Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus GX review by Epiphone

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (6 votes)
Epiphone: Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus GX
3

Price paid: £ 440

Purchased from: Andertons

Features — 9
Specs:

  • Built in 2013, made in China
  • Mahogany cutaway body with quilt maple top
  • Mahogany thru-neck with rosewood fingerboard, 14" radius and 42.7mm nut width
  • 24.75" scale, 6 strings and 24 jumbo frets with mother-of-pearl inlays
  • Gibson USA 498T bridge pickup, Gibson USA 490R neck pickup (passive)
  • Bridge and neck volume knobs (both with coil taps), bridge and neck tone knobs and 3-way toggle switch. All knobs with mother-of-pearl inlay tops
  • Locktune tune-o-matic bridge, Locktune stopbar tailpiece and Grover 14:1 tuners
  • Weighs 8.7lbs
  • Available in black cherry and heritage cherry sunburst
  • Supplied string gauge 10-46
This guitar is an update of the older Prophecy Custom Plus series, adding several new features - a deeper cutaway on the body, Gibson USA pickups individual volume/tone knobs for each pickup. Also available is the Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus EX, which swaps out the Gibson USA pickups for EMGs, removes the coil taps and comes in alternative finishes.

I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of Les Pauls - the awkward upper fret access and my usual preference of contoured bodies being a main turn-off - but after trying this guitar out on a whim I suddenly fell in love with it. The body is about as thin as you'll find for a Les Paul, and the 14" neck radius instead of the traditional 12" results in a much faster neck and arguably the easiest-to-play Les Paul that Gibson or Epiphone has ever made.

Sound — 9
The 498T and 490R pickups were one of my major attractions to this guitar - these pickups often appear in high-end Gibson Les Pauls, and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson uses them in his signature Les Paul too. Low output and high in dynamics, these pickups can cater for almost any genre - the 498T in particular chimes sweetly for the blues enthusiast, bites fiercely for the hard rocker and articulates aggression with perfect clarity for the shredders for whom lactic acid shall not pass. It's not the warmest of pickups and is more classically oriented.

The 490R isn't quite as high standard, with clarity and warmth fading slightly in higher gain levels, although this is more likely due to the (for a Les Paul) unusual position of the pickup - having 24 frets instead of 22 forces the pickup nearer the bridge. It's a compromise that might put some LP purists off this guitar, but it's a minor setback compared to the upper fret access you get as a trade. Having coil taps on both pickups expands the sonic palette significantly - both individually produces Strat-like bridge and neck tones respectively, producing even more attack and chime if there wasn't enough for you already.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Whilst I could go on forever about how good the sound of this guitar is, a few drawbacks become apparent when you examine the rest of the guitar. The factory setup was average at best, with quite high action and several strings badly intoned - however after having it setup the action and playability is the best of any guitar I own. The tuners are, quite simply, good - not bad, not great, just good. They'll hold you in tune very well for general rhythm playing, but after too much bending and vibrato they'll stop being so kind and may lurch violently out of tune. It's only a very occasional issue, but one that needs looking out for

The guitar's biggest fault lies in the electronics. The wiring on the neck pickup appears to have been done haphazardly - the volume quite often seems to roll off, and sometimes cuts out altogether, and required a lot of knob maneuvering to restore it back to full power. There's also sometimes a noticeable silent lapse between switching pickup positions, something I've not experienced on any other guitar I own, and the inconsistency of the problems sometimes leave me wondering what might develop next.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Whilst the quality of finish on the body of the guitar is excellent for the price range, examining the back of the guitar shows an obvious difference in finishes between the body and the back of the neck. On the plus side, the build quality of the guitar is generally solid and feels very sturdy as you'd expect - it definitely feels like it would survive touring without major aesthetic damage - although one of the glued-on pickup inlay tops did fall out on arrival.

Tonally this guitar would work equally well live and in the studio once it's electronics are fixed - it's extremely versatile tone palette would suit a function band guitarist perfectly, and would easily compete with it's boutique brethren when recording a blues, rock or punk album - possibly metal too, but for a heavier sound they might want to consider the EX instead. It's not a guitar you'd trust to perform without a hitch however, so keep that tuner turned on throughout.

Overall Impression — 8
Pros:

  • Great pickups for the price
  • Extremely wide variety of tonal options
  • Very fast neck
  • Upper fret access far superior to most Les Pauls
Cons:
  • Tuning stability for lead work unreliable
  • Factory setup is poor, would definitely send to a guitar tech on arrival
  • Neck pickup tone not what you'd expect from a Les Paul
For tone and touch alone, this guitar is an absolute steal for under £500 - aside from having Epiphone on the headstock instead of Gibson, there's not too much that makes this sound or feel inferior to the "real thing." However, it's also a guitar that will keep you on your toes if you're not careful, and does show obvious cut corners made to accommodate such a good sound into such a low price - if you want something more reliable, you might want to shed some more money into a proper Gibson. Definitely worth purchasing, but be prepared to invest some time and/or money into addressing it's faults.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    two2000man
    I just put a Prophecy GX maple cherry burst on layaway. I am not as accomplished as you are. But I hope to be.
    rinshwind
    Very nice review Innercelph, very accurate and objective. I don't think I have the experience or the skill to write a review, but I must say: I've got this guitar in black cherry. Only two words - absolutely gorgeous.Amazing sound and sustain. 24 frets with easier access compared to a traditional LP. Unbeatable value for the price - got it brand new for less than EUR 500 with these imba pickups and a hard case!
    Nuthin Fancy
    What amp are you using in this vid? Is the distortion from the amp or were you using a pedal?
    aliasnimby
    1- This guitar is not a 'neck thru'. It is a set neck glued in. 2-This guitar is not 'about as thin as you will find in a les-paul'- look at esp- wafer thin. 3-The 'obvious diffrences' in the neck and back finishes are intended. The neck has a satin finish to facilitate ease of playing. this is an EXCELLENT move- 4-This guitar is supplied with a hardshell case, epiphone strap locks,allen wrench for truss rod,A bumper sticker,poster, owners manual, and warranty card. These guitars are starting to be built in plant # 15- the main epiphone/Gibson plant in Quadong- I have a black cherry produce in plant #15 in January 2015. Previously they were made in plant #20 or sometimes #12. The only things these guitars need are a quick fret level and crown. (very little) You will absolutely be amazed. This guitar is a mild departure from the traditional les-paul custom specs. They are IMPROVED. My gibson has become very lonely.