Difference in LP tone with and without maple top.

Sirstringalot

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I haven't seen much discussion on this topic or at least I missed it then. Everything else being the exact same I'd like to know how the laminate maple top on most models would differ in tone from Specials, Juniors and some Tributes that don't have it. As I've mentioned in other post I'm a lifelong Fender player convert and Gibson novest and don't know much about LP's. I recently fell in love with Gibson non maple top Les Pauls maybe because they're more tele like as far as the body. Sounds crazy but I think I've played the wrong guitar for over fifty years.
 

brokentoeswalker

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Some LPs have a hog top and a hog back. The old customs were one piece hog construction. Do they sound different than a standard ? Better ears than mine would have to tell you that. Most customs now are just dressed up standards with maple top.
 

Roxy13

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I don't think any Gibson Les Pauls have a veneer top. My experience with any veneer topped singlecuts is with MIJ ones and it's a maple veneer over a solid maple cap. To me I don't think I hear any difference on those ones compared to the ones that don't have a veneer on them.
 

irocdave12

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As said the original Customs were all mahogany construction. The maple cap is quite thick in the middle and definitely affects the sound. The maple cap adds some brightness. The sound is crisp and snappy compared with full LP mahogany which will be traditionally a bit darker and warmer sounding. The SG and other models are slightly different animals with their own sounds
 

Sirstringalot

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I don't think any Gibson Les Pauls have a veneer top. My experience with any veneer topped singlecuts is with MIJ ones and it's a maple veneer over a solid maple cap. To me I don't think I hear any difference on those ones compared to the ones that don't have a veneer on them.
Bad choice of words by me, I know the maple is solid but once added the body is laminated.
 

InTheEvening

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I recently spent time playing a 3 pickup 57 Reissue Black Beauty (one solid piece of mahogany w/ mahogany top, no maple), my 76 Les Paul Custom (Mahogany, maple, mahogany pancake body with a maple top, so mahogany/maple/mahogany/maple sandwich), and my standard 60’s (solid mahogany body with maple top).
I found they were more similar sounding than they were different. They all sounded like a Les Paul. Any differences in tone were prob most likely due to the different pickups in each guitar. I assume the maple cap might have some small impact on tone, every part of a guitar likely has some small impact on tone and we notice the cumulative affect of all that once a guitar is fully assembled. But i can’t imagine it makes enough of a difference to really notice if all else is the same.
 
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truckermde

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Maybe I'm not understanding things either. Do you mean that the top is glued to the mahogany back?
Yeah, he just means the difference between all mahogany models, and those with a maple top.
 

Bobby Mahogany

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There are a few "shit show" threads about "wood matters" and it's religion like.
You have the non-believers and the believers.
I sometimes say that "people using their ears can hear".
People using their argumentative can "argumentative"
:fingersx:

burning-wood-airspeeder.gif


I'll be here watching.

flames-flaming.gif
 

InTheEvening

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There are a few "shit show" threads about "wood matters" and it's religion like.
You have the non-believers and the believers.
I sometimes say that "people using their ears can hear".
People using their argumentative can "argumentative"
:fingersx:

burning-wood-airspeeder.gif


I'll be here watching.

flames-flaming.gif
I’ll pull out my popcorn for this and the good wood thread lol.

Phillip McKnight mentioned in his podcast, people will hear what they wanna hear. It’s all so subjective, unless someone does a proper quantified sound test on several hundred models, we can’t draw many conclusions and our biases are prob gonna have some impact on what we’re hearing.
 

Peter M

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Every Les Paul I've ever played sounded like a Les Paul. Some were brighter, some darker, but they all have a characteristic tone.

This. Every full-featured LP I've ever played, had that distinctive LP sound. You just know it when you hear it.

There may have been subtle differences here and there... but nothing worth noting.
 
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Bobby Mahogany

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I’ll pull out my popcorn for this and the good wood thread lol.

Phillip McKnight mentioned in his podcast, people will hear what they wanna hear. It’s all so subjective, unless someone does a proper quantified sound test on several hundred models, we can’t draw many conclusions and our biases are prob gonna have some impact on what we’re hearing.
I saw what you did there.

gasoline-fire.gif
 

murmel

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I was curious and compared a few of my guitars that I currently have at home just for brightness.
The differences were actually bigger than I expected, while the overall order is pretty much what I would have expected.

Brightest to Darkest:
Fender American Series Stratocaster Alder Body, Maple Fretboard
Fender Elite Telecaster Alder Body, Maple Fretboard
Custom Shop Gibson Les Paul Custom Mahogany Body with Maple Top, Ebony Fretboard
PRS Tremonti Mahogany Body with Maple Top, Rosewood Fretboard
Gibson Les Paul Studio Vintage Mahogany All Mahogany Body, Rosewood Fretboard

The differences were consistent plugged in and acoustically, so it's not just a pickup thing.

Strings were different though, with the Strat on 9s , the Tele, the Gibsons and PRS on 10s.

Age of the strings differs as well, with the VM having the oldest.

When it comes to brightness it's not just the player, it's very much the guitar or the age of the strings.

My result would second the OPs assumption, that an all Mahogany body sounds darker, but it's just one guitar.

My only other full Mahogany guitar is an Explorer, but I don't have it at home, it's in my little Studio like my other guitars.
 

ARandall

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I had the same question and this video shows the difference between a 57 Les Paul Custom (mahogany body) and a 72-73 Les Paul Custom

Comparing a T-top equipped guitar and a modern PAF (attempt) is probably most of the difference you might hear. Need a like for like.
Plus (if I read it correctly) the OP is wanting to know what the slab body version is like compared to the full thickness guitar.

The slab body construction tends to be a little more focussed in the true mids. The low mids are a little softer. People call it 'barky' - as you get a lot of snarl. The SG goes even further here as the doublecut nature makes for less low end reproduction generally.
Add in the maple top, and the added mass as well as the wood species combination makes for a greater low mid 'authority'.

Of course there are individual guitars you could pick that might reverse this. But this is what you tend to find on average.
 

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