Les Paul Special II GT
longman240, on january 06, 2010 1 of 6 people found this review helpful
Price paid: £ 140
Purchased from: Reverb
Features: This is a new GT model from Epiphone and it is absolutely mindblowing, especially for the price range, now when I went to pick this up I expected your average low range Epiphone, the result however was the complete opposite.
This is a 2009 model (Made In Indonesia) and has been released at the same time as the Explorer GT, the main differences being in the shape of the body and the fact that the Explorer GT has a Stop Tail whereas the Special II has a Tremolo arm.
The body is Mahogany and the neck is Hard Maple making this guitar not only light, but durable as well. The guitar comes in a Worn Black colour and it has a worn finish giving it that "Vintage" look. The guitar has a bolt-on, Slim Taper neck that is adjustable by using the truss rod. The Special II has a Rosewood Fretboard with Parallelogram Inlays and 22 medium-jumbo frets.
The pickups used are two humbuckers: USA Designed 650R and 700T, these are high-out pickups meaning you always get a good sound out of it whether you're playing lead or rhythm. You get a 3 way pickup selector and volume and tone controls, but here comes the innovative, very well done bit; the tone pot has a killswitch built in and as soon as you push or tap it down it kills the output, ideal if you want to play Rage Against The Machine stuff.
The design is a "GT Single Cutaway" and it has a Tune-O-Matic Bridge (according to Spec). It has your average tuners, they are listed as "Premium 14:1 Covered" in the Spec. The price I paid was just for the guitar as a single unit, no accessories. // 9
Sound: I play this guitar through a Line 6 Spider III 15 (yes, I know they're crap) and use it on all four channels, but mainly the "Metal" channel, it copes with heavy, distorted sounds pretty well, I have played, Metallica, Maiden, Scars On Broadway, Trivium, Megadeth and more and it has handled them pretty well, much better than my last guitar which was a Jim Deacon PRS 24 Copy. I have also played some Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs using this guitar and it handles the softer more acoustic stuff well as well so a good all-rounder really. I don't really use any effects so I can't comment on that, if I put the amp on insane I get some background buzz when I'm not playing but it is not very noticeable and it certainly shouldn't be enough to put you off the guitar. Depending on what strings you're using you can get a huge range of tones from it, when I used my Bright D'Addarios I get a bright sound that's perfect for the acoustic stuff whereas with my Ernie Ball Skinny Top/ Heavy Bottom strings I get a full, beefy sound out of it which is perfect for metal. Overall this a good all-rounder with it's feet firmly in Metal so if you're a metaller you may want to consider this, if you're more genre specific I'd consider something that can give you more precise tones for your genre. If you play acoustic chords I would stay away from this as the E string seems to slightly overpower any other sound you get out of it meaning chords are not defined but more a conglomeration of notes. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was extremely well set up, fairly low action but no fret buzz and really easy to play and shred on. The bridge pickup is slightly higher than the other one to give you that sharp, treble sound whereas you get a warmer, bassier tone out of the other pickup so they are good for their purposes of Treble and Rhythm respectively. I could find no flaws with the guitar aside from the fact that the store had used strings with HUGE ball ends that I struggled to remove to replace the strings. But on thicker strings (e.g. 10-52) you will get slight fret buzz on the Bottom E and A strings. // 8
Reliability & Durability: This guitar would probably withstand live playing pretty well and the hardware seems solid and durable, the strap buttons are firm and I've not had the strap slip off yet, I probably wouldn't use it as my first choice on a gig but I would definitely make it my backup as it is dependable just not quite good enough to make your main guitar. The finish is fairly good but seems as though it may show mild signs of wear if played extensively. // 8
Overall Impression: I play all sorts on this guitar and it goes through so many tones and sounds fairly well, it is good for the metaller and for someone who uses mild distortion but for completely clean tones definitely go for something else, maybe something that has a single coil pickup as well, if you want a quiet guitar go for something else and if you want a brilliant guitar go for something else.
This guitar is a very good guitar, especially for the price you pick it up for but it does not compare to Dean or Gibson in terms of sound and quality but you do pay a lot more for those guitars than you do for this so if you're looking for a low price but mid-range guitar go for it as you will be hard pushed to get something better for this price range. I've been playing the best part of six months so I'm yet to move on to more complex stuff on this guitar, I play it through a Line 6 Spider III 15 which should be replaced for a Peavey Vypyr soon.
The only thing I wish I'd asked was "Do you give refunds?" to the store because another store near me had a huge sale and Dean Dime-O-Flage guitars were going for the same price so I was gutted when I saw them, if it were stolen/lost I'd buy a Dime-O-Flage from the other store! But really, I'd buy this again. I like the fact that it has a smaller body than other Epiphones as it feels more comfortable in my hands.
My favourite feature has to be the KillPot, it's very discreet but allows me to play Buckethead and RATM tunes, the thing I hate most would be the fact that it can be a pain to restring and the fret buzz you get with beefier strings!
I only really compared it to the Explorer GT but this felt better in my hands and it fitted in my current gig bag! I wish it had locking tuners so that it would keep tune better with heavy trem use but aside from that it's perfect for your new or amateur guitarist, although if you're in a band and you play regularly, get something better! // 9
Les Paul Special II GT
mattbarden13, on june 08, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 199.99
Purchased from: Muscians Friend
Features: I think this guitar deserves a re-review from someone with more experience. Not saying the first one was bad, but it certainly does not deserve that high of marks. I am going to rate everything from a stock point of view, he covered all the stock basics so rather than just review it I'm going to tell you how to make it a damn nice guitar for a lot less than buying more expensive models. Note: This is the equipment I prefer to use that works for what I want to do musically, your choices/needs may be different. If you want to waste time brand bashing, thats your loss of time that you could have spent learning or writing something new. First off, the tuners have got to go. They feel like your going to break them when you twist them and they won't hold a tune even if you aren't using the tremolo. I am partial to Grover's myself, so I also had to widen the holes on the back of the neck to fit the new tuners. It required a 25/64" drill bit, not very common and you will probably have to order it online if you don't know anyone who already has one. I also recommend gradually working your way up to that size, start with smaller bits and be very careful as the neck is made of maple and will split apart badly if your not careful. Also, drill in from the backside of the neck and only go down about 5/8" of an inch, the base of the tuners is the only problem, the top part will fit in just fine without modification. // 6
Sound: I plan on putting DiMarzio Deactivators in this. However I haven't had the absolute need to yet. They are a little noisy when you add some drive, but a little noise gate fixes that. I never planned on using the tremolo at all. I have a Jackson dinky that has a Floyd Rose so I would just use that one for any trem parts. I find the intonation incredibly easy to set on these type of bridges, so I mainly wanted that function out of it. Plus individual control of each strings height is nice too. I blocked off the trem entirely so it can't move forward or backward. One of the added benefits of this is that bringing more contact with the strings vibration point to the guitars body really gives this thing some much needed punch and you may not even find the need to change the stock pickups because of this depending on your style. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: Setup from the factory was horrible; strings to high, tremolo bridge not even close to balanced, intonation was off, truss rod needed adjusting, and the pickups were way to low. The finish I really like though. It has this old worn look thats kind of neat when you see it in real life. Another thing that worked nice right away was the killswitch. I moved the volume and tone pots around though so the killswitch is now right up under the strings so I can keep my picking hand close for more complex use. The neck feels pretty good though and it plays really well after being properly set up. // 3
Reliability & Durability: Before you use it live, you might have to replace the input jack. Mine would plug in, but wouldn't lock in unless you twisted it a little. If you didn't, it would eventually pop out on its own. Again, also replace the tuners, especially if you plan on keeping the trem bar active. You will be out of tune by the end of the first song if you don't. Strap buttons are fairly solid, but I put locking mechanisms on all my guitars just to be safe. I guess after that I would use it without a back up, but I use a couple different ones for different songs, so I always have others available. // 5
Overall Impression: My impression is that if you plan on buying this and expecting it to be ready to go with little adjustment, keep looking. I got exactley what I wanted out of it and that was a les paul body shape in mahogany with a presetup fretboard and killswitch for 199.99. So if your willing to put a little extra time and money into it, you can build yourself a pretty nice axe for less than $500 if you know how to do most of these mods yourself. // 6