In a straight-up Epiphone SG vs Epiphone Les Paul comparison which is the better guitar? In this guide, we take a detailed look at both of these massively popular electric guitars…
This is a pickle because both of these guitars are great options. They’re both specced to the hilt, they both play great, and they’re both perfectly suited for anyone that wants to play metal or rock.
You also have plenty of different options within each range too, from pricier flagship models to lower cost, budget-friendly guitars that are perfect for beginner players that are just getting started.
And unlike Gibson Custom and Standard models, Epiphone guitars are a HELL of a lot cheaper.
This guide will take a broad overview of the SG and Les Paul from Epiphone, focussing on how they’re different and why. At the end, we’ll list all the current models and how much they cost.
At this point, you’ll likely know which one you want and you can then have a look at all the options based on your budget. Simple, right? Let’s do this…
Epiphone SG vs Epiphone Les Paul – Best Option For A Metal Head?
First, though, we need to cover off the basic differences between these two styles of guitar – things like how they’re designed, how they feel, and how they play.
Design & Feel
The Les Paul design is iconic and is almost as old as the electric guitar itself. It is also Gibson’s longest running and most popular model. Featuring a single cut away design and a pickup switch, the Les Paul is as familiar as burgers and chips – everybody knows it and most people love it.
The Epiphone SG is a slightly different beast. First produced in 1961, the SG hasn’t changed all that much since it first hit the market. With its iconic double cutaway and lighter and slimmer chassis, the SG is the perfect option for players looking for a lighter guitar.
Both are solid body guitars, but the Epiphone SG is significantly lighter and slimmer than the Les Paul. On top of this, the SG’s neck joins the body at the 22nd fret, while the Les Paul – on most models – joins at the 16th. And if you’re wondering what “SG” stands for it means “solid guitar” – this name was created by Gibson in the 1960s.
Did you know that the SG is actually a Les Paul? The SG was designed by Gibson to be the “new” Les Paul model, however, Les himself never actually endorsed the guitar.
The SG was initially designed to better compete with Fender’s lighter and slimmer Telecasters and Strats. The Les Paul is a heavy guitar. And playing long shows with a heavy guitar can soon become irritating. In fact, this is the reason why Deftones’ Chino Moreno uses a Gibson SG Standard.
Visually, both Les Paul and the SG are iconic looking guitars. Even the greenest of new players can usually spot them. In this respect, if you’re looking for a classically good-looking guitar, you cannot go wrong with either the Epiphone SG or the Epiphone Les Paul.
And you also have a myriad of color options for both too – from traditional black and red models, to more modern finishes like those used of Epiphone’s new Prophecy range.
Which one you go for will largely depend on these two things: 1) which you prefer the look of; do you like the single cutaway or do you prefer the double cutaway, and 2) do you want a lighter guitar with easier access to the higher frets or are you OK with a heavy setup like the Les Paul?
Size & Weight
I could wax on about the size and weight differences between the SG and the Les Paul, but it is easier to just show you a quick breakdown of how they differ with respect to overall weight, scale length, and the number of frets on each model.
Epiphone Les Paul Dimensions, Weight & Fret Length
- Weight: 4.53KG / 9.9lbs
- Scale Length: 21.97in
- Number of Frets: 22
Epiphone SG Dimensions, Weight & Fret Length
- Weight: 3.1KG / 6.9lbs
- Scale Length: 24.75in
- Number of Frets: 22
As you can see, the Epiphone SG is significantly lighter than the Epiphone Les Paul – by 3 pounds! Both the Les Paul and SG have the same number of frets (22), although the SG has a longer scale length (24.7in vs 21.9in).
Electronics & Pickups
Both options come with the fantastic “Probucker” series of pickups. These are based on the classic Gibson PAF Humbuckers. Both mid-range options of the Les Paul and SG come with this pickup set.
These are especially awesome in “coil split” mode! You can get the full humbucker to chug with, while still getting single coil sounds for pristine cleans. The “Probucker” is often looked down on by enthusiasts, but with a little adjustment, these are awesome pickups!
Both guitars come with 500k volume pots, with a standard “orange drop” style capacitor. Both models also sport a three way toggle switch.
Epiphone SG Color Options
- Worn Brown
- Worn Cherry
- Vintage Sunburst
- Alpine White
- Pelham Blue
You can check out all the Epiphone SG colors for a wider view of what’s currently available – there’s loads!
Epiphone Les Paul Color Options
- Heritage Cherry Sunburst
- Trans Black
- Vintage Sunburst
- Transparent Amber
- Transparent Blue
- Worn Brown (Ltd. Ed.)
- Worn Cherry (Ltd. Ed.)
- Trans Blue (PlusTop PRO)
- Wine Red (PlusTop PRO)
- Faded Cherry Sunburst (Quilt Top PRO)
Famous Epiphone SG Players
Perhaps the most famous of all SG players, notably because he plays an Epiphone SG and not a Gibson model, is Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. Iommi is basically responsible for modern metal, doom, sludge, and all of rock musics best sub-genres.
Iommi even has a signature Epiphone SG model and it is very well priced considering it is the model the man himself uses. You can grab one for just shy of $700 – and it is a killer guitar.
You also have other notable players like Angus Young of AC/DC, Robbie Krieger of the Doors, Mick Taylor, Eddie Vedder, Pete Townshend, and Rivers Cuomo.
Famous Epiphone Les Paul Players
The Les Paul, usually Gibson’s model, is synonymous with metal and rock music and always has been. You have the likes of Jimmy Page, Slash, Pete Townsend, and Billy Gibbons for big-name users, and players like Buzz Osborne, the guys from ISIS, Adam Jones of Tool, Buckethead, Matt Heafy, Randy Rhodes, and Zakk Wylde to name just a few.
Basically, the Les Paul has been as much of a mainstay in metal music as distortion pedals and minor pentatonic scales. If you collected all the best metal guitarists ever and put them in a room together, you’d not only be able to have one hell of a party, but a good two-thirds of them would probably have brought their Les Paul with them too.
Epiphone SG Models – Full List & Price Guide
|SG Special P-90||$399|
|SG Standard 60s||$549|
|SG Standard 60s Maestro Vibrola||$549|
|SG Modern Figured||$549|
|SG Classic Worn P-90s||$379|
Epiphone Les Paul Models – Full List & Price Guide
|1959 Les Paul Standard||$799|
|Les Paul Junior||$379|
|Les Paul Custom||$679|
|Les Paul Standard 50s||$599|
|Les Paul Standard 60s||$599|
|Les Paul Special||$399|
|Les Paul Prophecy||$899|
|Les Paul Modern Figured||$699|
|Les Paul Classic||$499|
|Les Paul Classic Worn||$449|
|Les Paul Modern||$649|
|Les Paul Studio||$449|
|Les Paul Muse||$499|
Epiphone SG vs Epiphone Les Paul – Which Should You Buy?
You cannot go wrong with either option when it comes to getting a fantastic tone. But the differences, although minor at first glance, can be a make it or break it decision for you.
The biggest differences are the necks and the weight of the guitar. When Gibson designed the SG, they wanted to make “the fastest neck in the world” with an almost non-existent neck heel. The body of the SG is extremely lightweight, sometimes several lbs. lighter than a Les Paul. So if you play long sets standing up, or have back problems, the SG is the guitar for you.
On the other hand, the Les Paul is absolutely iconic. Sure, it is heavy. The neck is not as smooth and fast as the SG. But the look and tone are a part of history that is hard to ignore. If you use a wide strap, it will take some of the weight off for you when playing live.
Some models, like the Prophecy, are chambered which means they’re quite a bit lighter than traditional Les Pauls. The Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy (and the SG model) also run Fishman Fluence pickups too, so they’re incredible for metal and hard rock.
I own both, personally, and if I could only keep one, at a push, I think it’d be the Epiphone SG and the reason is threefold: 1) it’s lighter 2) it sounds brighter than the Les Paul, and 3) it has a faster neck which for metal is kinda essential.
And this is the model I have – it is absolutely brilliant and not expensive at all for what you get.
If you want a Les Paul-style guitar, however, just with ultra-modern pickups designed for metal and a much lighter body, you really cannot go wrong with the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy – it’s a freakin’ monster.
With its Fishman Fluence humbuckers, iconic design, and amazing specs and components, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy is easily the best Gibson Les Paul on the market right now. In fact, I think I’d still take one of these over a proper Gibson Les Paul. It is that good…
And if you’re more of an SG guy or girl, the Epiphone SG Prophecy is also an amazing option – especially if you want a lighter overall guitar.