Price paid: $ 1050
Purchased from: Outlaw Music, Missoula MT
Sound — 10
This guitar sounds great. I'll probably be changing out the bridge pickup in the near future, possibly to a Duncan Distortion like I have in my Epi LP, but the neck pickup is fantastic, both clean and distorted. I play through a Laney GH50 tube head and 4X12 Laney cab, through a Metal Muff stomp box. This guitar sounds very clear, warm and full, a noticeable step up from my Epi LP Custom, and hands down a better guitar than the Gibson LP Studio, which was the other guitar I was considering picking up. I play harder rock/punk music (www.myspace.com/comeupswinging, not the greatest recordings, but we aren't trying to 'get famous', just having fun) and of course, the Les Paul, which bridges many style gaps, works well for me.
Overall Impression — 10
I had full intentions of getting a "Gibson." I owned a mid 90's Gibson LP Studio when I was younger, but they sure don't make the studio like they used to. I did a little side-by-side comparison w/the Elitist and the Studio, I found the studio to be considerably lighter (which I don't like), less comfortable in the neck, not nearly as well finished, and "cheap" feeling in comparison to the Elitist. I'm not saying that the Studio is a bad guitar, but it is without question "inferior" to the Elitist in all areas other than the Nitrocellulose finish. As compared to the Gibson Custom Shop LP, it is maybe a hair lighter, has a rosewood fretboard as opposed to the Gibson ebony fretboard (the only thing I wish the Elitist had done differently), but otherwise is of very similar feel, sound, and playability. The Elitist case is nice, kind of an alligator finish, nice hasps, arched top, an ugly purple lining, and a nice leather wrapped handle. Had I been able to spend $3, 500 on the Gibson, I would have, but in my opinion, the Elitist is the "same" quality guitar for 1/3 the price. Did I mention that it was beautiful? Flawless binding on the top and back, neck and headstock. The headstock is also apears to be at the "correct" Gibson angle, as opposed to the Standard Epiphones.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Solid. The hardware is a big step up from the regular Epiphone line. I had Schaller strap locks installed, but the stock buttons looked good. This guitar is as reliable as any Gibson. I'm also really looking forward to the Alpine White finish turning yellow.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Flawless. Alpine White looks fantastic, and will age very nicely. My shop did a pro setup, so I don't know how well it was setup from the factory. As beautiful as the Gibson Custom Shop counterpart, if you can stand not having "Gibson" across the head stock.