Some of the glossaries of terms for the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar described here are also valid for many other electric guitars and acoustics. Many of these terms are worth remembering; alternatively, bookmark this page for future reference.

60’s neck

The flatter, thinner neck profile was adopted on Les Pauls and most SG Electric guitar models in the 1960s. Slim-taper neck is another name for it.

Pickup 490R

A neck (or R for rhythm) pickup from Gibson’s Modern pickup range uses Alnico 2 magnets to deliver conventional humbucker tone with boosted highs. They are usually used in conjunction with a 490T bridge pickup.

Pickup 490T

A bridge position (or T for treble) pickup from Gibson’s Modern electric guitar pickups family uses Alnico 2 magnets to deliver classic humbucker tone with boosted highs. They are usually used in conjunction with a 490R pickup.

Pickup 490R

The 496R is a ceramic magnet pickup from Gibson’s Modern pickup line that produces a hotter output. Usually for the neck position. The R stands for “Rhythm,” on the neck position on an LP’s pickup selector switch is generally called. For the bridge position, the 496R is usually paired with the 500T pickup (the “T” stands for “Treble” pickup switch setting).

Pickup 498T

A bridge position pickup from Gibson’s Modern line of pickups with ceramic ringed magnets for improved OutputOutput, mids, and highs (and less bottom than the alnico magnet BurstBucker).

Pickup 500T

Gibson’s Modern line bridge position pickup features ringed ceramic magnets for improved power and richer highs, as well as increased sustain and definition (and less bottom than the alnico magnet BurstBucker). They are usually used in conjunction with the 496R neck position pickup.

Pickup 57 Classic

Gibson’s range of Historic Humbuckers includes the ’57 Classic. Vintage sound with rich, richer tones is produced with Alnico 2 magnet material and balanced coil windings.

Pickup 57 Classic Plus

From Gibson’s Historic Humbucker line, the ’57 Classic Plus. For higher OutputOutput, Alnico 2 magnets and slightly overwound coils are used.

A grade maple

A maple rating indicates that the wood is completely clear, with no mineral streaks or other flaws. There isn’t much figuring or “flame” in this one.

AA grade maple

Mostly figured, or what some term “flamed” maple—has a lot of figuring (more than half).

AAA grade maple

Dramatically flamed or figured


Maple exceptionally intensely figured or flared

ABR-1 bridge

No different from the Tune-O-Matic bridge. It is the part designation of Gibson’s first fully adjustable bridge. They are used in conjunction with a separate stop tailpiece. See Tune-O-Matic.


A sea mollusk with an ear-shaped shell coated with mother-of-pearl is used for guitar inlays.

Aged plastic parts

Plastic pieces that have been aged appear as if they have undergone a lot of use. Numbers on knobs, for example, may be discolored and faded.

Alnico magnets

Are constructed alloy aluminum, nickel, and cobalt, hence the name. Magnets in pickups are made of this material. Alnico 2 (also known as Alnico V) produces a sweet, conventional humbucker tone, while Alnico 5 (also known as Alnico V) is a little louder more pro-sounding.


The cosmetic components of a guitar’s body, neck, and headstock that enhance the guitar’s beauty and value are known as appointments. Binding, inlays, and hardware are all included in the appointments list.

Auto trim tuner

Tuning machines with built-in cutters that trim excess string left hanging out of the tuning post are known as auto-trim tuners.


Square edges on a guitar body, pickup, or other surfaces that have been reduced to sloping edges are referred to as beveled. Bevels make it easier for the guitar to rest on the guitarist’s rib cage.

Bigsby vibrato

A tailpiece with a bar that allows guitarists to adjust the tension of the strings and their pitch. Also known as a “tremolo bar” or a “whammy bar.”


A decorative finish that covers the joint between the body and the top of the book or between the Fretboard and the neck—also used to conceal the Fretboard’s connection to the neck. The number of layers in binding is referred to as ply, for example, 3-ply or 7-ply.

Bolt-on neck

A neck with three or four wood screws running through the back of the body and into the back of the neck is attached to a fitting slot in the body. This method of attaching necks was crucial in creating the electric guitar since it cut manufacturing costs, allowing electric guitars to be more inexpensive. You can replace, alter, or repair a bolt-on neck.


Abbreviated as “burst.” See the Sunburst finish for more information.


The brand name for Gibson’s Historic Humbucker pickups.


Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 humbucker pickups are copies of “Patent Applied For” humbucker pickups seen on early Les Pauls and contain Alnico 2 magnets. The breezy tone is present in all three varieties. Type 1 pickups have slightly underwound coils that are imbalanced. Type 2 coils are wound to exact specifications. Type 3 coils are somewhat overwound and imbalanced.

BurstBucker Pro

Pickups include Alnico 5 magnets and wax potting and have a greater bite and brightness “Patent Applied For” tone.

Carved maple top

A 3/8″ piece of maple that has been carved into a curved shape and laminated to the guitar body’s rear part (the back is usually made of mahogany).

Carved non-figured maple top

A maple top with no figuring or “flame” wood.

Ceramic magnet

To produce a “hotter” output, ceramic magnets are employed in pickups like Gibson’s 500T. See also Alnico magnet and OutputOutput.


A guitar body having precisely selected cavities or dynamic sound chambers routed into it is referred to as “chambered.” Not to be confused with drilled “weight relief” holes. Les Paul models have this feature.


A guitar with two cutaways is known as a double-cut.


A pickup that has been dipped twice in wax for a tighter seal, preventing extraneous vibrations from causing microphonic feedback.


A rich, strong wood is utilized in the fretboards of higher-end Les Pauls. The Fretboard is the same as the fingerboard.


A protective and decorative finish is given to the guitar’s wood body, neck, and headstock.


Also known as a fingerboard, the Fretboard of Les Pauls is composed of rosewood or ebony and is laminated on top of another piece of wood, usually mahogany. Metal frets are hammered into the Fretboard with care.

Fretboard Radius

Refers to the width of the curvature at the top of the Fretboard from edge to edge.

Fret size

The height and width of the fret wire determine the fret size. While low frets are easy on the fingertips, they might make string bending difficult. The higher the frets, the higher the action. Narrow frets wear down quickly, but larger frets last longer. Tall and narrow frets are also very popular. (See Jumbo jets)

Gold hardware

Gold is highly decorative and is rust and corrosion-resistant. It is an appointment found chiefly on the hardware of higher-value Les Pauls.

Green tuning key

Sometimes known as “green vintage tuning keys,” are tuning keys that have been given a patina to make them appear aged.

Grover tuners

A higher-quality brand of tuner than the ones that often come with most guitars. They have enclosed, permanently oiled machine heads, allowing them to tune more smoothly and keep the strings in tune for extended periods. Grover has been producing machine heads for stringed instruments as far back as the late 1800s.


The topmost section of a guitar neck, where the tuners are mounted, is the headstock.


Most LP guitars have a humbucker pickup. Two coiled coils are wired out of phase adjacent to each other in the humbucker pickup. Most electrical hum caused by single-coil pickups is eliminated or reduced due to wiring the pickups in this fashion.


Refers to a guitar’s capacity to remain in tune notes from fret to fret all the way down the neck. In most cases, intonation can be changed if required.

Jumbo Frets

The breadth and height of the fret wire are referred to as jumbo frets, sometimes known as broad frets or super-size frets. Some lead guitarists who do a lot of string bending prefer this. Higher fret wires allow the musician to bend the strings further. (See at the fret size).


Are beautiful embellishments are usually made of mother-of-pearl, abalone, or acrylic material and are typically located in the fingerboard and headstock. Les Pauls most often uses block and trapezoid shapes in the Fretboard (fingerboard).

Kill switch

A switch that disables all pickups.

Kluson tuners

A higher-quality brand of tuner than the ones that come with most guitars. They use improved materials and are of a high level of artistry. They tend to tune more smoothly and retain the strings in tune for longer periods.


Also known as nitrocellulose, is a clear or colorful coating sprayed in numerous layers onto the guitar body to provide a robust and durable surface. Many believe that nitro finishes allow the wood the breathe and offer more sustain and improved tone. ( an ongoing debate ensues about (the truth of this)

Les Paul

A legendary guitarist and multitrack recording pioneer. One of the first solid-body electric guitar builders. The Gibson Electric Guitar is named after him.

A limited-edition

A guitar that has a unique set of features and is produced in small quantities. The serial number is frequently hand stamped on the back of the neck to show wherein the limited series that particular guitar was made—a detail that collectors seek to increase the instrument’s value.

Long-neck tenon

The neck section that extends into the body for a more robust join when the neck and body are cemented together is known as a long-neck tenon or a deep tenon.

Lyre Vibrola: a trapeze-style tremolo tailpiece that offers pitch-shifting effects by adjusting string tension. This form of string termination swings freely from the guitar’s tail, allowing the top to be free of string leverage.


A plank of solid, durable wood is usually utilized for the tops of Les Paul and SG models. The maple top is 3/8″ thick and bonded to the back (usually made of mahogany).


A solid, sturdy, but not overly hard hardwood that is commonly chosen for the body and neck of LPs. Midrange and bass tones are emphasized for a mellower or darker tone.


The middle of the three tonal frequency ranges: low, medium, and high. The strength with which a guitar makes the sound in each of these three frequencies determines its overall musical character. A decent guitar should be able to create a blend of all three. For example, the precise mix—how much midrange vs. highs—is essentially a matter of personal taste.


A smaller version of conventional humbuckers that were initially included in the Les Paul Deluxe in 1968. The sound is described as sweeter and more “centered,” with a focus on the midrange.

Neck-through or (Neck-thru)

A guitar that is built around a single column of wood that expands from the tip of the headstock to the strap button at the tail. This column can either be a single piece or a few pieces glued (laminated) together side-by-side. The “wings” of the body wood are stuck onto the sides of this central column of wood. Neck-through guitars are more costly to make than bolt-on necks.

Nitrocellulose lacquer finish

A fast-drying synthetic finish popular in the 1950s and 1960s that is now primarily utilized on reissue guitars from those eras. (see finish)


The string spacing and height above the neck are determined by the nut, which is placed where the headstock meets the neck. Bone, graphite, brass, nickel, Corian, or plastic can be used to make a string nut.

Nut width

The distance across the top of the Fretboard that affects the spacing between individual strings is known as the nut width. Players with larger hands prefer wider fretboards.


A guitar pickup’s output is the quantity of electrical signal it produces. Higher Output (or “gain”) implies the pickup can easily overdrive the amplifier, resulting in the hard-edged or distorted guitar tones that many rock musicians prefer. The 500T in the Les Paul Classic is an example of a high-output pickup.

“Patent Applied For”

This legend was stamped on early adaptations of the Gibson humbucker. The sound of these pickups on the “Sunburst” Les Pauls from 1958 through 1960— mainly when played through a Marshall amp—created the rich, mellow and warm distortion found on numerous rock classic blues recordings within the late ’60s. In its reissues of vintage guitars, Gibson endeavors to realize the vintage enhanced Patent Applied for tone in its BurstBucker Sort 1, 2, and 3 pickups.


Ordinarily made of plastic (celluloid, vinyl, PVC, acrylic) or covered fabric materials. They can also be made of Plexiglas, glass, wood, textures, metals, or plywood. Pickguards may be made of a single layer (utilize) or numerous layers, for illustration, 3-ply or 5-ply. Pickguards are, as a rule, found underneath and around the strings to anticipate no harm is caused by the guitarist’s strumming or picking.

Ply binding

Multiple-layer binding, such as 3-ply or 5-ply binding, is called ply binding. Multi-ply binding is more appealing than plain binding and can be found on more expensive guitars.


An electrical component (pot) with an adjustable knob or lever to control loudness and tone.

Quilt top

A maple top with a quilt-like pattern of figure or flame.


A type of wood that is utilized on the fingerboards of some LP guitars. Ebony fingerboards are common on higher-priced versions.

Rounded neck

The neck profile on antique 1950s Gibson LPs is rounded instead of the narrower, flatter design found on 1960s SGs.

Scale length

The measured distance between the nut and the saddle of the vibrating string. The SG’s 24-3/4″ scale length is shorter than the Fender Stratocaster (and Telecaster25-1/2″) scale length, derived from the conventional scale length for steel-string acoustic guitars. The SG’s (and Les Paul’s) lower scale length produces less tension, making it easier to play. Shorter Scale lengths are generally easier to play than Long scale length guitars because the shorter scale length has less String tension. Short-scale length also has the benefit of playing string bends easier.

Seth Lover

Was the designer who created and patented the humbucker pickup, used initially on the Les Paul in 1957.

A set-in neck

Is cemented to the body rather than one that is bolted on. (see-through neck).

Signature guitars

Gibson Custom Shop models are customized to employ the preferences of famous guitarists.

Single-coil Pickup

A guitar pickup with only one coil wrapped around a single magnet is known as a single-coil pickup. A single pickup’s tone is brighter than a humbucker’s, with less midrange and bottom, and is more prone to hum. The P-90 is a good example.

Slim ’60s neck

The rounded ’50s neck has a narrower, flatter taper or neck profile than the slim ’60s neck.

Slim-taper neck

Some players prefer a slim-taper neck to a rounder neck because it is flatter and thinner.

Stopbar tailpiece

A bridge/tailpiece combination that replaced the trapeze tailpiece on the Les Paul in 1954. It’s also found on a lot of SG models.

Strap Lock

Keeps the guitar strap from disconnection from the strap button of the guitar.

Sunburst finish

A guitar finish in which the color is the lightest in the middle and gradually darkens as it fans towards the edge of the guitar body. In the lighter sections of a sunburst guitar top, the wood grain is often evident.

Thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish

Sometimes known as a “nitro” finish, a super-thin, super-light finish that mimics the patina of a softly worn vintage guitar. The procedure is costly since it takes weeks to complete. The wood breathes better with a thin nitrocellulose finish that thins out with time. Many people believe that the best tone finish is a satin finish.

Three-way switch: found on most guitars with two pickups, it regulates which pickups are active—typical switching positions are 1) bridge pickup, 2) bridge and neck pickups, 3) neck pickup.

Top hat knobs

Volume and tone knobs that are designed to look like a top hat. Vintage LPs and their copies contain this feature. They are available in two colors: black and gold. The amber tint of vintage top hat knobs develops with time.

Transparent colors: a thin lacquer finish that allows the guitar’s natural wood grain to show through.


Gibson’s adjustable bridge, introduced with the 1954 Les Paul Custom, is known as Tune-O-Matic (often abbreviated TOM). Individual strings can be altered for better intonation by adjusting their length and height. It’s found on a lot of Les Paul models.


Tuning pegs (also known as tuning keys or machine heads) are used to adjust the tension of individual guitar strings and thus their pitch. Grover and Kluson are two examples.

VOS = Vintage Original Spec

A line of Gibson Custom Shop reissue guitars built to the exact specs of vintage guitars. The guitar’s finish, hardware, and plastic portions may be aged as part of the VOS treatment.

Waxed pickups

Are dipped (or “potted”) in wax during manufacture to prevent microphonic feedback, which is generated by undesired vibrations traveling from the guitar body to the pickup. Except for BurstBucker Type 1 and Type 2, historically authentic copies of “Patent Applied For” pickups featured in early Les Paul and SG models, used on all Gibson pickups. Pickup “Patent Applied For”

Wide frets

Most Gibson electric guitars had short, shallow frets until 1959. Some musicians like wide frets because they feel more at ease moving their fingers along the strings. Some guitarists prefer short, wide frets because they find it easier to play the guitar.

Zebra pickups

Are caused by mismatched pickup bobbin colors. The bobbins were first discovered in the late 1950s Sunburst Les Pauls when players reportedly removed pickup covers to improve the sound. Collectors respect zebra pickups because they are another sign of a vintage guitar’s authenticity. They’re available on several new Gibson SG models.