Price paid: £ 200
Purchased from: Gumtree
Sound — 7
I'm your typical guy for these kind of guitars. Rock and Metal are my bag and it does them a treat. I'm playing this guitar through a Marshall Mode 4 head with the matching cabinet. I have a Boss ME-70 in the effects loop (adding some compression and chorus for my clean tone) and a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby GCB95 in the front of the amp. The neck pick up gives you a nice creamy tone for leads and the Bridge pick up bites your head off. The middle position on the selector Switch activates all 3 pick ups and in all honesty it was a disappointing result. Things get way too muddy with them all blaring out at you. Another problem is that since there is so much magnetic pull at once your sustain dies on its arse I'm afraid. The guitar gives a great metal tone (ala Zakk Wylde) and a fantastic Classic rock tone (like a certain top hatted rocker who is associated with this site). Obviously the tone is not as great as theirs as the guitar isn't as high end as theirs but it is in the same vein. On the Bridge position the clean tones Shine and have a lot of spank. The middle position handles a lot better then it does distorted and while long ringing chords are not an option it is not nearly as muddy and is great for fast moving clean passages similar to Devin Townsends. The neck position is very rich and is great for simply booming out huge open chords. The guitar isn't as noisy as some other Epiphone guitars I have played in the past and was far less noisy then I expected to be on a high gain setting which is a winner. It does very well in the sound department however does take a nit of a blow due to the fact that the middle position causes a lot of sustain loss. I think a 7 is fair here based on that problem and that alone.
Overall Impression — 7
All in all, I like it. I wanted a simple Les Paul and I got one. Though there were a few let downs it hasn't broken the guitar for me. I wanted a Les Paul tone for my band and got one. I wish I had found out about the sustain issues with the middle position before buying the guitar but that is my only real regret. I've been playing for 6 years now and have owned various guitars (Jackson KVX10, Ibanez SA32EX being 2 other favourites). I love the huge neck, I always hated huge necks when I was 13/14 but now I love it. If it were lost or stolen I'd probably replace it with a Epiphone Les Paul Standard or Custom. Not that this is a bad guitar like I said I love it. I just wouldn't want to have to face that sustain issues again. In the end a 7.5 would be ideal but since there is none it'll have to be a 7 (probably better undermarking then over).
Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar feels solid, it has survived a few band practices now and a near by gig will let me know how well it can handle being played live. The strap buttons do feel solid but seem a little on the small side. I think that might just be a thing for me but the strap does fall off the buttons a lot but a set of strap locks should sort that out easily enough. The hard ware does seem good enough to last and the finish is definitely a high quality one that wont wear away any time soon. Quite good hear so I'll offer a respectable 8.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Buying this guitar second hand the previous owner had already had the guitar set up to his standards. I can't vouch for the factory set up however his was terrible. Once I'd lowered the Bridge pick up back down and raised the action slightly (so I didn't get fret buzz all the time and could actually sustain notes past the 12th fret) it played like a dream. The hardware isn't very worn which is surprising in all honesty as apparently the hardware fades quite quickly on these guitars. The rosewood on the neck is not a very high quality wood and the fretwire could of done with a little more filing. Apart from this the guitar passes all other tests however due to the low quality neck wood and some odd frets that I needed to spend a little time taking care of it does mark a low 6 on this section of my review.
Features — 10
Model Name: Les Paul Black Beauty 3 Electric Guitar Body: Solid mahogany body Neck: Set mahogany neck Fretboard: Rosewood fretboard with block inlays Headstock: Bound Humbuckers: 3 Alnico Classic humbuckers Hardware: Gold hardware Headstock inlay: Cream headstock inlay FB-Inlay: Rosewood Block Finger board: Rosewood fingerboard Scale length: 24.75 Nut width: 1.68 Binding: B / N / H Tailpiece: Stopbar Machine Heads: Grover Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty All in all your Standard Les Paul except for the joys of the third pick up. Pretty much what I was looking for. I wanted a Les Paul and got one. No harm in giving it a 10 there then.