Looking for an American made Les Paul that’s affordable? In this Gibson Les Paul Tribute review we’ll take a look at one such guitar. We’ll look at the design, the hardware and consider tone. Ready to get started? Let’s get into it.
Overview of The Les Paul Tribute
The Tribute sits a level below the Studio series. That means some of the features are stripped back a little. The Tribute is a full scale (24.75″) guitar in the classic Les Paul style.
The body is made of mahogany, but Gibson has designed the Tribute to be lighter than the classic 50’s Les Paul guitars thanks to it’s weight relief. Ultra Modern Weight Relief is basically a series of chambers cut into the body to make it lighter.
The body has a maple top with a satin finish, which brings out the grain of the maple and adds to the appeal of the Tribute. Usually you’d have a gloss finish, but that’s one area which has been stripped back in this series.
The neck is made from maple and has the same satin finish that can be found on the body. The neck has a rounded profile and is reasonably slimline for a Les Paul. It’s certainly not the hefty thickness of the 50’s style Les Paul guitars. However it does thicken off towards the higher frets.
The fingerboard has a radius of 12″ and is made from Rosewood giving a full tone. 22 medium jumbo frets inlaid with acrylic trapezoids mark out the key frets in classic Les Paul style.
The nut is made from Graph Tech, a cheap alternative to bone. It’s a good alternative thanks to the graphite, which helps the strings to flex more freely.
The headsstock is the classic Gibson shape and features the Les Paul insignia along with “Tribute” written across the trust rod cover.
Tuning is handled by a set of Gibson’s vintage deluxe machines with keystone buttons. These provide excellent tuning stability and look pretty retro too.
At the other end of the guitar we find an aluminum stop bar tailpiece, pretty standard on Les Paul guitars, and an aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge. Let’s talk electronics. There are two Alinico 490 humbuckers. A 490R (r for rhythm) at the neck and a 490T (t for treble) at the bridge.
The pickups fly under the radar. Gibson has used 490’s in countless guitars over the years, noted for their ability as workhorses. They just work well, providing a very decent array of tones.
There’s a three way pickup switch in the classic Les Paul position allowing you to select either the bridge or neck pickups, or both at the middle position. The neck pickup is great for classic rock and blues in combination with a bit of gain. The bridge is, as you’d expect, a little more punchy. It’s not suitable for high gain styles, but it’ll handle a bit of heavy rock.
There are 4 control knobs, crowned with gold top hats to compliment each color and finish. Two knobs control tone and the other two control volume, all pretty standard. The Tribute comes with a set of .010’s, which are good for stock strings. however you’ll want to swap these out for your favorite brand and gauge.
The Tribute comes with an accessory set in case you want to make fine adjustments and also comes with a retro style soft case, which has a particularly attractive felt interior.
All in all the Tribute is a more budget friendly American made Gibson with less faff. There’s no body binding or proper inlays on the headstock, but you’re still getting an exceptionally well engineered and well made US guitar.
There’s a lot to like about this stripped back American made music machine. Here are some of the best bits:
- Lighter than Standard Les Paul
- Great for blues
- Includes a Premium Case
The Tribute won’t suit everyone. It’s not going to be suitable for metal guitarists. Some won’t like the stripped back approach either. Here are some issues I noticed:
- Not suited for high gain styles
- Satin Finish is A Departure from other Les Paul Guitars
The Tribute is a very good guitar. Perhaps it’s not as showy as other Les Paul guitars, such as the Studio series. The diet styling doesn’t go as far as the tone however. This feels and sounds every bit like an American Gibson.
The pickups are tried and tested throughout their years of use. They appear on the Tribute because they’re good solid pickups. Sure they’re not going to cope with screaming high gain styles, but for blues and cleaner styles they’re excellent.
It’s not a cheap guitar, but it’s good value for an American made Gibson. Maybe you’re looking for the American Gibson sound but don’t want to top out your budget. If that’s you, then the Les Paul Tribute should make your shortlist.
Need something to compare with the Tribute? Make sure to visit my Electric Guitar Page. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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