The Les Paul is a world-renowned guitar, played by guitar legends such as Slash, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton.
If you’re looking to buy one, you might be wondering what the best color is to suit your model. There’s plenty to choose from!
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Classic Les Paul Colors
Let’s start with the classics. The famous colors of Les Pauls that spring to mind whenever someone mentions that iconic name.
The Goldtop was the first Les Paul ever released, back in 1952. Although it may not be the most popular colorway anymore, it certainly made an impression back in the day and continues to look great now.
In fact, the color was so iconic that the Les Paul standard finished in that dazzling gold soon came to be referred to as the ‘Goldtop,’ cementing the Les Paul with that color.
A color that exudes luxury and vintage flair, Goldtop has long been a favorite among many legendary guitarists.
The gleaming, metallic gold finish is a bold “fashion” statement, making the Goldtop Les Paul a centerpiece in any guitar collection.
Featured on models like the Gibson Slash “Victoria” Les Paul Standard Goldtop, this iconic finish harkens back to the early days of Les Paul guitars, when the Goldtop was one of the first to be introduced.
There’s an Epiphone Goldtop too, for those on a budget who still want to capture that classic ‘50s look.
The Goldtop may have reigned supreme throughout most of the ‘50s, but when the cherry sunburst model was released in 1958, it soon took over in popularity.
Sunburst is a classic colorway, available on many different guitars made by countless different companies, but none pulled it off quite as well as Gibson (and Epiphone).
In fact, the sunburst finish was so popular that it spawned various derivatives.
The vintage sunburst finish is a great twist on the classic cherry sunburst. Substituting the red tones near the edge of the body for a deep black adds sleek, stylish cool to the classic sunburst finish that personally, I much prefer!
Epiphone also offers this worn vintage sunburst model, which gives an aged look to the guitar that only adds to its character.
Not quite a sunburst, but definitely of the sunburst style, the tobacco burst Les Paul has that aged and refined look that some players covet more than anything.
A darker, more mysterious color, Tobacco Burst features a rich brown hue with a subtle sunburst pattern that adds depth and character to the guitar’s appearance.
It is quite difficult to distinguish it from a vintage sunburst, but look at the fading color between the lightest area in the middle and the darkest area at the edge. If it’s more brown than yellow, it’s a tobacco burst!
What could possibly be chicer than all-black? Nothing, of course! Except maybe all black with a white scratchpad for contrast! Enter: the Les Paul ebony model.
Available with a black or white scratchpad, the ebony-finished Les Paul is a solid favorite among Gibson and Epiphone players alike.
This warm, honey-colored finish reveals the beautiful wood grain beneath, offering a classic, vintage appearance that has captivated guitarists for decades.
The subtle, golden hues of the Honey Burst finish remind you of a fine piece of aged furniture, bringing a sense of elegance and sophistication to the instrument.
Found on models like the Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s and Epiphone Les Paul Classic, this finish has become famous for musicians who desire a visually appealing guitar that retains its traditional charm.
Less Common Les Paul Colors (Modern / Rare)
So those are the classics, but old favorites aren’t everything. Here are some of the less common, modern and even rare colors for Les Pauls that look just as good!
Classy, sleek, and bright. Perfect for any player who wants to lean away from the grungy stigma and add a splash of color to their band’s line-up. The alpine white finish doesn’t come on Les Paul standards – at least not at the time of writing. But if you really desire it, you can find alpine white Gibson Les Paul Customs and Epiphone Les Paul Customs.
Faded Pelham Bluetop
With a name like that, harkening back to the classic Goldtop, you know this color is going to be cool. The Les Paul Bluetop is left natural on the back and sides, with an incredibly sleek blue finish on the front of the body.
This color is a stunning fusion of classic design and contemporary innovation. It features a subtle gradient from a deep, rich blue at the center to a lighter, more faded hue towards the edges, creating a visual masterpiece that captures the essence of modern sophistication.
The Faded Pelham Blue Top color adds an extra layer of allure to this already remarkable instrument, making it an ideal choice for guitarists seeking a visually striking guitar that delivers outstanding performance and cutting-edge features without sacrificing the legendary Les Paul legacy.
This distinctive color was initially developed for early television broadcasts. The bright yellow hue would appear white on black-and-white TVs without causing glare.
Perfect for guitarists seeking a visually stunning instrument with a rich history and exceptional playability, the TV Yellow Les Paul Special is a must-try for those who appreciate the combination of classic style and modern performance.
Finished with a black scratchplate and hardware, it’s not hard to see why this colorway is popular in both Gibson and Epiphone models.
A vibrant and eye-catching option for guitarists who desire a lively aesthetic without compromising performance. This finish showcases a bold brown hue that gradually transitions to a warmer “blackish brown” at the edges.
The Les Paul Studio model, renowned for its streamlined design and focus on tonal quality, provides excellent playability and versatility at a more accessible price point.
The Smokehouse Burst color adds an extra flair to this no-nonsense instrument, making it a standout choice for musicians seeking a visually stunning guitar that delivers the exceptional performance and classic Les Paul sound they have come to expect from this iconic series.
Satin Iced Tea
The Les Paul Tribute in Satin Iced Tea color is a subtle and sophisticated option for guitarists who appreciate a refined aesthetic combined with vintage-inspired performance.
This finish features a delicate blend of warm brown and amber hues, reminiscent of a calming cup of iced tea, and is accentuated by a smooth satin finish that adds a touch of elegance.
The Satin Iced Tea color perfectly complements the Les Paul Tribute’s focus on paying homage to its heritage. It is an excellent choice for musicians seeking a tasteful instrument that captures the essence of the legendary Les Paul legacy.
Magma Orange Fade
This stunning finish showcases a mesmerizing gradient from a deep, oceanic red at the top to a lighter, orange hue towards the bottom edges.
The Epiphone Les Paul Modern Figured combines its Gibson counterpart’s iconic design and tonal excellence with a more accessible price point, making it a popular choice among musicians of all skill levels.
The Magma Orange Fade color adds charm and personality to this already impressive instrument, making it an ideal choice for players who appreciate a visually stunning guitar without compromising performance or quality.
Sparkling Burgundy Top
Another ‘top’ style paint job, where the back and sides of the guitar body are left natural, but this time in sparkling burgundy. Reminiscent of the cherry red finish, which is now more common on the SG, this unique colorway is both dazzling and refined.
Factors Influencing Color Choice
Personal preference, stage presence, and collectibility are three factors that often influence a buyer’s choice of color.
For example, some guitarists may choose a vibrant color to stand out on stage. Still, you may like a specific finish due to the influence of your favorite guitarist.
Choosing the perfect color for your guitar is a deeply personal decision.
Vintage colors like Honey Burst, Cherry Sunburst, Tobacco Burst, and Goldtop offer a classic, timeless appeal, making them excellent choices for any guitarist.
Hopefully, you got some colorful inspiration from this article! Unfortunately, Gibson isn’t known for offering as many colorways as Fender, for example, but what they do offer is definitely unique and well-suited to the Les Paul.
Of course, guitar color is not as important as build quality, materials used, or overall sound, but it does still matter! You’ll play your best if you love your instrument, so make sure you find the perfect color Les Paul for you.
And if you don’t like it, you can always do what Neil Young did, and paint a goldtop black!