewood, comes with 22 frets. Thanks to fingerboard binding, playing this guitar is a pleasure.
With a stopbar tailpiece known as the LockTone and a Tune-o-matic bridge, you’ll find that changing strings is simple. You also benefit from added sustain length.
You can find the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro in such hues as Heritage Cherry Starburst, Honey Burst, and Translucent Blue.
Where to Buy
It’s a lot easier to get your hands on this Les Paul style guitar than it is others on this list, that’s for sure. You can shop Epiphone’s Les Paul on Guitar Center, Musician’s Friend, Reverb, or eBay.
Price: $500 to $599
PRS SE 245 Single Cut Electric Guitar
The PRS SE 245 is an affordable version of Paul Reed Smith's Core SC 245 model. If you're someone who loves the traditional feel of a Les Paul, but want some upgrades to make it more modern, then the PRS SE 245 could be a great fit for you.
Paul Reed Smith or PRS Guitars is a guitar brand out of Stevensville, Maryland. The founder and namesake of the company, Paul Reed Smith, started producing guitars in 1985. At that time, the company was located in Annapolis, Maryland.
The PRS Custom, Smith’s first guitar, was shown off at the 1985 NAMM Show. It had a body and neck of mahogany as well as a rotary pickup and tuning pegs that were both customized. The guitar made a huge impact on the event’s attendees.
Like Ibanez, PRS also ran into some legal trouble when they made a replica Les Paul. Their lawsuit was in 2001, when Gibson Guitar Corporation sued PRS for trademark infringement. The Singlecut, which was the copycat in question, was to cease production after 2004.
Interestingly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit threw the case out in 2005, so PRS is still allowed to make its Gibson-styled guitars.
Read Also: Where are PRS Guitars Made? (2020)
One of these Les Paul mimickers is the SE 245. This solid-bodied guitar features a mahogany frame with a single cutaway, just as has become the PRS trademark. The neck has a large, wide profile so you can get great tone out of it. Playing is definitely a breeze with such a spacious neck.
The scales are a little shorter than average, as each is 24.5 inches, but this lends a slinky sensation to the strings when you play. Combining that with the humbucking pickups adds clarity to your music, be that jazz, rock, or anything in between.
You can shop the PRS SE 245 in such hues as Whale Blue, Vintage Sunburst, Tobacco Sunburst, and Charcoal Burst. This is one of the best single cut guitars around.
Where to Buy
Price: $549 to $589
ESP LTD EC-1000
You’re already familiar with the history of ESP Guitars, producers of the Edwards Les Paul. Well, that’s not the only Les Paul style guitar ESP is responsible for. They also made the EC-1000. As I said before, this guitar is a metal musician’s friend if you want a Les Paul-like guitar without paying for the real deal.
Unlike the Edwards Les Paul, the EC-1000 is still in production today. The EC-1000 VB model has a vintage feel, ESP says. The guitar includes EMG 81/60 pickups that add aggression to your playing, Tonepros TOM tailpieces and a bridge (both of which lock), and LTD tuners, which also lock.
Gold hardware decorates this cool-looking guitar, which also has binding across the headstock. The fingerboard is decorative with 24 frets made of Macassar ebony, and a sturdy mahogany neck and body complete the look. The finishes include Vintage Black and Violet Andromeda.
Take a look at this video of the ESP EC-1000 being played to hear its sound and tone.
Where to Buy
Read the Full Review: ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe Complete Review
Schecter Solo II Custom
Schecter Guitar Research is a guitar company owned by namesake David Schecter, who created the brand in 1976 in Van Nuys, California. In those years, Schecter made guitar replacement parts, but it wouldn’t be long before the company began its foray into guitar production.
That happened only four years later in 1979. The early Schecter guitars were heavily inspired by Fender but still very respected. Such musicians as Jake Pitts, Easy Bay Ray, Pete Townshend, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Prince have used Schecter parts or guitars.
By 1987, Histatake Shibuya took over ownership of Schecter, who relocated the brand from Texas–where it had moved over the years–to California. Besides its Fender copies, Schecter also produces the C Series and the S Series, both of which are modeled after Les Pauls.
The Solo II Custom, which hails from South Korea, is another Les Paul style Schecter guitar. It has Schecter’s own locking tuners, an ebony fretboard with mother of pearl blocks, and a three-piece mahogany neck in a thin C shape.
The arched top body, also built with mahogany, features a solid maple top and aged crème multi-ply binding. The bridge includes a TonePros T3BT TOM & T1Z-produced tailpiece. This sleek, appealing guitar comes with an Aged Black Satin finish.
Where to Buy
Epiphone Les Paul 100
Earlier, I introduced you to another Epiphone Les Paul style copy guitar, the Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro. I want to talk about another one now, the Les Paul 100. This one is meant for those on a budget.
This electric guitar with a solid body is skinnier than the average Les Paul, but otherwise, the differences aren’t too noticeable. You can set the tone controls individually for controlling the sound just how you like it. You also get dual open-coil humbuckers for awesome, sustained sound perfect for playing solos or joining in with your band.
The guitar is styled with a rosewood fingerboard, maple top, and a neck made of okoume wood, which comes from the Aucoumea klaineana tree.
Where to Buy
Price: $180 to $300
Eastman SB59 Les Paul Style Guitar
The next Les Paul style copy guitar you can try is an Eastman SB59. Eastman Guitars’ founder is Qian Ni, a music student from China who founded the brand in 1992. Before the company began producing guitars, it specialized in violins. Eastman even had a workshop in Beijing dedicated to hand-making its violins.
They expanded their range of products to other instruments like guitars a few years later. Eastman’s guitars had a distinct arch-top at the time, which was very much reminiscent of a violin’s design. Jazz musicians loved these guitars, known as the Chinese D’angelico’s, because the guitars had a great style, sound, and price.
After the success of their arch-top guitars, Eastman began producing flat-top guitars as well. Today, you can tell an Eastman guitar apart from other Les Paul styles because it has braces that are scalloped by hand and a dovetail neck joint. The range of tonewoods also impresses.
That brings us to the SB59. This electric guitar closely mimics the Les Paul, yet it maintains elements of Eastman’s own unique style. The neck is made of a single piece of sturdy mahogany wood while the fingerboard is accented with beautiful ebony. The body type is a solid flame maple with sides and a back made of another single piece of mahogany.
Also included with your guitar is a three-way Switchcraft switch with an ivory switch tip, Sprague Orange Drop capacitors, Seymour Duncan Classic 59 bridge and neck pickups, gold speed knobs, and nickel hardware.
Zakk Jones, an Ohio-based jazz guitarist, is one of the biggest fans of the Eastman SB59.
Where to Buy
Price: $1,099 to $2,139
Ibanez Les Paul Style Guitar
The next Les Paul option at your disposal is from Ibanez. This guitar brand hails from Japan, where in 1908, the Hoshino Gakki company decided to get into instrument selling in addition to running a chain of bookstores. By 1935, the first branded Ibanez guitar was on the market. It was called the Ibanez Salvador, an acoustic guitar with Spanish influences. The company soon decided to shorten the guitar name to just Ibanez.
In the 1950s, Ibanez really took off, working with companies like Guyatone and Kiso Suzuki Violin to produce an influential range of guitars. By 1962, Ibanez began manufacturing guitars out of its own facility before moving to the FujiGen Gakki guitar factory in 1970.
Ibanez had what’s called a lawsuit period, which occurred in the 1960s. In that decade, Ibanez was flagrantly mimicking Rickenbackers, Fenders, and Gibsons.
The Ibanez Les Paul is one of those lawsuit guitars. It hasn’t been produced in decades, so an Ibanez Les Paul is very rare and can typically fetch a pretty penny. If you manage to track one down, you should consider yourself quite lucky.
The guitars were produced until 1977, as the first lawsuit against Ibanez occurred on June 28th, 1977. Later that year, Ibanez began making more of its own original instruments.
One of the popular Ibanez Les Paul models is the 2391. This has a body made entirely of mahogany, a finish that was See-Thru, and a maple top. The truss rod cover is customized, and Ibanez’s signature pearl inlays on the stock are intact here. You also get bindings at the headstock and across the body in several areas.
You can tell you have an Ibanez Les Paul by looking for the brand’s Sure-Grip knobs and checking if your guitar’s neck is bolted on.
Here’s a YouTube video showing the guitar in action if you want to check that out.
Where to Buy
You can’t easily find the Ibanez Les Paul anymore. As I said before, it hasn’t been manufactured in more than 40 years. Your best bets are eBay, Craigslist, and maybe the Facebook Marketplace.
The price of this Les Paul depends on its condition all these years later. If the former owner took good care of their guitar, then the Model 2391 Ibanez Les Paul could be resold for more than $500.
EDWARDS by ESP Les Paul Style Guitar
Unless you’re a guitar purist, then you may not be familiar with the Edwards brand. Also known as ESP, the guitar manufacturer is another that’s based in Japan (they also have headquarters in Los Angeles). You can shop ESP basses and guitars, although you might see them referred to as Grassroots, Edwards Guitar and Basses, Navigators, LTD Guitars and Basses, and ESP Standard.
Yes, that’s confusing, but they’re all the same brand, I promise.
Here’s a bit of history. ESP stands for Electric Sound Products, which was named after a store founder Hisatake Shibuya owned in 1975. The store sold guitar replacement parts at the time, but eventually, Navigator and ESP-branded guitars started appearing on the store’s shelves.
By 1983, the ESP brand had come to the United States, first the replacement parts, and then the guitars themselves. Such esteemed musicians as the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, KISS’ Bruce Kulick and Vinnie Vincent, and Living Colour’s Vernon Reid began using and favoring the guitars. Each of the instruments was custom-produced.
A decade later, in 1993, ESP made a more permanent jump to America, opening a headquarters in LA. They’ve stayed ever since.
Although they weren’t as notorious for it, ESP did produce copycats of Gibsons, including the beloved Les Paul as well as Telecasters and Stratocasters. These guitars were still beloved, with one of them, the EXP/MX, a favorite of Metallica front man James Hetfield.
So what does the Edwards or ESP Les Paul look and play like anyway? It’s a sleek, curvy guitar with a neck of mahogany, an aluminum tailpiece, hardware from MIJ, bone nuts, a stunning ebony fretboard, and tuners from Gotoh.
This 22-fretted Les Paul copycat also features white binding at the fingerboard, black laminating binding on some models, gold parts, and Seymour Duncan SH neck and bridge pickups.
Where to Buy
I was able to find links for the Edwards Les Paul in a few places online: Reverb, Rakuten Global Market, and eBay. I’d recommend that if you see one of these rare guitars, you buy it right away. You might not get a second chance.
Price: $725 to $1,000
Related Post: Should You Buy a Used Electric Guitar? (2020)
Tokai Japanese Les Paul Clone
I still have plenty more guitars to introduce you to, including Japanese Les Paul brands like Tokai. Called Tokai Gakki Company, Ltd. in full, Tokai was founded in 1947 in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
Tadayouki Adachi, the founder, ran the guitar business with his family. The Adachi family continues to own and operate Tokai Guitars to this day. Under this brand, you can shop chromaharps or autoharps, basses, and acoustic and electric guitars. They once sold guitar amps, pianos, and melodicas, but don’t any longer.
These instrument choices hail back to Tokai’s humble beginnings in the late 1940s, when the company sold pianos and harmonicas only. Its first guitar came in 1968 with the creation of the Humming Bird, which took inspiration from the Mosrite Mark guitar.
Like many of the brands I’ve talked about, Tokai began producing bass and guitar replicas of Gibsons and Fenders. This happened in the late 1970s. These instruments are also referred to as lawsuit guitars, much like Ibanez’s.
Tokai called its Les Paul copycat the Les Paul Reborn, then the Reborn Old and finally, the Love Rock. Les Paul has tried to sue over name copyright, but it appears the replica guitars are still in production.
I wasn’t able to find much on this guitar at all except that most models have gold hardware, ebony finishes in parts, and low-output pickups that give it a fantastic sound.
Where to Buy
Greco Japanese Les Paul Copy
In the same vein as Tokai is Greco, a Japanese guitar company that began more than 60 years ago in 1960. Kanda Shokai Corporation owns and operates Greco. The company is also a Fender Japan wholesaler for instruments.
Greco began with guitars that were modeled after the Telecaster right off the bat. By the 1970s, Kanda Shokai had moved on to making guitars like Gibsons under the Greco name. These didn’t use set necks though, but rather, bolt-on necks so they were somewhat different.
In the late 1970s, Greco’s first Fender replicas were introduced. This carried over into the 1980s, when Kanda Shokai was absorbed into Fender Japan and the replicas ceased production on their end.
The Monkees’ Peter Tork, The Cars’ Elliot Easton, and KISS’ Ace Frehley have all used Greco guitars at one point or another.
Many guitar experts say the Greco Les Paul is akin to the real deal, in that it has the authenticity and craftsmanship Gibson uses when producing its flagship guitar.
One such model of the Greco Les Paul, the EG-700, includes features like top-hat control knobs made of gold, a medium tenon joint within the set neck, and a headstock that’s a bit longer and narrower when compared to the standard Les Paul.
Where to Buy
Reverb and eBay both have the Greco Les Pauls, but otherwise, finding this guitar to buy online was tough.
Price: $600 to $675
Burny Japanese Les Paul Style Guitar
Burny Guitars is a subset of Fernandes guitars and is known for creating high quality Les Paul clones in the pre-lawsuit era. You can still find them on the used market today for a very good price.
If you have a Burny Les Paul or you’re seeking one, the instrument is actually a subset of Fernandes Guitars. Since 1969, this Japanese guitar brand has produced amps, basses, electric guitars, and flamenco guitars. It’s one of Japan’s top guitar manufacturing companies.
Probably to avoid lawsuits, Fernandes Guitars opted to keep its Gibson guitar replicas separate from its main line of guitars. Thus, the Burny brand was born. Today, Fernandes uses Burny for original guitars, but for decades, Burny was associated with copy Les Pauls.
Depending on what you pay for your Burny Les Paul, the features differ. More expensive models, which are still cheaper than an actual Les Paul, include PAF-style VH-1 Gibson pickups if your guitar was produced after 1985.
Before that, your guitar had original VH-1 pickups, which featured alnico magnets and a shielded wire that’s metal-braided.
Most of the Gibson knockoffs in the Burny line boasted a polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer finish, with the latter reserved for the most expensive Burny guitars. If yours is a very early Burny Les Paul, then the headstock might have a mimicked logo of the Les Paul. From 1981 onward, Burny changed that to say Super Grade model instead.
Where to Buy
I was only able to track down some Burny Les Pauls on eBay and Reverb.
Price: $450 to $550
Agile AL-3010 Les Paul Style Guitar
The Agile AL-3010 is sold by Rondo Guitars in Europe. These guitars have a very similar look and feel to a read Les Paul, but are sold for a fraction of the price. Overall, it's a great bang for you buck.
Rondo Guitars is the manufacturer behind the Agile AL-3010, another copycat Les Paul for your consideration. The Rondo brand produces six-string, seven-string, eight-string, multi-scale, baritone, and left-handed guitars, so all sorts of specialty options.
The appealing Agile AL-3010 guitar has an arching top body of durable mahogany. Its flame maple top comes from authentic Canadian wood that’s also built to last. The neck, also made of mahogany, has a radius of 13.7 inches as well as adjustable truss rod that supports speedier guitar noodling.
Each fret is hand-filed one by one to lend the Agile AL-3010 a nice feel when you play it. All strings are from D’addario, and the Graph Tech Tusq Nuts are a nice touch as well. The ebony fretboard includes abalone trapezoidal inlays and jumbo-sized frets, 22 in all. With Graph Tech’s NVS2 bridge, Grover tuners, and dual Type V Alnico humbucker pickups, this is an overall very solid guitar.
Here’s a YouTube clip of a guitarist using the Agile AL-3010.
Where to Buy
You can pick up the Agile AL-3010 on Guitar Center (used) or Reverb.
Price: $300 to $335
Wolf WLP 750T
Wolf is a brand of guitars owned by KHL Corporation, a brand that also produces acoustic guitars, classic guitars, basses, and electric guitars. Based in South Korea, the KHL Corporation has worked with such brands as ESP, Takamine, and Epiphone. Wolf is their own brand.
The Wolf WLP 750T will appeal to even those guitarists who aren’t chasing after a replica of the Gibson Les Paul. This sleek red guitar has a single-cutaway body shape with a solid mahogany frame. AAA-flamed maple veneer top wood is glossy and smooth, giving this guitar an old-school feel.
A medium-sized fretboard on rosewood comprises the neck, which is finished with mahogany. The Trans Red color scheme is the only hue available.
Where to Buy
All in One Guitars is KHL’s US dealer and partner, so they’re the only place you can buy the Wolf WLP 750T. You can order it here. All in One sells other Wolf guitars as well if you’re interested.
Harley Benton SC-550
If you’re still exploring your options, the next Les Paul style copy guitar brand is Harley Benton. This house brand sells music equipment and instruments for students of music. Their equipment is transported from parts of the world like China or Vietnam and then resold to Musikhaus Thomann, a German mail-order company.
The SC-550 is part of the Muskihaus Thomann Flame Deluxe Series. It includes a mahogany body, AAAA flamed maple arched top, a mahogany set-in neck, and a Jatoba fretboard. The neck has a 1960s profile, with pearloid trapezoid inlays throughout.
You also get a lot of cool gear and equipment with this guitar, such as D’Addario strings, DLX Wilkson machine heads, a Tune-o-matic bridge and chrome hardware from DLX, and dual Roswell HAF Zebra humbuckers.
The Harley Benton SC-550 comes in these colors: Paradise Amber Flame, Black Cherry Flame, Faded Tobacco Flame, and Desert Flame Burst.
Where to Buy
Muskihaus Thomann sells the SC-550, so you can buy it new on their website here.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Firefly Guitar brand, then you’re not alone. They have fairly recently taken the guitar world by storm after some viral YouTube reviews revealed how much of a great value they are.
These guitars are primarily sold on Amazon, but are basically always sold out due to how popular they have become.
The FFLP model is tough with its mahogany frame, including the body and neck. The fretboard is a AAA+ rosewood while the top of the guitar is covered in a layer of maple. A bone nut and nickel strings also accent this instrument.
Where to Buy
These guitars are pretty much always sold out on Amazon and Guitars Garden, so I’d suggest you try Reverb or eBay for a used model.
Price: $149 – $250
It’s okay if a Gibson Les Paul isn’t quite in the cards for you at this time. The 15 alternatives I shared in this article are from all over the world and prove that more inexpensive copies of this classic guitar are practically as convincing as the real deal. You can’t go wrong with these guitars, so give any of them a try!