When you think of Les Paul, what is your first association? Probably that Sunburst Gibson, Slash and the November Rain solo? Even if you are not a Guns and Roses fan, there are numerous famous guitarists that played Les Paul, such as Jimmy Page, Gary Moore, Mark Knopfler, Zakk Wylde, and the list goes on and on… Just the fact that all of these legends are using Les Paul can serve as a great guarantee that you shouldn’t have any doubts when it comes to the quality of this guitar.
However, we are all aware that high-quality guitars such as Gibson Les Paul costs a lot of money. Not many of us can afford this kind of guitar. But what if I told you that there is an affordable version of Les Paul? The guitar that is not a Gibson, but is very close to it. Let me introduce you to the Epiphone Les Paul Standard.
Many of you may not know this, but Epiphone was once a great Gibson competitor. Luckily for the Gibson, they won this battle of competition and eventually bought Epiphone. So, this company is now owned by Gibson and it makes copies of the original Gibson’s guitars. In other words, Epiphone Les Paul is a cheaper version of the original Gibson Les Paul. It is one of the most popular beginner’s electric guitars.
- Body: Mahogany with the maple top
- Fingerboard: Rosewood
- Neck: Maple
- Magnets: Alnico Classic (TM) humbuckers
- Price: around $400
A lot of guitarists (especially the beginners) consider the visual aspect of the instrument as very important. The good news is that Epiphone Les Paul comes in four different colors – black, red, blue, and yellow. I have to say that all of these finishes look beautiful; however, as a rock guy, I go with the black color whenever I can. Some people think that guitar look is irrelevant – after all, it doesn’t have anything to do with its tone. However, if you really like the way your guitar looks, you will probably spend more time with it and enjoy holding and playing it. Needless to say, the more time you spend playing, the better you will be at it. In other words, the guitar look can motivate you to practice.
When it comes to body, this Epiphone Les Paul has a standard Les Paul shape. Now, when I say “standard Les Paul” some of you can get confused – you may think “But there are many types of Les Paul!” Although it is true that there are many Les Paul models, they all look pretty much the same. The typical Les Paul shape is common for all models. If you want to know more about other versions, you can find additional pieces of information on this link.
Another cool thing about this Epiphone Les Paul is that it’s lighter than Gibson; it weighs only 8 pounds, so it is ideal for beginners. Also, it is very slim and comfortable as it fits perfectly to the body and arms.
The neck is made of maple and has a rosewood fingerboard. The interesting thing about the neck is that it is pretty thin, which is not very common for Les Paul. For example, Fender guitars have thin necks so they are very easy to play. However, this Epiphone Les Paul can easily stand side by side with them. If you want to know more about guitar necks, you can check out this site.
This guitar is very playable, as its fret edges are smooth and the action is pretty low. Now, some people don’t really like low action and thin neck, as they want to “really feel the strings”. I personally prefer the guitars that are easy to play, and Epiphone Les Paul is certainly one of those!
If you are ordering this guitar (especially at a long distance) make sure that you take a good look at it after unpacking. The guitar is sent not in a solid case but in a cardboard box and there isn’t any solid protection. This is why sometimes it can be damaged in the process of transport. So, look carefully for any scratches and damage.
I played this guitar for quite a while and it stayed in tune. Just to mention, as a rock guy, I wasn’t gentle on it! So, the Epiphone did a great job with tuners. These are Grover tuners, which you can often find on more expensive guitars. Not a lot of these midrange-price instruments have this kind of tuners, so this is a big plus.
As I’ve mentioned, the great thing about Epiphone Les Paul is that it has excellent Alnico humbuckers. These magnets can produce a very aggressive tone, but you can also restrain them and play blues or jazz licks.
I would like to mention that there is an upgraded version of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and that is the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro. One of the cool things about this model is its coil-splitting option. This means that with the push-pull pot you can split your humbucker and basically turn it into the single-coil pickup. I know this can sound strange, so if you want to learn more about how coil-splitting works you can find more info here.
The only problematic thing about this guitar that I run into on the internet is its toggle switch. Apparently, sometimes it doesn’t work properly, namely, it won’t activate the magnet. Now, I have to say that on my Epiphone Les Paul Standard it worked perfectly, but it seems that sometimes there is a problem with it. However, just because the toggle switch won’t activate the magnet doesn’t mean that the guitar is broken. This is a minor dysfunction that can be repaired easily.
I tested my Epiphone Les Paul Standard on my JCM 900 50w Marshall. So, it’s a common combination for the majority of guitarists that like to rock hard. Like you would expect, these two work together perfectly.
Guitars with the mahogany body have that warm sound, with a lot of low-ends. The maple is used for full tone with a lot of sustain. It is usually placed on top not just because it looks beautiful, but also because this way it can brighten the guitar’s sound.
This guitar sounds great. Having in mind its low price, you will get more than you would expect.
The magnets and the entire body is fully waxed so there is zero bass response. This is called the “double wax vacuuming system”. The thing is that a lot of guitars with humbuckers have the hum problem. These magnets are really strong, so they often can create that humming sound even when you are not playing anything. However, this wax vacuuming system can serve as a guarantee that your tone will be full, rich, and free of hum.
The guitar has two volume and two tone knobs (one for each magnet). This means that you can set the output of the magnets separately, as well as their tone. You can sharpen your sound or you can make it a little muddy depending on your personal preference.
Another cool thing that you can do with this guitar is the famous “killswitch technique”. It is that effect as if you are turning the volume on and off really fast. If you are a fan of Tom Morello you know what I’m talking about. Basically, what you should do is to turn off the volume on one magnet and to turn it all the way up on the other magnet. Once you did that, just play a note or a chord and move the toggle switch up and down. You’ll get a pretty cool sound. This technique is explained in more details here:
If you want to hear how this guitar sounds like, I recommend you to look at this video:
As you could see in this review, the Epiphone Les Paul basically has no major flaws. It looks fantastic, it is easily playable, there are no electronic or physical issues, and the most important thing – it sounds great. Many people ask me: “Well, how come this guitar is so cheap if it sounds that great?” Don’t get me wrong, this is not the original Gibson Les Paul, so you shouldn’t expect that kind of quality. These guitars are more expensive because they are made of the top-quality materials and their sound is pretty much perfect. This is why a lot of famous guitarists use Gibson.
When I say that Epiphone Les Paul sounds great, I also consider its price. For this amount of money, you’ll get more than satisfying sound and quality. You can consider this guitar as an affordable Gibson – it is not the original (so you can’t expect to sound like Slash) but it is still a Les Paul!
All in all, I recommend this guitar not just to beginners who want a high-quality beginner’s guitar but also for experienced players and even professionals. This guitar will definitely serve you well. Even if you find out there are a few minor flaws, all of that can be fixed with a basic setup.