Price paid: A$ 179
Purchased from: Artist Guitars
Features — 8
- Body: traditional Les Paul shape, mahogany with a maple top veneer (flamed if sunburst, glossed if black), standard strap buttons, cream binding and a cream-coloured pickguard.
- Neck: C-shaped, single-piece maple back and headstock, 22 steel medium frets, 648 millimeter (24.75 inch) scale length, blackwood (Australian/Tasmanian rosewood) fingerboard, trapezoid pearloid inlay from the 3rd to 21st fret, cream binding and a standard bone nut.
- Bridge: Standard Tune-o-Matic style (Epiphone style where you actually have to use a screwdriver to adjust string action) with a traditional stop-tail piece.
- Pickups: two passive P.A.F. Chrome Wilkinson Humbuckers with 13KOhm resistance (R.R.P. $39.95 AUD ea).
- Controls/electronics: chrome hardware, four standard plastic gold top hat controls (two volume, two tone), traditional three way pickup switch.
- Tuners: Artist, no ratio, greased die-cast.
- Included accessories: padded gig bag, standard guitar strap, Artist TN-50 clip - on tuner, standard lead, and two Allen keys.
- Strings: 09-42 D'Addario Super Light Electric.
Sound — 10
Just like most Les Paul guitars, I would say this one is very versatile. I play all kinds of music, from 1950's slow light blues lead to modern fast heavy metal rhythm, and so far I have not been failed by this guitar. There is virtually no static feedback due to the traditional P.A.F. humbuckers even at extreme distortion settings even though I run it through a Zoom G1XNext multi-effects processor and a semi-decent SMART III amplifier. The sound is very warm, rich and fluid, with beautiful sounding long sustain and decay, and almost indistinguishable from a genuine Epiphone Les Paul Standard. Also, the pickup switch is noiseless like it should be.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar came in a very good factory shape, even though it was made in China, but not without its flaws. The neck is set perfectly in the body, the four controls and the pickup switch are straight, the inlay is inset great, and the cream binding, pickguard and pickup/plug holders are aligned to the dot. However, all this perfection made the small flaws stand out: the tuning pegs are misaligned with the tuner bracing, even if only by a little bit, and the string action was too low, uneven with moderate fret buzz. Some quick adjusting was required to reduce the buzz to a level where it would not transfer to the amp. However, it is important to note that I pick and press the strings hard, so it may be a flaw in my playing technique.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a guitar built to last, even with its flaws. I have taken this to a live school performance, and other kids who have never played guitar were going very hard on it for hours on end. It survived with no scratches, dents, and just needed minor retuning, so I would definitely gig with this baby without backup. The hardware is very solid - the switch is not flimsy, the pickups are well placed, and the tuning pegs and nut are very solid. So are the strap buttons, but the front button may let go of the strap if the guitar is tilted too much. The finish is very sensitive to dust and fingerprints in terms of visibility on stage and face to face, but will not come off for a good long time.
Overall Impression — 9
Just like a Les Paul should be, this guitar is a perfect match for anyone who is not specialized in a music genre. Unless you are talking blues or hard rock rhythm, this guitar is not a perfect match but it is still much more than capable of playing almost everything. I compared this to an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, and as I said, the difference was almost indistinguishable and my guitar teacher advised me to take the Artist over the Epiphone without knowing the price of either (and a brand new Epiphone LPs costs $430 + AUD). I have been playing guitar for almost four years now, but this baby is my first electric. This guitar definitely has a "'wow' ("wah" for guitarists) factor" to it, I just wish I could get a better build and a Gibson style bridge for the same price. As I absolutely love the guitar, I would definitely buy it again, and even though this one is perfectly fine, I am thinking of buying a second one in a different colour.