Les Paul 100 review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 4
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.6 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.9 (2,209 votes)
Epiphone: Les Paul 100
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Price paid: $ 260

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 6
I use this guitar with a solid-state Vox DA5 5W modeling amp. Most of the time I'm forced to play it out to a set of headphones (a sad concession to keep my neighbors happy), so it's a little hard to speak with complete conviction about sound. I'm a beginner, so I mostly play it quite clean. Played clean it's quite good and the tone is somewhat brighter than you would get from a "real" Gibson LP. It's pleasant enough, but lacks character. Played with lots of gain - well the character of the ceramic humbuckers becomes obvious. That's to say the sound is highly-scooped with the usual brittleness and ceramic "screech". Ultimately, what I want to play is alternative, punk, and post-punk. Obviously, what I want for that is a lefty guitar w/ P-90s and a small neck. There aren't many of those and they are too pricey for me at the moment. The sound is very acceptable for blues, classic rock (hard rock, too). It's not really bright enough for good funk. Perfectly acceptable for Bob Marley, or G 'n R, maybe a little of The Skids. Don't use it live out your Buckethead/Dragonforce fantasies (not a problem for me and the neck isn't made for that, anyhow). Probably not so great for Parliament/Funkadelic stuff, either. Sustain is not fantastic. I might be a bit spoiled here. I briefly owned a right-handed Godin LG P-90 (but couldn't play it's neck) which, though it also had a bolt-on neck, had amazing sustain. It's possible the neck bolts aren't tight enough and I plan on checking that.

Overall Impression — 7
I have only been playing a couple of months. As noted above, the pickup types are not a great fit for the music I want to play. Thus far, it is meeting my expectations as far as it being an inexpensive, left-handed guitar with a neck that can accommodate small hands and fingers. The high points are it playable neck shape. The low points concern the screetchy pickups and lingering concerns over its durability. I can only really compare it to the Godin LG P-90 - a somewhat unfair comparsion, as that guitar is sold for ~$750 new. As expected, the LP 100 is no match for the LG when it comes to construction quality, sustain, and overall sound (the LG had terrific Seymour Duncan Custom-3 P-90 pickups). Obviously, a P-90 option for the LP 100 would be the first thing I would hope for. It isn't, AFAIK, offered on *any* Epiphone guitars, let alone an inexpensive, left-handed one. Happily, they do make humbucker-sized P-90 pickups which are a close substitue for the genuine article... Would I buy another if it was lost or stolen? I'm not sure. I would probably try some left-handed Agile guitars, as there are a few left-handed models that feature P-90 pickups and their quality is reputedly very high for their price. And I would probably try a lefty Squier Telecaster Standard (the fretboard is a bit curvier) to see if the neck was a bit better for my hands. This guitar is fine when "okay" is all you can afford and "okay" is all you need (i.e. you are a beginner).

Reliability & Durability — 4
The first day I played the guitar it developed a problem that consisted of the neck (rhythm) or the Bridge (treble) pickup intermittently failing to produce output. It was quickly fixed by a GC tech who traced it to poorly-positioned wires. The tech stated that is a common (and recurrent) problem with many inexpensive Epiphones. This guitar seems a bit fragile. Some of this might be unfairly subjective and the result of the rather thin neck (my briefly-owned Godin had a beefy "boat oar" of a neck). The guitar also seems to be a bit light (again, relative to the Godin) and flimsy. The switches and dials work smoothly but do not seem like they are likely to hold up under repeated, heavy use. Strap buttons seem solid - though a shade too thin to be 100% secure with many neck straps. I suspect the finish is actually quite thin. I have my doubts it will wear well. I would never think of gigging with this guitar. Beyond its seeming physical/mechanical fragility it has already suffered an electrical fault (which is reputedly likely to re-occur). And without locking tuners its tuning stability is only fair. This is a guitar for a beginner to play 1-2 hours a day for a few years. No more no less. If your retailer offers a 2 year warranty at puchasing time, I would buy it. Again, none of this is unreasonable given the price point.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Having smallish, but relatively thick fingers I was naturally quite worried about the action near the nut. Using some feeler gauges I measured an action for the 1st string of ~0.015 at the 1st fret. A little high, but very reasonable. Even so, I might have the action lowered a bit later on. The near-Jumbo sized frets will tend to buzz if your fingers are even slightly too-low. I was a bit suprised to find them so unforgiving, but I think this is simply related to the fret size, rather than the action. I didn't note any defects in the finish or the bridge, nut, or neck. All the hardware and switches seem to work properly and seem to be well-finished. I cannot comment intelligently on the pickup positioning.

Features — 7
The LP 100 has a reasonable feature set for the money - though it's a sad fact that the left-handed model costs about 10% more than the right-handed model. The basic design is (as the name implies) similar to the Gibson Les Paul Standard. It uses the Gibson LP scale (24.75) inches, a hard tail, dual humbucker pickups, and 24 frets. It has a mahogany body with a maple top (finished with a plesant-looking sunburnst) and a rosewood fret board. The frets themselves are largish - but perhaps not quite "jumbo". The D-shaped bolt-on neck is quite thin (Gibson customer service states it's 0.8 in. Thick at the 1st fret) and the fretboard has a 12 inch raidus. The nut is a quite-common 1 11/16 in. Wide. I have small hands and short fingers so this is quite a playable neck for me and helps with chords. LP 100 features that exceed my expectations for the price point would consist of the tone wood selection, what appears to be a fully-Gibson Tune-o-Matic Bridge and independent volume and tone controls for each pickup. Concessions to the guitar's low price point include the use of ceramic pickups, non-locking tuners, and what I would characterize as cut corners in design, materials selection, and construction (more on that later). But again, not unexpected for this price. Mine was an Indonesian-built guitar. More than likely it was several years old at the time of its purchase, despite being new. Accessories? At Guitar Center? Even if Epiphone provided any (doubtful), it's a certainty that they were either lost, cannibalized for other guitar packages, or fell off a truck somewhere.

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