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I was planning to buy an electric guitar and amazon.com is offering Epiphone Les Paul Junior Guitars at a seemingly reasonable deals. The related question that I have is: what's a junior guitar?

What's the standard length of a fretboard on a guitar (and how many frets should it normally have)?

Does a junior guitar have lesser number of frets or is it that the fretboard is just scaled for young teenagers?

If one starts with a junior guitar, how difficult is it to switch to a normal guitar?

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The Les Paul Junior is not a different size guitar, it's simply an entry-level Les Paul model. It was originally designed to be an affordable alternative to the Les Paul Standard, and thus is not as fully-featured. The main differences compared to a traditional Les Paul are:

  • flat top instead of carved top
  • only one pickup, usually a P90
  • consequently, also only one volume and tone knob
  • wrap-around tailpiece instead of the tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece
  • in Epiphone's case, a bolt-on neck, rather than a set neck

You can read more about the Les Paul Junior in the Wikipedia article. Also, you can compare the specs of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and Les Paul Junior. As far as I can see, they both have the same scale length (629 mm / 24.75") and number of frets (22).

If you start with a Les Paul Junior, you shouldn't have any difficulty switching to a higher-end Les Paul model, save perhaps having to adjust to a second pickup and more tonal options at your disposal.

  • I had confusion in three points: top, bridge and neck. I googled and understood what types of bridges are available in the market. Same about the necks. But I haven't understood the difference between flat-top and carved top guitar. Both look same to me in the pictures. Thanks for the great answer! – Shashank Sawant May 24 '12 at 0:34
  • @ShashankSawant See this question for some discussion of carved-vs-flat-top. – luser droog May 24 '12 at 0:50
  • @ShashankSawant In case you can't find the answer from the above link, carved (or arched) top means that the body of the guitar is not uniform in thickness - it's thicker in the centre, especially under the bridge, and thinner towards the edges. See this image for a good example. This usually provides better sustain, but is more expensive to produce. Flat top, as the name suggests, means that the top of the guitar is completely flat. – Indrek May 24 '12 at 0:58
  • I was confused as to what "top" is. In the 2D view all guitars (almost all - excluding those arrow shaped one perhaps) are curved. Now I got it. Perfect! – Shashank Sawant May 24 '12 at 1:38
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Clarification: just because it is a "junior" guitar, does not necessarily mean that it is any worse of a guitar - or even in some cases a step down - than its standard counterpart. For example, Glenn Frey, legendary guitarist of the Eagles (Hotel California) played the majority of the band's earlier recordings on a Gibson Les Paul junior with an extra neck pickup (also a p90), including, if I'm not mistaken, the solo in Hotel California. Some people also prefer the Junior for other reasons, such as its light weight - a 4.5lbs compared to a roughly 12lb standard. Also, my personal preference is for the sound of the single coil p90s slightly more than the PAF humbuckers (silver pickups found in standard Les Pauls), because of their warm, crunchy midrange at more distorted volumes.

If you know what you are buying and what it is made out of, it can still be a fantastic sounding guitar. I'd definitely recommend trying them both out. Cheers!

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In guitar products jargon usually means reduced price in cost of features or quality. Usually Junior will be better than Special. Guitar companies use much more words as Standard, Deluxe, Modern, Professional, Studio, Vintage... It takes some time to learn what they usually mean.

Les Paul junior is on of the most professionally used junior guitars anyway.

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A few years later, but still a solid question with some solid answers. Did you get the guitar?

A few points for other readers who might stumble on these posts.

  • If you're talking Gibson then all of their guitars are good. Throughout the years there were a few models that were "lemons" by Gibson standards, but Gibson sets a high bar. In other words even a "bad" model Gibson will usually last longer and sound as good or better than a "good" model from some other brands.

    • The Jr models, were less costly than the full models, but they did this through simplifying the functions. So, you have volume and tone. Same wood, neck and other quality aspects of the full model, but simply less options.

    • As someone else mentioned there are many times the "Jr" was preferred, since there wasn't a lot of tone variation, the Jr had 1 set sound of its own, which for certain songs or styles was preferable.

    • You were going with the Epiphone? The Epiphone does use Gibson to base design on, but is made in China (as of 2004) and is def a cheaper alternative to Gibson. If you're going with Epiphone then I'd say go ahead and get the top of the line Epiphone which will mimick the full Gibson in functionality (tone switches, buttons , volume and 2-3 pickups) IF you're looking at Epiphone & Jr, I'm thinking that's kind of a bare bones set up.

    • I'd save for an American made Gibson (Jr or Standard) or if you go Epiphone get the top line Epiphone if money is an issue (will be more affordable than Gibson) of course the Epiphone uses cheaper wood, wiring, paint + bold in neck instead of set neck and so forth.

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    "all of their guitars are good" - that is definitely not the consensus. Of all the top-tier guitar makers, Gibson is the one that gets ragged on the most often, for quality control issues, long-standing design issues and generally being way too expensive. No one doubts that the best Gibsons are excellent guitars; but there's no guarantee that any given Gibson (no matter the price) lives up to the name. – Richard Metzler Aug 8 at 6:30

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