Les Paul Junior review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 5.6 Decent
  • Users' score: 7 (466 votes)
Epiphone: Les Paul Junior

Price paid: $ 129

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 5
I play blues rock in the style of ZZ Top, Firebird, and Rory Gallagher, and this guitar suits that style just fine, although I have done quite a few modifications to it to achieve the sound I wanted. Before I modified it, I spent a good five months playing it stock, and it sounds decent enough out of the box. The stock tone control has very little versatility, going from bright to bassy as you dial from 10 to 1, and there's really no variance in sound between those settings. I play through a Marshall Class 5 head and 2-12 cabinet for gigging, and a Roland Microcube for practice at home, and the stock sound is adequate; nothing special, but not ugly either. The stock pickup is a standard humbucker, and there wasn't any static or noise that I could detect. It's pretty bright with the tone control set to 10, and somewhat muddy at 1. Pinch harmonics with the stock pickup are somewhat difficult to find. All in all, the key word for this guitar is "adequate" in it's stock configuration.

Overall Impression — 6
I was looking for a no-frills guitar to modify just for the hell of it, and this guitar was the perfect foil. I'm a no-frills player myself; typical blues rock, very few effects, with a rig that is pretty no frills itself (Marshall Class 5 head, 2-12 Marshall cabinet). I've been playing for 32 years and have played many different styles of music over the years (hard rock, metal, grindcore, d-beat hardcore), as well as owned many different guitars and pieces of equipment. I've gone "back to my roots", so to speak, as I've gotten older. This guitar, as stock, is good for players just starting out, or for those who like to play more punk/hardcore kind of stuff and have the rig that can deliver a punch. It's decently cheap enough to take a beating, and one wouldn't be out much if it did get destroyed. I have gigged it, but not in it's stock configuration, and probably wouldn't trust it in that case; at least with the style of music I play. I'm not that hard on my guitars, but it IS a cheapo, and would treat it as such, keeping a backup just in case (or using this one as your backup). My advice is to play a few of these before you buy one. As it goes with all cheap guitars, there are good ones and bad ones. I played a few of them, and the Chinese models were complete crap and were sloppily thrown together. Lots of loose parts (pickup, input jack, knobs). The Indonesian made models weren't a whole lot better, but seemed to be put together a little less carelessly. I played five of them before settling on this one. I have extensively modified this guitar, changing the pickup to a GFS Mean 90, replacing both pots with 500K pots, replacing the input jack, changing the tuners to Stewart MacDonald 3-on-plate vintage-style tuners, and copper-taping all of the cavities to shield them. I left the original bridge in place, as it is intonated almost perfectly, the sustain is great, and I read a few mod posts that said changing to a different style bridge just kills the tone and sustain. I haven't replaced the nut yet, but this will happen in the near future. If this guitar were stolen, I'd probably spring for that Xaviare XV-400 that I now desire instead of this one (I plan on getting one anyway soon, and relegating this one to backup/practice status). The one thing that I really dig about this guitar is the neck. It's perfect for me. Decently fast (now that the finish is sanded down a bit), nice medium-sized frets, and great action. I got lucky in that regard. I can't really bag on the quality too much, as it IS a cheap, but you get what you pay for. There are certainly better LP JUnior-style guitars out there, but if you find a decent Epi Junior, you really can't go wrong for the price.

Reliability & Durability — 5
Gigging with this guitar has presented no problems for me, as it's been extensively modified since its purchase. In it's stock configuration, I wouldn't trust it 100% and would keep a backup handy. In fact, I would probably use this guitar AS the back up. The stock hardware is, again, adequate, but the tuners are pretty cheap and crappy. I did notice, however, that with enough winds on the strings and some time wearing the strings in, the tuners do hold tune decently, although the B string on my particular guitar had a tendency to drift a bit flat after a few bends. I haven't had any problems with the strap buttons popping out (yet), but am planning to replace them with locks soon. The finish is very hardy and thick on both the neck and the body; so much so, that I sanded the neck finish down a bit so my fret hand wouldn't suffer from "paint burn".

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Out of the box, the setup was decent, although not to my own personal preferences (very low). The action was a bit high and the neck needed some relief adjustment, and the bridge needed to be lowered, to avoid fret buzz. After replacing the stock strings with Regular Slinkys (my string of choice), filing the nut a bit, and making the other necessary adjustments, I eliminated all of the fret buzz and found no fret-outs at all. The frets are decently dressed, so no work was done there. I raised the stock pickup as high as it would go to bring out a brighter sound; it was much too low in it's stock configuration, and even after raising it, it still wasn't bright or warm enough for me; just merely adequate. The sustain is actually not too bad, which surprised me. Other than some paint accumulation under the neck joint, there were no flaws that I could find. The top is just like a standard Junior; flat. Some like this, others hate it. I don't mind it, as I'm used to it.

Features — 6
Built in Indonesia in 2010, this is a 21-fret Sunburst finish model. Made from "tonewood" with a rosewood fretboard. Single cutaway Les Paul body style, with pick guard and pre-intonated wraparound bridge and single passive humbucker pickup. Cheap sealed tuners. One volume knob, one tone knob, and a plastic nut. Nothing more, nothing less, which is exactly what I was looking for, as I bought this guitar as a modification mule.

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    Re: my review: I've since replaced the nut with a Tusq and replaced the old cap with a PIO capacitor. Both of these mods made an even more and better difference in tone, sound and sustain; almost like a genuine junior, at about half the price. It's still not absolutely perfect, but I'm just being fussy. It's become my favorite guitar now.