I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Les Paul vs Strat
The Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster are classic instruments and the reigning kings of the guitar world. Both have been used by legendary guitarists in every music genre, and both have a reputation as fine, American-made guitars built with the highest quality in mind. But for most guitarists, as Sean Connery told us in Highlander, there can be only one. So how do you decide if you’re a Les Paul guy or a Strat guy?
Does it matter, anyway? Both guitars are amazing instruments and both sound fantastic, so how can you possibly go wrong? What is it that compels some guitar players to gravitate to one over the other, and fight tooth and nail to defend their choice?
To understand the magnitude of this decision, try to imagine, for a moment, Stevie Ray Vaughan playing Texas Flood on a beat-up Gibson. Or, Jimi Hendrix playing Little Wing on an upside-down Les Paul. Or Slash, onstage back in the glory days of G N’ R, top hat on and Strat slung low.
Do any of those mental images make sense?
Did you, for a split second, get the feeling that Armageddon was fast approaching?
Choosing between a Strat and Les Paul has everything to do with sound, playability, and attitude. Fender and Gibson are two of the greatest guitar builders in history, so your choice isn't going to be easy.
Let’s take a closer look at each guitar.
The Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul is a thick, heavy guitar, both physically and sonically. It features a mahogany body with a maple top, and a set mahogany neck. Mahogany is a very warm-sounding tonewood and accounts for the depth and resonance Les Pauls are known for.
The maple cap helps to add some clarity to the tone, as maple is a brighter wood. Most Les Pauls have 22-fret rosewood fingerboards, but some feature ebony, and in some recent years Gibson has been using some interesting alternatives.
This traditional combination of woods has served Gibson well over the years and made for some classic instruments. Les Pauls are more elaborately constructed than Strats, often with binding around the neck and body, and block inlays in the fingerboard.
Les Pauls have two humbucking pickups, specially made by Gibson. Each pickup has one tone and one volume control, and there’s a toggle switch that flips between the pickups or allows both to be active simultaneously.
The bridge is a Tune-o-Matic with a stop-bar tailpiece. The tailpiece, along with the wood and set neck, gives the Les Paul great sustain capabilities. The simple bridge also means it tends to stay in tune fairly well.
5 Reasons to Choose the Les Paul
- Resonance: There is a reason Gibson guitars are so beloved for their distinctive tone, and for me, it comes down to resonance, depth and that dark, guttural tone you can only get from a Les Paul. Mahogany is my favorite tonewood, and Les Pauls employ it in their bodies and necks. This, along with the set-neck build, means deep, rich tone. Stratocasters are typically made with alder bodies and they sound great, but if deep, mean, gut-rumbling resonance is what you want they fall a bit short. Even Strats with ash or basswood bodies can't match a Les Paul if that’s the sound you are after.
- Tuning and Setups: While it is true that a Strat is easier to mod, and less of a headache when it comes time to replace parts when it comes to everyday maintenance you might find Les Pauls a bit less worrisome. The issue comes down to the tremolo system on the Stratocaster, where the LP has a stop-bar and Tune-o-Matic bridge. This can potentially mean the Les Paul has better tuning stability, and fewer issues when changing strings. For players who are skilled at working on and setting up guitars, this doesn’t matter much. But for new players and those whose guitar maintenance skills are less evolved it means a little less stress. Note: This is also why I usually give the Epiphone LP Special II a slight edge over the Squier Strat when it comes to the best electric guitars for beginners.
- Sustain: Veteran Strat players likely have nothing to complain about when it comes to sustain. Fender guitars are just fine in that department, but I do think many Gibsons are a notch above. Again, this has to do with the way the guitar is put together. Guitars with bolt-on necks tend to be a little punchier, where guitars with set necks have better resonance and sustain. The bridge plays a factor too, as with a stop-bar the strings are anchored more solidly to the guitar body. All of this may or may not matter to you, and this is just one factor to consider when choosing between these two guitars.
- Craftsmanship: Both guitars are made in the USA by two of the finest guitar builders in the world. When I compare craftsmanship here I’m not talking about the quality of the guitar that comes out of the factory. In both cases it is superb. When I’m really talking about, again, is the difference in the build techniques. In many ways, it can be argued that the Les Paul is a more finely crafted guitar. The Standard version features pretty bindings, a carved top and block fretboard markers. By comparison, the Standard Stratocaster is much more utilitarian. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, so how much this matters is up to you.
- Humbuckers: Gibson humbuckers are legendary. Guitarists in genres from metal to jazz, to blues to country utilize stock Gibson pickups in their guitars to get the sounds they want. If you need that hot, hard-rock bridge humbucker sound, or that smooth jazz neck humbucker sound, you’re not going to get it in a Stratocaster. Of course, there are Strats equipped with humbuckers, but they sound like exactly that: Strats with humbuckers. If you want that Gibson roar there is only one place to find it. Of course, the opposite is also true. Fender single-coil pickups are the best in the business, and even Gibson P-90s aren’t going to get the same vibe.
An Alternative to Gibson
As awesome as this guitar is, not everyone can justify dropping the coins on this legendary instrument. A new Gibson Les Paul costs several thousand dollars, but Epiphone, a company owned by Gibson, also makes Les Paul guitars to Gibson specs. These are less expensive versions of the Gibson Les Paul, and fine instruments for the money.
They feature the same qualities as the Gibson version, but of course, the craftsmanship, electronics, hardware, and materials aren't at the same elite level. This enables players on a budget to get into the Les Paul sound at a price they can afford.
I always recommend the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO for serious guitarists who need a quality instrument but can't justify spending the money on a Gibson. It features all the stuff that has made the Les Paul one of the greatest guitars ever made. Many pros and working guitarists love it for its sound and value.
This is just about the best alternative to a Gibson Les Paul you are going to find. It's always been a great choice for intermediate players, but when Epiphone introduced their ProBucker pickups a few years ago they really made the PlusTop PRO a serious option for advanced guitar players.
The Les Paul Standard Plustop PRO
The Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster is a much thinner guitar than the Les Paul, with a body made from brighter woods such as alder or sometimes ash. It features a bolt-on maple neck with either a rosewood or maple fingerboard.
The Stratocaster sounds thinner too, but for Strat lovers, this isn’t a bad thing. The legendary Strat sound is more biting than the Les Paul sound and very distinctive in its own right.
Strats usually have three pickups. The classic Strat design features three single-coils (SSS), but they are widely available with a humbucker as well, as in the HSS Strat. A 5-way switch activates the pickups in several different combinations, and each position of the selector switch presents a unique sound, from blues to rock to chickin-pickin country.
In this way, a Strat offers a greater variety of tonal possibilities compared to the Les Paul.
The hardware on a Strat is a little more complex than a Les Paul. Strats have bridges with a vibrato feature. This can be an interesting effect, but can also account for tuning instability and a little extra TLC when it comes to maintenance and setup.
On the positive side, working on a Strat is generally easier than a Les Paul. For instance, replacing a neck on a Les Paul would require work by a professional luthier, where you can replace a Strat neck yourself in a few minutes.
5 Reasons to Choose the Stratocaster
- Weight: Stratocasters are somewhat lighter guitars. While it will vary depending on the year, model and body materials, Les Pauls typically come in around 9-11 pounds, where Strats weigh around 7-8 pounds. It may not seem like much of a difference, but when you have the thing strapped around your neck for three hours it matters. For this reason, some players concerned about back health or simple comfort prefer the Strat.
- Modding: I have broken Stratocasters down to individual pieces and put them back together many times. It’s pretty easy, and replacing individual parts is possible for anyone who can turn a screwdriver. Not so much with Les Pauls. With their more complex build techniques you may need the help of a luthier to replace a broken neck, or even to change your pickups if routing is needed. The way Strats are built means parts are easily interchangeable.
- Versatility: Only your own ears can tell you whether or not a Stratocaster sounds better than a Les Paul. However, I do think it is accurate to say a Stratocaster is capable of a more versatile array of sounds. The three single-coil pickups can be combined in 5 different ways, and every position has something to offer. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a good example of a guitarist who really utilized the varied textures of the different pickup positions. He often switched between different positions in the same song or even the same solo. With a Les Paul (leaving coil taps out of it) you get three choices, and they are all somewhat similar.
- Necks and Fingerboards: Like sound, playability and feel are highly subjective topics. Nobody but your fretting hand can tell whether you like the feel of a Strat or Les Paul. However, the Strat does have a certain selling point you just can’t get with the Les Paul. The one-piece maple neck and fingerboard is found on many guitars these days, but it originated as a Fender design. They do it right, and if you love that slick, smooth feel it is quite probable you won’t be happy with a Gibson. Even Strats with rosewood fingerboards have a decidedly different feel than rosewood fingerboard Gibsons.
- Cost: Brand new, a USA-made Fender Stratocaster costs around half of what you’d pay for a new Gibson Les Paul Standard. For some players, this is all they need to know. Some of the things mentioned above account for this discrepancy, particularly the difference in build techniques. Certainly don’t take it as an indication of quality, as these two guitar giants are neck-and-neck in that regard. When we compare the Fender Player Strat vs the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO we see a closer contest, with both guitars coming in at similar price points.
Like Gibson, Fender has a less-expensive version of the Stratocaster available for a fraction of the price of the USA-made Strat. I recommend checking out the Player Series Stratocaster, which took that place of the Standard Series as the new MIM option.
It's called by guitarists the MIM or Mexican Strat because it is made in Mexico. This cuts costs a bit, along with a difference in the hardware, electronics, and wood.
The improvements in the Players Series Strat have moved the MIM Strat closer than ever to the American versions. I especially like the change to a 2-point bridge and the new colors. If you are a pro guitarist this guitar will get the job done.
You can grab a Player Series Strat for a fraction of the price of the American version. It's a quality guitar worthy of the Fender name on the headstock, and like the Epi Les Paul, it is revered as one of the best values in the guitar world.
If you need an affordable Stratocaster and you are on a tight budget, this is the guitar to consider.
The Player Series Stratocaster
Les Paul vs Stratocaster Sound
The Les Paul and Strat each have a distinctive sound that veteran guitarists learn to recognize. There are also many guitars out there that do a great job of emulating each. So what are the hallmarks of the Stratocaster and Les Paul Sound? Keep in mind that Les Paul and Strat can each be fitted with a range of pickups that will affect their tone, but here are some generalities.
Thanks to its pair of humbuckers and mahogany body the Les Paul has a thick, rich tone that’s heavy on the bass but also articulate. The bridge pickup typically has a warm, vintage sound through a clean guitar amp, and a nice, thick crunch with some distortion added. The neck pickup is round and warm when played clean, and has tremendous sustain with a little distortion behind it.
The Stratocaster has a 5-way pickup selector, giving it a wider range of possible tones. The alder body and maple neck, along with the single-coil pickups, make the tone brighter overall. The bridge pickup tends to have a vintage vibe to the sound, even with some decent distortion applied. The neck pickup is typically bell-like and clear. The middle three pickup positions have a clucky quality to them that is great for country and blues.
Words are woefully inadequate when it comes to describing guitar sounds. If you are really trying to decide whether you like the Stratocaster or Les Paul sound better the smart thing to do is get out there and play a few of each.
Les Paul vs. Stratocaster FAQ and Summary
Got some questions about how the Strat compares to the Les Paul? Here are some answers:
Can a Strat sound like a Les Paul?
You can make your Stratocaster sound a little more like a Les Paul by installing humbucking pickups. You can use an EQ pedal and dial in your amp settings to get the sound closer still. However, it is tough to get either guitar to sound exactly like the other. No matter what you do, your Strat is still going to sound mostly like a Strat.
Is a Les Paul easier to play than a Strat?
It is hard to answer this question universally, as there are so many different neck shapes for each guitar. I would both guitars are easy to play. The Les Paul is a bit heavier and that may make it tougher to play for smaller players or those with back issues.
Stratocaster or Les Paul: Which is better for beginners?
I usually recommend a Les Paul-style guitar for beginners, specifically the Les Paul Special II. It has a fixed bridge and humbucking pickups, which I think makes life a little easier for newbies. However, the Squier Affinity Strat is also a good choice, if you prefer the Stratocaster design.
Why are Les Pauls more expensive than Stratocasters?
Strats are fairly simple guitars that are relatively easy to build and assemble. Les Pauls, on the other hand, have features like carved tops and set necks than make construction quite a bit more labor-intensive. That doesn’t mean Les Pauls are better, necessarily. Just different.
What’s the difference between Fender and Gibson?
Gibson and Fender guitars typically have a few key differences, including scale length, tonewoods, build design, and pickup type. Here is a detailed list of the common differences between Gibson and Fender
Difference Between the Les Paul and Stratocaster
Three single coils
Two volume and two tone
One volume and two tone
Which Is Better? Strat or Les Paul?
It is really hard to say either guitar is better than the other. Les Pauls are heavy guitars with a thick sound great for any style of music. Strats are lighter-duty guitars with a wider array of available sounds great for any style of music. Both are well made and come in a variety of beautiful finishes. Both guitars will hold their value for years to come. So really, the answer as to which is best lies with the player.
Once you’ve been around the block a while, you find yourself gravitating to one camp or the other in a quest to find your perfect sound. The deep tone of the Les Paul, or the rip of the Stratocaster: the choice is ultimately yours, and the best part is there is no wrong answer.
How do you make your choice? Now that you know the basic differences between them, go and play a bunch of each. Let your hands and ears decide. Listen to famous musicians you respect and try to discern where their tonal magic comes from.
If you are on a budget you might choose between the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO and Fender Player Series Stratocaster. If you are really on a budget you might look at Epiphone Les Pauls compared to Squier Strats.
And, this is all kind of a trick question when you think about it. Les Paul or Stratocaster: Which Guitar is right for you? How about both! Remember, even though you can only play one guitar at a time, you can own as many as you want!
So, this article has all been about my opinion so far. What do other guitar players think? Check out the poll below and take a moment to vote. As of this update, with over 10,000 votes cast, it is a dead heat between these two amazing guitars!
Gibson Les Paul vs Fender Stratocaster
Mike S. on September 03, 2020:
I agree with all the differences between the Strat and LP and that’s why I have several different models of each and branches(SGs, TELEs)....and other brands (PRS, etc.).
Something to consider(mentioned earlier)....future problems/issues:
Strat- Trem system, maybe pot issues, pickups, switch, worn/bad nut....easily fixed by you, fellow guitarist(money, parts)or Luthier(more cost for services)
Les Paul- Minus the Trem, you could have the same issues BUT notorious for Neck issue(breakage at headstock) even during transport or slightly dropping your case! ....Professional fix, Big cost, headache!
If you are rough with your gear, this could happen sooner than later down the road.
If a Strat and a Les Paul were in a stand and both got knocked over, LP has a higher percentage of headstock breakage!
In summary, both are fantastic guitars but you need to treat and GUARD your instruments right!
Homework...call up several Luthiers especially the ones with a high customer base and ask them about the common issues of these 2 excellent guitars. Aloha....Mahalo nui loa!
YolkSupreme97 on January 17, 2020:
Honetly les paul is less comfertable but it sounds better and the strat is very comfertable but not the best sound PRS guitars are a perfect blend of the 2, a good feel and the clssic les paul tone, a little bit thicker tone but its alright.
Steve on November 20, 2019:
I just bought a 2017 American professional HSS Stratocaster. Sienna burst, beautiful ass body, wonderful neck and frets. Stays in tune great, bone nut and, staggered tuners. Also have a Les Paul custom black. A Les Paul studio gold top, great guitars, And a 89' Charvel exotic sunburst reverse headstock, made in Japan and it is cool too. All good.
Michael James (author) on September 18, 2019:
@Robert - I do too. My Les Paul stays in tune just fine. And I did not say LPs universally stay in tune better. I said the tremolo on the Strat could potentially mean the LP has better tuning stability, but to experienced players who know how to work on a guitar it probably doesn't matter. In other words: For beginners who go nuts with a whammy bar they don't know how to set up, strats are harder to keep in tune.
Robert Smith on September 17, 2019:
That's total b.s. that a Les Paul has better "tuning stability". A Les Paul is infamous for NOT maintaining a tune. I have one of each.
Bully4me on July 31, 2019:
Had Many Guitars in all price ranges. Notice the comparison between an American Strat and Les Paul Standard. Sure the Les Paul is considerably more and a few say the build quality is great therefore picking the LP as the better guitar. However that's a bit unfair. One should compare dollar for dollar. A LP Studio vs Strat Am Pro. Even better compare a $3000 dollar LP Standard with a same priced Strat Custom Shop. Then decide
One guitar I've always Loved is the Gretsch Duo Jet which is similar prices to the Les Paul and is incredibly well put together with great feel and sound.
Like many it truly depends what instrument you play to what music you're playing. The battle of only Gibson or Fender Lovers is silly. Most every big name and Pro musician has and plays both brands (and many others). Even when they are backed and signed by one company or the other.
Enjoy the music and enjoy your guitar(s)
Darrell Reeves on July 08, 2019:
I have alwaysloved Gibsons due to their beautiful woodwork and coloring. From the legendary 175 335 SG. I love their beautiful sound. A Strat is great for the blues and rock. But a Les Paul sounds a lot fuller.
Tim Bech on February 16, 2019:
I own a couple of each. I literally choose which one I'm going to play right at gig time. I simply look at each and let my gut decide. After all, with the array of peddles out there I can make both sound pretty much the same. You can't really go wrong with either.
treez on November 01, 2018:
60's rickenbacher! can't beat them!
Michael James (author) on September 04, 2018:
Thanks, Lefty! I go back and forth between the Les Paul and Strat. Right now I prefer my Les Paul, but there are times when it collects dust and my Strats get all the attention.
Edit: "Collects dust" is a figure of speech. It lives in a case. I would never let my Les Paul actually collect dust!
Lefty Axeman on September 03, 2018:
Great article! I’ve had both. I’ve also had some of the top flight Korean imports. Last year, I finally got a Gibson Les Paul Standard. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever played by a mile. With the quality of the woods used, the hardware, and the B.B. Pro pickups you can get almost any sound. I know this sounds like a Gibson ad but it isn’t. From Slash, to vintage Peter Green, to Clapton w the Buesbreakers, to sweet Les Paul jazz (the jazz legend who helped create this guitar), it’s a gold mine of tone. Some people prefer the Strat, but I use to have one and the trem was always giving me a hard time, it didn’t sustain well, and the pickup output was too low for me. Some people prefer the Strat and that is AWESOME, it takes all kinds, but I honestly don’t know how it’s possible aside from cost. I’d recommend checking out from Gregor Hilden clips to get a real taste of what a LP can do.
It takes all kinds but in 2018 I think the Gibson Les Paul is still the king of the guitar universe! Just my opinion.
Michael James (author) on August 23, 2018:
@Stew: Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree that its a good idea for a guitar player to have one of each in their collection. Both great guitars for the money, with very different sounds and vibes.
Stew Campbell on August 22, 2018:
Well, I have both the "budget" guitars that are mentioned in the article - I have a gorgeous, maple fretboard, candy apple red metallic MIM Stratocaster, and a just a beautiful, Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top Pro in hertiage cherry sunburst.
So, interesting to have them both to play. I'm a rock and blues player and I love playing them both on everything. They are in a collection that includes another MIM Strat, a MIM Tele, an Epi SG of the same range/quality as my Epi LP and an Ibanez RG for harder metal sounds.
Since this is about comparing the LP to the Strat - well, having the two alternative guitars is interesting - they were both similarly priced - retail prices in the $600 range, I bought my MIM Strat new through a wholesale connection for $350, and bought my Epi LP used (2014 model though which makes it same age as my Strat) for about $400.
They both have similar play character unplugged - great ring and woody sustain although the article correctly says that the tone is warmer with the LP. But that's where the similarities end - plug in and these are radically different beasts. I love the tonal ranges that I can get out of my Strat and when I'm playing when I need cleaner sound or just a bit of crunch, it's my go-to. I find that I enjoy it more as a rhythm guitar than a lead. Stay tuned for why.
My LP was terrific with the original Probuckers but I recently upgraded it to '57/''59 reproduction alnico open humbuckers and wow what a difference in sound - bigger, warmer, more "woody tone" than the stock buckers.
The sustain and dynamics of this guitar are just totally different than the Strat - it picks up more string/hand noise, more pick noise more of those cool screechy harmonics in the upper fretboard. It did that both before and after the pickup change - so not a pickup issue there.
In terms of playability though, if I'm going to be going to a blues jam where I'm going to do a lot of soloing, I prefer the Epi and that's because of the scale length and neck thickness. The Strat has what they call a "modified D" shape neck, but measured at the 5th fret it is a solid 3 mm thicker than the LP neck, with less taper to the edges. The section width is more cylindrical. The LP neck is not as thick and is more "paddle" shaped - it is much flatter across the back.
The neck width is also significanly different - at least 3 mm wider at the 5th fret for the Strat than the Epi. Finally, the scale length is shorter by nearly 20 mm on the Epi LP - my smaller hands move better on it.
Now, this all said, I still love soloing on my Strat - the smooth, slick maple neck and the longer scale length seems to make it easier to do big bends and hand vibratos than my LP, although that's a bit counter intuitive as the string tension on the Strat is higher than the LP.
Bottom line is 1) you can't go wrong with the budget versions of these axes; and 2) having both is really, REALLY fun. Yeah, it's like having both a Chevy and a Ford truck or liking both the Cubs and the White Sox, but who cares.
Alan on June 05, 2018:
Both guitars are awesome but i have to say my gibson les paul is my choice i do own a fender but my go to guitar will always be my les Paul's
Ethan on February 01, 2018:
For those of you on a REAL budget, and like Strats, I was looking for a quality-name Strat. You are best with Squier, a branch of Fender. The Squier Bullet goes for $150.
Andreas on August 11, 2017:
This article is a fine comparison between the two giants, it's clear that the author has taken good use of both of them. Personally I am a die hard Stratocaster fan, its ergonomics are simply unmatched
Wick Beavers on February 19, 2017:
For a Les Paul, I'd go with a PRS McCarty 594. For the best guitar to own, it has to be the Strat. But a Strat made by either a company Masterbuilder or by Bill Nash.
Jack on December 12, 2016:
A good swamp ash Telecaster with a 5-way superswitch, an Abigail Ybarra-spec type of pickup in the bridge, and a clear humbucker in the neck will not only cover most of the sonic territory of a Strat & Les Paul that matters in the studio, it will leave you with even-more tones left over that neither can do very well.
Michael James (author) on December 02, 2016:
Hi Ronnie. A Strat with a humbucker definitely will not sound like a Les Paul. But, it does sound much thicker than a typical single-coil bridge-position Strat pickup. I agree that its a good option for beginners who are trying to find their tone, and players who want a wider range of sounds to work with.
It also depends on the style of music you play. Hard rock and metal players definitely want the humbucker, but blues, rock and country players may be just fine with a SSS Strat.
Personally, I have both HSS and SSS Strats, plus super strats and and a Les Paul. They all sound very different, and each has it's best use.
Ronnie on December 02, 2016:
Is a HSS Strat the best of both worlds? I know that even with the humbucker the strat still won't sound exactly like a Les Paul but it seems to be a good option if you can only afford one guitar or are a beginner.
Joey Guitar on November 29, 2016:
You can't go by what rock guitarist plays what instrument. They have endorsement deals and get their guitars for free. Also they have guitar techs. They don't spend hours fixing their instruments.
It comes down to a matter of what makes you happy. Just play the instrument before buying. Also there are tons of counterfeit Les Paul's out there. Some of them hard to tell unless you are really experienced. If you're a novice and insist on buying a Les Paul bring someone who knows guitars
Michael James (author) on November 28, 2016:
@gibb: I agree! A Strat and Les Paul in your collection is the best of both worlds!
gibb on November 27, 2016:
those two guitars can be compared! i think you need to have both...
Goinzer on May 19, 2016:
Surprisingly shocked by the sound of my $100 Schecter with 496R/500t pups....but I wish I still had my flying but I wish I still had my flying V
CyberReLoad on April 28, 2016:
Les Paul all the way, just cant beat that sound. tryed to emulate the les paul sound with my jackson soloist pro for years and it just wasnt there, even it could get close with pre-amps, speaker sim, eq and overdrive/distortion. when i got my les paul and came home and plugged her in i could reset my whole gt5 board and run with pre amp and overdrive/distortion only and the sound of a les paul was instant, deep, warm and sweet.. Les Paul FTW
Michael James (author) on March 29, 2016:
@DNB: That's funny. :-) Seriously though, if you did crack the headstock on your Strat you can replace it yourself in a few minutes, where a Les Paul would most likely require a luthier to fix. That (ease of maintenance and replacement parts) may be part of the choice between the two guitars for some people, particularly those who intend to throw their instruments down stairs.
DNB on March 28, 2016:
If you drop your Les Paul down the steps the headstock will snap off. If you drop your Strat down the steps it will play "Gloria" all the way to the bottom, hop up and say....."do it again"
Michael James (author) on January 19, 2016:
I agree Doug. They are really two of the most popular guitars of all time. It's tough to choose one above the other!
Doug on January 18, 2016:
Interesting that the vote is split 50/50. That's really what you'd expect to see.
Michael James (author) on October 28, 2015:
@cRAZYDUDE: I thought you meant I said that! I was trying to figuring out how something I wrote could have been taken that way. I see now it is another comment you are referring to. Anyway, it seems to me most great guitar players know the value of both the Les Paul and the Strat. Some may gravitate to one or the other, but they still understand the difference and importance of each guitar.
cRAZYDUDE on October 27, 2015:
gopher said "All the greats play the fender stratocaster just a better instrument".
So Jimmy Page isn't great, or Joe Perry or Slash or Clapton or....the list goes on and on .....
Michael James (author) on July 24, 2015:
I agree with the "both" sentiment, LawDawg!
LawDawg on July 23, 2015:
I feel owning both is the answer with all the history involved as well as both playing and sounding so sweet; with that said, I am a Fender Strat man all the way! They are light, have a wonderful, sexy shape to them, and are very versatile guitars!
Gopher on May 02, 2015:
All the greats play the fender stratocaster just a better instrument.
Joe on March 20, 2015:
The strat body is more comfortable. I have a strat and I'm still getting used to an SG I just bought. I like the tones I can get from the SG, with the bright switch on the amp I can get clean rockabilly tones and no hum, better distorted tone and bending strings is easier. The neck angle from the body and the body shape are more ergonomic on the strat. Now I'm starting to want a semi-hollow.
Michael James (author) on February 13, 2015:
Thanks for weighing in, Ted! I do love my Strats!
ted baker on February 12, 2015:
I have owned several guitars over the years and have been fortunate enough to play some of the best from Rickenbacker to Gretsch. The one thing I can say is as much I love a Les Paul it always comes down to one thing..... The Fender Stratocaster is by far THE best guitar ever made!
Michael James (author) on January 28, 2014:
Thanks for your insights Mark! I'm kind of similar to you in going back and forth between Les Paul and Stratocaster.
Mark on January 27, 2014:
I've been a Fender guy since 1974, beginning with my first guitar...'66 Fender Mustang. I had to have a Les Paul in '79, so I traded a '74 Telecaster Thinline and sold a '68 Tele with factory Bigsby to get the damn LP. Back in the late '70's, the LP was junk....at least mine was. Move ahead to 2013....I purchased an Eric Johnson signature Strat and a Carmel Burst Les Paul Traditional. Both are absolutely awesome guitars. Gibson guitars are at the highest quality I've ever seen. Unfortunately, all of the major builders are getting big $$ for their wares. But, if you shop around, you can find a good deal! I did. I have 3 Strats, the Les Paul and 2 great Martins. Gotta love the Fenders... Buy as much guitar as you can afford and keep saving for your next one! You won't regret it! Buy USA!
Michael James (author) on October 13, 2013:
In all the years I've been playing I've never been able to decide to between them. Just too many great points to both guitars! I guess it depends on what mood I'm in.
Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on October 12, 2013:
Its the Les Paul for me, such a beautiful instrument it almost plays itself!