Sound — 8
The original pickups had much to be desired of. They sounded nice, but for my playing style (Zeppelin style crunch and munch) they just didnt hack it. So I put in the adored 496R and 500T, all I can say is WOW WOW WOW! It has amazing sound, amazing sustain. I think due to the fact that of all the Epiphone pauls ive played, this is by far the heaviest beast of them all. It weighs a ton. I think that is its biggest advantage, and also it's biggest disadvantage. It gets a little old after a four hour show.
Overall Impression — 10
I love it, I play 90% Zeppelin related material, and this fits the bill at a fraction of the cost. If you play classic rock, and are on a budget, take a serious look at these rigs. I have a tele and Danelectro, but this guitar receives most of my attention. If this guitar were stolen or lost, I would retire, I've never heard another Epiphone les paul that sounds like this one. Everyone that plays this guitar wants to buy it. (Maybe I just lucked out).
Reliability & Durability — 10
This is a VERY reliable guitar. This guitar can and has withstood hour upon hour of sweaty frantic stage picking. The hardware is lasting, mine is at least ten years old, with all original hardware other than pickups. The finish is great, as with all finishes (depending on how much you play and travel) it will start to crack with time. This guitar has been all around the country, and played day in and day out. Keep it in a good hard case, and no worries.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I don't know about factory setting, I traded a Strat for this from a buddy, he was a rhythm player, so it was a bit high, no big deal, these are so simple to adjust, took a whole minute. Now it plays like butter. The top is not a perfect bookmatch, but who cares, im not so much into the cosmetics anyway. All the gear on it is good, great, she stays in tune, selector Switch is tight, works like a charm.
Features — 10
I love this rig, I don't know how old it is, but I'm guessing mid 90's, it's your basic Gibson Epiphone les paul, although I've replaced the factory pickups with a 496R and 500T (highly recommended). It has a beautiful honeyburst finish, more faded to give it that Vintage look. It was perfect when I got it 5 years ago, although now the finish has started to checker, which is no big deal to me, does not effect the playability, just gives it that much more "character".