A Tale of Two Les Pauls.– Les Paul Studio 2013 Review. 5-1-2015

This isn’t the first (or the last) article on this site to feature a Gibson Les Paul, in fact we have reviewed several models in the past such as the Classic, Studio+ or Double Cut.  Things however change with time and we thought we would check out these two 2013 model Les Paul Studios.

The models we are looking at are a Les Paul Studio in Alpine White (Gold Edition) and a Goldtop finished version with a Dark Back.

For those not initiated on the Gibson line-up, the “Studio” model was initially created for those players looking for the sound and playability of the Les Pauls but with fewer adornments such as fancy tops or binding which add to the overall cost.

As you will notice these two guitars are 2013 editions. They have been purchased at great prices as Gibson was blowing them out in favour of the 2014/15 models. Unfortunately the newer 2014/15 models have suffered a 30% mark-up in price and now include features such as the dreaded automatic tuning system as standard, something which one can see on many online discussions does not work that well.


On paper these two single cut guitars have the practically the same specs, such as the classic pairing of a mahogany body with carved maple top, or the 60s-slim taper neck profile. In the electronics department they sport 490R (Neck) and 498T (Bridge) humbucker pickups which can be coil-tapped.

Hardware follows with a Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, and TonePros vintage style tuners with a 14:1 tuning ratio for quick string changes.

The finish however is where the two guitars differ; the first guitar we look at is the Goldtop. This, as its name gives away, has the traditional gold nitrocellulose finish on the carved top of the guitar with a dark back done in black nitrocellulose.  All hardware is chromed.

The rare beast however is the Alpine White Gold Series version. Only when reading the small print would you realise that the top is gloss nitrocellulose and the sides and back are satin.  In fact we didn’t realise this until the guitar arrived. It makes for a very fast playing neck however,which many players prefer, even to the point of sanding away any gloss finish themselves. The hardware on this model is all gold plated.

A Gibson hardcase is supplied with both guitars, which is welcome, as the 2014 mode studios carry gigbags for some reason.

Fit and Finish

As with most high end guitars in recent years, one cannot really fault most instruments unless the rare case comes along with a fault or two. To be honest we cannot find anything that stands out on these two guitars. Well built, no finish flaws, good fret work and well setup to play right out of the box.


Both guitars sound well acoustically when unplugged, the Alpine White probably rings out a bit more due to the lack of finish, the Gold Top slightly more compressed. The bridge pickup gives a great bite and sounds mighty fine with a valve amplifier and some overdrive, while the neck has jazzy overtones in clean and can sound creamy when on overdrive with the right amplifier or pedal.


Two excellent guitars at a great price, we will need to see how Gibson’s 2014 and 2015 progress moving forward.

By Ernest H Slade

Goldtop Photos By Keeran M.Slade