By: Connor Flys
The Les Paul Junior is a cheaper version of Gibson's iconic Les
Paul. It was introduced in 1954 at a budget price of less than
$50. Like other Les Paul models the Junior is made of mahogany
and has a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. These are the
only materials used for the construction of the guitars, unlike
the other Les Paul models, also available in maple.
It was designed as an entry-level model for younger players who
couldn't afford a Les Paul but still wanted a high quality
Gibson model. The original versions had single cutaway bodies,
but there was a double cutaway version available from 1958. The
body is the same shape as the Les Paul, but with different
finishes, including TV Yellow and cherry red. The Gibson finish
TV Yellow was introduced on this guitar. The idea of this finish
was that it would look good on television, which was only black
and white at the time.
The only models available are the single and double cutaway
models. The only pickup configuration available is one P-90
single coil with a "dog-ear" shape.
As the entry level model of the Les Paul range it had only two
knobs- one tone and one volume control- as opposed to the two
tone and volume controls of Les Paul Standards, Customs and
Specials. It also had a different scratchplate to the other Les
Paul models- while other Les Pauls had floating scratchplates,
the Junior had a more cost-effective fixed one. The design of
the scratchplate varies from model to model.
A variation on the Les Paul Junior shape is the 1961-63 model,
the SG/Les Paul Junior. This utilised the body of what would
become the SG. However, it was disliked by Les Paul, the famous
jazz guitarist known for designing the Les Paul guitar on which
the Junior was based. Because Paul disliked the radical, pointed
shape he refused to have his name on the guitar, so Gibson
changed the name to the SG, although the shape remained in the
Les Paul Junior range as the SG/Les Paul Junior.
The Junior is now also offered as an Epiphone model. Epiphone
are a guitar company which Gibson purchased in 1957, who now
make budget versions of classic Gibson designs.
A famous Les Paul Junior user is Billie Joe Armstrong of punk
band Green Day. Gibson offer a signature series of Junior models
dedicated to him. These models are based on the single cutaway
version. Also, Juniors were used extensively by Leslie West of
70s hard rock band Mountain.
Although the Junior is overshadowed somewhat by the more famous
Les Paul and SG models it has inspired many players who
otherwise wouldn't be able to own a Gibson, and original
versions have become rare and prized collector's pieces over
It is also worth mentioning that there was another budget Gibson
model, which was introduced 5 years after the Junior. Called the
Melody Maker, it was even more inexpensive than the Junior. It
had a simple, single cutaway slab body in a similar shape to the
It is still offered in the Gibson range in virtually the same
format as the original version, but with a different pickup.
About the author:
Connor Flys writes for the online guitar guide. The online
resource for all guitar and bass information, online lessons,
tabs and cheap instruments. http://www.onlineguitarguide.co.uk