Epiphone guitars are arguably the best “diet” version of a big brand name out there. In this Epiphone Les Paul Standard review, we’ll take a look at Epiphone’s version of the classic Gibson Les Paul. You’ll save yourself a lot of money by opting for the Epiphone, but do you compromise on the quality? Is it really worth it?
Overview of The Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The classic styling and good looks of the Les Paul. But wait, this is an Epiphone, not a Gibson. In fact you really might struggle to tell the difference upon first glance. The Epiphones retain many of the qualities of the Gibsons, but crucially their much, much cheaper.
As you’d expect there are differences. They couldn’t produce a $1000 plus guitar and sell it for $599. That would make no sense! You’ll find the differences in some of the materials, the finish and the pickups. But in terms of playability and comfort, for me there’s not too much in it. Certainly not $400 plus. One of their biggest cost savings is probably that the Epiphones are made in China, whereas Gibsons are usually made in the US.
Let’s take a closer look at the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. It’s a full scale (24.75″) guitar with a mahogany body and glued in mahogany neck. Mahogany is slightly heavier, but it ensures decent resonance and sustain. The whole thing has a gloss finish, which is one of the differences between the Epiphone and the Gibson.
In terms of styling, the Les Paul Standard is one of the “inspired by Gibson” range, which focuses on the classic Gibson guitars. The pictured model is the 1950’s style, which has a C-shaped neck profile whilst retaining a classic rounder feel than later models. The C-shaped neck is comfortable and the 12″ fingerboard radius makes the fretting a little easier thanks to the flatter face.
The fingerboard material is Indian Laurel, which has similar qualities to Rosewood but is much more sustainable. Sometimes you find Indian Laurel can be a little lighter in color than Rosewood, but in terms of tone they’re very similar.
The key frets are marked out by trapezoid inlays in the classic Les Paul style. There are 22 medium jumbo frets, which make it accessible to less experienced guitarists. Medium jumbo frets tend to give you a little more room to work.
The nut is made from NuBone, which is a plastic like material. I don’t like the NuBone nuts. I think they let guitar down. Fortunately it’s quite easy to replace the nut with a material of your choice. Bone would be the most advisable.
The guitar has two humbuckers, one at the bridge and one at the neck. They’re ProBucker pickups rather than P90’s. At the time of writing it’s not available with P90’s. However you could get a guitar tech to fit P90’s without too many problems. The pickups are generally pretty good, however the bridge pickup can be a little bit trebly.
The bridge is the Locktone Tuno-Matic style, which was prevalent in the 1950’s. It’s ok and does it’s job well enough. The action tends to be pretty good, but it can be altered thanks to the adjustable truss rod. The style continues with the gold top hat controls, sitting atop the four tone and volume control knobs. The tuning gear is good quality and the guitar holds it tune well enough.
A three-way pickup switch sits in the classic Les Paul position. You can choose between the bridge humbucker, a mix of the bridge and neck humbuckers or the neck humbucker only. The guitar comes with a decent set of .10’s, but you might want to swap those out to your favorite gauge and brand. The headstock is in the classic Kalamazoo design, which was re-introduced for the Inspired by Gibson range.
In terms of sound the Epiphone produces tones from classic clean right through to the heavier, crunchier classic rock sound. The one thing it’s not so good at is heavier styles, such as metal. You’d certainly be better of with something produced by Ibanez and alike for metal. If you’re looking for something of an all rounder that leans towards classic tones, this might be the guitar for you.
Perhaps one of the best things about the Epiphone Les Paul Standard is just how close it comes to it’s much more expensive cousin, the Gibson Les Paul. Ask anyone who owns one and they’ll tell you how good it feels and sounds. It’s really not that far away from the Gibson, but a fraction of the price. Here are some of it’s best features.
- Outstanding value for money
- Great tone
- Comfortable to play
Although it’s absolutely outstanding value, there are a few things to point out. They feel pretty minor, but if a little thing matters to you a lot, it’s important to know about it, right?
- Heavier than other guitars
- Not suitable for heavier styles
- Nut may need replacing
As with most Epiphones, the Les Paul Standard has a lot in common with it’s much more expensive cousin, the Gibson. With the Epiphone you get a lot of guitar for a fraction of the price of the Gibson. There are, of course, differences between the Gibson and the Epiphone, but when it comes down to it they’re actually very similar.
I’d definitely replace the nut. The NuBone plastic like material doesn’t fill me with confidence. Whilst it doesn’t make a massive difference to tone, I’d say you’d be better off with a bone nut. Fortunately this can be replaced pretty cheaply. This is an exceptionally good looking guitar that feels comfortable to play and can deliver great tones. As long as you don’t mind a guitar on the heavier side, I think you’ll enjoy the Epiphone.
If you like the sound of the Epiphone be sure to check out my post on the Epiphone SG Special. I hope you’ve found this post informative and useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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