Updated November 2, 2017: We’ve gone over this article to make sure it’s still up-to-date and relevant (which it is!) If you’re looking at this guitar, you might also want to read about another new, similar guitar from Epiphone, the SL1.
The Les Paul Junior is an excellent full-sized beginner guitar for kids ages 11+. It was created by Epiphone (Gibson’s cheaper line of guitars) as a way for players to get an instrument that looks, sounds, and feels like a real Gibson Les Paul but at an affordable price.
Since a brand new Gibson Les Pauls can cost between $900 and $5000+, the Epiphone Les Paul Junior is an excellent option for beginners who want a quality guitar but aren’t quite ready to spend a lot of money.
Some famous players of Les Paul Juniors include John Lennon (post-Beatles), Keith Richards, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements. As a little side note: If your kids happen to be into Rocksmith this is often recommended as one of the best to use, and is sold by Rocksmith as a bundle with the game (Read More: Kids and Rocksmith).
The body on the Les Paul Junior has the standard Les Paul shape, and it made of mahogany. Don’t be misled by the ‘Junior’ in the name; it is a full-sized guitar that is more lightweight than other Les Paul type models, so you don’t want to buy this for anyone younger than 11 or 12 years old because it will be too big and uncomfortable to play. The LP Junior has only one pickup, and two controls: volume and tone, so not a lot of features here, but a lot of players appreciate this simplicity (guitars with this electronics setup are used by tons of professionals). You can get the Les Paul Junior in some beautiful colors – Alpine White, Cherry, Ebony, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Translucent Blue and Vintage Sunburst.
There aren’t many features on the guitar, which makes it perfect for a beginner. The simplicity makes it simple, and fun to play. I also like this model for a young teen because it’s very light compared to some of the other Les Paul styles, the light weight adds to its playability for kids and teens.
The Junior is known for its good tone and intonation. That means that it says in tune well and sounds good. There is only one pickup on this guitar so that you might get a huge range of tones, but for a beginner, this isn’t something to worry about.
As I mentioned above there is only one pickup, but it’s a decent quality one, and it sounds good – surprisingly good for the price of this guitar. The rest of the electronics are excellent for a guitar in this price range.
Frets on the Junior are generally well dressed (not something that can be said for all budget guitars). The neck is smooth and easy to play.
Things to look out for with The Les Paul Junior
As a beginner guitar, there isn’t much to complain about with the Epiphone Les Paul Jr. Some people might have minor qualms with the quality of the tuners, but the standard criticisms (cheap tuners, don’t like the strings, poor pickup, etc. ) are pretty superficial and can be fixed or upgraded very easily.
Les Paul Jr. is a perfect full-size starter guitar. Kids and teens who are just starting can do well with the model. It’s lightweight, so it’s comfortable to play, and beginners can learn how to do necessary repairs, cleaning and string replacement without worrying that they are going to damage a $400 or $500 guitar.
It has the classic Les Paul styling, so it looks great, and the set-up, quality, finish, and hardware are all impressive for this price range. Are you getting the same quality as a $3000 Gibson Les Paul? No, but you’re getting pretty high quality for the price.
The Les Paul Junior is a perfect first guitar for the price, and it’s ideal for kids who want a beautiful, simple electric guitar. It’s still affordable enough for parents who don’t want to spend too much in case their child loses interest in playing though, which makes it a pretty safe purchase for kids 11+ who can hold a full-size guitar.