Sound — 10
The sound is excellent. Active EMG Humbuckers and mahogany solid-top never disappoint. The 81/85 combo is a dead set classic. I play metal and hardcore and stuff like that. Think Pantera/Hatebreed/Overcast. And this guitar kills. The 85 gives this amazing solid chuck that is great for riffage. The 81 screams and handles highs great. Between the 81 and the 85 this guitar can do pretty much anything. (Only problem, the active EMG's give almost too much output for my amp to handle. I've been reduced to my 15 watt Line 6 and the EMG's are too much for the little guy!
Overall Impression — 10
My overall impression of this guitar couldn't be better. I played every other comprable guitar GC had to offer and nothing surpased this as far as I was concerned. The mahogany body, set neck, and traditional bridge & stopbar setup keep the tone solid and full. The beautiful neck allows a playability unmatched on any other guitar I tried. The sound and power coming out of the EMG's in insane. Simply put, this is the guitar I've been waiting to play for years. Some people may get all 'Boo! Epiphone not good! ' but seriously, Zakk Wylde's playing a Les Paul with EMG's in it. Don't talk 'til you've tried this out.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have no reason to believe this guitar will not last me for years of use. I've only had it for three months, but nothing's gone wrong yet. My other Epi never failed me. (It's my kid brother's now.) I wouldn't be afraid to gig without a backup, except for the usual risks with playing Live like broken strings and ccrap like that.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Factory setup was excellent, but I had to adjust it a bit when I dropped it to CGCFAD. Other than that, setup was perfect. No problems with knobs, tuners, anything! Mind you, I've kept it like this and it didn't spend a lot of time on the shelf at GC before I bought it.
Features — 9
The body of the guitar is a Standard solid-top mahogany Les Paul, which means thich, rich, full tone and impressive weight. (That's a thing about me, I like my guitars to have some heft to them, none of this lightweight super-Strat nonsense! ) The mahogany neck is amazing. It's got the traditional Les Paul set-neck joint, but the finish, shape, and fretboard are anything but old school. An amazing ebony fretboard decked out with 24 jumbo frets gives me a full two octaves on each string to play with. The satin finish is slick and smooth as any other neck I've played. The neck shape is what really sold me on this guitar. It's fast and smooth as hell, but still meaty enough to really fill the hand. (I don't like Ibanez and Jackson necks, I know some people love them, but I just don't like them. I find them really uncomfortable to play on for any decent period of time.) As for the rest of the instrument, it's pretty solid. All the hardware is black, which I like, not only because it looks more badass than gold or silver, but it doesn't wear like those colors do. Tuners are great and hold tune for days, even when I drop to (or past) CGCFAD. One volume, one tone, and a three-way Switch keep things simple. Active electronics support the pair of active 'Made in the U.S.A.' EMG humbuckers; an 81 in the bridge and an 85 in the neck. I only gave 9 here, because nothing extra came with the guitar, no gig bag, case, or nothing. And when you buy a guitar this nice, you want something to protect it.