Epiphone Les Paul Guitars – FAQ & Piece Of Advice!

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the classic rock and roll guitars. Its unmistakable sound shaped rock music during the ’50s and ’60s and continued to make an impact throughout the years.

But even though it’s easy to want to have the same guitar like Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, or Slash, the truth is that a Gibson Les Paul is an expensive guitar. Luckily, there’s a cheaper alternative that still manages to sound just as great.

Epiphone Les Pauls might not have the same status as its bigger brother but are still very capable guitars, well within most people’s budget. 

Best Choice
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90
Best Epiphone Les Paul for The Money
The Special I sounds way better than you would expect considering its price. There's a lot of tones and overall build quality at a very budget-friendly price. Overall, the Special I is one of the best Epiphone guitars out there.
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In case you’re not familiar with the brand, Epiphone is to Gibson the same that Squier is to Fender. Or, in other words, a cheaper brand that uses the same models but also uses lower-quality materials.

In this article, I’m going to look at a few of the most popular Epiphone Les Pauls1 and try to find out which one is the best for someone who wants to own a Les Paul. 

Best Epiphone Les Paul — Comparison Table

ImageProduct 
Best Epiphone Les Paul for The Money
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 review
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90
  • Very cheap
  • Great sustain
  • Excellent tone

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Also great
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Pack review
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Pack
  • Great beginner pack
  • Comes with an amp
  • Guitar sounds good for its price

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Best choice
Slash "AFD" Signature Les Paul Special-II review
Slash "AFD" Signature Les Paul Special-II
  • Good finishes
  • Built-in tuner
  • Budget-friendly

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best epiphone les paul model
Epiphone Open Box ENCTAWGH1 Les Paul Custom Pro review
Epiphone Open Box ENCTAWGH1 Les Paul Custom Pro
  • Great tone
  • Very versatile
  • Excellent build and quality

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Best epiphone electric guitar
Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Traditional PRO-II review
Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Traditional PRO-II
  • Great pickups
  • Very versatile
  • Good quality

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Best Epiphone Les Paul Review

1. Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 — Best Epiphone Les Paul for the Money

Features

  • Very cheap
  • Great sustain
  • Excellent tone

Specifications

  • Single cutaway mahogany body
  • P90R and P90T pickups
  • 22 frets

The Special1 I might raise an eyebrow or two due to its price. At this price point, we’re probably used to expecting trash, or something pretty close to it. However, the truth is that it’s challenging to find an Epiphone Les Paul that sounds this great while being this cheap.

Now, although this guitar sounds great, you should know that you are kind of getting what you’re paying for. Maybe you’re striking a deal on the tone, but the finishes are very lackluster. The neck is not smooth, and the frets tend to poke your hands.

That being said, tonality-wise this guitar is simply unbeatable if you’re looking for a budget Les Paul. The P90 pickups are very hot while having a great deal of brightness and the body really sustains every note you play.

You should note that these pickups tend to be noisy. Despite their size, they’re single-coil pickups, and these tend to make more noise than a regular humbucker. This also means that this guitar is great for everything from classic rock to jazz, but perhaps not as good for heavier genres.


What strings does this guitar come with?

This guitar ships with .09 strings, but you can easily switch the strings to your preferred string size.

Is this guitar-heavy?

No. This guitar is lighter than regular Epiphone Les Pauls.

Who this is for?

Someone who wants a great budget Les Paul.

Why I like it?

Although it’s very cheap, the Les Paul Special I sounds like a much more expensive guitar.

2. Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Pack

Features

  • Great beginner pack
  • Comes with an amp
  • Guitar sounds good for its price

Specifications

  • Beginner Pack with an amplifier, guitar bag, and accessories
  • Humbucker pickups
  • Les Paul Special II guitar

Choosing a guitar and an amplifier might be difficult for someone who’s getting his first electric guitar. This pack makes everything easier and offers a very solid beginner guitar, a 10-watt amplifier, and some accessories to boot.

Although I have no doubts that this is a great beginner pack, the truth is that the guitar quality tends to be a little hit or miss. You can get a very playable guitar straight out of the box, or you might get a crooked mess that doesn’t sound very good. However, you shouldn’t let that push you away from this pack — if you get a lemon you can always get the guitar to a luthier.

Unlucky lemons aside, when this guitar is properly set up it sounds really good. Keep in mind that this is a beginner guitar and that it won’t sound exactly like a Gibson Les Paul or even a slightly better Epiphone.

The included 10-watt amplifier is acceptable for a beginner and gets loud enough to be used as a bedroom amp without bothering the neighbors. All in all, this is a great beginner pack.


Do all the items come in a box or do they ship separately?

Everything comes in one box.

Who this is for?

A beginner player who’s interested in a Les Paul-style guitar.

Why I like it?

This pack is very accessible and an excellent buy for newer players.

3. Slash “AFD” Signature Les Paul Special-II

Features

  • Good finishes
  • Built-in tuner
  • Budget-friendly

Specifications

  • Ceramic humbuckers
  • Maple top and Mahogany back
  • The bound body and shadow pickup ring E-tuner

First of all, don’t let its looks or its name fool you. The Slash AFD Special II2 is a beginner guitar and will disappoint experienced players. However, due to its price, it’s an excellent buy for beginner guitarists who idolize the Guns N’ Roses guitarist.

For such a cheap guitar, the Slash AFD Signature has a relatively good finish. The flamed maple veneer looks good, and the neck feels okay. The main differences from this guitar to an actual Gibson Les Paul are the bolted-on neck, one less knob, and a different place for the three-way switch.

On the bridge humbucker, there’s a shadow tuner which, while useful, is nothing more than a gimmick to entice inexperienced players. The pickups are nothing to write home about, they sound okay for the price and are adequate for a beginner.

All being said, this is an okay guitar for beginner players who like how Slash’s guitar looks. I doubt that Slash would ever play this guitar.



Is this pickup an alnico?


No. Although its design is inspired by alnico pickups, this pickup is not an alnico.


Does this guitar come with a case?


No, but it does come with a guitar bag.

Who this is for?

Beginner players who like the looks of Slash’s guitar.

Why I like it?

Although this guitar is cheap it definitely doesn’t look like it.

4. Epiphone Open Box ENCTAWGH1 Les Paul Custom Pro — Best Epiphone Les Paul Model

Features

  • Great tone
  • Very versatile
  • Excellent build and quality

Specifications

  • Mahogany body and maple top
  • Slim Taper D-profile neck
  • Humbucker pickups

A guitar is much more than the name written on the headstock. If Epiphone is something akin to a budget-Gibson, then you would think that every Gibson guitar would be better than an Epiphone guitar. Well, that’s not exactly the case, and the Les Paul Custom Pro is proof of it.

As you will probably notice, even though this is an Epiphone guitar, this is not a cheap guitar. As a matter of fact, it’s considerably more expensive than entry-level Gibson Les Paul guitars.

Epiphone spared no expense when manufacturing this Les Paul. The solid mahogany body is heavy and immediately makes it feel like you’re holding a premium guitar. There’s a lot of attention to detail, and the finishes are nothing less than excellent.

Tonality wise, this guitar is a warhorse. You can pretty much play anything you want it with, thanks to the ProBucker humbucker pickups.

If you have the money to spend and truly want the best of the best Epiphone Les Pauls3

Who this is for?

Someone who wants the best Epiphone Les Paul.

Why I like it?

This Epiphone blows most entry-level Gibsons out of the water and is an excellent guitar.

5. Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Traditional PRO-II — Best Epiphone Electric Guitar

Features

  • Great pickups
  • Very versatile
  • Good quality

Specifications

  • Single cutaway mahogany body
  • Alnico Classic Pro and Probucker pickups
  • ’60s slim-taper neck profile

The Epiphone Les Paul Traditional PRO-II4 is better than your average entry-level Epiphone guitar and very good for the money. It doesn’t sound like such a cheap guitar, and it’s no surprise: although very budget-friendly, the Traditional PRO-II is powered by Alnico Classic and ProBucker pickups.

As you would expect from the pickups, the tone of this guitar is very good. You can pretty much play any genre with it, and you won’t be disappointed. The pickups are hot, but not as hot as the ones on a Gibson Les Paul, meaning that it manages to sound a bit bright when played clean.

While there are some minor imperfections with the finish, there is nothing that immediately jumps out as of poor quality. This is a very solid guitar for intermediate players.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for an intermediate-level Epiphone Les Paul.

Why I like it?

The pickups on this guitar are nothing short of excellent.

Conclusion

The Epiphone Les Paul line-up is tricky to navigate and filled with less-than-impressive guitars. However, if you’re willing to sort through a large number of guitars, there are some hidden gems for beginner and experienced guitarists alike.

When you consider the price to quality ratio, there’s little doubt that the Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 is one of the better purchases you can make.

Beginners will surely love the Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Pack. This pack features everything an inexperienced player could want at the beginning of his musical journey at a very low price.

If you’re looking for the best of the best, then it’s hard to compete with the Les Paul Custom Pro. This Epiphone guitar puts to shame some of the Gibson models and is overall an excellent guitar.

Bonus. Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul test.

 

Epiphone Les Paul

Epiphone Les Paul Wiring Diagram

The guitar is made of mahogany and has a top made of AAA flamed maple veneer. You won’t find the arching, as usual with Les Pauls, which is not surprising considering the price. The top is a high gloss lacquered and stained in amber, the body in red, with a cream-colored binding.

Two Ceramic Plus Humbuckers in black and white sit in cream-colored pickup frames with the one on the bridge bringing a tuner. This one is from Shadow, sits on the left side of the pickup frame, and is called E-Tuner. The operation is effortless: A small button activates the tuner when the string is in tune, a small LED lights up green. The strings are also automatically recognized. The tuner gets the required current from the 3V button battery recessed in a quick-release fastener on the back, which should allow approx — 2000 tunings of 1 minute each.

The two pickups are regulated by a volume and tone control, and the obligatory three-way switch is located between the two top hats. The strings are led through the Stop Tailpiece and then over the Tune-o-Matic bridge, which allows an individual adjustment of the octave purity.

The mahogany neck, also in red, is screwed on and carries a rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets. They have all been correctly inserted and rounded at the edges. White dot inlays in the fingerboard and also on the neck edge provide the necessary orientation. The strings then run over a 42.6 mm wide nut, behind which the access to the neck tension rod is located. This is closed with a plastic cover, and if adjustments are necessary, they can be made with the supplied Allen key. Finally, the closed machine heads run smoothly with a 14:1 transmission ratio and bring the strings reliably into tune. With their 2846 grams, we are dealing with a lightweight, which is not true for most Les Pauls. The Gibson-typical 628 mm scale length can also be found on our test guitar today.

Playability and sound

When played dry, the sound is wiry and of average duration, and thanks to the reasonably adjusted string action, it is also comfortable to play. However, the octave purity leaves something to be desired, but this can be easily achieved with a screwdriver and a tuner – but unfortunately not necessarily for a beginner!

For audio files, I position a Shure SM57 in front of the speaker and feed the signal into a tube-tech preamp. From where it goes directly into the converter without any detours and is not processed any further.

I start in the clean channel and with the three pickup positions that I switch through per pass, beginning at the neck.

In combination with the combo, the guitar delivers a slightly restrained sound, especially in the neck position. The bass part is quite high, which makes for a spongy sound. In the middle position, it is expected to become pearlier and also wirier. The bridge humbucker is as usual in the middle and a bit thinner in the bass.

Now the whole thing again with a rhythm figure, whereby I strike the strings correspondingly harder.

Here the clean channel already reaches its limits and starts to pull. This applies to all three pickup positions, and the resulting sound produces the typical, high-height transistor distortion.

I now switch to the overdrive channel and turn the gain control per pass to the following position’s minimum, 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and maximum position.

The sound produced in this way can be pleasing and delivers from crunch to full board a sound that is indeed reminiscent of the one favored by Slash. As is well known, this one uses a crunch sound that is more in the upper midrange and can also be well established. However, there is a “ringing” sound, which is caused by string vibrations at the headstock.

For the next example, I turn the bass and treble to 3 p.m. The middle control is in the minimum position. Gain points to 3 p.m, and so I create the so-called “Scoop” sound, which is often used by metal bands. I also tuned the low E-string of the guitar down to a whole tone to D. This tuning is also called Drop D.

The result is a fat and broad metal sound, which can easily assert itself thanks to the distinctive upper mids. The next sample:

The EQ makes a good impression because by raising the mids, the sound gets more warmth and thicker, which is, of course, very good for the solo. Also, the plectrum stops are nicely worked out, which gives a clear definition.

The amp can generate a decent volume, which should be enough for playing with an averagely loud band. Thanks to the AUX input, jamming with your favorite songs is no problem, but the sound of the headphone output is. This is much too shrill and only bearable with the treble control turned down completely.

Verdict

With the Epiphone Slash AFD LP Performance Pack, Epiphone offers a coherent package that contains everything you need to get started in the world of electric guitars. The guitar can be played comfortably, but the factory setting could have been a bit more thorough with regard to octave purity. The amp delivers a reasonable clean and overdrive sound, which can be adjusted to the personal sound preferences thanks to the adjustment options. Nevertheless, the typical slash sound characteristic remains. The price-performance ratio is reasonable, but a little more emphasis should be placed on the factory setting of the guitar.

  1. http://testsite.carrington.edu/epiphone_les_paul_special_edition.pdf
  2. http://app.worldwide.erau.edu/Epiphone_Special_Ii_Manual.pdf
  3. http://info.santafeuniversity.edu/Epiphone_Les_Paul_100_User_Manual.pdf
  4. http://app.worldwide.erau.edu/epiphone_les_paul_standard_owners_manual.pdf

About the author

John Tschop

John Tschop

I am a music fan who is fond of different instruments and genres. The member of Klinger-McFry Band. We launched StereoShore to discuss proven tips, tutorials, and insights.

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