Price paid: $ 109
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
The biggest surprise is how good this guitar sounds. It is very light and comfortable to play, and I like the neck, it feels good, and the fret job is decent. In the bridge, together and necks positions you get 3 distinct sounds. Clean, it gets that classic "honk" that soapbars are known for in the bridge position, and with both pickups together, it cancels the hum while maintaining enough treble bite. In the neck position, it can go from blues to jazz with just simple adjustments with the tone control, which surprisingly works very well, more of a gradual rolloff of the treble which is nice. Add some distortion and this guitars sings. I use a Line 6 Spider III HD 150 half stack and have been having a lot of fun with this guitar. The P90's do have a hum, but when you hear the tone from these pickups you learn to live with the hum. Overall, I'm very happy with this guitar.
Overall Impression — 8
I have 2 other guitars an Epiphone Dot, which I really like and a "Frankenstrat" style guitar which is a lot of fun to play. I like classic rock, blues, power pop and some country and this guitar plays most of it fine. If it were lost or stolen, I would definitely buy another one, and maybe will someday for a backup. I have had Fenders, other Epiphones, LTD's, and Ibanez guitars, so while I knew the price was cheap on this one, I went in not expecting the moon, but I feel I have gotten close. I find myself playing this guitar more and more and it is becoming my favorite. It just feels comfortable to me, like the neck was made special for me. I had a Squier Telecaster Custom II with the P90's, and this one is built much better, as I had electrical and hardware problems with the Tele, which costs more. The Tele had Duncan Designed soapbars and the Epiphone P90's, which according to Epiphone is the same as the other P90 equipped guitars they sell are on par if not a little sweeter sounding. While the hardware on this guitar may not be "top notch", I can always replace them if needed. So far, they are working perfectly. Like I have said, it is the cheapest new guitar I have bought, and the guy at Guitar Center said this is a special run, I don't know it it is just them, or any other stores are selling them, but I noticed it is not offered at Sam Ash. It may be an inexpensive guitar, but it is becoming my favorite.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar would definitely withstand live playing, it is solid. The hardware appears solid and the strap buttons are screwed in snug. I think you could definitely gig without a backup as the guitar appears solid. I have seen people gigging with Special II's so this guitar would probably follow in the same vein. While I like the finish, it is a stain without any lacquer or gloss on it. It probably will wear, but that will probably wear in a way that will make the guitar look faded. I have had several Epiphones and have found them to be solid, well made instruments.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Set up from the factory was excellent, but to be fair, I tried a black one and another cherry one that was hanging on the rack at the Guitar Center, but the salesman told me he had one in a box in back, brought it out, and this one felt the best, the frets were clean, no fret buzz etc. You do have to try them all. The neck, which is bolt on fits snug in the pocket with no gaps, and while the tuners are the very basic ones, they are holding the guitar in tune very well. The overall condition of the guitar was excellent, clean pain (stain) job, nice smooth fretwork and overall very good setup.
Features — 6
New model, Made in China. Les Paul Special I model, similar to a Special II but different in the following ways: wraparound bridge, 2 P90 single coils. Single tone and volume control, 3 way switch, mahogany body and neck, mine is finished in an "vintage" cherry stain, like the "faded" models. Guitar actually looks nice, and you can see the woodgrain through the stain. Standard covered tuners, same as Special II, but they are doing the job. Came with 2 allen wrenches for adjustment of neck and for the bridge.