Price paid: $ 375
Purchased from: Local music shop
Sound — 9
The CR2NS humbuckers are allegedly designed to be very similar to PAF pickups, to emulate that "classic rock" sound. It is quite a successful attempt, I'm happy to report. The bridge pickup's sharp, clean tone is great. The neck pickup's warm tone is also great. It's quite a versatile instrument. The set neck construction coupled with the solid maple top really lets the notes ring. Incredible sustain! I bought the cheap 15watt Ampteq amp I used in the shop as the combination sounded very very good. With the neck pickup, a little reverb and lots of overdrive, the guitar sounds fantastic. I normally use a Roland Cube Street or RP55 (with headphones) for practice. I have not had a chance to plug the guitar into any of them.
Overall Impression — 7
I play various styles. I bought this one for classic rock and blues. I think it is a good match. I also own an Ibanez GRGA11EX and a '94 Squier Strat. I have an old Boss DF-2 (SUPER Feedbacker & Distortion) pedal, an RP55 processor, and a Roland Cube Street amp. If this was lost or stolen, I'd buy a new one. Heck, if I had the money, I'd buy a spare in case this goes out of production. The flame maple is beautiful. I'd be more happy with tuners from a known brand. I love the sustain, I've never had a set neck guitar before, it seems I was missing a lot. The ability to separately set the volumes for the pickups so that the toggle switch acts as a killswitch is a great feature. I went into the shop, knowing only that I wanted a Les Paul style guitar. I checked out a few. Honestly, I think the Epiphone LP Studio Goth is a stunning looking guitar with a similar price tag, and I was about to buy it. Still, the CR280 sounded much better when I played it, so I got the CR280. A pick guard would have been nice. Any weight reduction would have been heavenly.
Reliability & Durability — 6
The guitar will withstand live or lively playing, you won't. This thing weighs a ton, compared to my Ibanez GRGA11 and Squier Strat. After half an hour playing it, I had to continue seated. The hardware looks okay. The bridge and the tail piece are licensed from TonePros, I take that as a good sign. Not so sure about the no-name Vintage style tuners: they look okay but looks are not what I look for in machine heads. I use Planet Waves' locking straps, which fit this guitar. The strap buttons are solid. The guitar looks dependable enough. I have heard stories about Tune-O-Matic bridges breaking strings during big bends. I'd bring a backup till I find it out for myself. The finish looks quite thick, so much that the body looks as if it were coated with a thin layer of glass.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action is low enough for comfortable playing and the intonation is correct. I'll probably lower it more after I get more familiar with it. The guy at the shop told me the set of factory strings were nickel coated D'Addario EXL. Seems like a .046-.010 set. I'll replace them with a .042-.009 set (I don't have strong fingers and I can do big bends more easily with lighter gauge strings). That will probably require re-adjusting the intonation. The pickups are positioned quite well. The guitar sounds quite loud. Fit and finish is flawless.
Features — 7
This Les Paul Copy (sans the pick guard) was made in Indonesia, May 2012. Sports 22 jumbo frets on a 24 3/4" scale. I got one with the cherry red sunburst finish. The body is mahogany with solid flame maple top. The set neck is also mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and rectangular pearl/abalone inlays. The bridge is a licensed TonePros bridge and tail piece. The pickups are CR2NS passive humbuckers. The guitar has all the classic Les Paul controls: three way toggle switch, separate volume and tone pots for both humbuckers. Vintage style tuners work quite well.