The Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review – Sound
The Epiphone Les Paul sound is legendary, and are play by some of the best guitarists around the globe. No doubt you can name a dozen guitarists ranging from Zakk Wylde to Jimmy Page that play an Epiphone Les Paul whose tone you’d love. The ELP guitar has shaped some of most amazing sounds in the history of entertainment industry including rock music.
Sound Clarity: This is simply due to the quality of the wood, or the electronics, or a combination of both. The Epiphone Les Paul is of high sound clarity compare to other solid body guitars.
Sound Resonance: If you want to feel it in your gut when you play a chord on a guitar even when the guitar is unplugged, then the Epiphone Les Paul is the best choice.
Based on this information it’s clear that an Epiphone Guitar is a superior solid body guitar which makes them stand tall as one of the best electric guitars in the world.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review: Brief History
The Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar is among the most famous musical instrument of modern times that have help shape the sound of popular music. The invention of the Epiphone Guitar date back to 1930s when the inventor-musician Les Paul and Epiphone where first connected. The first fruit of this connection was the Les Paul’s “The Log” in Epiphone’s New York plant, and Les Paul was a frequent consultant on designs, offering the insights of both audio innovator and a seasoned performer.
In 1957 Gibson acquired the long-standing rival in the market for hollow-body electric guitars, the Epiphone. The Epiphone instruments were then built in the Gibson’s factories and thus, shared many of the same components and woods used in Gibson’s product line. As the direct consequents of this buyout, most of the Epiphone Les Paul guitars were essentially identical to their Gibson counterparts.
At the beginning of 1970, most Epiphone instruments were built in Japan and later Korea. The today’s Epiphone guitars are built in Asian plants to Gibson’s specifications. Having less hardware, less costly wood and less hand work, and finishes than their U.S. made counterparts. The Epiphone versions of Gibson models offer excellent value for budget-conscious guitarists.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review: How it Works
The main function of the Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar is to produce sound or play music. It’s one of the most popular and important musical instruments ever created with a huge ability to produce pleasing sound and therefore used in various musical brand like Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock.
While there may be different style, design, and model, the general principles of sound production is the same for all Les Paul.
In order to produce sound, Les Paul guitars senses the vibrations of the metal strings electronically and produce an electronic signal (electric current) which is send to an amplifier and then speaker. The sensing occurs at the magnetic pickups (usually two humbucker pickups) which functions as a magnetic field mounted under the metal strings on the electric guitar’s body.
A simple magnetic pickup consists of a bar magnet wrapped within a coil. When a metal string is pluck, it vibrates in the electric field of the magnetic pickups. Going by the laws of Electromagnetic, a moving (vibrating) metal wire in a magnetic field produces electric current. In the case of the Epiphone Guitar, the vibrating metal string rapidly cut across the magnetic flux of the magnetic pickup causing the generation of current. The current which is generated depends on the frequency and height (amplitude) of the vibrating string (this explains the difference in the pitch and loudness in sounds produced).
The current that is produced is picked by and transmitted by the pickup through a preamplifier circuit with tone control in the guitar cable to the amplifier.
ELP Guitar tone is adjusted by the upper variable resistor and capacitor. This serves as a filter that cuts out higher frequencies. The frequency (pitch) of the Les Paul guitar is therefore control by adjusting the resistor. The second resistor controls the volume (amplitude) of the signal that reaches the jack and then to an amplifier which drives a speaker.
The type of guitar strings, playing techniques, tone controls, pickup(s), and other factors built into the guitar's design all influence the signal that is sent to the amplifier. To sum it up, every component or feature of the guitar affects how the guitar sounds.
Most electric guitars are built with two or three different pickups located at various points on the guitars’ body. These pickups have distinctive sounds, and multiple pickups can be paired, in-phase or out of phase to produce sound variations.
Epiphone Les Paul electric guitars are made with two humbucker pickups extending under all six guitar strings.
Other pickups use screws for pole pieces, to allow the adjustment of the height of each pole-piece. The closer the pole-piece is to the string, the stronger the electrical signal generated.
Depending on the amplifier’s capabilities and design, it boosts and modifies the signal with the he ELP of various tone controls and effects.
The modified and boosted signal is then sent to a speaker, the final output device which converts it to sound waves.
How does the Two Humbucker Pickups and the Tree-way Tone selector switch works?
Each Epiphone Les Paul comprised of 2 humbucker pickups, tone controls, 2 volume pots and a selector switch that enables three separate pickups combinations. The humbucker pickups contribute immensely to the Les Paul's unmistakably classic tone and its three-way selector switch is design specifically to select different combinations of the pickups hence its tone versatility
The 3 way pickup selector switch of the Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar performs a very important job. It controls and determines which humbucker pickup or humbucker pickups combination is on at any given time. This is basically what gives the ELP GUITAR its honored tonal versatility.
This selector switch is a three-position blade-type mounted diagonally on the lower half of the pickup guard on the treble-string side. Its position, just like that of all Epiphone Les Paul guitar parts is very vital and deliberate. Its close enough to the pickup hand to be within easy reached while playing, but also far enough out of the way to prevent it from accidentally being knocked out of position.
Assigning number to the switch position, and taking the position closest to the bridge as position 1, proceeding in that order towards the neck pickup, we would easily label the switch’s pickup-selector functions thus:
The Epiphone Les Paul Classic Humbucker Pickups
Position 1: Switch flipped downwards, only Bridge humbucker pickup. This produces a crunchy sound which is mostly used by lead guitars
Position 2: Middle Position. Combine the Bridge and Neck pickups. The sound produce at this position is neither too bright nor too mellow, but a perfect balanced tone.
Position 3: Switch flipped upwards, only Neck humbucker pickup. The sound produced at this position is deeper and more "grave" sounding, having a rich sustain that is perfect for slower solos. When the tone control is turn to position 0, it generates the well-known "woman tone" common with Eric Clapton and Slash.
Looking at these switch positions, it’s important to note that three position pickups connections possibly adds some quite interesting history behind the Les Paul which goes on to gives the ELP tonal versatility.
How Hum-Cancellation in Epiphone Les Paul Humbucker Pickup Works
Many guitar players or guitarists are curious to know “how the humbucker pickups work?” Pickups captured and send the vibration of the guitar string to the pre-amplifier while cancelling or attenuating the hum (noise) present all around the guitar, from electronic devices to power lines. How is this possible?
The humbucker pickup uses two coils of wire to pick up the guitar strings’ vibrations. Magnets in the two coils are installed in opposite polarity in such a way that they produce signals that are effectively out of phase in each coil. By connecting the coils correctly, signals from the strings sum together from the two single coils. But the electromagnetic fields hitting both coils from external sources, such as lighting fixtures, cancel out owing to the manner with which the coils are interconnected. Hence, the guitar signal is double the strength that would be heard with a single coil alone, with the interference cancelled to a great extent.
While designing wiring schemes for guitars, we take into account whether certain configurations will be hum-cancelling. If we select a humbucker on its own it will cancel its own hum. Also, two single coils combined, where one is reverse order, will also form a hum-cancelling combination.
The technique or strategy to cancelling hum is to have two active coils with their hum is out of phase but the guitar signal is in phase. To achieve this, let’s start by looking at a basic view of how a pickup works.
59 Custom/Hybrid humbucker
A pickup is comprises of a magnet (that supply the magnetic field) and a coil of wire (through which signal is created) into a single package. Oftentimes, the pole pieces of the pickup are the magnets, and other times a separate magnet is used to magnetize the pole-piece s. Whatever way, the resulting effect is the same.
The strings on an electric guitar are made of a magnetic material (usually steel), thus these strings are magnetized when they get close to the pickup. As they move (vibrate) they cut through magnetic flux (magnetic field) and an electric signal (current) is created in the coil.
The problem arises due to the fact that the coil will also pick up disturbances in ambient magnetic fields around the guitar. The most common form of this interference is the infamous 60Hz hum (or 50Hz if you’re in the UK) which is the frequency of mains electricity and so can’t be ignore.
Take a look at a simplified signal we might get from a single-coil pickup:
We should note here that, the frequency of the hum would always be lower than the frequency of the guitar signal, and that the guitar signal wave would be much more complicated. The actual voltage change over time that finds its way to the amplifier represents the combined effect of the two waves.
To effectively cancel the hum, we need to generate another signal, which is completely out of phase with the hum and combine them together without affecting the original signal. How is this done?
Let’s take a look at what happens when we keep the winding the same, or we wind the coil in the other direction, but connect the pickups out of phase (the effect is unchanged: the current flows in the opposite direction around the coil):
We have reversed the hum, worse still we’ve also reversed our desired signal from the strings. Combining this with our original pickup, we’ll cancel out everything and the end result will be silence.
We may also try to keep the winding and electrical connections the same, but with reverse polarity of the pickup:
As before, the signal from the strings is inverted. But the hum is not. This is due to the fact that the hum isn’t produced by the magnetic field of the pickup but rather comes from other magnetic fields in the surrounding environment. If we sum these two signals, we’d a zero string sound, but double the hum (noise). This is the opposite of what we want.
What happens if we flip the direction of the current and inverts the hum and the string signal? Or if we also change the polarity of the pickup’s magnet, we will invert the signal again, implying it goes back to how it originally was, but this time we don’t change the hum.
Now we have a signal we can combine with our original pickup which will cancel the hum, without affecting the signal. Great job! As shown on the graph that the two hum lines is exactly opposite to each other. Therefore, if we combine the two, the “total” signals from the two coils, we get the entire string signal and none of the hum.
At this point it’s worth noting that we may never be able to achieve a level of cancellation this precise. The only possible way to do this would be to have two coils that are exactly physically identical to each other, and place them at exactly the same physical location at the same time. This is practically impossible. Thus, the hum and signal picked up by each coil will slightly be different and there will always be a tiny bit of noise. Also, the string signal will not quite be exactly the same as if there were only one coil.
We may also try to connect these two coils in parallel or series. In parallel, the waves are averaged. In series, the waves are summed but to hum cancellation, it makes no significant difference.
In general, humbucker pickups’ coils are normally wire in series as its resulted in a further increases the signal to noise ratio while if the hum is inverted against itself, the string signal strength (noise) is effectively doubled.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review – Features
Humbucker pickups while eliminating pesky 60-cycle hum deliver powerful performance with a fatter, thicker tone than single-coils. The humbucker pickup has two wound coils next to each other that are wired out of phase. This is to reduce or eliminate most electrical hum to which single-coil-pickups are prone.
Tone and volume controls
The two pickups have separate volume and tone controls, to create precisely the sound you're looking for.
Iconic Single-cutaway Solid-body Design
Les Paul is built from the famous tone wood combination of solid mahogany and a thick, carved maple top. This account for their comfortable and light weighted body, shape and tone versatility of the Les Paul.
24.75" Scale Length
The Les Paul's 24.75" scale length imbues the guitar with a fat, warm tonality, while creating easy string bends and reducing tension.
The Les Paul headstocks are angled at 17 degrees. This makes sure that the solid string tension is at best for maximum performance and the ideal break angle on the nut eliminates the need for string trees.
Tune-o-matic/Stop TaiELPiece Bridge
The two piece bridge allows players to adjust their overall action, while having precise control over each string's intonation.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review: Why Choose a Epiphone Les Paul (ELP)?
The market is proliferated with a good number of electric guitar that you may choose from and at different prices. But what is particular about the Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar? Why should you choose an Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar?
To answer these question and more, I will love to draw you back to the design and tonal versatility Les Paul offer.
Les Paul offers a comfortable feel, smooth, single contoured body and neck that together make the ELP Guitar easy to handle, play and move it round your body on live performances to add more color to your playing style. Its deep cutaway gives guitarist ready access to the entire fretboard. Also, there is neck of different profile to choose from according to your hand and playing style.
Les Paul has been the choice of many players, thanks to its humbucker and single pickups and separate volume and tone switch which offer guitarist or players a variety of options to achieve their desire sound. From mellow and moody to twangy, the ELP guitar covers many colors on the tonal palette.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review: What makes it Unique?
The Epiphone Les Paul is well established in the entertainment industry especially in classic rock genre. It has reshaped classic British blues-rock almost entirely thanks to this instrument’s unique sound. Also, other rock that needs a thick, rich tone and play ability as well as better sustainability is easily achieved using the Epiphone Les Paul. First produced in 1930, Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar has since then been in almost every musical genre. Whether you're a beginner who's just starting out with a new guitar or a guitar professional guitarist who appreciates classic beauty, the ELP will appeal to you. Below are just a few reasons why the Epiphone Guitar is such a cult favorite amongst professionals and amateurs alike.
Its Tune-o-Matic bridge prevent player from putting the Les Paul guitar out of tune during the middle of a gig.
The Les Paul fretboard makes it easy to get to those high notes without too much effort. This is a total contrast with other standard guitars that have any kind of mobile bridges (for example, the standard tremolo, Floyd rose etc)
The presence of the two humbucker pickups allows you to receive or produce a wonderfully clean note on your Les Paul
The tonal versatility of the Les Paul makes it famous and suitable for virtually any genre of music, ranging from rock to heavy metal to rock and pop and everything in between.
Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review – Types
They are a good number of different Les Paul guitars in the market you can choose from. Here is a quick review of some of the most common categories.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Series
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard series is a true piece of the ELP guitar legacy with a number of models loaded with essential Les Paul’s features, but at only a fraction of the Gibson cost. For example, the Standard Plain Top features a mahogany body with a maple veneer top, a pair of Alnico Classic humbuckers, and a set mahogany neck, which gives the guitar its rich, warm tonics with tons of sustain.
It also feature a Standard Plus Top Pro model with a breathtaking flamed maple carved top and two ProBucker pickups that offers amazing tone at an affordable cost.
Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro
This Epiphone Les Paul is just about superb tonal versatility. The Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro uses Epiphone's 4-wire, silver/nickel base humbuckers with newly tooled, USA-style bobbins. The zebra coils, Alnico Classic Pro humbucker in the neck is uniquely paired with a ProBucker-3. Both volume controls feature pull/push potentiometers allowing you to coil-split each pickup for single-coil sounds. Using the 3-way tone selector switch (toggle), you are able to obtain six unique sounds.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Series
First introduced in 1954, Les Paul Custom guitar also known as “Black Beauty” remains one of the LP models that are all about class. It consists of the classic split-diamond headstock inlay and lavish gold pickups full binding, and the Custom exuded polish. The Ted McCarty’s powerful, new PAF humbuckers pickup was introduced to it in 1957 and become the first LP to be equipped with the rock-solid Tune-o-matic bridge. Today there are several different or dozens of possible cosmetic and electronic options you can get from a Les Paul Custom series.
Epiphone continues to uphold the Custom’s legacy offering affordable models in various configurations as well as some very cool signature models. The Zakk Wylde ELP Custom is a great case in point, enhance with a Pair of EMG active pickups that delivers high-gain tonics and Wylde’s bulls-eye cosmetics serve up the visual attitude to match.
Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus
The ELP Tribute Plus commemorates the long-standing friendship between Les Paul and Epiphone’s owner, Epiphone Stathopoulos. Incorporating time-tested ELP virtues with a pair of Gibson USA ‘57 Classic humbuckers, it has push pull tone pots for parallel/series switching. Premium hardware and electronics plus an included hard case make the Tribute a phenomenal value.
Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III
Beneath its ProBucker pickups and traditional profile, the ELP Ultra-III is armed with digital-age capabilities that its namesake would surely have relished. It comprised of a NanoMag pickup embedded in a fretboard creates shimmering acoustic guitar tones that are combined with the humbuckers. Its output options include USB connections and stereo. The formal giving you access to free Guitar Rig LE software for limitless creativity and fun. Also, included is a full-function chromatic tuner, built into the bridge pickup ring which keeps you posted on which pups are activated. This is clearly a modern day guitar that has a pure new breath of hardware.
Epiphone Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus EX/GX
This Epiphone comes in two versions, the EX and GX, both of which have a super-sleek Speed Taper neck for fleet fretting and a sweet-looking quilted maple veneer top. They are part of the company where electronics are concerned however, the GX features Gibson USA's powerful 490R/498T humbucker combination with pull/push coil-tapping for each pickup. The EX is designed for high-gain players looking for the extreme output of EMG 81/185 active pickups.
Epiphone Les Paul Studio
As a direct evidence of the buyout of Epiphone by Gibson in 1983, the original cosmetics were downplayed in favor of shoulder-friendly weight reduction and sonic performance. This is also true with its Epiphone counterpart. A LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and Dual open-coil Alnico Classic pickups deliver classic Les Paul sound and performance. Currently, Epiphone offers Studio versions with dot-inlaid fingerboards as well as an all-black Goth version with dark cosmetics and a kill switch for big transitions.
Epiphone Les Paul 100
This supper accessible, ELP 100 delivers the Les Paul experience at a super-affordable price. Its bolt-on neck will take a pair of open-coil humbuckers and a beating serve up the trademark ELP GUITAR sound. The chrome hardware is super durable and tune-O-Matic bridge makes for easy setup. The ELP 100 is great for new guitarists with more enthusiasm than cash to get started on an an ELP.
Epiphone Les Paul Special II Series
Recognizing that new guitarists often are cramped by tight budgets, Epiphone has come up with the Special II series to provide all the satisfying playability and tone of more costly ELPs. These are:
The Special II series which includes a Plus Top limited edition with flamed maple veneer top.
The GT version sports a worn black finish and a V-Trem taiELPiece for whammying fun. All versions have an easily adjusted bolt-on neck with a comfortable slim-taper profile and open-coil humbuckers for genuine Paul sound.
Epiphone Les Paul Performance Packs
Epiphone has the new guitarist in mind with its Les Paul Performance Packs. They are manufacture with everything you need to start jamming right out of the box, and provide an awesome value and quality. Take the Epiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Guitar Outfit. You benefit from the dual-humbucker ELP Special-II Guitar, all the extras like a gig bag, a sweet little 2-channel 15-watt Slash Snakepit amp, cable, picks, strap, and access to online eMedia guitar lessons.
Epiphone SG Models
The Epiphone SGs, produced in Gibson’s Asian plants, involve less costly woods and less hand work, electronics, hardware, and finishes than their U.S. made counterparts. This guitars offer excellent value for budget-conscious guitarists with some models having the U.S. made electronics and pickups. They usually have the durable polyurethane finishes.
Epiphone SG Special
The Epiphone SG Special is made up with the traditional SG slim-profile neck and a pair of open-coil humbuckers together with an integrated killswitch that's activated by pushing in the tone knob. This is a terrific guitar for newbies that come with an affordable price tag and rich sonic versatility. The Lock Tone Tune-O-Matic bridge with stopbar helps in generating plenty of sustain and facilitates easy string changes.
They are constructed to comprised of a hard maple neck, mahogany body, hard maple neck, bolt-on neck with tapered heel, slim Taper "D" neck profile and a 24075 scale length. Also, they include:
Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
Fingerboard radius: 12"
Nut width: 1.68
Neck Pickup: 650R humbucker
Bridge Pickup: 700T humbucker
Bridge: LockTone Tune-O-Matic
Controls: 1-master volume, 1 master-tone with KillPot
Premium 14:1 tuners
The Epiphone is owned by Gibson. This simply means the Epiphone is licensed to use the Les Paul name, and also follow Gibson’s specs. By this, it makes the Epiphone to not just bear the same Les Paul design, but to also have the real Les Paul tonal versatility. Again, this does not mean that an Epiphone is pretty much the same as the Gibson.
The Gibson guitars are made in the USA and of much higher quality with respect to construction and material.
In contrast, Epiphone Les Pauls are built overseas, mostly in Asia. This accounts for some of the quality and price difference between the two.
Both guitars look pretty identical at first glance. In fact, they look very similar that unless someone is a guitar geek like some of us, or at a close enough range to see the name on the headstock, they probably aren’t going to know the difference.
So this is a good thing to keep at the back your head from the beginning: Except for a very small percentage of musicians and guitar nerds, most people aren’t going to know or care if your Les Paul is an Epiphone or a Gibson.
That notwithstanding, there are a few aesthetic differences for those who look closely enough. The Epiphone LP headstock has a different shape, body (which is not quite thick), and, for such guitars with sunburst finish, the wood underneath isn’t as good or pretty as their Gibson brother’s.
Epiphone and Gibson Construction Specs
The Epiphone and Gibson guitars are both constructed using similar combination of tone-woods i.e. a mahogany neck set in a mahogany body with a maple top. Even with all these similarities, they’re still not quite the same. Gibson guitars are constructed with higher-quality woods, with their tops made from solid maple where the Epiphone has a thinner top, with an often incorporates a veneer.
The hardware and electronics in the Gibson are far more superior, and less likely to wear down over time. On the other hand, Epiphone Les Paul Standards feature Gibson's powerful Burstbucker pickups. This date back in the early innovation era with the Epiphone pickups being pretty good, but do not match the clarity and depth of the Gibson’s.
However, the Epiphone PRO series includes the new ProBucker pickups which do an impressive job of narrowing the gap between Gibson and Epiphone.
Not just that, the Epiphone has also done a great in improving their jacks, switches and other hardware over the years. Some report holds that the Epiphones are fast becoming a better alternative to the Gibson Les Paul.
The Epiphone Les Paul is a bit heavier than the Epiphone, but all Les Pauls are weighty.
Gibson produces their fingerboards out of high-quality ebony or rosewood, and they are undergoing experiments with other woods in a bit to ease the impact on the world’s rosewood resources.
Epiphone makes their fingerboards out of rosewood as well, but the pieces usually are not as pretty.
From this information, it’s now clear that a Gibson Les Paul is superior to an Epiphone in quality and construction. This doesn’t necessary mean the Epiphones are bad. Gibson guitars remain among the best in the world, so Epiphone has a lot to add in order to meet up to.
There are definitely many good reasons some people prefer an Epiphone over a Gibson. Some of these reasons consist of:
Epiphones are beautiful guitars no doubt. They look in every bit a Les Paul, down to their vintage tuning pegs, pickguard and shiny chrome hardware.
Also, the playing style and hands have a huge influence over your tone. Thus, a guitar is just a tool to express yourself which strongly on your expertise and playability.
Every guitar has its own personality. Some Epiphones sing as sweet as any Gibson, and some Gibsons sound like the worst Epiphone. If you can find the right Epiphone it’s like striking gold.
Sure, you have a better chance of finding that gem in the Gibson line-up, but there’s that price thing again. Don’t count the Epiphone out until you’ve tried a bunch and you’re convinced you’ll never find one to meet your liking.
The Epiphone doesn't stop with the standard Les Paul model. They also include higher-end guitars like the LP Ultra III which is an upgraded axe with a price tag still lower than a Gibson.
Buy an Epiphone Les Paul Guitar if:
- You’ve always wanted a Gibson Les Paul but can’t justify the price.
- You’re a hobbyist guitarist who plays for self-enjoyment.
- You intend to make some modifications by whipping out the soldering iron.
- You don’t want your good Gibson to get stolen or damaged
- You are a new guitarist just getting onboard in a band or as a serious musician.
The Epiphone Les Paul Guitars remain one of the famous musical instruments largely due to its dual himbucker, tonal versatility (as a result of its different pickup combination brought about by its three-way tonal selector switch), quality body construction and finish and at affordable price.