What are the hallmarks of a great Les Paul tone to you?


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Apr 6, 2011
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This one track on Paranoid was supposedly recorded on an LP according to Iommi.


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Aug 13, 2008
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I've owned a couple Les Pauls in the past - a 70s Custom and more recently a 2016 LP Standard Faded, but both are long gone and I'd been without a LP for about 4 years.

After just getting my 2021 LP Standard 50s, I've been really impressed with what this guitar can do and it's taken me back to all the videos of great LPs I've seen/heard over the years and find some of those same tones w/ this guitar. Traditionally, I've been an SG player for years, so this is all kind of new and exciting. I find myself actually flipping to the neck position more than the bridge, which never used to happen!

To me, a great LP tone seems to include:

-great sustain
-a really clear and useful neck position
-a bridge position that can get really bright/sharp but never be harsh
-a 'wooliness' where some mids come in and add some honk without turning it muddy (I'm thinking 'bluesbreakers' here)
-a 'quack' that gives sort of a hard edged wah-like funk to the sound that is clearer to hear w/ less gain
-can sound pleasing and 'together' either single notes or chords, low gain or high gain

I ain't gonna say that I have the best sounding LP, but I've been very impressed w/ what the guitar can do, and I'm usually pretty critical of guitar tone (and coming from a really critical position on burstbuckers before I ever got the guitar).

Here is the guitar for reference:
View attachment 545134

I think I really hit the jackpot w/ this one on the looks and the sounds dept. Feeling very blessed.:dude:

I realize a lot of this is very subjective, but I'm interested in hearing what constitutes a great LP tone to you?
The "woman" tone....'nuff said!


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Apr 16, 2011
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"Stairway to Heaven," of course. Oops. How about LaGrange?" Oops. I quit.


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Dec 28, 2012
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Not at all - your contribution is sincerely appreciated! There are very few guitars I've heard that can do everything in that list, and most are LPs (coming from a diehard SG fan). If you have examples I'd love to hear them...the tone quest never ends and all. I do admire a great 3xx series, but that is a can of worms I haven't yet opened!

I think of the sound of Duane Allman and Dickie Betts, Live at Fillmore East. Page, as in the clip above, and Since I'vebeen loving you is probably the best showcase of his sound, since it covers the range from soft and dark and clean to dirty and bright to growling with warm mids. Joe Walsh, during his James Gang years, but also the entire Hotel California album. Billy Gibbons, especially his sound on Deguello... Those ringing clean tones in the opening bars that give way to that measure of biting sixteenth double stops in I Thank You...

I love the sound of riding that edge of gain where the guitar sounds like a violin, the scream of feedback always almost gonna start but never does.

But recently? I was most impressed with the sounds that Chris Buck got playing a burst, or when he played Bernie Marsden's Beast.

And of course, Steve Lukather playing his Burst on anything.

I have a '71 Custom, and for all the shade that gets tossed at Norlin guitars, I have loved it for 44 years, now, and it still screams, cries, growls and bites. I have a '74 SG too, and again, I love the sound! Bought it 36 years ago with a repaired break at the headstock, a not so great (cosmetically) repair, but the $350 wasn't a large ask, and I would've gone higher for that sound...

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