“It’s a lower price point, but it’s not cheap and there’s no apologies with this guitar”: Gibson’s Les Paul Modern Lite offers a slimline take on the iconic LP – and the lowest priced all-mahogany, two-pickup build in the USA line

Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite group
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has unveiled a new addition to its Modern series, in the form of the Les Paul Modern Lite – a radically slimmed-down take on the classic single-cut.

We’ve seen a few disappointing bungs to value from Gibson in the past, but the Modern Lite looks to be a promising combination of classic spec where it counts and modern appointments where it plays.

As such, you get an all-mahogany body (much like the firm’s traditional ‘value’ models, such as the Gibson Les Paul Special, or Melody Maker), mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and the classic two humbuckers, four control wiring – in this case loaded with Gibson’s 490R and 490T ‘buckers. It’s all finished in satin nitrocellulose lacquer, with a matching headstock, to boot.

Indeed, from the front, it all looks pretty traditional, but then you rotate it on its side and you can see just how much has been shaved off the traditional body.

Compared to the firm’s traditional ‘student’ models, there’s also a more considered nod to ergonomics, with a belly carve and increased upper fret access via the cutaway – thanks in part to the slimmer body.

Indeed, the guitar’s designer – Gibson’s Master Luthier Jim DeCola (aka the co-creator of the Peavey Wolfgang, alongside Eddie Van Halen) – says that feature inspired him to rethink the cutaways on the whole Modern line.

As such, you’ll find the same slimmer neck heel across all the new Modern Series models.

Hardware, again, is reassuringly familiar with Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, aluminum Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece.

While we saw the Les Paul Custom Lite debut back in the ’80s, this is a new take, which DeCola notes was actually heavily inspired by the slim profile of his 2014 Melody Maker.

As such, we also think it will make players who only have eyes for the Original Series take a second look at the Modern builds. 

Especially as it all comes in at $1,500, which for a USA-made Gibson is a pretty compelling price point. Gibson certainly seems pretty bullish on its prospects.

“I like to point out that, even though it’s a lower price point, it’s not cheap and there’s no apologies with this guitar,” says DeCola in Gibson’s clip [above, around 40.50].

“It’s its own thing and it stands on its own. It’s solid mahogany body and mahogany for the neck, so that falls in line with the tonal aspects of Les Paul Specials and SGs and the Explorers, Vs that are that same all-mahogany construction… but when you’re onstage it comes across as all-Les Paul.”

At the other end of the scale, Gibson has debuted the new Les Paul Modern Figured, which adds a AAA figured maple top in a range of eye-catching, colorful finishes to the Modern Les Paul design.

It also offers a SlimTaper neck with compound radius, a pairing of Burstbucker Pro and Pro Plus pickups and Grover locking tuners, plus pure bypass/phase switching on the Tone circuit.

The Modern Figured retails for $2,999, making it one of the more expensive Moderns, albeit still $1,000 cheaper than the ultra-luxe Supreme.

Back in September, Gibson’s Mark Agnesi told us that the player looking for the best value Gibson guitar should consider the Les Paul TV Special, noting “every single spec is the same as a vintage guitar from the late-’50s would have.” reflects Agnesi. We wonder if that answer would change now.

For more information on both of the new additions to the Modern Series, head to Gibson.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.