Price paid: $ 912
Sound — 9
It has a warm rich tone that sounds really nice through a decent amp. thus far I've played it through a Fender Deluxe 112 plus and a Mesa Boogie F-100 and it sounds great through both. The additional pickup does actually add some depth and warmth to the sound as I tested several other les pauls while I was shopping around. It has a rich full sound that I feel could give a great deal of diversity if setup right. The main reason I liked the additional pickup is that it adds a whole world of options when you start to consider modifications. The sound quality was better then all the other Epiphones I tried and even as good (if not better) then the low end Gibsons.
Overall Impression — 8
This suits my style in combination with the amps I play (Mesa Boogie, etc). I love the looks and feel of the guitar and the action is sweet. Some of the components looks and feel a little cheap but nothing that a few upgrades won't solve. To be fair I was a little lazy when buying the guitar and should have thoroughly checked the setup of the guitar. I would have then noticed the rattle and the poor setup and could have got the store to fix it for me. I'm sure if I take it back they'll sought it out free of charge but I'd rather do it myself. I think this is a great guitar for players Who don't have the money for the real deal because with a few mods it can rapidly change from being a really good guitar to an awesome guitar. It is a sweet deal for the price. I was a bit annoyed that it wasn't setup right and there is something loose but they are easily solved. I love the additional pickup which I plan to use to full effect when I upgrade the guitar. I think that some high end Epiphones are actually as good as low end Gibsons, particularly because it's so cheap and easy to upgrade the components. I would only buy another one if I was happy with the upgrades and I couldn't afford the genuine Gibson version. I think this Epiphone is a brilliant example of how good high end Epis can be.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This guitar feels really solid and the action if very smooth for a new guitar. I feel that the switches and knobs may give out because they seem a little cheap. I'm going to replace them and get strap locks to ensure it is sturdy. I think that this guitar would last a great deal of time if it is taken care of properly. I would and will gig with it but until I get it upgraded I'm going to have a backup. Finish looks like it will last a great deal of time. I've seen the gold fading on some older Epis/Gibsons but I think it looks really awesome when it ages a little.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Okay here is where it gets a bit murky. It was not setup right with some fret buzz etc. There appears to be something loose inside the guitar that rattles around, which I think has to do with one of the tone knobs. There is a tiny gap in between the pickup surround and the neck because it is slightly off centre. Only other negative thing I found was some of the screw fixtures still had a bit of extra plastic floating around. With this being said once I setup it up properly it will be perfect. The finish is really high quality and is even better then most of the other Epis I've seen. This quality is better then the Squires and Japan made Fenders I've played and I tip my hat off to the how far Epiphones have come in terms of quality. That being said I bought the guitar with the specific intention of it being a prototype for modifications and I considered that when purchasing. I feel once this guitar has been upgraded it will be worth so much more then the cost I've paid (for both the guitar and mods).