Price paid: £ 390
Purchased from: Digital Village
Sound — 7
This guitar gives you the thick tones you'd expect from a humbucking guitar - don't buy this guitar expecting bell-like single coil "fender" tones. This guitar suits mainly blues on the neck pickup - if I turn the gain down to about 3 on my amp (a Fender Deluxe VM) I can get great clean-ish tones with that little bit of bite. On the neck pickup, you can crank up the gain and get everything from Led Zeppelin to Guns N' Roses. However, when you really turn the gain right up you sacrifice a noticeable amount of clarity, even at low volumes. I've played more expensive guitars through the same amp, and they don't have this problem nearly as much. On the other hand, I find the pickups to be strong, but at the same time, they don't create unnecessary noise when you're not playing. This did happen on my old Crate practice amp, but since I've upgraded, the problem has vanished.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is a solid, relatively cheap guitar (it is my second guitar) and I like the fuller, thicker humbucker tone - this is the reason why I chose it ahead of similarly priced Ibanez and ESP guitars. However, you do make some sacrifices for the price. Also, the tone is identical to it's cheaper sister guitar, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, which I also think looks marginally better as well in the sunburst finishes: the only reason I chose the Custom is that I got a great bargain on it - if you're buying new at standard price, get the Standard. If it got lost/stolen, I'd probably upgrade to something a bit higher-spec - maybe one of the Fender American Strats. However, if you're just starting out, or maybe want to move up to the next rung of the ladder after your cheap started guitar, I would definitely recommend this guitar!
Reliability & Durability — 7
I did find some problems in this area - firstly, the screws in the strap button at the neck destroyed the wood inside, and eventually fell out. I had to fill the hole with a mixture of sawdust and glue and screw it back in again. The scratchplate attachment quickly fell apart, so I had to replace it. On the other hand, there haven't been any problems as yet which affect the sound or playability of the guitar - I'm perfectly confident in this guitar at gigs, so long as I've checked the strap buttons beforehand. Also, the finish seems to be very permanent - it has barely worn away at all.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I had absolutely no problems with this aspect of the guitar - the action was perfect straight away, all the knobs felt extremely solid and secure, and the neck was perfectly shaped and comfortable. The finish has a nice gloss to it, and doesn't show marks too easily, even though I've played it at gigs multiple times. The only qualm I could have with it is that the pickup selector is slightly loose, but it's barely even a problem.
Features — 9
This guitar was made in Korea in March '05. It has a mahogany body and neck, and a rosewood fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets. This guitar is set-neck, which gives it great sustain. I got this guitar in Alpine White, but it also comes in Black. It comes with all the classic Les Paul features: 2 Alnico humbuckers with a 3-way toggle switch, volume and tone pots for each humbucker, and a tune-o-matic bridge. I particularly like the fact that you get separate volume pots for each pickup, which gives you the ability to customise how far you lean toward either pickup when you're on the middle setting. Also, since the middle setting won't run when either pickup is turned to 0, you can effectively use it as a kill-switch. This guitar comes stock with Grover machine heads, and I have no tuning problems.