#1
  
Hi guys,
I am looking into my first Les Paul guitar and from all the options locally and online I have narrowed it down to two options:

· Gibson Les Paul 50’s Tribute 2016 – 795CHF online or 900CHF locally
Link http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2016/USA/Les-Paul-50s-Tribute.aspx#LPST5HTSECH3

· Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro – 375CHF online or 580 locally
Link http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Les-Paul/Ltd-Ed-2014-Les-Paul-Traditional-PRO.aspx

A few months ago, I went to a shop, tried a Gibson Les Paul Classic 2016 just out of curiosity, and really liked the sound, looks (ebony with zebra pickups and metal machine heads) and the feel of a “shorter” scale length guitar (I own a Strat and an Ibanez, both on 25.5in); however, 2190CHF is out of my budget. I play classic rock and hard rock at home through a 15W Marshall Combo just for fun, I play 1-2 hours a days and maybe more on the weekends. I do not gig nor go to a studio for band practice. The Epiphone above looks exactly like the Classic I tried back then.

I have heard/read that the difference between two “identical” Gibsons is more noticeable than among two “identical” Epiphones. To be honest, I do not know if I would notice. I say this because I was thinking about trying locally and buying online to save money, but if the aforementioned is true (and if I notice) I may not get the guitar that I played and liked. No store here has both models on stock, so I can not play them side by side and compare. I have tried the Epiphone at one shop and I really liked it, big chunky neck, matt back with porous neck, nice sound; I did not care much for the coil splitting so I may not use it at all or change it to series/parallel. Is it true that humbucker in parallel gives a sound similar to a P90? The best store here has a lot of Gibsons but not that specific model; I’ve tried many other models (Classic, Studio, Studio Custom, Special, Standard) and even models with the same pickup combo (490R & 498T) and I do like the sound. However, I cannot compare them side by side with the Epiphone. To be honest I want a Gibson because it is a “Gibson” and now I could afford one, but while I was playing the Epiphone, really enjoying the sound of it and having a great time, I could not have cared less about the “Made in XXXX” or the name on the headstock. I have heard many demos for the Epiphone, they all sound great, and more important if FELT great in my hands. Am I being carried away by “just a brand”?

The shops could order either guitar for me, but if I not buy it, I would have to pay a fee for the order anyway. In that case I could order online and if I do not like it, claim them “30-day money-back guaranteed” policy. In addition, I could order the Epiphone play it for weeks and keep it if I think it is good enough for me, if not I send it back and look for something “better”. What do you think about this?

Keeping in mind the differences between the made in USA Gibson and the made in China manufacturing. Both guitar have mahogany bodies, set mahogany necks, rosewood fretboards and a maple top. Both also have Alnico II & Alnico V pickups, which I think is a great combination; however, on the Gibson the C5 is on the bridge and the C2 on the neck, while on the Epiphone is the other way around. Which way is “better” or more versatile? I like thick bassy tones on the neck and high trebly tones on the bridge, I usually go for Clapton’s “woman tone” on the neck and Slash’s chords/riffs on the bridge. Can I swap the magnets on the pickups to try it out? I guess swapping the neck/bridge pickups would be easier, but then the sound would be very unbalanced due to the different outputs of the bridge/neck pickups. To be more accurate, the Gibson has 490R on the neck and 498T on the bridge, while the Epiphone has Alnico Classic (PRO?) on the neck and ProBucker-3 on the bridge.

I like modding my guitars, and especially on a Les Paul there are many options to try (50’s/modern wiring, no-cut middle position, series/parallel, out of phase, etc). For me it would not “feel right” doing that to a Gibson, and these models come with the PCB that allows no mods, so I would have to but a new full wiring harness. On the Epiphone I would not mind opening her guts and doing mods, and they come with normal wires that allow free simple mods.

Cheers,
Walter

P.S. For the sake of simplicity, let us say that 1CHF is equal to 1USD.
P.S.S. If you live in Zürich and want to get together and jam, send me a PM.
#2
Seems to me you've already decided the Epiphone is the better option.  To be honest, you're probably right in your circumstances.

You're absolutely correct that Epiphone have less quality variation than Gibson.  Buying that 50s Tribute online may result in you getting the best guitar out there, or you may get something you hate.  Epiphones have enough consistency that buying online without trying first is less of an issue.

Also, if you like modding guitars but wouldn't feel comfortable modding a Gibson, it doesn't meet your requirements for a guitar anyway.  You need the Epiphone.
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#3
Every Gibson Tribute I've tried pretty much felt like a $300 guitar with $600 Gibson sticker on it. If the name is more important to you than the features and consistency of build, get the Gibson.

For slightly less money than a Gibson Tribute, you can get an Epiphone Les Paul Tribute+ (not to be confused). They're basically the highest quality Epi LP's you can possibly get that isn't a Japanese-made Elitist. They're better than the Epi Traditional Pro or the Classic. They have an actual maple cap, a long neck tenon, Gibson 57 Classic pickups, Grover locking tuners etc.
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#4
Quote by waltervt
Am I being carried away by “just a brand”?

If you really want the Gibson because it's a Gibson while knowing you can do just as well elsewhere then you might just need a Gibson. I buy Fenders instead of similarly priced equivalents of similar quality. It sounds like you like the Epiphone and, even if you'd like a Gibson too, it sounds like you want the Epiphone. Getting the Epiphone would be a good choice, so the question is basically just whether you'll be happy with that, and that varies from person to person. Some people will finally get that guitar they dreamed of and realise that the brand wasn't everything they'd expected, while some will never be happy until they have the "real thing" and will find it to be exactly what they were looking for.

I would buy the Epiphone; that doesn't mean you necessarily should  

Quote by waltervt
What do you think about this?

Money back guarantees are there for exactly this reason. Bear in mind there may still be costs for returning things, though; Thomann, for example, I think will only cover return shipping in the case of quality issues, and I don't know whether even that applies outside of Germany. 

Quote by waltervt
Which way is “better” or more versatile?

Don't worry about it. Magnets matter, of course, but in isolation it's a pretty meaningless piece of information, as there's a lot more to pickup construction, and of course a pickup with an A2 in the neck position will sound more like a pickup with an A5 in the neck position than like a pickup with an A2 in the bridge position. As far as I know, A2 and A5 are very similar regardless, so I wouldn't worry about it - both will be pretty similar in practice.

Quote by waltervt
Can I swap the magnets on the pickups to try it out?

No. Well, you can, and it's not that complicated, but it's easy to mess up badly and basically not worth doing. Pickups are designed around a given magnet and swapping magnets really is the realm of obsessives.

Quote by waltervt
I like modding my guitars, and especially on a Les Paul there are many options to try (50’s/modern wiring, no-cut middle position, series/parallel, out of phase, etc). For me it would not “feel right” doing that to a Gibson, and these models come with the PCB that allows no mods, so I would have to but a new full wiring harness. On the Epiphone I would not mind opening her guts and doing mods, and they come with normal wires that allow free simple mods.

Yeah. A full wiring overhaul wouldn't be a very expensive mod in any case, but if you're happier modding the Epi and it's easier that sounds like an argument for the Epi.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
For slightly less money than a Gibson Tribute, you can get an Epiphone Les Paul Tribute+ (not to be confused). They're basically the highest quality Epi LP's you can possibly get that isn't a Japanese-made Elitist. They're better than the Epi Traditional Pro or the Classic. They have an actual maple cap, a long neck tenon, Gibson 57 Classic pickups, Grover locking tuners etc.

Yes to this. The Epi Tribute+ is always a good call and very much worth considering

EDIT: The order of everything in this post just went crazy for some reason but hopefully it is fixed now. Maybe a mod is messing with me
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jun 27, 2017,
#5
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Every Gibson Tribute I've tried pretty much felt like a $300 guitar with $600 Gibson sticker on it. If the name is more important to you than the features and consistency of build, get the Gibson.

For slightly less money than a Gibson Tribute, you can get an Epiphone Les Paul 60's Tribute (not to be confused). They're basically the highest quality Epi LP's you can possibly get that isn't a Japanese-made Elitist. They're better than the Epi Traditional Pro or the Classic. They have an actual maple cap, a long neck tenon, Gibson 57 Classic pickups, Grover locking tuners etc.


Epiphone Pes Paul Tribute for sure.
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#7
I own two Epiphone 1960 Tributes and I love them. They come with the Classic 57 pickups and I love the feel and sound. The finish on both of mine are exceptional a black cherry modal I bought new and a used midnight sapphire modal that I bought on EBay that was mint that I got for about $500. I have had a few Gibson Les Paul's over many years of playing and they are great guitars. For me personally the Epi Tributes with a good set up are also great guitars. There are so many factors to consider as to why a guitar feels and sounds good to you personally. Many of those factors are really things other than the guitar itself like your amp, the type of music you play, the acoustics of the room and your expectations. I have never played a Gibson 50's Tribute but I imagine it's nice. You can't loose on either choice. Two nice guitars. 
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#9
Quote by Guitaraxe
Looking at the provided Epi' spec's, I am not see any mention of it having a maple top.


If youre talking about the Trad then it doesnt have a maple top. Just a veneer.


The Epi tribute has a solid maple cap though.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#10
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
If youre talking about the Trad then it doesnt have a maple top. Just a veneer.


The Epi tribute has a solid maple cap though.


Epi' Tribute? Do you mean the Gibson 50's tribute model linked in the OP? Ya, that one has a solid map'-cap'.
#11
Quote by Guitaraxe
Epi' Tribute? Do you mean the Gibson 50's tribute model linked in the OP? Ya, that one has a solid map'-cap'.


No. I mean the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute. The model everybody suggested instead of the Epiphone Traditional.


It has 57 classics, CTS pots and a solid maple cap. Also coil taps and a long neck tenon.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


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I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Jun 27, 2017,
#12
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
No. I mean the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute. The model everybody suggested instead of the Epiphone Traditional.


It has 57 classics, CTS pots and a solid maple cap. Also coil taps and a long neck tenon.


Ahhh... I somehow missed that recommendation. Ya, that particular Epi' model has some Rockin' spec's. 
#13
Quote by K33nbl4d3
EDIT: The order of everything in this post just went crazy for some reason but hopefully it is fixed now. Maybe a mod is messing with me

It was a bug.


>_>


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#15
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This thread isn't over until GoldenBoy chimes in.  


You'll have to wait 30 days.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#17
Quote by Ippon
Ahh!  He hasn't created a thread in the FOTB.  Maybe he's coming in with a new tag.


You bet he will
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#18
A few years ago I might've said, "Definitely go with the Gibson - it may be cosmetically very plain but the build quality will be far superior and eventually you'll 'outgrow' the Epiphone and find yourself wanting something better". But Epiphones have really got a lot better in more recent years, whereas entry level Gibsons seem to get more and more cruddy each year, so honestly, I think out of those two it's a no-brainer to go with the Epiphone. They really are great workhorse guitars that represent excellent value for money, nowadays.
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#19
Blompcube Interesting. I was thinking the same, some say that ANY Gibson will be always better than ANY Epiphone, and others aggre on your argument that lower-end Gibson are not as good as higher-end Epiphones, and the price your paying is mostly the brand and not quality.
#20
I think it's best to ignore anyone who says ANY Gibson will be better than ANY Epiphone, to be honest. I was never even arguing that at the time when I genuinely believed the low end Gibsons represented good quality for the price and that only cosmetic things were compromised. I went through so many Gibsons that were terrible when I was buying my '07 LP studio. Not all of them were cheaper ones, either...

Now, my LP studio is a really nice guitar all-round, great build quality, plays beautifully and the tone is to die for... The whole thing about how they've stripped it of purely cosmetic things that don't affect the performance of the instrument in order to keep the cost down really applies to this particular example - The thing is, my 2016 Epiphone Casino Coupe is just as good, quality wise, and playability wise... for half the price - the tone is not quite up to the same standard but it's still very good. And it just looks more classy too, with its gloss finish, binding, nicer inlays and so on - I'm not sure if the quality is representative of most new Epiphones but it certainly appears that way based on my experiences with more recent Epiphones.

The main problem with Epiphones is sometimes they leave the factory with some minor fret and nut issues that stop the guitar from being able to be set up to play as well as it possibly can and have decent tuning stability etc. (this was the case with my Casino) and I think instead of investing some money in getting it corrected, which is really worthwhile IMO, people just accept that as being 'as good as it gets' and have the attitude, "you get what you pay for, if I wanted a better guitar I would've bought a Gibson". At least there's some hope for a seemingly "bad" Epiphone, though - with the bad Gibsons... they just suck and also there's no excuse for it, because at that price, you expect so much more.

Of course if you're lucky enough to find a good Gibson that you really, really love playing, I think the amount of joy and satisfaction you will get from it is priceless, and in that case, I consider it to be worth it, even if there are "better" guitars out there for less money - sometimes, indulging yourself is the right thing to do!
Rig Winter 2017:

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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#21
Quote by Blompcube
I think it's best to ignore anyone who says ANY Gibson will be better than ANY Epiphone

It's also best to ignore anyone who says any lower end Gibson will be crap.  You're just as likely to find a great cheap Gibson as you are to find a crappy expensive one, price often doesn't equal quality where Gibson is concerned.

That said, it seems the answer in this thread is definitely the Epiphone.
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#22
Quote by GaryBillington
It's also best to ignore anyone who says any lower end Gibson will be crap.  You're just as likely to find a great cheap Gibson as you are to find a crappy expensive one, price often doesn't equal quality where Gibson is concerned.

That said, it seems the answer in this thread is definitely the Epiphone.

Yep, as I said in my post, my low end Gibson LP studio faded is a good one, I rejected a whole lot of more expensive ones before I "settled" for that one In particular, I remember this goldtop les paul standard that had a horrendously sterile, piercing treble output that was just not in any way pleasing to hear. That was in the same shop I got my LP studio from. It stuck around for many years before someone eventually bought it at a heavily reduced price.

So you do get good cheaper ones from time to time, but... they are becoming increasingly rare, it seems...
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Fender Jazzmaster/Yamaha SG1000
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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#23
^ That LP Studio Faded is the exact same model I chose over a load of Standards etc!
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#24
Quote by Blompcube


Now, my LP studio is a really nice guitar all-round, great build quality, plays beautifully and the tone is to die for... The whole thing about how they've stripped it of purely cosmetic things that don't affect the performance of the instrument in order to keep the cost down really applies to this particular example - The thing is, my 2016 Epiphone Casino Coupe is just as good, quality wise, and playability wise... for half the price - the tone is not quite up to the same standard but it's still very good. And it just looks more classy too, with its gloss finish, binding, nicer inlays and so on - I'm not sure if the quality is representative of most new Epiphones but it certainly appears that way based on my experiences with more recent Epiphones.

The main problem with Epiphones is sometimes they leave the factory with some minor fret and nut issues that stop the guitar from being able to be set up to play as well as it possibly can and have decent tuning stability etc. (this was the case with my Casino) and I think instead of investing some money in getting it corrected, which is really worthwhile IMO, people just accept that as being 'as good as it gets' and have the attitude, "you get what you pay for, if I wanted a better guitar I would've bought a Gibson". At least there's some hope for a seemingly "bad" Epiphone, though - with the bad Gibsons... they just suck and also there's no excuse for it, because at that price, you expect so much more.


Gibsons often show up with the same nut and fretwork issues, which is why Gibson has usually recommended a medium-high action "for best tone." It really doesn't take all that much to get almost any guitar on the rack to play great, but the cost to do that remains the same whether the guitar is $3500 or $350, and those who can afford the $350 guitar are sometimes daunted by the amount in relation to the new price. I was laughed at by some friends when I had a $200 guitar PLEK'd and its frets superglued at the same time as a $4000 Gibby. Both setups cost the same, which doubled the cost of the cheap...er...inexpensive guitar. But both now play identically well and have for several years.

I'm not sure which is worse: expecting the expensive guitar to play great and finding that it needs work or finding a great-looking inexpensive guitar that needs work that significantly increases what you have in your pocket. In either case the guitar is likely to be able to be made a great player, and the whole "try a bunch until you find one that..." philosophy really doesn't always get you the best guitar bang for the buck. These days I look past playability issues I know can be fixed.

With that in mind, I'd mostly rather have an expensive Agile than a cheap Gibson. I'm still paying less for the guitar and it's got all the goodies: binding, ebony fretboard, real shell inlays, a finish that will protect the guitar, and sometimes it comes with benefits that Gibson doesn't bother with even on the high-end spread: neck-through construction, shaved neck heels, tummy cuts (the latter two now showing up on some newer gibsons), solid (non-cheesed, non-chambered) bodies, jumbo frets, flatter fretboard radii, wider fretboards (with commensurate string spacing), 24-fret versions, longer scales. I already know I can have that bugger playing as well as anything else (assuming it didn't come out of the box that way), and I've got room to add a Suhr Aldrich bridge pickup if I don't like what's there, and I'm still likely to be under the price of the cheap Gibson.