That Les Paul tone.....

Barquentine

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2015
Messages
170
I've read many threads on many forums where the opinion has been expressed that there is something in the sound of a Les Paul (usually referring to low end 'grunt' or similar) that is not present in any PRS. I don't have enough experience to hold an opinion.

What do you folks make of this ?
 

markd21

New Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Messages
2,077
Location
St. Petersburg
I have always been a firm believer in buying the guitar that has the sound you want. The Les Paul has a tone that, as far as I have experienced, ONLY comes from a Les Paul. I do have three PRS singlecuts - an SC245, an SC250, and an S2 Singlecut Standard. All of them get me varying degrees of what I consider "idealized" Les Paul tone.

The 245 has 57/08s. It is clear and balanced in tone, no matter if the sound is clean or dirty. Does it have the "low end grunt"? Nope. But, that's what my bass player is for.

The 250 has Duncan Saturday Night Special pickups. To me, that guitar gives me the PERFECT Southern Rock/Classic Rock tone. It's a little hotter and more "muddy" (in a good way, if you know what I mean) than the 245.

The S2 has the S2 7 pickups. It's kind of in between the other two tonally. Very pleasing. Plus it is easier to play than a Les Paul. Shoot, all three are WAY easier to play than a Les Paul - the design is better. But, I will readily admit that NONE of them capture that Les Paul sound. Sometimes I want that sound. I go PLAY a Les Paul and remember why I don't have one. It sounds killer, but is just clunky to play - unless I am only doing chords or leads between the 1st and 12th fret. That's not very often, lol. SOOO, I play the "better" instrument and take the tones I have - which I greatly enjoy.
 

drdoom8793

THAT guy at Chick-fil-A
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
1,356
Location
North Carolina
Ha! All jokes aside, I would argue that a PRS doesn't have the same tone as a Les Paul and that's intentional. A PRS is its own thing. It's not trying to be an LP. PRS certainly makes models that lean towards the LP Singlecut styling, but it's still a PRS. Really allows you to play what suits you best!
 

21Hemispheres12

Old Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Messages
575
I still can't quite wrap my mind around why people in other forums can't help but compare any model of PRS to a Les Paul any chance they get.

Many people seem to be of the mind that you can only like one or the other but I like my Les Paul just as much as any of my PRS just for different reasons. I haven't directly compared a single cut PRS to my Les Paul but I'm willing to bet they will differ and I'd enjoy both for different reasons.

I also played a gig last week and brought along my Les Paul and custom 24. After the gig I asked some people which guitar sound they preferred and everyone said they both sounded great and they really couldn't tell a difference. Just goes to show how obsessive we can get over little things no one else notices.
 

Lee B.

I stitch my wings and pull the strings.
Joined
Jul 22, 2016
Messages
561
Location
Seattle
I agree with the "idealized LP" comment Mark made. PRS seems to place more of an emphasis on note separation/clarity, at the expense of low end punch. Nothing a bit of EQ tweaking can't solve IMO, at least for the Lester tones I tend to chase. Especially weighed against playability details like how the Singlecut's D and G strings don't bind up in the nut all the freaking time the way they do on a "proper Lester."
 

DreamTheaterRules

The guys in my car club call me The Cruiser
Joined
Nov 20, 2013
Messages
12,373
Location
Cincinnati area
Actually, this brings up something I've always wondered. I know that 12lbs of Les Paul has a big chunky low mids that no other guitar has, because of the shear weight of the wood in the guitar and thickness. (other factors, I know but...) I've always wondered how much of that could be EQ'd into a 245 or SC594 or pick your favorite similar guitar. I had a Les Paul custom years ago. I LOVED the tone. I hated playing it. Way too heavy and wore my shoulder out when I was playing college basketball. Yeah, I was slim, but in great shape. That thing would KILL my shoulder in less than an hour of playing.

But it didn't play anything like my PRS. No comparison for me. But the tone...

I'm sure that at least some of that could be EQ'd in... find the right frequency with a para EQ, the right Q, I'm sure you could get at least closer. Anybody ever tried it? Not at the board or in production, I'm talking about with an EQ in the rig so the amp saw that fatter sound.
 

LSchefman

Historical Entity
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
30,530
Location
Michigan
They don’t sound exactly the same, because they aren’t exactly the same.

That’s not a drawback.

The 594 does lean in that vintage LP direction, but it also does a PRS thing. As well it should!
 

gtrdave

n+1 is the correct value
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
61
Location
The First State
Here's my take and it's based on me being a Les Paul owner/player for nearly 36 years; I still have my '82 Standard that I got brand new and have owned another half dozen or so since then, including a '07 BFG that I still own.

There are several key elements that go into making a 'traditional' Les Paul sound like a Les Paul. It's the woods, it's the shape, it's the neck/body joint, it's the finish, it's the pickups, it's the bridge design and style, it's the headstock angle, and so on...and only when others copy most of all of these elements to a T do other guitars get a familiar Les Paul tone.
Granted, there are many guitars out there that sound similar or close or even exactly alike to a majority of listeners, like a Singlecut or 594, and only the most discerning ear could possibly hear the difference, all other things being equal. There's also the fact that two Les Paul Standards made on the same assembly line on the same day will sound slightly different, but again it's only to a few people.

For most of us, we really shouldn't sweat trying to make X guitar sound like Y guitar, but instead try to make whatever guitar we're playing sound like something that we and others will want to hear.
I love that my LP Standard or BFG sound the way that they do. I also love that my Standard 24 and Vela sound the way that they do. I don't want them to sound the same. That would be boring.
 

Tonart

Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
2,604
It depends on the PRS model. My PRS singlecut models like the Bernie Marsden sound very much like Les Pauls because of their shape and thick body/neck.

The singlecut shape is primarily responsible for the LP sound - that’s what I observe anyway but you can verify this easily. The best way to observe this is to play them unplugged to isolate the influence of the varying pickups and amplifiers.

By doing so you will notice singlecuts give that unique sound inherent within the guitar, not in the pickups. It’s the way the strings vibrate on that body shape, and the string vibration will of course get sensed accordingly by the pickups. That’s why placing LP pickups on a Strat will never give a LP sound.

So it’s not really a Les Paul sound. It’s a singlecut sound. The LP is merely a variant of that sound. Noone can singularly lay claim to the singlecut shape.

The double cut PRS shape has its own unique tone, of course.
 
Last edited:

Collywobbles

Border Collie
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
485
Both my PRS are sort of firewood in that they’re old with first iteration T&Bs and a sweet-switch, so nothing like the new stuff. Neither sound anything like my ‘80s Les Paul and are much (much) brighter. That said the closest I can get to sounding like Jimmy Page on Whole Lotta Love is with the power out of phase setting and sweet-switch up on one of them – same settings on the other sound way different. Played acoustically my Les Paul is junk but through a decent valve amp it sounds like a Les Paul, which in turn sounds like the sounds on all those old records. I like my PRS the most but I like the noises my Les Paul makes too, even if I’m not quite so keen on the guitar itself.
 

andy474x

Knows the Drill
Joined
May 4, 2012
Messages
4,617
Location
West Michigan
I hear a (small) difference between an LP and a similar PRS. To me, that defining tone of the LP isn't so much a low end thing, it's a very sweet and prominent midrange. I actually think a lot of PRS guitars have more low end than a Gibson, it's not that the mids aren't there in a PRS, they just have more bass too, fuller in every register, so the mids don't stand out as much. You can hear that midrange thing in players that have a very straightforward gear philosophy, usually just the "guitar into an amp" guys - Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Joe Bonamassa. I think the reason we hear people asking if the PRS will do "that thing" is because they're fed up with the inconsistency of the big G, they want a guitar they can count on with the sound that they want. Or they just want ammunition to wank on about how nothing else can be a Gibson. Until the 594 came along, I didn't often hear a PRS hitting that exact sound, although I think they were certainly close enough that the excessive internet whining was unjustified. But, full disclosure, I have never owned an LP, or a 594. That's just what I hear in clips.

I shopped LP style guitars for several months and had a heck of a time finding something that did what I considered to be a good LP sound - I was on a budget, and of all things, it ended up being an SE model, although I gave Gibson and Epiphone an honest shot. The budget G's and Epiphones just didn't sound right, they were thin and plinky. I did find one Gibson more recently that sounded MASSIVE, but the intonation was insufferable. I'll stick to my SE (and soon my 594).
 

veinbuster

Zombie Three, DFZ
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
13,993
Location
GTA or wandering aimlessly
I still have a couple of old Les Pauls and I like the sound, but I mostly play my PRS. The PRS can get the sound pretty close, especially the SC245. I do have a couple of DC necks that do Les Paul sound quite well: Indian Rosewood and Dirty 100.

Both my Les Pauls give the volume at much lower pickup settings than the PRS, not that it really impacts my play, the volume number is just smaller.
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,812
Location
washington iowa
I've owned two LPs and a V in my life. I loved the tone but get one to stay in tune why don't you??? I don't have them any more. I did see a P90 LP at GC last month and pulled it down to play it. As I was quickly putting it back, sales guys asks what I thought? I told him it reminds me why I don't have any LPs anymore. It would not stay in tune!
 

CVS

Not so new member
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
2,153
Location
Southern California
They don’t sound exactly the same, because they aren’t exactly the same.

That’s not a drawback.

The 594 does lean in that vintage LP direction, but it also does a PRS thing. As well it should!
I agree with Les, the 594 is the closest you will get out of PRS to an LP. It is a great guitar! I found that if I roll back the volume just a bit on the 594, you can come very close to vintage LP sound on all 3 PU settings
 

ieso

New Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2017
Messages
123
I went looking for a LP but came home with an SC58

Around the time I was looking I ran into another version of this vid that got me curious
 
Top