Purchased from: Nevada Music (Defunct)
Features — 7
There are so many reviews of this guitar that I have to be careful not to make this one redundant, but it's such a great little thing that I owe it to all prospective buyers to spread the word, especially first-time buyers. My favorite specimen is a 2012 Tea Burst. It's a Chinese made, but take all the Chinese - vs - Korean opinions with a pinch of salt. I also happen to own a Korean Custom and this one wins out, as simply as that. I won't bore you with all the specs, you can find them on all the other reviews. You know what a Les Paul is.
The price has gone up since I bought mine to £420, but there's nothing stopping you from finding them cheaply on the used market for < £150, and I'd strongly suggest you do so. What Epiphone gives you here is one of the most solid builds you can get, for an excellent price. The £420 gets you the premier woods only Gibson has access to, and is therefore the best base for hardware modification that you can get. With some personalising and a lot of rough playing, you'll have a number 1 for life. They just sound better as the wood matures, like all good guitars.
Sound — 7
It's a Les Paul, and it sounds like a Les Paul. Creamy and rich, with a deep crunchy low end and a vintage-sounding high end. Mine plays through a Peavey 6505 with a Wylde Wah, Boss GE-7, Boss NS-2, Boss DD-3 and a BBE G Screamer. The signal is no more noisy than any other guitar at this price range, and painlessly fixed with a noise-gate, or by shielding the electronics. This is really a guitar to please everyone, rather unoffensive to all tastes. The voicing of the pickups is quite flat, so you can sculpt the sound however you best like. Medium output, but can be made to put up a long sustain with that heavy tune-o-matic bridge. The pickups are coil-tapped, so that you can get a more twangy, Fender sound, should you wish.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The factory setups are fairly generic as one would expect, but the fretwork is perfect. I pulled the action down to maybe 1.5mm at one point. The binding edges aren't perfect where it meets the neck, but what do you expect for a £400 guitar? The finish is beautiful. The finishes are beautiful. It's a real Les Paul, not a knock-off with a weird shape, so it has all the charm, and you can have it in nearly whatever colour or finish takes your fancy. As a last aside, it has the feel of quality that only certain guitars do. It's heavy and well built. The Les Paul shape is very comfy to play.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar is as solid as any. The neck (main point of breakage on any guitar) is far stronger than a Gibson due to the shallow headstock angle and smaller truss rod cavity. Gibsons are notorious for breaking at the headstock for this very reason, as you may or may not know. The strap buttons are fairly useless, this guitar took several dives before I put Schaller strap locks on it. Personally, I think this is irrelevant because you'd be mad to play any guitar without putting strap locks on it. PRS and Mayones are the only companies I know to fit strap locks as standard. The body is covered in thick poly, it's basically impossible to dent. The bottom line is that this is definitely the most solid guitar I own. Out of about 10. I repeat, it's a Les Paul. They've survived Guns N' Roses, so they'll survive anything you can throw at it.
Overall Impression — 8
As a metalhead at heart, you'll find me playing everything from goth rock to death metal. I often find myself wishing the frets were bigger, and if you're looking for a shred or metal guitar, you might want to consider this. I've thought about fitting XJ frets more than once. I've so far consoled myself by sanding back the neck for a faster feel, along with sleek Elixir strings. The electronics could be better, and as a heavy metal player I'd appreciate some higher output pups, but I don't expect them at this price range. This is a great base guitar that you can upgrade to your liking. Competing companies put out flashy colour guitars with better pickups at this range, but the quality just isn't there.
Having played some very high-end Gibsons, and as the lucky owner of a couple $$$$+ guitars, it's my opinion that this guitar punches far above its weight. There's some gems to be found in this range, and you're lucky in that most shops carry tens of these. Go through them all and you'll find the one for you very quickly. The full range caters for all tastes, the range of colours available is enormous, as-well as other models including the FX, fitted with a Floyd Rose.
I suggest in response to my prompts that this guitar would never be stolen or lost. I would kill anyone that glanced at it wrongly. It's still one of my favourite guitars years on, and with severe competition. The best advice I can give you is to go and play one, and don't bring cash unless you can afford to spend it.