Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 10
As I said before this guitar is perfect for what I am playing with it, which is mostly rock, some punk, and some metal. I am playing it through the 10w amp that came with it, but I have tried it on a more expensive 65w amp and the sound was still just as sweet as any $1000 Les Paul. The sound is very crunchy, just as any rock guitar should be, but I have also produced some mellow tones after playing around with it. I just love the humbuckers over the single coils.
Overall Impression — 10
The Epiphone Special II is the best guitar out there for the money. I have tried other guitars such as Fenders and Squires, but this is by far my favorite. The humbucker pickups and the powerful sound just could not be matched by those. I couldn't imagine playing rock with anything else. The Les Paul body is beautiful, and the Vintage Sunburst finish is great. If this guitar were stolen or lost, I would definately get another. The only thing missing is the fret marker inlays are dots instead of the trapezoid shape on other Les Pauls, though I can definately live without those. I highly recommend this guitar to any beginner-intermediate player, or even an expert who is just looking for a cheaper back-up guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't played this guitar live yet, but my friend doesn't even carry a backup when he uses his Special II live. The body can't be beaten up. I have run the headpiece and the body into walls and desks and everything else imaginable and there are no scratches or marks anywhere. The finish will NOT wear off no matter what I put this thing through. The strap buttons haven't given me the slightest bit of trouble, only the strap that came with it is poorly made, but I wasn't even expecting to get one. When I get better and start playing live, I would definately use this before spending my money on anything else...well unless I was rich and could buy countless Gibson Les Paul Customs to perform with.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was in perfect condition when I got it. The action was set just as it needed to be. The finish on the body is pretty much unscratchable. Both knobs turn smoothly and the rythm/treblr selecter will not come loose unless you beat it with a hammer.
Features — 10
I have the 2003 model, apparently assembled in the US. It has 22 frets on a rosewood fretboard. Has a knob for volume and a knob for tone, which is all I need starting out. I could even do without the tone knob seeing that I never adjust it. Also has a Switch that instantly changes from rythm to lead, or from neck pickup to body pickup. The guitar has two nice humbuckers, perfect for what I use it for. The body looks great, just like a regular Les Paul with a Vintage sunburst finish, and is made from alder/maple. I bought the guitar in a pack that came with a pretty nice Epiphone Studio 10S amp, an Epiphone gig bag, a strap, a cable, some picks, and an instructional video. It was a great deal.