There’s probably no guitarist out there who hasn’t at least heard of these two immensely popular guitars. Since each of them is a story in itself, many guitarists choose to own them both and use them interchangeably to get the exact sound they want. So, what are the differences between these legendary guitars?
The Les Paul is known for its thick, warm and dark sound. The Telecaster, on the other hand, has a brighter, sharper tone, usually described as “twangy”. Many guitarists prefer Telecaster when playing clean, but turn to Les Paul for distortion and crunchy rhythm parts. Telecaster is also commonly thought of as being a little more versatile.
Both guitars traditionally come with two pickups and a three-way pickup selector. However, the Les Paul features humbuckers, while the Telecaster uses single-coil pickups. This difference is reflected in the characteristics of the sounds the guitars produce.
The Telecaster has a comfortable bolt-on neck, while the Les Paul has a much thicker set-in neck. Different guitarists like different necks, so try them both out and see which works best for you.
The guitars differ greatly when it comes to scale length. The Telecaster has a 25.5 inch (648 mm) scale (contributing to its brighter sound), while the Les Paul has a much shorter, 24.75 inch (629 mm) scale. This difference doesn’t only affect the sound of guitars, but also the way it feels to play them, since the frets on the Les Paul are closer together than those on the Telecaster.
While both the Telecaster and the Les Paul are high quality guitars, the Les Paul comes at a much higher price. If money is a problem for you, the Telecaster might be a wiser choice.
The Les Paul is well known for its great sustain and beats the Telecaster any day. However, the difference is pretty small and not really that important to most guitarists.
While both guitars have a pretty massive body, the Les Paul generally still weights more. The Telecaster is lighter, which also affects its sound.