When shopping for new electric guitar, many musicians wonder about the comparison of two equally famous guitars: the Epiphone Les Paul and the Squier Stratocaster.
The Epiphone is manufactured by Gibson, while the Squier Stratocaster is manufactured by Fender; both instruments are budget-friendly guitars and beginner level instruments that are inspired by some of the most famous guitar’s history.
It’s more common than not that beginning guitarists confuse the two instruments and assume that at the end of the day, the Les Paul and the Strat are the same instruments. However, experienced guitarists know well enough that the Les Paul and the Strat are actually two completely different instruments, which is what you’re going to see in this comparison.
Today, we’re basing our review upon several factors; which instrument is better for beginners, which instrument is of higher quality, which instrument has a better sound, which instrument has a better build, and which guitar is right for your personal needs.
While you may already understand the basic differences between the Les Paul and the Strat, this article is going to take a look at each of these differences in depth to decide which guitar is truly better for you.
There is one major problem that comes when looking to compare the Les Paul and the Epiphone; this problem is that Fender is more advanced at guitar manufacturing than Gibson is. It’s widely believed that the Les Paul is actually an intermediate level guitar, while the Stratocaster would fit a beginner’s needs better.
Considering price range and quality, the Epiphone LP-100 is more comparable to the Stratocaster, because the LP-100 is a basic version of the standard Les Paul. However, the Les Paul and the Strat are two intermediate-level instruments ranging between $300-$500.
Some instruments are manufactured with the needs of a beginning musician in mind, while other instruments are created with enough quality to be used onstage or inside of a recording studio.
Deciding what guitar is best for your own personal needs is completely dependent upon your total experience as a musician, what your goals as a musician are, and what you plan to use your instrument for.
Epiphone Les Paul
If you’ve done a bit of research and took a lot of interest to the Gibson Les Paul, the Epiphone Les Paul is a great alternative, as it brings a lot of the same performance, feeling, and attitude as the Gibson Les Paul does, but at a much more affordable price.
While the complete buildup of this guitar isn’t anything too fancy, this was an instrument that was built to withstand the test of time. The Epiphone Les Paul handles overdrive, distortion, and clean environments well, without being too shaky.
You can easily switch between music genres with this guitar, which is great if you’re someone who does a lot of improve sessions or just doesn’t stick to playing one genre of music.
Starting at the neck, you’re going to get yourself a standard maple design with a rosewood fretboard on top. There are abalone inlays and a white binding on the neck of the guitar, which really adds to the cosmetic appeal of this instrument.
One of the most important parts of the Les Paul by Epiphone is the Alnico humbuckers; Alnico is an abbreviate for Aluminum, Nickle, and Copper.
These dual humbuckers are controlled by a tone knob, a pickup selector, and two volume knobs, which are easy to access, ensuring that you can control the volume and tonal quality of your instrument with confidence and ease.
All of the hardware on this instrument comes in chrome, which is inspired by the cosmetic appearance of the Gibson Les Paul Standard. While the Tune-o-Matic bridge is sturdy and stable, the tuners on the Epiphone Les Paul are pretty standard, but also pretty sturdy.
Beginners may find that handling the Les Paul is easier than dealing with the Strat, because the Les Paul has a fixed bridge, compared to the vintage tremolo that’s found on the Squier. In other words, the Les Paul requires less work when it comes to tuning and maintaining tuning when compared to the Stratocaster.
Squier Standard Stratocaster
The sound of this guitar comes from the wood that’s used to manufacture the Stratocaster, which happens to be from a wood called Agathis. Agathis is a cheaper alternative to using mahogany and there’s a large supply of it in the East, which is where the majority of guitars are made.
While it may not seem it at first, the Squier Stratocaster is a budget guitar; I say this because you’re not going to receive the same quality tonewoods as an instrument that costs around $1,500.
At the end of the day, manufacturing a guitar is just a balancing act; the majority of the hardware that’s attached to the Agathist is unbranded, which is reflected in the pricing of this instrument.
With an instrument at an affordable price range for most people, you would expect to see poor quality construction around the neck of the guitar. However, there are no gaps and no glue marks on this neck or the body, which isn’t too common to find on a guitar of this price range.
The Standard Squier Stratocaster offers musician an Agathis body combined with a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard.
The tonewoods that were chosen to comprise this instrument produce a bright, twangy sound that is very comparable to the sound that the Les Paul produces.
There is an option to purchase a Strat with an HSS configuration, which means that you’re going to purchasing one humbucking pickup and two single coils, instead of the traditional three single coils that are on a traditional Strat; this is a great choice to make if you are looking for the vibes of the Strat, but you’re looking for a thicker tone that you’re more likely to get from the Les Paul.
While I believe that both the Les Paul and the Stratocaster are amazing guitars for any musician, I would highly recommend the Stratocaster to two types of musicians: a beginning musician who is looking to emulate any famous Strat playing guitarists or an experienced musician who just wants to add a quality guitar to their collection.
The biggest difference between the Stratocaster and the Les Paul is their scale length; the scale length is a term to describe the distance between the bridge and the nut on a guitar. The Les Paul has a 24.75-inch scale length, while the Stratocaster has a 25.5-inch scale length.
Having a different scale length has a major impact on both the playability and the sound of a guitar, which is the biggest reason why the Stratocaster and the Les Paul have such a difference in sound.
Having a longer scale length means that there’s more space in between the frets, which means that there’s great tension on the strings of the guitar. A guitar that has greater string tension is more difficult for smaller hands to play, because it requires more hand strength to press down the strings.
The Stratocaster has a longer scale, which means that the Strat has a brighter, bell-like sound when in comparison to the Les Paul’s shorter scale, which has around, warm sound.
Single coil pickups provide guitars with a brighter and crisper sound that’s able to cut through the density of other cool toned and heavy instrument. However, single coil pickups are also more likely to generate a hum when being interfered with other electrical activity.
Humbuckers were created to eliminate the feedback noise that single coil pickups produce when interfered with other electric activity. Humbucker pickups provide a deeper and thicker sound than single coil pickups do and are typically used in metals, blues, jazz, metal, and hard rock music, while single coils are typically used in blues, funk, and country.
However, there aren’t any specific rules that need to be rolled with pickups, so you can use whatever pickup you want to play. Just know that pickups do affect your tone, but tonality is an extremely personal thing when playing guitar, so it’s going to be up to each individual user.
Both the Stratocaster and the Les Paul come with the ability to choose a range of pickup configurations, but their classic pickups are what makes these guitars different from other electric guitars on the market. The traditional Stratocaster comes with three single coil pickups, one of the neck, one in the middle, and one on the bridge.
However, the traditional Les Paul comes with two humbucker pickups, one of the neck and one on the bridge. These pickups are Alnico (aluminum, nickel, copper) pickups of high quality, which are controlled by classic controls.
The Stratocaster has two asymmetrical cutaways, which serves both a cosmetic benefit, while also allowing musicians better access to higher notes. When comparing these two guitars together, the Stratocaster is a lot easier to physically manufacturer, because the Le Paul has a slimmer, contoured body that’s comprised from a single sheet of wood, which usually is alder or ash. Also, the Stratocaster happens to weigh less than the Les Paul guitar.
As for the Les Paul, there is a single cutaway on the instrument, which also allows musicians for easier access to high notes. This guitar has a thick, heavy mahogany body that has a carved top cap comprised of maple.
The Stratocaster has a neck that is thinner the neck of the Les Paul, which means that the Strat is much easier to play for people who have smaller sized hands; the Strat has a rounded neck, which is another added comfort to some musicians.
As for the Les Paul, the neck itself it thick and hefty, which can make note bending a much easier trick to complete on the Les Paul neck. However, if both of these necks don’t sound like something you’d like, both manufacturers offer models with non-traditional neck profiles.
When it comes to the necks of these guitars, the biggest difference between these two instruments is the way that each neck is attached to the body of the guitar. The Strat has a bolt-on neck, which makes the entire manufacturing process a lot easier, while also providing a strong connection between the body and the neck.
On the other hand, the Les Paul has a glued-in neck, which takes more attention to detail during manufacturing time. The Les Paul has a set neck with its humbucking pickups, which all contribute to a warmer tone and a greater sustain than the Strat.
The Stratocaster comes with a one-piece tailpiece, which is a tremolo bridge with individually adjustable string saddles. This provides musicians with an easier guitar setup when it comes to exchanging strings and intonating strings. While the tremolo bridge on the Stratocaster allows musicians to bend the string’s action, it also can easily pull your guitar’s string out of tuning.
Les Paul comes with Gibson’s Tune-o-Matic fixed bridge, which has two adjustable posts with a bar in-between them, which contains the individual string saddles. The Tune-o-Matic bridge has the ability to support six adjustable saddles on one end, as well as a quality set of die-cast tuners on the other end of the guitar.
This alignment of strings is highly commended by musicians because it helps the strings stay in tune for a long period of time.
In case you’re not exactly sure what the key differences between each guitar is, here’s a quick little chart for you to look at:
|Stratocaster Electric Guitar||Les Paul Electric Guitar|
|Bright, bell-like tone||Warm tone with great sustain|
|Three single-coil pickup configuration||Dual humbucker pickup configuration|
|Tremolo bridge||Fixed bridge|
|Used in blues, rock, funk, and country genres||Used in hard rock, blues, jazz, and metal genres|
|Slim contoured body with a double cutaway||Heavy, thick body with carved top|
|Longer scale of 25.5 inches with a thinner neck||Shorter scale length of 24.75 inches, with a wider neck|
Which should you choose?
Les Paus are heavier guitars that have a thicker sound that’s perfect for any genre of music, even though it is mainly used in heavier styles of music. The Stratocaster is a lighter guitar with a wide range of sounds that could comfortably fit into any playing style or any style of music.
Both guitars are iconic guitars for all the right reasons. While both the Les Paul and the Stratocaster have extremely distinctive personality, playing characterizes, and appearances, these guitars are both extremely versatile.
The Les Paul and the Stratocaster are well-made instruments that come in a variety of stunning finishes; both of these instruments will hold their original value for a long period of time, as long as you take proper care of your instrument.
So, which guitar should you pick? It’s really all up to which instrument will better suit your physical build (what size your hands are), what your preferred playing style is, and which guitar you believe has the better sound.
Some players are going to gravitate towards the deep tone of the Les Paul, while others are going to favor the bell-like tones of the Stratocaster. At the end of the day, the choice is completely up to you and there is no wrong answer!
Other guitars to consider
Maybe you’re looking for a guitar with a similar build, quality, and price range that comes with either the Les Paul or the Stratocaster, but you aren’t looking of either of these exact guitars.
- Yamaha Pacifica – The Yamaha Pacifica is a guitar that was built for solid blues playing, with a high-quality sound and easy playability. Full Yamaha Pacifica Review here.
- Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster – The Classic Vibe 50’s Squier Telecaster is a vintage-inspired guitar that comes with the affordable Squier price tag.
- Squier Bullet Strat – Another variation, the Bullet Strat could be a good option to consider here.
- Squier Affinity Telecaster Review (Similar to the Affinity Strat)
- Epiphone LP Special Review
- Fender Standard Telecaster Review
Conclusion: Squier Stratocaster vs Epiphone Les Paul
Ultimately, choosing between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul has everything to do with playability, character, and sound. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between the Les Paul or the Stratocaster- you have to make the decision for yourself based on your own dreams, experience, playing styles.
Don’t feel pressured by other people’s decisions or the idols that you look up to, to make a certain decision on the guitar you’re looking at. You can also go into a guitar shop and test out the two guitars to physically feel which one you like better. Have fun on your guitar journey!