Les Paul and SG are by far Gibson’s most popular guitars, and two of the most wanted guitars in general. The SG actually started out as a modified version of the Les Paul, but was renamed after the famous musician insisted he didn’t want his name to be connected with the new look. The guitars share similar controls and electronics but differ when it comes to the sound and body design.
The Les Paul is known for its full, dark and thick sound with lots of sustain. The SG, in contrast, is somehow brighter, thinner and is often described as having more “bite”. The differences, though, are very small, since both guitars were obviously made to rock.
The SG has a much thinner body, which makes it lighter and, some say, more comfortable to play. The difference in the weight is most obvious when playing standing up for a long time – the heavy Les Paul might not be the perfect thing for your back. However, because of its light body, the SG is famous for being “neck heavy”. Because the body can’t compensate for the weight of the neck and the headstock, the neck will tend to dive downwards and point to the ground when you let go of it.
The SG has a slightly more shallow neck, which joins the body at the 19th fret, while the Les Paul’s neck joins the body at the 16th fret. This, together with the double cutaway body design, allows a better access to the topper frets on the SG.
If you like both guitars, but are on a tight budget, you should probably consider going with the SG. It is much cheaper, but has just as much to offer as the way more expensive Les Paul.