Price paid: $ 280
Purchased from: PlayTech
Features: This is a brand new Les Paul copy, issued in 2010 and made in China. It has all the features of a Les Paul except by the fact that it has a bolt-on neck instead a set-in. I was after a Les Paul as I was lacking its shape in my small guitar collection but I didn't want to spend too much, so I decided for a cheapo. This one has a Custom style with binding around all over the body and neck, and block squared inlays including in the first fret. Very well finished. Thumbs down for the tuning machines that are total crap. Also, as expected for mostly of lo/middle-end guitars the nut and the electronics are very low quality and should be replaced.
However, I will give it a "8" because the exceptional platform. The neck and body have an excellent design and workmanship, making the guitar a superb instrument. Although I am a 25+ years player, I am not a great player. Just an enthusiast, but I know how to differentiate a crap from good stuff. And this guitar definitively is NOT a crap, regardless its low price. // 8
Sound: The sound really surprised me. When I plugged it into my Vox, I got very pleasant tones. OK, they are not top notch pickups but they are too much better than mostly I have seen in guitars in the same range. If you don't want to replace pickups immediately, you really don't need to. Bridge pickup is bright and neck is warm. Exactly what you expect from a Les Paul. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: It played very well right out of the box. Just a quick retuning and it was ready. Decent action, comfortable neck, no fret buzz, almost correct intonation. *Scarily long sustain* - it humiliated my Epiphone G-400. AS mentioned before, the finishing is very good. Not perfect, has some minor flaws that you won't see unless you get very close to the guitar. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I am not a gig guy, but I think that it would surely survive to live playing without any backup. As mentioned before, the tuning machines are crap, but all the rest (bridge, etc) look good and strong. It seems to be made to last since you have the minimum of care. Important to mention that the toggle switch stopped to work properly right in the first time I plugged it into my amp. MUST to replace it. // 8
Overall Impression: I think that a good guitar is as good as its basic platform (and it is specially true for cheapos). And for "platform" I am referring to its construction and quality of body/neck. This guitar has lots of it, and it quickly replaced my Epiphone in the first position of my preference (I have four guitars - SG, LP, Strat, ES-175).
Less than a half hour after to pick it from the box, I had decided that it deserved upgrades. So I replaced the crap tuners by a Grover Deluxe Vintage set and the nut by a Tusq. Then the electronics was completely redone: Switchcraft toggle, a pair of Dragonfire Screamers, Alpha pots including push-pulls to tap pups coils and Russian PIO capacitors. She has turned into a devil!
Some will say that it is kind of the thing that doesn't make sense, and that's better to save for a better guitar than spend cash in a cheap one. I disagree. Summing the price of the guitar plus the upgrades, it is still cheaper than an Epiphone Standard. And in my opinion, it way became better than an Epi Standard, and as a bonus it is a Custom.
The fact is that even saving money for a "better guitar", you will want to upgrade it because even the "better guitar" (unless you buy a hi-end guitar) still will come with crap electronics and stock pickups that won't make your day. After all the upgrades, I will give this guitar a 9. But I really would like to give it a 10! Exagerated. // 9