Gibson Les Paul vs Gretsch Duo Jet [Main differences]

The Les Paul is, of course, a classic, and one of the most (if not the most) famous guitar models in the world. However, the Duo Jet has been there almost since the Les Paul was first conceived.

These 2 guitar models surely look alike and are designed to appeal to a similar audience, but they have some differences that set them apart, and that you should know before deciding on one or the other.

If you just want a short answer about this topic, here it is:

The main differences between the Duo Jet and the Les Paul are that the non-weight-relieved Les Pauls are heavier than Duo Jets. Les Pauls have PAF pickups while Duo Jets use Filter’Tron which output a twangier tone with nicer cleans. The Duo Jets are better constructed and finished in Japan than US Les Pauls.

For those who want to expand a bit more on this subject, we will talk about the main characteristics of both these instruments, then we will put them side by side to point out their main differences. Finally, we will give you our insights into which one you might prefer, given its features.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Gibson Les Paul main characteristics

Les Paul

The Les Paul is truly a classic and it was a hit since it was introduced in the early 1950s.

It’s simple but gorgeous: A mahogany set neck and body, with a maple top, and, traditionally 2 P.A.F. humbuckers.

You don’t really need more than that.

This guitar embodies the sound of rock and it’s nowadays still an icon and the object of desire of the majority of guitar players.

There’s not much more that we can say about it that you don’t already know.

Gretsch Duo Jet main characteristics

Duo jet

The Duo Jet was introduced in 1953, a couple of years after the Les Paul and it was clearly a response to the success of the Les Paul.

Its looks and construction are pretty similar. The Duo Jet has a chambered mahogany body and a maple neck. Its pickups are also humbuckers but their tone is very different from the Gibson P.A.F.s.

The Duo Jet has 2 volume knobs, one for each pickup, and a master volume. The tone is controlled with a switch.

This guitar can be defined as a different flavor of the same thing that the Les Paul is, but this is not fair.

Although Gibson got it first, Gretsch’s response is as good or better, but sadly it never had the amount of popularity that it deserved.

But make no mistake, this is an instrument that professionals adore and like having in their arsenals.

Main differences between the Gibson Les Paul and the Gretsch Duo Jet

The Gibson Les Paul and the Gretsch Duo Jet surely look similar and might overlap in many of the things that they can do, but don’t rush to conclusions: They are pretty different.

Here are some key differences that you might want to know:

  • Not weight relieved Les Pauls are heavier than Duo Jets
  • Access to higher frets is more comfortable in the Duo Jet
  • The Les Paul has P.A.F.s while the Duo Jet has Filter’Trons
  • The Duo Jet has a maple neck, the Les Paul’s is mahogany
  • The Gretsch is made in Japan, while the Les Paul is made in the US
  • The Du Jet is better constructed and finished than the Les Paul. Gibson still has some quality issues even with their most expensive instruments
  • The Les Paul has volume and tone control for each pickup, the Gretsch has 2 individual volumes, a master volume, and a tone switch for both.
  • Both guitars cover a very broad spectrum of tones, however, the Les Paul, as said earlier shines with heavier tones, while the Gretsch can get very nice cleans and is a lot twangier.

The following graph depicts how the sounds of these guitars overlap:

LP and Duo Jet overlap
  • Duo Jets are available for cheaper under the Gretsch brand in the Electromatic line. 
  • On the other side, cheaper Les Pauls are branded under Epiphone and can’t compete in quality unless it’s one of Epiphone top models, which are more expensive
  • Gretsch guitars come in a more limited palette of finishes than the Les Pauls

Which one should you choose?

Here in GearAficionado, we don’t like making general recommendations based on what we like the most.

Choosing a piece of gear is something very personal, and picking a guitar is more so.

We always encourage you to try the instruments side by side, if that’s possible, and to don’t rely fully on what you could hear on YouTube or read in a blog post like this.

In the end, the only thing that matters is tone, feel, and looks.

However, if you want our insights into which features of the Les Paul or Duo Jet you might like, here they are:

  • If you are familiar with humbuckers and look for a very traditional tone, try with a Les Paul
  • If you know the Gretsch tone and you like it better, there’s nothing to keep you away from a Duo Jet
  • If you prefer lighter guitars, the Duo Jet might be a better choice
  • If you play overdriven or even distorted tones, get a Les Paul
  • If you are a clean player, you will find the Duo Jet a better alternative
  • If you rarely go up the fretboard, the Les Paul will be ok for you
  • If you usually play the higher frets, the Duo Jet will grant you easier access to them

Video reference

Here you can check out a great video comparison between these 2 guitars: