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Is a Les Paul more like a tele than not?

sikoniko

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It's no secret that the Les Paul was Gibson's solid body response to Leo's telecaster, but I have always considered the two guitars completely different. Because of that, I have struggled on several occasions to bond w/ a tele. I have always like the idea of a tele in the past, but often found myself trying to play it like I do a strat (I guess because of the neck length and radius), and that has not worked out for me. I have also seen a lot of country players gravitating toward the tele, and that has not been a genre I care about, so I don't try and emulate that style.

Recently, I bought a '60 tele. I find the telecaster to be a beautiful instrument and have continued to try and find the right one. I found the right one in this guitar.

So why am I posting this here, instead of the fender area? Well, because the more I play the tele, the more I am hearing similar characteristics to my Les Paul. Notice I said 'characteristics' and not anything that says they equate. The tonal characteristic's seem very similar, while holding and playing the instrument is very different.

So I am wondering, was the original intent of the original Les Paul Gibson's way of doing Leo's tele, much like early Marshall's were similar to Leo's amps?

I just can't help but think that the two instruments are more alike than different. It has really changed the way I play the tele.

Mind you, I don't find the modern tele's vs. modern Les Paul's to be as similar as the vintage ones. At some point, the guitars really became unique unto themselves. When I say modern, I mean outside of the 'reissue' or 'historic' models, which try to be what the originals were.

thoughts?
 
Last edited:

renderit

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No, not to me. I don't think any intent was to duplicate the Tele. I think the intent was to offer a much more "high fidelity" instrument. I am basing this opinion on Mr. Paul's continual changes in the design to reach that point. My guess is if anything it was made as a counterpoint.

I think they were both limited by the inventions to date at the time, as well as materials. This may have contributed to your observations.
 

hoss

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I am with renderit, but also a bit with sikoniko.


Good OLD Les Pauls indeed sound a lot like an old Tele. Twangy, especially with P90s, but also sparkling with low output PAFs.
All modern day Les Pauls sound darker and muddier to me.
 

S a m

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We humans tend to make a great deal out of very modest differences in almost everything we do.
 

DrRobert

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I think it's gospel that a good LP and a good Tele can record very much like each other. J. Page's work went back and forth and there's often some argument about which he was playing on any particular record/song...

That said, there's no question that the LP was not designed to somehow emulate the Tele. The single cutaway, set neck, arched top guitar was already Gibson's modus operandi, they just needed the push of the tele to get into a fully solid body guitar. And of course, Les was playing cutaway arch tops, so the shape and carve were a natural direction for him to go. A 2 pickup guitar with low output pickups is going to tend to sound somewhat similar but I'm sure it wasn't intentional. And the 4 knob, 3 way switch of the LP was a quantum leap over the original Tele control set (you couldn't get the 2 pickup on position at first, and only 1 volume/knob, so no balancing or blending the sound).
 

58burst

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I do agree that early tele's and 50's LP's can sound, and even play, very similarly. My blackguard has a rich, bloomy tone that is quite close to my 'burst, which is quite bright and twangy compared to many modern LP's. It seems that as time progressed in general tele's became more twangy and bursts more dark, so the modern versions of these instruments diverge tonally much more than some of the earlier ones-
 

sonar

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It's safe to assume Gibson was at least aware of the Telecaster back then, but I can't see any intentional design similarities between the two.

As a player I find the LP and Tele compliment each other as well, or better, than any other two distinct models. Even more recent models of the two can mix it up really well.

For me a Strat contrasts with a LP. Great for variety, not so much for balance.


Thinking about it, an original design Tele matches well with whatever guitar I've been using since... whenever. (I might have saved a few bucks if I figured this out earlier. :##)
 

Doc Sausage

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I just recently recorded an original song our band was working on. Sitting next to me was a Tele. I didn't feel like going back to the main house and grabbing a LP to do the solo. I thought it sounded really good mic'd through an older Blues Deville. When it came time to give a friend the "master" I said to myself, you have got to do the solo on your best LP, a Custom black beauty.

I listened back and forth and honestly liked the Tele mix better though I ended up mastering it with the LP. But as noted here, it was really hard to tell the difference. All the settings on amp and Tascam were identical for each guitar. I would not have thought it would be that close. I do think recording it produced more similarities than a live ear might pick up.
 

renderit

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I just recently recorded an original song our band was working on. Sitting next to me was a Tele. I didn't feel like going back to the main house and grabbing a LP to do the solo. I thought it sounded really good mic'd through an older Blues Deville. When it came time to give a friend the "master" I said to myself, you have got to do the solo on your best LP, a Custom black beauty.

I listened back and forth and honestly liked the Tele mix better though I ended up mastering it with the LP. But as noted here, it was really hard to tell the difference. All the settings on amp and Tascam were identical for each guitar. I would not have thought it would be that close. I do think recording it produced more similarities than a live ear might pick up.

Or did the recording equipment force the similarity by all it could pick up? Not being a wise-butt for a change. Just posing a possibility...
 

JJ Blair

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While I find that you can get a muscular sound out of a blackguard Tele, I actually find them to be nothing alike, especially when you get to the neck and middle positions. Very different behavior and overtones. Each one even makes you play a different way.
 

redisburning

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While I find that you can get a muscular sound out of a blackguard Tele, I actually find them to be nothing alike, especially when you get to the neck and middle positions. Very different behavior and overtones. Each one even makes you play a different way.

agreed with neck and middle.

a tele with some light compression on it or roaring at massive volume with some amp compression does start to sound quite a bit like a les paul in the bridge position, to me. I also think this is why they sound so similar on recordings.

the telecaster's longer scale length and very narrow neck pickup is what makes that guitar for me. the Les Paul sort of definitionally doesnt have that. ironically, every traditionally pickup'd tele I pick up sounds amazing, to the degree I think I was born a tele player and am just fighting it, but I've never owned one.
 

hoss

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the telecaster's longer scale length and very narrow neck pickup is what makes that guitar for me. the Les Paul sort of definitionally doesnt have that. ironically, every traditionally pickup'd tele I pick up sounds amazing, to the degree I think I was born a tele player and am just fighting it, but I've never owned one.
I have ignored the Tele for too long as well. My main guitar (for at least 2 years now) is a custom build with a P90 in the neck position. Does everything and more.
 

sikoniko

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I just recently recorded an original song our band was working on. Sitting next to me was a Tele. I didn't feel like going back to the main house and grabbing a LP to do the solo. I thought it sounded really good mic'd through an older Blues Deville. When it came time to give a friend the "master" I said to myself, you have got to do the solo on your best LP, a Custom black beauty.

I listened back and forth and honestly liked the Tele mix better though I ended up mastering it with the LP. But as noted here, it was really hard to tell the difference. All the settings on amp and Tascam were identical for each guitar. I would not have thought it would be that close. I do think recording it produced more similarities than a live ear might pick up.

I wonder if this is a visual thing where the mind is playing trick on us... we hear what we see live... whereas when we don't see, our imagination is left to decide.
 

retrobob

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I also have a 1960 Telecaster. I really don't think its much like a Les Paul. But the Tele bridge pickup seems to have a humbucker quality for it being a single coil.
I find myself playing early Zep stuff with it, since Jimmy had one from the same era.
 

Doc Sausage

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Or did the recording equipment force the similarity by all it could pick up? Not being a wise-butt for a change. Just posing a possibility...

Yes, I could absolutely sign on to that happening. But...as has been floated here so many times before, could MY playing each instrument have some bearing as well? "It's in the fingers" kind of thing. I tend to pick and fret fairly hard and have 10's on both guitars whereas a true Tele picker may have coaxed a whole different twang out of that thing.
 

surfreak

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Trying to put a non-guitarist hat on, I think it is more of a case of most solid body guitars sounding fairly similar to one another.

A Tele and a LP could not be more different in terms of construction, materials, scale length, hardware, electronics, yet the LP tone has at times been defined as "Tele on steroids" etc.
 

Ken Fortunato

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I am with renderit, but also a bit with sikoniko.


Good OLD Les Pauls indeed sound a lot like an old Tele. Twangy, especially with P90s, but also sparkling with low output PAFs.
All modern day Les Pauls sound darker and muddier to me.

THIS!!! :salude
 

Doc Sausage

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Trying to put a non-guitarist hat on, I think it is more of a case of most solid body guitars sounding fairly similar to one another.

A Tele and a LP could not be more different in terms of construction, materials, scale length, hardware, electronics, yet the LP tone has at times been defined as "Tele on steroids" etc.

I'd never heard the 'Tele on steroids' thing but that was kind of my experience in the band. We do "chick country" and I wanted some Tele twang for most songs but man, solos were nice until I got to the B and hi E strings and I missed the LP, big time.

In fact, at one gig I tried so hard to fatten them up a bit that a new sound man handed me a note that said, "please turn up some treble." Who ever has to do that on a Tele!!!
 

Fried okra

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.....Good OLD Les Pauls indeed sound a lot like an old Tele. Twangy, especially with P90s, but also sparkling with low output PAFs......

Agreed.

I have a '52 blackguard and '57 Tele, that sound quite similar of my '50s P90 Paul's. Even my '57 esquire sounds familiar at the bridge. Either that or I want it to. :salude
 

Wally

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'Is a Les Paul more like a tele than not? '

Outside of the two guitars being built with wood and having 6 strings, my answer is .....

NOT!
 
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