Les Paul Special II review by Epiphone

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (937 votes)
Epiphone: Les Paul Special II

Price paid: $ 135

Purchased from: original owner

Features — 9
Probably from 2013-2015; bought used. Appears to be light basswood shot in black satin with P90s. Bridge was replaced by owner (stock one is with it) for Wilkinson wrapover with G string intonation adjustment. V and T controls and 2 pretty decent P90s. Tuners are a bit sloppy, but it's a cheap Epiphone, not a nice one. Case is snow white inside and well padded Gibson silkscreened in white on the front. Nice case and whistle clean! Stock bridge is cheap and not real stable, so it did need an upgrade.

Sound — 9
I write most of what I play at open mic and made some recordings that are popular in YouTube and locally. I go into a '73 Princeton Reverb wit ha good speaker (Celestion). This guitar is barely humming and I believe it's because it is not grounded correctly, but that is easy to fix. The pickups are surprisingly clear and strong and good tones for a very cheap Epi. No adjustment has been made to heights nor the polepieces of the P90s, so that will improve the sounds by 15-20%. So for a very inexpensive guitar, it's a lot of value: good pups, very light and handles easily, decent fret ends and not sloppy in any way.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Bolt on neck and action was set by the local SamAsh luthier and it's pretty good. Fret ends are good now, but can be made to be unnoticeable. I can smooth them with a 3-corner fret end file and tuners can be smoothed a bit as well with lube and screw adjustment of the knobs. Stock bridge was replaced by a wrapover type Wilkinson bridge to improve stability and sustain. A good user upgrade I got when buying it barely used. The guitar as delivered is a lot of value for under $150 new. So with inexpensive tweaks, you can turn it into a good guitar... not REAL good, but sometimes "good enough" is good enough. there is value is a light, comfortable, versatile, cheap knockabout guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Solid build, light woods, a flat and solid LP Special style with P90s into the body with wood screws and foam to float the pups. Not much to go wrong. Tuners could be upgraded for $35, but pickups are good enough when going into a good amp. Sturdy guitar that feels nice and is satin all over. It could be rubbed out or buffed out to make it slightly shine like hand rubbed glow if desired and I may let my luthier friend do that.
I take strap buttons off and use a toothpick to swirl yellow glue in the holes. Replace the buttons the next day into the hardened and strengthened drill holes. Strap buttons remain solid that way.

Overall Impression — 9
I can play and took classical lessons. I'm a songwriter and singer and can play intermediate classical pieces, so I can entertain an audience. I traded for this an some cash for an Epi ES339 Dot that my pal wanted. An ES339 is a good guitar, but it's not something I am crazy about, so I took money and a nice, light, handy P90 Epi ins a swanky Gibson padded black/white case. My pal passed me some nice guitars for cheap and I sold a few later to pick up 200-300 dollars, so I sorta' owed him for the favors. The LP Special P90 is a cheap and pretty good utility guitar that if it were stolen, it would not be a big deal. This is a value guitar and is an excellent choice for a 1 or 2 guitar person or a student or a guy who is cutting back on guitars so he has a versatile one for local stage work.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    If this guitar was branded others (to change the expectation) and had a price tag of 500EUR just AS IS, I think much less complains will come. I am not a novice in playing and Special II is one of my favorite guitars. It is perfect for high-gain (just use the bridge pickup for this and the neck pickup for clean or slight overdrive). It has a warm full sound, big sustain and general look, sound and playing feel is like a Les Paul guitar, despite the significant construction differences. The neck is extremely comfortable, the fretwork and action were set perfectly at factory already. Yes, my Gibson Les Paul is a "better" guitar, but the Special II is really a great little guitar by itself, which I strongly recommend not only for beginners. I have a 2015 made in factory 13 guitar (solid wood mahagony, not a plywood or something, nickel hardware, etc), I know that over the years the materials have changed, production location and so on and I assume - it could be that there are really quite different "Special II" guitars, so test before buy, but do not exclude it from the radar, as it is really 8/10 (if you consider the price - 10/10).