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An argument for the Les Paul over the Stratocaster

Gibson USA Les Paul Standard T 2017 Electric Guitar Bourbon Burst

I don't speak about the positives of the Les Paul guitar, so I figured it was time to do it.

When I say "Les Paul," this can mean the Gibson shown above, or the Epiphone Custom PRO, or even the cheap Epiphone Les Paul 100. I'm referring to any Les Paul guitar that follows the traditional Gibson design.

I am not a fan of Les Paul guitars for a variety of reasons, but there are three things that make it a guitar worth owning. And those three things are a 24.75" scale length, a D shape neck and a 12" fretboard radius.

The #1 thing that makes a guitar good or not is its neck. If the neck is crap, the guitar is crap. And where comfort and feel are concerned, there are many guitar players who stick with Gibson specifically because of how the neck plays.

A Fender Stratocaster 25.5" scale is generally better where tuning stability is concerned, but the tradeoff to that is that the length can make the strings feel too tight in standard tuning (if you ever wanted to know why there are so many Strat players that tune to E flat, there's your reason.) But even if you tune down, there's still the fret spacing to deal with. Many players consider the frets are spaced too widely apart on the Strat, whereas on the Les Paul you have closer spacing. It's only by a little, but it counts.

The Gibson D shape to many feels better than Fender's C, and I'm referring to one-shape necks here, meaning not a neck that was carved to change shape as you go up the fretboard. Whether the neck is thick or thin, the more pronounced shoulders of D is something many find to fit the fret hand palm better.

A modern Fender Strat has a 9.5" fretboard radius while the Gibson has 12". And like the shape I just spoke of above, I'm referring to single radius necks and not compound radius. If you like to bend strings as many guitarists do, a flatter fingerboard is what you want. But there's also another advantage with the Gibson. The shorter scale length also makes string bending easier, so the combination of shorter scale + flatter fingerboard is a good one.

Does anyone build a Strat with a Gibson style neck?

Fender actually does build a Strat with the D shape neck, the American Vintage '59 Stratocaster. Not cheap, but they do make it. However, the scale is still 25.5" and the fingerboard radius is the vintage spec 7.25" which is as round as it gets and not flat at all.

Fender also builds the Eric Johnson Stratocaster which features a 12" fingerboard radius. But again, the scale is still 25.5".

I personally do not know of any guitar maker that make a Strat style guitar that specifically has a 24.75" scale length, a D shape neck and has a 12" fingerboard radius. In fact, the only way I know to get that kind of neck on a full size Strat body is to have Warmoth make one for you with their "conversion" neck. And that's only if you think it's worth it.

So in other words, no, nobody builds a Strat with a Gibson style neck.

The Epiphone Wilshire Phant-O-Matic is pretty much the closest you can get to a Strat-style body with Gibson style electronics and neck:

Epiphone Wilshire Phant-o-matic

You get the double-cutaway shape like a Strat but everything else on this Wilshire is Gibson style electronics, which on this one includes a cool 6-position Vari-Tone switch.

Where Strat-like body shape + Gibson electronics and neck is concerned, the Wilshire is the guitar you want. Otherwise, just get yourself a regular Les Paul guitar to get that Gibson 24.75" scale neck with D shape and 12" fingerboard radius.


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