Price paid: $ 732
Purchased from: Academy Of Sound (Norwich)
Sound — 8
A lot of people bad-mouth Epiphones, saying people only buy them because they're related to Gibson. Firstly, the only place where the word Gibson appears on this guitar is on the removable bits of sticky plastic that covers the (Gibson-designed) pickups when you buy the guitar. Secondly, could it be possible that people buy Epiphones because they're good guitars? Even through a Marshall MG30, this guitar sounds fantastic. Cleans on the bridge pickup are bright and full, harmonics ring out as clear as a bell, and the rhythm pickup gives a mellower tone, suitable for jazz or blues. Put some overdrive into it and this guitar's true colours Shine out. This thing sustains for days (much like Nigel Tufnell's custom 3-pickup Les Paul: "You can, like, go out for a bite to eat and come back and it will still be going 'Waaaah!'"), every note rings out clearly, and the neck pickup gives the perfect sound for rhythm guitar. Tremolo-picking high on the fretboard on the neck pickup with a bit of reverb lets you do the Hope of the States 'make guitars sound like a string section' thing. I play indie/alternative and even though not that many Indie bands use Les Pauls it's still quite possible to get an Indie 'sound' (if such a thing exists) from this guitar. Of course, it can be used for classic rock and prog in the Les Paul tradition as well.
Overall Impression — 8
I see no ground for the arguments of Epiphone-haters. You're not paying for the Gibson name, you're paying for an extremely good guitar, which I'd much rather have over any similarly-priced guitars such as Fender Standards or Ibanez RGs. I've been playing for a year and a half, although thanks to a huge knowledge of music theory beforehand I've managed to become pretty good fairly quickly. I also own a Squier Strat (first guitar, of course) and a Marshall MG30DFX, which I plug the guitar into through a Boss DS-2 Distortion and a Boss ME-50 multi-FX. I also occasionally play using an E-Bow. If this guitar was stolen, would I buy another one? If I had enough money, I would.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I'm pretty sure this guitar will stand being played live, after the thrashing it's survived in band practices. I'd never use it without a backup. I wouldn't use any guitar with a back up. It's all very well and good having a Custom Shop Stratocaster, but it's not going to be a lot of good out of tune with a snapped string. I've never used it in a gig with my band, although I did use it four nights in a row for a school production and it was absolutely fine. This thing is built like a tank. It's a thick slab of mahogany with a rosewood neck, you'll need a lot to damage that. The black finish seems nice and solid. The gold finish seems to be wearing off the pickups a bit, but the tuners and bridge are still nice and solid.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Action and intonation were textbook, I didn't have to make any adjustments. The finish is flawless, and when polished it's like a black mirror (another Spinal Tap reference there) coupled with the gold hardware, this is a very shiny guitar. The only minor problem is that one of the straplocks was a bit loose, but it wasn't anything I couldn't fix with a screwdriver.
Features — 8
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom has a 22-fret ebony fretboard, rosewood neck and mahogany body. It comes in either black or white finishes, I have the black one. It has a Tune-o-Matic bridge, two Gibson-designed humbuckers with tone and volume controls for each one, and a three-way pickup selector located near the strap button nearest the neck. The bridge, pickups and pickup selector are all gold-plated. It has 6 Grover tuners, also gold. The jack socket is located on the side of the guitar, below the strap button, like on a Telecaster. Very versatile guitar. One thing to consider is that this guitar is extremely heavy, it's not one that you can throw around on-stage.