"A high-performance Les Paul that is sure to satisfy even the most contemporary player": Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured review

A flashy contemporary take on the classic LP formula – but is it style over substance?

  • £2599
  • $2999
Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

The Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured is sleek, stylish and highly playable. Gibson has thrown everything they've got at this guitar, and the result is a high-performance Les Paul that is sure to satisfy even the most contemporary player.

Pros

  • +

    Exceptionally playable

  • +

    Tonally versatile

  • +

    Well finished

Cons

  • -

    Not a Les Paul for traditionalists

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Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured: What is it?

There are very few guitars as iconic as the Gibson Les Paul. This flame-topped beauty is arguably one of the most widely used electric guitars in the world and the weapon of choice for everything from blues and hard rock to punk and pop. Still, there has always been one genre of guitarist that has shied away from the famed singlecut – the modern shredder. 

Favouring the often slicker feeling and feature-laden alternatives from the likes of Ibanez, Jackson or Charvel, contemporary players rarely take a second glance over at what the Nashville guitar giant is producing – but that might be about to change once they get a glimpse of the bold new Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured.  

2019 saw Gibson drag the Les Paul kicking and screaming into the modern day with the release of the aptly named Les Paul Modern. This contemporary take on the classic Les Paul design incorporated up-to-date features that most modern guitar players were looking for – and while it ruffled a few feathers among Les Paul purists, it proved to be a hit with its intended audience. 

At the tail end of last year, Gibson announced a new member of the Modern family in the form of the Les Paul Modern Figured. This latest addition keeps the features players loved about the previous iteration, such as a compound radius neck profile, contoured heel, Grover Locking Rotomatic tuners and Burstbucker Pro and Pro + pickups, but now the 

weight-relieved body is topped with a stunning figured AAA maple top. 

The new model is available in three distinct finish options, Cobalt Burst, Cherry Burst and Seafoam Green and comes with a rather sleek black hardshell case. 

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured

(Image credit: Future)

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured: Performance and verdict

Visually, this sapphire singlecut is as far away from a traditional Les Paul as you can get. From the aggressively flamed maple top to the clear controls, jet black ebony fingerboard and the lack of pickguard and poker chip, it's pretty clear that this isn't your grandpa's Les Paul, for sure. 

Now, whether or not the Cobalt Burst finish is your thing or not, it can't be denied that this is a rather striking Les Paul. Our review model has a rather explosive-looking top with a tight pinstripe-style flame that dances in the light – with a maple top this extreme no wonder they chose to ditch the pickguard.

Okay, it's all well and good to look the part, but how does it feel to play? Well, we must say, we were mighty impressed with the feel of this Les Paul. Using our '60s reissue Les Paul Standard as the benchmark, the Modern's neck is in the same ballpark, but the addition of a compound radius means it's a little slinkier and, well, more modern feeling. 

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured

(Image credit: Future)

As you climb, the neck flattens out and starts to feel noticeably wider – meaning shifting hand positions as you move through your pentatonic boxes feels very natural. This is made even more comfortable thanks to the contoured heel discreetly tucked away at the back of the body. 

Of course, this isn't a new thing for Gibson, they've featured the same design on the previous version of the Modern and a similar variation on the Les Paul Access – but if the chunky nature of a standard Les Paul has left you feeling frustrated in the past, then this might be the guitar for you. 

Loaded with the Burstbucker Pro + in the bridge and a Burstbucker Pro in the neck, this Les Paul has an assertive tone that is bright, present and fierce. Even when drowning in gain, the notes were clear and precise. 

It cleans up pretty well, too – especially on the neck pickup, which isn't as hot as the bridge. 

So don't be fooled by the Modern moniker; this Les Paul can get pretty traditional when the song calls for it.  

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured

(Image credit: Future)

Taking a look at the electronics, we are greeted with a plethora of tonal options. The Les Paul Modern Figured comes loaded with push/pull coil tap functionality – accessible from each volume control – and if you pull the rhythm tone knob, you'll gain access to an out-of-phase tone. Now, in case that isn't enough, lurking behind the lead tone knob is a "pure bypass" switch that renders all your controls inactive and sends your bridge pickup directly to your output jack. 

Gibson may call this "modern wiring", but fans of the brand will know it has been around for a very long time – in fact, it's the same wiring that was found on the Les Paul Standard before the new management took a back-to-basics approach with their new models.

So, how does it sound? Well, pretty good. The single-coil sounds are fairly convincing, and the out-of-phase tone will certainly get you in the right ballpark for nailing those Peter Green licks. The control we used the most was the bypass. This comes in very handy if you are like us and routinely mess if your volume and tone knobs while playing and need to get everything back to full power two beats before a solo kicks in!

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured

(Image credit: Future)

We had a lot of fun with the newest member, Gibson's Modern lineup. Now, while Les Paul purists may scoff at this guitar's provocative style, hotter pickups and weight-relieved construction, the truth is, this guitar isn't for traditionalists - there are plenty of historic guitars in the catalogue if you want era-correct specs and aesthetics. 

The Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured is sleek, stylish and highly playable. Gibson has thrown everything they've got at this guitar, and the result is a high-performance Les Paul that is sure to satisfy even the most contemporary player.  

MusicRadar verdict: The Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured is sleek, stylish and highly playable. Gibson has thrown everything they've got at this guitar, and the result is a high-performance Les Paul that is sure to satisfy even the most contemporary player.  

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured: The web says

"The Modern Figured adds considerably more sounds with additional clarity and width, and some nice touches such as that contoured heel."
Guitar World

"With expanded sonics and modern updates, this sharp-dressed LP is worthy of an audition"
Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured: Hands-on demos

Gibson Gear Guide

Thomann's Guitars & Basses

Gibson Les Paul Modern Figured: Specifications

  • Body Style: Les Paul
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Top: AAA Figured Maple
  • Body Finish: Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Weight Relief: Ultra-Modern
  • Neck Profile: SlimTaper with Modern Contoured Heel
  • Scale Length: 628.65 mm / 24.75 in
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Radius: Compound
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 43.053 mm / 1.695 in
  • Inlays: Mother of Pearl Trapezoid
  • Tuning Machines: Grover Locking Rotomatic with Keystone Buttons
  • Neck Pickup: Burstbucker Pro
  • Bridge Pickup: Burstbucker Pro +
  • Controls: 2 Push/Pull Volume (Coil-Tap), 2 Push/Pull Tone (Pure Bypass/Phase)
  • Case: Hardshell
  • Contact: Gibson 
Daryl Robertson
Senior Deals Writer

I'm a Senior Deals Writer at MusicRadar, and I'm responsible for writing and maintaining buyer's guides on the site - but that's not all I do. As part of my role, I also scour the internet for the best deals I can find on gear and get hands-on with the products for reviews. My gear reviews have also been published in prominent publications, including Total Guitar and Future Music magazines, as well as Guitar World.


I have a massive passion for anything that makes a sound, particularly guitars, pianos, and recording equipment. In a previous life, I worked in music retail, giving advice on all aspects of music creation and selling everything from digital pianos to electric guitars, entire PA systems, and ukuleles. I'm also a fully qualified sound engineer who holds a first-class Bachelor's degree in Creative Sound Production from the University of Abertay and I have plenty of experience working in various venues around Scotland.