Les Paul Ultra II review by Epiphone

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (62 votes)
Epiphone: Les Paul Ultra II

Purchased from: ebay

Sound — 8
The buckers on this machine are pretty quiet, they're no EMG's but they're decent in the noiseless department. The pups are not very hot and require the gain to be cranked to get any sort of acceptable modern rock tone. I play through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with an Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff distortion pedal. This gives me a pretty crunchy and clear tone, but not very tight. The bottom end is rather loose. I can get somewhat of an Avenged Sevenfold tone out of it? But that's about as heavy as it goes. This guitar really shines for anything Led Zeppelin. Using the OD channel on my Hot Rod Deluxe with the gain cranked full makes an amazing tone. Overall, this is a great Classic rock guitar, although if you have some intense distortion pedal I guess you could squeeze out some heavy metal.

Overall Impression — 8
I play classic rock, hard rock, punk, and some blues and this guitar covers it all. I'm a bit of a loser (I've only been playing 4 years) but I know a good guitar when I feel one. I would not necessarily replace this if it were lost or stolen, just because I'm getting more into heavier sounds nowadays, but if you were someone who loved Zeppelin, you would never put this guitar down. I play it every day. The Ultra II is a bit overpriced, but a great intermediate guitar. I'd definitely try it out before buying it. It's definitely not the best instrument out there, but it's worth playing at least once. I bet someone will love it.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had this for 2 years and it's never let me down. I gig with it regularly and I love it. The strap buttons have never given way (I've never dropped it), and I frequently use this without a backup. It's that trustworthy. Finish is hard to scratch and looks brand new, hardware hasn't faded much, and I hope to keep this guitar until the day I die. This is a 9 only because of the knobs that fell off.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Because I got this guitar as a present from my Grandfather off ebay, I have no idea if the previous owner set it up or anything, but it feels great. They action is medium-low, which I like. This certainly isn't a "shredding" guitar. The pickups were raised well and give great tone. However, the input jack has been breaking and giving me problems since day 1 and I have needed to tighten it and replace the plates a few times. Also, the pickup selector has gotten loose several times and almost fallen into the guitar more than once. These flaws are a pain to fix every time. But the hardware is looking brand new, and overall the guitar looks fantastic.

Features — 7
Okay so the Ultra II has been my first legitimate guitar. I had a New York Pro Strat before this but that sucked and didn't really count. Now, I bought this guitar with the intention that I would be using it for playing classic rock/punk and also Acoustic pieces. Well within the first month of having my Ultra II (I've had it for 2 years now), the knobs controlling the nanomag active pickup broke off. All of them. I'm not a guitar tech person so I didn't want to try popping open the back and pretend like I knew what I was doing. So I took it to Guitar Center and apparently these small, black, plastic knobs are pretty much impossible to get a hold of. After driving the 20 minutes to Guitar Center every weekend for about 3 months to see if there was any news on the knobs, I gave up and decided to just use the normal Alnico Classic pickups. The neck isn't too bad, a bit thick for my liking though, however, it is quite fast. I believe it's satin? I might be wrong though. The body is really light for a LP because it's "strategically chambered." The red and gold finish on mine kicks a** (Am I allowed to swear?) and my ex-girlfriend liked it a lot (Bro Points). The knobs are a master tone, and a volume control for each pickup, nanomag, neck, bridge. Tuners are grover, but they tend to wear out after awhile. Mine fall out of tune after even some moderate bending, especially on the G string.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm very happy with that guitar. I even sold most of my other guitars, as I play mainly this one. When I got it from the shop, it was a "quite OK" guitar. Probably a guitar I would recommend to my students. I partly rewired the electronics with better cabels and condensators and added two simple on/off switches to split the humbuckers. To use that, I replaced the original PUs with Rockinger PAF-ECT in neck- and Bellbucker in bridgeposition. It increased the sound extremely. I use both outputs and run them into an ABY switch, this way I can switch between nanomag and magnetic PUs in a live situation without turning knobs for a few seconds. With these changes, it is the most versatile guitar I ever had. And I really like it.
    I think the knob situation is so unorganized. you go to turn it up you find not the right knobs and finding the right one can switch with the pick up switch. I love my Ultra II Guitar but truly has just another thing to break. Anytime they use cheap plastic covers on a guitar for battery or dials, they will break. Just buy the next step down the cost doesn't justify the cheap plastic especially after reading the other complaints
    Oh brother! People, you can't drop and otherwise thrash your musical equipment and expect it to remain flawless and playing as if it were new. I saved up my money and got a Gator ATA case for my Ultra II, and while I don't baby it I do take very good care of my Ultra II. It has a set neck that I find very comfortable to play, and the controls are not rocket science. To truly appreciate the pickups you cannot play through a Crapmaster 10 watt amp with an 8" speaker and expect thrilling arena type sound. I play my Ultra II through a Randall RG100ES and a 4x12 Peavey bottom. Yes, it's a very hairy sound and is very satisfying. For quieter playing, I play through a Bugera V22, great tone at a lower volume. With the exchange rate of the US dollar to the English pound at about 1.7 to 1 (pound to dollar), it is easy to see why prices are higher in Britain than they are here in the USA. Overall, this is a very underrated guitar that will get its due after it's production run is over.
    Nope, I expect it to go out of tune and, depending him how it is dropped, to suffer some cosmetic damage. There's no block running the length of the body from neck to strap button, which a chambered body desperately needs. You can't complain about a guitar getting all 10's and then complain about criticism in the design causing major damage. Jeez, no wonder all the reviews on this site are so skewed to either one side or the other.