Price paid: C$ 450
Purchased from: Long and McQuade
Sound — 9
The sound is very responsive and satisfying, however the high end is fairly muffled - the pickups should be changed to 57 Classics or Parsons Street equivalents, to bring the best tone forward. It's worth it, as this guitar is well made and plays great. I find the guitar is very warm and gutsy, and responds well to picking dynamics. The poly finish is not too thick so the tone is not muffled as much as it is on many other electric guitars, such as Fender Stratocasters. The 3 pickup configuration gives lots of tonal variation as well.
Overall Impression — 10
Although this guitar would sound better with 57 Classic pups or equivalent, the investment is well worth it, as this guitar stands up to my Gibson SGs very well in fit, finish, playability and looks. Sure it doesn't have a thin nitro finish, thin neck and 57 Classics, but with pup replacement, this is a high quality guitar in tone, looks and playability, and I play it just as much as I do my Gibson equivalents. The low action alone really inspires you to pick it up and play it often. For me, I'd rather play this than my Gibson Les Paul Studio models - it's faster playing due to careful fretwork.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had no problems with this guitar failing, except one of the metal pieces that says "Tone" fell out, I just put a little glue and it was fixed in 5 seconds. It stays in tune very well and has very fast action. It has a slightly thicker neck than most current Gibson SGs which makes it slightly less easy to play fast runs, but is still a very fast guitar to play due to the well levelled frets and low action. None of the hardware is loose or dodgy, and the pickups are seated very well. No buzzing from the bridge either. This one's a winner.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The paint is flawless and not too thick, the binding is flawless and very attractive. The body contours are not as smooth as the Gibson version which makes is slightly less comfortable, but still much more comfortable than a Gibson Les Paul, with it's square edges. The setup was actually quite good, with very very low action and buzzing not an issue - you usually find this quality of fretwork only on Gibson's models costing $1000+, so that was a very pleasant surprise. This guitar plays faster than many of my Gibson Les Pauls.
Features — 10
Epiphone put extra care into this one, to honor the specialness of this historic model. Actually, Epiphone got it more right than Gibson in some ways; I own a Gibson SG 61 Reissue, but actually, there was no SG in 61 - it was called a Les Paul. At least Epiphone calls it a Les Paul on the nameplate above the neck pup. Kudos! The electronics, finish, frets are all good - no issues with them here. The action is better than some Gibsons I own - really nice. The main differences between this and the much pricier Gibson model is that the pickups are muddier, and the body contouring is not as extreme on the Epi. Otherwise, a great value.