#1
I have played my friends 2015 Gibson Les Paul and it is lovely, I'd love one myself but can't stretch to the £1500 he paid for it. Does anyone have experience of top end Epiphone Les Pauls, which in England are £500/600
They are similar in appearance but are they any good in comparison?

I'm not trying to stir up a hornets nest, a couple of years ago I asked the Martin or Taylor question and a few people thought I was trolling to start an argument, I wasn't.

So lower end Gibson vs top end Epiphone
#2
I think a lot of the regular posters are about to tell you to go for Epiphone. I don't know whether Gibson's QC has improved over the (mediocre) 2014 and 2015 model years, but I do know that the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus, if you can swing one of those, is everything you could want a Les Paul to be.
#3
High end Epiphones are very nice instruments. They definitely have some advantages over the lower end Gibsons, mostly in having a 'gloss finish' and bells and whistles like binding and inlay work. The low end Gibson guitars will generally have better electronics than the higher end Epiphones, unless the Epi specifically is equipped with P90 or some other Gibson pickup. It's a trade off at the end of the day, where one shines the other doesn't - simple as that. It is, however, easier to upgrade pickups than it is to upgrade the finish of an instrument. If you want the extra adornment, the Epiphone with a pickup upgrade is the best way to go if you have a tight budget.

The low end Gibson will likely hold value better than the high end Epiphone just because of the name on the headstock.
Gear: Gibson Les Paul Studio, Gibson SG Special, Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Fender Jazzmaster, Gretsch Pro Jet, Carvin C350, Epiphone ES-339 P90, Epiphone ES-335 Pro. Peavey 6505, Sovtek MIG-100, Vox AC30, Peavey XXX.
#4
Quote by duncanjames10
........

So lower end Gibson vs top end Epiphone


#5
I now own two Epiphone Tribute Plus guitars and three other Epiphone Les Paul's (Custom, Ultra and Standard). The Gibson's are wonderful guitars but they are expensive. A year after I bought my first Epiphone 1960 Tribute I sold my Gibson LP because it allowed me to buy a new multi track recorder and a few more guitars so for me the trade off was worth it and I don't feel I compromised my sound to any great extent. Maybe if I was a top tier amazing player I would notice a big difference between the Gibson LP and Epiphone Tribute but it's very minor in my opinion. For what it's worth if you have the money for a Gibson LP go for it. If not, you won't be disappointed with a Tribute.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at May 31, 2016,
#6
I have the Epi LP Plus top pro, with BCS wiring/pots and 57/57+ gibson pu's, and I also own a Gibson LP standard. The Gibson is nicer in every way, but it should be. I love both of them and play them both. The Epi means more to me since I put so much time learning about being a luither and also installing all the wiring and hardware, so it has some sentimental value.

I give 2 thumbs way up for a Epi tribute, thats a bad ass guitar.
'16 Gibson LP Standard T, '15 Epi LP Standard with 57/57+ Gibbys
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#7
mij tokai or similar

though the prices have probably gone up over the last while
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
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#8
Thanks guys, I'm feeling the love for the Epiphone.
Having done a little homework I quite fancy the ultra 3, the nano mag acoustic pick up particularly interests me. however it doesn't appear to be readily available in the uk.
#9
Quote by Rickholly74
I now own two Epiphone Tribute Plus guitars and three other Epiphone Les Paul's (Custom, Ultra and Standard).


Is there much difference between the custom, ultra and standard ?
#10
Quote by duncanjames10 at #33993399
Is there much difference between the custom, ultra and standard ?


Between the Standard and Custom there is basically no difference aside from cosmetics. They both use similar woods in their construction.

The Ultra III is different. The Ultra III is chambered, has the nano mag system, stereo and a USB out IIRC and a belly carve for comfort.
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#11
Ah ok so the Ultra is going to be lighter due to the chambered body, right? That could be good for me as the LP does seem a little lardy compared to my strat.
Have you played all 3 variations to able to conclude a favourite?
I love the idea of the nano mag, also my friends Gibo has the min-etune electric tuner which is cool, I'm guessing purists might frown at such a gimmick, the guys in my guitar shop do, but playing in different tuning is lovely but the re-tuning for 1 song is a pain. I believe the min-etune has 16 presets which could be very handy. Recently I have learned Zep's rain song which I am well chuffed about but the damn re-tuning is a nuisance.
#12
Quote by duncanjames10 at #33993642
Ah ok so the Ultra is going to be lighter due to the chambered body, right? That could be good for me as the LP does seem a little lardy compared to my strat.
Have you played all 3 variations to able to conclude a favourite?
I love the idea of the nano mag, also my friends Gibo has the min-etune electric tuner which is cool, I'm guessing purists might frown at such a gimmick, the guys in my guitar shop do, but playing in different tuning is lovely but the re-tuning for 1 song is a pain. I believe the min-etune has 16 presets which could be very handy. Recently I have learned Zep's rain song which I am well chuffed about but the damn re-tuning is a nuisance.


Yes they are lighter.

I have played all 3. I would say that if you don't need the features of the Ultra, you can't go wrong with a Standard or a Custom. They're both really similar. If you need the features of the Ultra then the other ones won't cut it. As for what preference I have, I like flame tops, so I like the Standard.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
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#13
I have the Epi standard pro(plustop) and I love it. It's a beauty (mine's amber) and construction is flawless. The pro-bucker (coil splitting) pick-ups sound great to my ear. You're gonna want to change strings as soon as you get it, but other than that I couldn't be happier for the $450 I paid. Haven't compared it to a Gibson though so I can't help you there.
#14
If you want a Les Paul and dont have the money for a decent Gibson then an Epi is the way to go. If all you want is a single cut then the options are too numerous to count.
Moving on.....
#15
epiphones are very nice guitars. the top line being better on average than the lowest level gibsons.

but there are plenty of great les pauls out there without gibson or epiphone on the headstock from the japanese builders. Tokai as dave mentioned, also Bacchus (Divisor), Edwards (ESP), Burny, Greco, Aria and some others. paruwi is selling a very nice Tokai LP custom at a very fair price, ask him about it.

Under the gibson brand you have Orville, Orville by Gibson and Epiphones that were made at the Fujigen factory. One of the most acclaimed builders in the world today. They also have their own brand FGN.

Plenty of options, but my experience is the guitars built in japan tend to be a great value. Prices range from around $550-$1200 for guitars that are as good as any gibson usa LP Standard.
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#16
Quote by duncanjames10
Ah ok so the Ultra is going to be lighter due to the chambered body, right? That could be good for me as the LP does seem a little lardy compared to my strat.
Have you played all 3 variations to able to conclude a favourite?
I love the idea of the nano mag, also my friends Gibo has the min-etune electric tuner which is cool, I'm guessing purists might frown at such a gimmick, the guys in my guitar shop do, but playing in different tuning is lovely but the re-tuning for 1 song is a pain. I believe the min-etune has 16 presets which could be very handy. Recently I have learned Zep's rain song which I am well chuffed about but the damn re-tuning is a nuisance.


Here's what you need to know about the motorized tuner. It's good for tuning your guitar to standard in a quiet environment.

In a noisy environment (gigging?) it can be thrown off. Over time it seems to lose accuracy.

Alternate tunings require, obviously, that each string changes tension. That can give you some strings that are too tight to bend, others that are too floppy. There's a very definite limit on the alternate tunings that you can use with the power tuner. Too loose and you have floppy strings, too tight and you can't bend. Wrong string gauge and you can break the tuners.

The power tuner in one form or another has been around for more than 20 years, if you count the TransPerformance bridge that Gibson sold on LPs in the early '90's. That was the same deal as the G-Farce, but it worked via motors in the bridge rather than motors in the tuning heads. Same concept, same limitations.

The only guitar I'm aware of that allows you to do alternate tunings without changing the tension of the strings is the Variax. Its limits extend to about an octave above or below where the string is actually tuned.
#17
Alright, I'm interested in Tokai LP's. Any ideas on which ones are best at a price of maybe $1200'or less? I hate the number system for guitars since I can't tell which ones have better features.
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#18
I am not saying the Gibson is bad but Epiphone for me
if you don't care about the brand look at Tokai I heard it pretty decent for its price
#19
Quote by 21GunSalute at #33994770
Alright, I'm interested in Tokai LP's. Any ideas on which ones are best at a price of maybe $1200'or less? I hate the number system for guitars since I can't tell which ones have better features.


1200 bucks including the shipping and taxes you'll have to pay for importing from japan or 1200 plus that?


If it's 1200+ shipping etc... You might be able to find a nice used LS-80. They're solid topped, have awesome woods and offer really cool features if you like vintage style LPs.


If 1200 bucks is your max dollar, I would maybe try other companies like Bacchus, Burny, Edwards or maybe even Epiphone japan. You might be able to find something like a nice CREWS KTR LS-01 flametop in your pricerange. They also do plain tops as well.
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#20
Quote by 21GunSalute
Alright, I'm interested in Tokai LP's. Any ideas on which ones are best at a price of maybe $1200'or less? I hate the number system for guitars since I can't tell which ones have better features.

there's options. but rather than highjack the TS's thread, can you make one about tokais or MIJ's and we can chime in there?

I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#21
If you're willing to go used then many MIJ copies will be within your reach. Japanese guitars had a reputation for high quality workmanship but not ALL MIJs used top quality materials. SOme have reputations that have been blown a little out of proportion over the years with the general all MIJ guitars are great exaggeration. Tokais website seems to indicate they don't do LPs in the high end line anymore but LP like guitars. I guess if depends on what our priorities are, some OCd types focus on small cosmetic details more than performance.
I however found a site here in Canada selling the Tokai branded LP copies that must be made elsewhere (new prices around $500 CAD or ~$350 USD) These look pretty nice, alder bodies and Maple necks mean they don't follow the formula but from a purely visual POV they look just like Les Pauls.
Moving on.....
#22
^ yeah the cheaper Tokais aren't MIJ (they were made in Korea, now are made in china I think). Easiest way to tell is if the truss rod cover has 2 screws, then it's MIJ, 3 screws aren't.

(Actually the easiest way to tell is that most of them say "Made in Japan" on them either on the back of the headstock or on the neck heel, lol, but not all of them do... and like the truss rod screw thing, it's fairly easily faked by an unscrupulous seller unfortunately ).

Also I think I've heard that canada has a bit of a problem with fake Tokais, but I could be wrong about that.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#23
Quote by Dave_Mc at #33995762
^ yeah the cheaper Tokais aren't MIJ (they were made in Korea, now are made in china I think). Easiest way to tell is if the truss rod cover has 2 screws, then it's MIJ, 3 screws aren't.

(Actually the easiest way to tell is that most of them say "Made in Japan" on them either on the back of the headstock or on the neck heel, lol, but not all of them do... and like the truss rod screw thing, it's fairly easily faked by an unscrupulous seller unfortunately ).

Also I think I've heard that canada has a bit of a problem with fake Tokais, but I could be wrong about that.



Canada had a run of "fake" Tokai guitars but not quite in the way you're thinking. The Canadian importer for Tokai at the time couldn't get certain models he wanted and instead of trying to pester Tokai more or try to strike up something, he just commissioned a Korean factory to produce a bunch of fakes under the Tokai banner. What I will say is the Canadian ones aren't really that bad. Never tried a newer Chinese one but I would probably bet they smoke the Chinese ones if I were to bass it off the cheaper MIC LPs I have had.


From what I read though they never had an official MIK model so the MIK ones you're thinking of are prolly CDN. EDIT: yes they did LOL


Quote by KenG at #33994896
If you're willing to go used then many MIJ copies will be within your reach. Japanese guitars had a reputation for high quality workmanship but not ALL MIJs used top quality materials. SOme have reputations that have been blown a little out of proportion over the years with the general all MIJ guitars are great exaggeration. Tokais website seems to indicate they don't do LPs in the high end line anymore but LP like guitars. I guess if depends on what our priorities are, some OCd types focus on small cosmetic details more than performance.
I however found a site here in Canada selling the Tokai branded LP copies that must be made elsewhere (new prices around $500 CAD or ~$350 USD) These look pretty nice, alder bodies and Maple necks mean they don't follow the formula but from a purely visual POV they look just like Les Pauls.


That's the wrong Tokai website. The UK one doesn't list the LP shapes cause they can't sell them IIRC. Japan still does the LS and HLS series guitars.


Are you talking about the ones with the thick import bridges that you can find on Ebay as well for like 3-500? Those cheaper Tokai aren't really that great either from what I understand. They're probably in the same range as an MIC RLG-55.
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Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Jun 4, 2016,
#24
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
(a) Canada had a run of "fake" Tokai guitars but not quite in the way you're thinking. The Canadian importer for Tokai at the time couldn't get certain models he wanted and instead of trying to pester Tokai more or try to strike up something, he just commissioned a Korean factory to produce a bunch of fakes under the Tokai banner. What I will say is the Canadian ones aren't really that bad. Never tried a newer Chinese one but I would probably bet they smoke the Chinese ones if I were to bass it off the cheaper MIC LPs I have had.


From what I read though they never had an official MIK model so the MIK ones you're thinking of are prolly CDN.


(b) That's the wrong Tokai website. The UK one doesn't list the LP shapes cause they can't sell them IIRC. Japan still does the LS and HLS series guitars.


Are you talking about the ones with the thick import bridges that you can find on Ebay as well for like 3-500? Those cheaper Tokai aren't really that great either from what I understand. They're probably in the same range as an MIC RLG-55.


(a) Yeah I know they were sold in stores (I didn't know the whole ins and outs, though), I was just too lazy to post all that. They are pretty much "not legit", though.

I was pretty sure they had korea-made ones at a time. I could be misremembering but I'm nearly sure I tried MIK ones (with a sticker on the back) myself. But I could well be wrong. I swore blind I'd tried a springysound until I went back and found it was a goldstar, one time

(b) not the UK site I don't think, we can get the les paul shapes here just fine I think. maybe with the dimple in the headstock, though.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#25
Quote by Dave_Mc at #33995786
(a) Yeah I know they were sold in stores (I didn't know the whole ins and outs, though), I was just too lazy to post all that. They are pretty much "not legit", though.

I was pretty sure they had korea-made ones at a time. I could be misremembering but I'm nearly sure I tried MIK ones (with a sticker on the back) myself. But I could well be wrong. I swore blind I'd tried a springysound until I went back and found it was a goldstar, one time

(b) not the UK site I don't think, we can get the les paul shapes here just fine I think. maybe with the dimple in the headstock, though.


Yeah I checked really quick and they had a run in the mid 90s of MIKs.


Yeah I don't think its the headstock either cause you could buy the Burny RLGs with the open book in the UK as well right? I remember shops selling the RLG-55 and RLG-85.
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My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


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#26
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
Canada had a run of "fake" Tokai guitars but not quite in the way you're thinking. The Canadian importer for Tokai at the time couldn't get certain models he wanted and instead of trying to pester Tokai more or try to strike up something, he just commissioned a Korean factory to produce a bunch of fakes under the Tokai banner. What I will say is the Canadian ones aren't really that bad. Never tried a newer Chinese one but I would probably bet they smoke the Chinese ones if I were to bass it off the cheaper MIC LPs I have had.


From what I read though they never had an official MIK model so the MIK ones you're thinking of are prolly CDN. EDIT: yes they did LOL


That's the wrong Tokai website. The UK one doesn't list the LP shapes cause they can't sell them IIRC. Japan still does the LS and HLS series guitars.


Are you talking about the ones with the thick import bridges that you can find on Ebay as well for like 3-500? Those cheaper Tokai aren't really that great either from what I understand. They're probably in the same range as an MIC RLG-55.



Here's the link to the store in Canada I know nothing abuut them though. Tokai Guitars Canada

I don't think it matters much if you can still buy Tokai copies in Japan unless you live close to Japan. The shipping and taxes would probably drive the cost savings out.
Moving on.....
#27
Quote by KenG at #33995853
Here's the link to the store in Canada I know nothing abuut them though. Tokai Guitars Canada

I don't think it matters much if you can still buy Tokai copies in Japan unless you live close to Japan. The shipping and taxes would probably drive the cost savings out.


Those are the MIC ones pretty sure.


Depends where you live I guess. In the UK import fees are pretty terrible. I'm in Canada and I have imported 2-3 guitars in the last few years. The shipping wasn't crazy and I still couldn't find a guitar of similar quality locally even with the extra cash on top for shipping and duty. So personally I find it worth it. Especially since they smoke Epiphones and even some Gibsons IMO. Gibson/Epi are basically the options I have locally so buying overseas make sense for me. Especially specs wise.


If you're into LPs, you can't really beat the value of an MIJ.
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Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Jun 4, 2016,
#28
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
Yeah I checked really quick and they had a run in the mid 90s of MIKs.


Yeah I don't think its the headstock either cause you could buy the Burny RLGs with the open book in the UK as well right? I remember shops selling the RLG-55 and RLG-85.


ah. that'd have been well before the ones i tried, maybe i tried a s/h one, or maybe i'm just misremembering?

yeah i'm not sure what's the situation here with the headstock- i don't think it's anywhere near as strict as the USA, but definitely some of the tokais, at some points in time, have had changed headstock shapes (the fender copies too).
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#29
I had this exact same debate when I was looking to buy an LP. The conclusion I came to is that American made (even if it's just a Studio) holds its value better and is less likely to go wrong with electronics etc.

Don't get me wrong, quality of Epis have improved massively in the last 10 years or so, but they don't quite compare to American sound and quality. Studio versions are much like Standards only with less fancy woods and finish, they sound pretty similar, whereas Epis have a noticeably less polished sound (not bad per say, just not quite as refined)

Hope that helps make your decision
#30
Quote by ebroderick96 at #33997970
I had this exact same debate when I was looking to buy an LP. The conclusion I came to is that American made (even if it's just a Studio) holds its value better and is less likely to go wrong with electronics etc.

Don't get me wrong, quality of Epis have improved massively in the last 10 years or so, but they don't quite compare to American sound and quality. Studio versions are much like Standards only with less fancy woods and finish, they sound pretty similar, whereas Epis have a noticeably less polished sound (not bad per say, just not quite as refined)

Hope that helps make your decision


I'll agree that Gibsons hold their value better. I won't agree that they can't compete soundwise. Especially after a bit of work.

I won't agree about electronics going wrong being more likely to happen in Epiphones. That's just not something you can prove and even if you were to hunt around other forums, you won't find maybe new Epiphone threads that have electronic quality issues.


You might find a new thread or 3 about new Gibsons having electronic issues though.


FWIW I don't own any Epiphones and I own 2 Gibson LPs (A Peace and an R8) just for full disclosure.
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