Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: Guy on eBay
Sound — 10
Let's face it - this is not a Gibson, and it will not sound like a Gibson. However, just because it's different from a Gibson doesn't make it inferior to a Gibson; it's a unique instrument in its own right. My style is often compared to J Mascis. Even though he plays a Jazzmaster, you can get that lean, nasty kind of tone out of this guitar if you turn the guitar volume down a bit, strum by the bridge and let your amp and/or overdrive pedal do most of the volume work. Where a Gibson is full, mellow and well-rounded, this Epiphone is lean, sharp and aggressive. After switching out the pickups for a Kent Armstrong pair, the tone really opens up - and just imagine what it could do if you threw in some DiMarzios or Seymour Duncans.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm drawn to melodic punk, shoegazer, and Neil Young-style hard rock. Epiphone guitars are perfect for that jagged, wild sound, the Les Paul most of all. I've owned a Fender Strat, but sold it after getting my hands on this guitar - the only guitar I've ever truly fallen in love with. The nice thing about this model is that, the way it's built, and the way it's priced, there's no reason not to customize this guitar and make it your own with different hardware, electronics, etc.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar's a true workhorse. While it's not as fancy as a Gibson (eg rosewood fretboard instead of the "nicer" ebony), it doesn't require the maintenance of a Gibson. This is my only guitar, so if it ever let me down, I'd be absolutely screwed - but it hasn't, and I see no signs that it ever will.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I got this used, so of course there was some wear in the finish. I don't see any factory blemishes, though. The wood's sturdy, with no signs of warp or fracture. My only complaint is that the output jack is a little loose.
Features — 9
Made in 2006 in the Daewon factory in China with the standard 22-fret rosewood fretboard, mahogany single-cutaway body and pair of humbuckers... Three-way pickup selector, two volume knobs, two tone knobs, Tune-o-Matic bridge, etc. This is a well-built guitar with all the features you'll need, and the hardware is very good. The electronics are adequate, but you'd do well to upgrade the pickups.