Les Paul Special II GT review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (70 votes)
Epiphone: Les Paul Special II GT

Price paid: £ 140

Purchased from: Reverb

Sound — 9
I play this guitar through a Line 6 Spider III 15 (yes, I know they're crap) and use it on all four channels, but mainly the "Metal" channel, it copes with heavy, distorted sounds pretty well, I have played, Metallica, Maiden, Scars On Broadway, Trivium, Megadeth and more and it has handled them pretty well, much better than my last guitar which was a Jim Deacon PRS 24 Copy. I have also played some Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs using this guitar and it handles the softer more acoustic stuff well as well so a good all-rounder really. I don't really use any effects so I can't comment on that, if I put the amp on insane I get some background buzz when I'm not playing but it is not very noticeable and it certainly shouldn't be enough to put you off the guitar. Depending on what strings you're using you can get a huge range of tones from it, when I used my Bright D'Addarios I get a bright sound that's perfect for the acoustic stuff whereas with my Ernie Ball Skinny Top/ Heavy Bottom strings I get a full, beefy sound out of it which is perfect for metal. Overall this a good all-rounder with it's feet firmly in Metal so if you're a metaller you may want to consider this, if you're more genre specific I'd consider something that can give you more precise tones for your genre. If you play acoustic chords I would stay away from this as the E string seems to slightly overpower any other sound you get out of it meaning chords are not defined but more a conglomeration of notes.

Overall Impression — 9
I play all sorts on this guitar and it goes through so many tones and sounds fairly well, it is good for the metaller and for someone who uses mild distortion but for completely clean tones definitely go for something else, maybe something that has a single coil pickup as well, if you want a quiet guitar go for something else and if you want a brilliant guitar go for something else. This guitar is a very good guitar, especially for the price you pick it up for but it does not compare to Dean or Gibson in terms of sound and quality but you do pay a lot more for those guitars than you do for this so if you're looking for a low price but mid-range guitar go for it as you will be hard pushed to get something better for this price range. I've been playing the best part of six months so I'm yet to move on to more complex stuff on this guitar, I play it through a Line 6 Spider III 15 which should be replaced for a Peavey Vypyr soon. The only thing I wish I'd asked was "Do you give refunds?" to the store because another store near me had a huge sale and Dean Dime-O-Flage guitars were going for the same price so I was gutted when I saw them, if it were stolen/lost I'd buy a Dime-O-Flage from the other store! But really, I'd buy this again. I like the fact that it has a smaller body than other Epiphones as it feels more comfortable in my hands. My favourite feature has to be the KillPot, it's very discreet but allows me to play Buckethead and RATM tunes, the thing I hate most would be the fact that it can be a pain to restring and the fret buzz you get with beefier strings! I only really compared it to the Explorer GT but this felt better in my hands and it fitted in my current gig bag! I wish it had locking tuners so that it would keep tune better with heavy trem use but aside from that it's perfect for your new or amateur guitarist, although if you're in a band and you play regularly, get something better!

Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar would probably withstand live playing pretty well and the hardware seems solid and durable, the strap buttons are firm and I've not had the strap slip off yet, I probably wouldn't use it as my first choice on a gig but I would definitely make it my backup as it is dependable just not quite good enough to make your main guitar. The finish is fairly good but seems as though it may show mild signs of wear if played extensively.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was extremely well set up, fairly low action but no fret buzz and really easy to play and shred on. The bridge pickup is slightly higher than the other one to give you that sharp, treble sound whereas you get a warmer, bassier tone out of the other pickup so they are good for their purposes of Treble and Rhythm respectively. I could find no flaws with the guitar aside from the fact that the store had used strings with HUGE ball ends that I struggled to remove to replace the strings. But on thicker strings (e.g. 10-52) you will get slight fret buzz on the Bottom E and A strings.

Features — 9
This is a new GT model from Epiphone and it is absolutely mindblowing, especially for the price range, now when I went to pick this up I expected your average low range Epiphone, the result however was the complete opposite. This is a 2009 model (Made In Indonesia) and has been released at the same time as the Explorer GT, the main differences being in the shape of the body and the fact that the Explorer GT has a Stop Tail whereas the Special II has a Tremolo arm. The body is Mahogany and the neck is Hard Maple making this guitar not only light, but durable as well. The guitar comes in a Worn Black colour and it has a worn finish giving it that "Vintage" look. The guitar has a bolt-on, Slim Taper neck that is adjustable by using the truss rod. The Special II has a Rosewood Fretboard with Parallelogram Inlays and 22 medium-jumbo frets. The pickups used are two humbuckers: USA Designed 650R and 700T, these are high-out pickups meaning you always get a good sound out of it whether you're playing lead or rhythm. You get a 3 way pickup selector and volume and tone controls, but here comes the innovative, very well done bit; the tone pot has a killswitch built in and as soon as you push or tap it down it kills the output, ideal if you want to play Rage Against The Machine stuff. The design is a "GT Single Cutaway" and it has a Tune-O-Matic Bridge (according to Spec). It has your average tuners, they are listed as "Premium 14:1 Covered" in the Spec. The price I paid was just for the guitar as a single unit, no accessories.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    In the picture you included, there's not tune-o-matic bridge ;
    Who is the judge of what level of experience is sufficient for reviews to be taken seriously? It seems to me that there is an amount of snobbery going on here that has no place in a forum like this - give the guy a break; he did say at the end of his review that the Epi was ok for a beginner but if you were more advanced or playing regularly get something better! If you think that only experts with the money to buy expensive guitars should review here then you are missing the point. I do agree that the marks may be slightly inflated but remember that this is written from one perspective.
    i just baught this guitar and the actions is fine from the factory, it came with 12s on it changed them to 9s and it improved vastley, i imagine it will be much better with 8s on it. The pick ups are very bassey, the bridge isn't a tune o matic as this dork said its a vintage 3 sprung bridge like on a strat which is cool i paid just under 150 for it and am very pleased. I have a 70s tele and this will sound just as nice after i cange the pickups to seymore duncans. Its very lightwieght compaired to gibsons which is cool. Its a good guitar for the money although its made in indonisia! The whammy is half decent but what you expect for a cheap guitar.
    I have just baught this guitar and i can say it is a decent guitar for the money, my other guitars are; fender 70s telecaster which is amazing, and a jackson rx10d. I play through a marshall stack. When this guitar arrived from the factory it was very well set up action is just to my liking, all i had to do was change the strings to super slinkys. The finish is really good, no flaws in it. The bridge isn't a tune o matic its a 3 spurng vingatge whammy bridge like on a strat which is cool. The pickups on the other hand are very very bassey. But they sound good when playing heavey rock and metal. although ive only played it for the best part of 30 mins the guitar has made a good impression, i have had epiphone standards and they have been much worse. I must admit that i only baught it because i wanted a cheap axe to take around to jam nights, and it proven to be gig worthy aftwr a pickup change maybe some seymore duncans or gibson pickups. the neck is super thin and makes shedding easy. The only downside to this guitar is the fact that it came with silly stock strings which managed to get jammed in the bridge but that took a min to sort. It doesn't matter what level of guitarust you are this guitar is as good as many worth twice to three times as much as itself. Its an utter bargin.
    swordsofplague wrote: I was considering getting the explorer version and just gutting it, because i really liked the neck on it...new tuners first, nastier pups, the whole bit. has anyone had any success doing this?
    Yes, and no. As my user suggests, its something I tried a year ago, it worked perfectly up until april, then the EMG connection got broken, and I cant afford new EMGs.. So I got a much much lighter and more playable B C Rich. Sounded mostly the same too, which was nice, because I can mimic most melodic death metal tones with the rich.
    @Number 7...I thought Kevy Absolution made a lot of perfectly good points about teh abvious flaws with this review, and most UG reviews in general. He's not been offensive in the process either, just fair...
    Kevy Absolution
    Number_7 (ramble)
    As someone who contributes heavily to UG, I can't stand to see reviews like this. If he likes the guitar that's great, but his review is giving it just as high marks as a high end guitar, and honestly it doesn't deserve that. Inferior build quality, parts, etc. do not make an 8.9/10 guitar, plain and simple. I DO know enough to judge this review and know that it's not helping this site and potential buyers at all. It's even in the warning before submitting reviews:
    Be critical! Superficial, glowing reviews will not get published.
    Furthermore, the review is just ambiguous.
    The finish is fairly good but seems as though it may show mild signs of wear if played extensively.
    THANK YOU GENIUS. I didn't know that heavy use deteriorates condition! The review just doesn't help anyone wanting to know pros and cons. It's just glorifying someone's Christmas starter guitar.
    swordsofplague : I was considering getting the explorer version and just gutting it, because i really liked the neck on it...new tuners first, nastier pups, the whole bit. has anyone had any success doing this?
    You're still gonna get shitty tone from the shitty wood.
    I was considering getting the explorer version and just gutting it, because i really liked the neck on it...new tuners first, nastier pups, the whole bit. has anyone had any success doing this?
    i had this guitar.. it was way too low end drivin and a muddy low end at that. was set up too high for my taste, the low e string had fret buzz and the thing wouldnt stay in tune for more then an hour of not that hard of playing with no tremolo action going on.. OH and the finish scratched off really really easy with just my finger nail or medium pick.. overall a junk guitar.. id suggest ibanez rg120 or the schecter 006 over this guitar
    Sure it's nor Tune-O-Matic... And all 9's and 8's for 140 pounds EPI? You got to be kidding.
    This was one of my first guitars and after being set-up properly... Well, it hasn't needed an adjustments in over three and a half years. It's a phenomenal little thing actually, considering I've had many a seasoned guitarist with more equipment then God tell me 'it's like it's made out of butter! It just melts under your fingers!' Mind you, the clean tone is a bit arsey, its been put through so many different amps and always requires some major tweaking for that nice rounded jazz tone. Definitely recommended for beginners though (particularly with its 22&1/2 neck).
    Because his other guitar is a "Jim Deacon PRS 24 Copy". With the best will in the world, I know they made an effort, but you can't use a review like this for anything much useful
    I had the original special-II as a first electrical guitar when i was about 10, and i cant believe how terrible it is now. i seriously cannot see how you can stick a tremolo arm on it and this makes it "abseloutely mindblowing".
    This is one of those things that doesn't need to be reviewed as it is widely known that they are terrible and that you can get a much better epiphone for this kind of money used.
    I had this , well the special 2 as my first real guitar, I thought it was amazing but thats becauswe I owned it, its only a beginner guitar worth 3's or 4's.
    my first electric guitar was a special II and i never regretted this. true, its not that great a guitar, but for beginners it is. as a beginner you cant do anything wrong with an epi, so from a beginner point of view i think this rating is justified.
    9's and 8's for a Special-II with a vibrato slapped on it? Seriously ? I played two of these the other day, one fresh from being set up and the other direct off the delivery truck and even the one which had been given a proper look-over was sub-par. 3's and 4's at most type of stuff.
    Kevy Absolution
    Honestly, UG needs to stop publishing reviews when they're done by people without experience. You've played this through nothing but a Spyder III? Every single guitar sounds the same through a cheap 15 watt amp. And what's this mean?
    "If you play acoustic chords I would stay away from this as the E string seems to slightly overpower any other sound you get out of it meaning chords are not defined but more a conglomeration of notes. "
    An "acoustic chord"? Perhaps if you had some equalisation going on and weren't playing with a 15 watt amp then you wouldn't have mind-numbing bass. A Gibson Les Paul is going to be boomy through that amp too.
    the thing I hate most would be the fact that it can be a pain to restring and the fret buzz you get with beefier strings!
    Of course you get fret buzz; the action needs to be adjusted for those gauge strings. My strat buzzes if I switch to those from the factory 9s setup. The review is written well structurally and grammatically and whatnotm, but you've been playing for six months; I can hardly find a review with that limited of scope useful.
    yay for Scars on Broadway ... other than that the guitar is not that appealing to me
    I was pretty pissed off when the GT came out just after I bought a normal Special II, I realised the GT had a Fender style whammy bar system and a killswitch in the volume pot, instead of the normal Les Paul setup of the Special II. I'm surprised you like the sound of the pickups though. Why do so many people have these stupid digital Spider amps!!!