Price paid: $ 1165.25
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 9
I play rhythm and lead with blues style bends and vibrato. I like very heavey picks (> 1mm) and use 0.010-0.046 D'Addario strings. I prefer as staright a neck as possible (minimal relief) and not too low action (4/64ths at 12th fret). I really like the sound of this guitar. Compared to my American Stratocaster Plus with Lace-Sensor Gold single coil pickups, it has a more full (rounder) sound and a hotter output. The two pickups are quite different sounding. The Bridge pickup has bite and enough brightness for clear power chords and the neck pickup is thick enough for browner lead tones. I also like the combination setting for clean playing as it's a good compromise between dark and bright. The sustain is very good as well. The volume and tone controls are very effective and the changes not too drastic. I've had a Peavey Bravo 112 for 13 years (2-channel, 22 watt, all tube amp with EL84's) and this guitar sounds great compared to others I've jammed with. I'm considering purchasing some authentic Gibson Classic Humbuckers (or Buck-Bursters) for this guitar to take it to the top.
Overall Impression — 10
I like classic rock ('60s, '70s) and blues and this guitar is a pleasure to bend on! I started playing around 1976 (on a cheap Taro Black Les Paul Copy) and then stopped for ten years in 1993. I restarted again in late 2005 with a renewed interest in guitar. I've had many guitars over the years, Peavey, G&L, Jackson/Charvel, Fender Stratocaster and now two Epiphone Elitist Les Pauls (the second Elitist is a Standard Plus with figured maple top). Other than my Peavey amp, I've got a SansAmp GT2, Boss CE5 Chorus and Boss DD3 delay. As I own two Elitists, it's a foregone conslusion that if I lost one, I'd try to replace it. I like the look and feel of the smaller scale Les Paul and the 50's neck profile (D shape) suits me best I think. I really wanted as close to a real Les Paul as I could get and this guitar meets that demand better than any other guitar I've seen or tried (Ibanez Artist, ESP/LTD's, Yamaha or the Korean/ Chinese lower line Epiphones). I just couldn't justify over 3000.00CAD for a single guitar but I've got two for that price now! I think if you clesd your eyes and someone placed an Elitist in your hands, you would think it was really a top of the line Les Paul!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had and played this guitar for a year now and it's still rock solid. The strap buttons were immediately replaced with schaller locking strap buttons as I don't trust Standard hardware in this respect. If I were a professional musician, I wouldn't hesitate to use this guitar solely. The high gloss poly finish is very tough compared to laquered finishes which would scratch more easily and be less solvent resistant. I like to wipe down the guitar after playifng with a clean, cotton cloth and rarely use polish!
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The Elitist line is manufactured in Japan vs Korea/Chine for less expensive Epi LPs and beleive me, it shows! However, I found that the guitar set up was less than ideal for me as the guitar had evidence of wood shrinkage due to our dry climate here in Alberta and possibly the time spent in storage at the Distributors Warehouse (Yorkville Sound for Canada). This meant the fret ends needed minor filing, the hardware tightened up, and the neck and action adjusted according to my taste. There was some binding in the bone nut as well. These minor items were all corrected by a professional setup and now the guitar plays as well any any Les Paul I've tried. The toggle Switch needs some contact cleaner however as it can be noisy when switching between pickups! The finish quality is excellent with no perceivable flaws and the quality mohagany wood grain really shows nicely thru the finish. The rosewood fingerborad is very nicely grained but smooth and the inlays are neatly/cleanly done. I also like the narrower headstock on the Elitist better than less expensive Epiphones and even the Gibson Les Paul! I've noticed that the wider headstock on the Gibson angles the strings more when leaving the nut towards the tuners and this causes more string binding.
Features — 10
This guitar has a two-piece, book-matched mahogany body with quarter-sawn mahogany neck. The top is solid, rock maple with cream binding all around. The neck has a 24-3/4" scale, 22 medium jumbo frets, and a rosewood fingerboard with Standard trapezoid inlays. The nut is 1-11/16" in width and is made of bone. The tuners are grover as is the ABR-1 bridge and tailpiece. It has the standard 2-volume, 2-tone control layout and Gibson-made 50SR/60ST humbucking pickups (with chrome covers). The finish is polyurethane I believe and it came with a very nice hardshell case and trussrod adjusting wrench.