The question of whether to buy an Epiphone Les Paul guitar is hotly debated when guitar players gather round the campfire. Cheap guitars in general have the same reputation as cheap cars but with the Epiphone Les Paul models you might be able to score yourself an excellent instrument.
Way back in the late nineteenth century, Turkish instrument maker, Anastasios Stathopoulos learned his craft making stringed instruments. He brought his expertise with him in the 1903 when he moved his family to The United States Of America. The company prospered in their new homeland and the American fascination with the banjo meant an opportunity to extend their skills to this new instrument. The name Epiphone, derived from the name of Anastasios’ son, Epamimondas, came into being in 1928 when the company began making guitars. In 1957 the factory was taken over by the Gibson company.
The Les Paul guitar is a solid body electric guitar made by Gibson in the early nineteen fifties and named after the popular guitarist and inventor of his own solid body guitar, Les Paul. Les Paul’s design for a solid body guitar had been originally turned down by Gibson but in the face of the popularity of the electric guitar, Gibson designed their own version incorporating some suggestions by Les Paul and using his endorsement to draw public attention to their new product.
The Epiphone Les Paul guitars are versions of the original Gibson models but they are made from cheaper materials in factories in countries like Korea where labor is not as expensive. They also lack some of the fancy detailing that can be found on the Gibson factory model guitars, the fretboard inlays being markedly lower quality. In all their are around twenty Les Paul model guitars made by the Epiphone company.
Their is quite a lot of debate about whether the Epiphone Les Paul guitars are as good as the original Gibson models. Many guitar players think that in general the Epiphone tone is not as good as the Gibson and some feel that the Epiphone necks are less player friendly than the originals.
Of course quality standards vary from factory to factory with many stories emerging from guitar buyers about inferior building and flaws in the headstocks, fretboards and other details. However some guitar players have said they were pleasantly surprised when trying out Epiphone guitars. The Epiphone version of the Les Paul Standard guitar, although much lighter than the original has been reported to have a very responsive action and a sound almost identical to an original Les Paul.
The Epiphone Standard is built entirely to the Gibson factory specifications using more separate bits of mahogany than the Gibson but with no noticeable difference in sound quality. Some guitar players even report that they can find no difference between the pickups used in the Epiphone Standard and the Gibson Standard. The machine heads are a little more jerky to use than the Gibson’s but they keep the guitar tuned.
If you like the Gibson Les Paul Custom guitars, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that the Epiphone Custom guitars look almost the same as the Gibsons with very similar inlays. If you like the Bigsby tailpiece, you can even get it in an Epiphone.