Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Reverb.com
Features — 10
Reviewing my Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3 which was made November 2006 in Korea. The body consist of solid mahogany, painted black with a single cutaway. The set mahogany neck is 24-3/4 scale length with a rosewood fingerboard, 22 "fret-less wonder" low profile frets, and 1.68" wide nut. This Les Paul model features 3 passive Alnico Classic humbucker pickups that are controlled by 2 volume and 2 tone knobs as well as a 6-position all metal pickup selector toggle that allows full use of all 3 pickups in a number of configurations that really unlocks the guitars tonal range. Highlighted with gold hardware: Grover locking tuners, Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, and topped off with sweet eye-candy such as block pearloid inlays, and cream binding on the body, fingerboard, and headstock. An Epiphone hard shell case was an included accessory.
Sound — 10
I primarily play rock, but I find this guitar suitable for any style of music: jazz, country, R&B, and of coarse rock. Let's face it, you are bound to find a Les Paul being utilized in just about every music genre out there. Considering this model's vast tonal range provided by its 3 pickups and 6-position toggle, I would say its musical applications are endless.
I have been using this guitar with my Roland Cube 20X, Fender Mustang I, and occasionally through a Peavey 5150 cabinet via Crate Excalibur head. Across the board this guitar exhibits glistening highs and warm lows. Bright highs are achieved when using the bridge pickup and the tone control dialed to 10. The guitar's previous owner described the tone to be horn like at this setting as well as Strat like. Warm lows are revealed when using the middle or neck pickups and starts getting darker when dialed to 5 and below. As far as being noisy, I have yet to find this guitar unintentionally noisy at any setting with the exception of using a bad cable; which would make any guitar used with it hum.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action on this guitar has been set nice and low. I don't know if it's the Dunlop strings, the low frets, or a combination of the two but note bending is a breeze as the strings are nice and flexible. I have not made any adjustments to the bridge or the pickups, everything appears and feels to be set right. This was a used model I purchased so understandably there are some blemishes. Additionally, this was the previous owners primary guitar for a few years while recording and playing shows. Therefore, numerous scratches, dings, and light oxidation is to be found. But hey, the distressed relic look is "in" nowadays.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar withstood a few years of live performance duties and has the battle scars to prove it. After giving it some TLC the battle wounds and oxidation are not easily noticeable. The hardware is all sound from stopbar to tuners to strap buttons. However, I regularly use strap lock type devices with my guitars ever since the tragic loss of my MIJ Fender Stratocaster a number of years ago. On another note, if I were to perform this guitar would be my number one choice. There is a lifetime of use still left in this thing. It may be used but it is not used up. None of the previous wear from gigs has penetrated the finish. When it comes to live performance I never play without a backup. I don't foresee any performance problems other than replacing a broken string, but face it, nobody wants to watch you stop the show and change a string.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, of the three guitars I own (Epiphone Les Paul Standard, Gretsch G5120 Electromatic) this has become my favorite despite all the scratches, dings, and oxidation. I love the tonal range provided by the 3 pickups and 6-way toggle, the flexible string bends, and I absolutely love the weight and general feel of a Les Paul, it feels like home if that makes sense. I'm in my mid 30's now and have been playing guitar for 20 years now with rock, mostly punk, being my primary genre. This guitar would easily fit into that genre. As a matter of fact one of my guitar heroes, Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, plays a stock Epiphone Les Paul Custom. Now, if some turkey neck were to steal this guitar from me I'd put him in the crusher for sure. However, I can't say I would buy another one just like it. Only because there are so many guitars out there I have yet to play and experience. I primarily played Stratocasters prior to exploring Les Pauls a few years ago.