Epiphone Les Paul vs Gibson Les Paul Guitar Review

Updated on June 21, 2018
Guitar Gopher profile image

Guitar Gopher is a guitarist and bassist with over 30 years of experience as a musician.

Both Epiphone and Gibson make great versions of the Les Paul. Which guitar is best for your goals and budget?
Both Epiphone and Gibson make great versions of the Les Paul. Which guitar is best for your goals and budget?

Epiphone or Gibson: Which Les Paul is for You?

The Epiphone vs. Gibson debate may be the hottest topic on guitar forums around the internet. Guitar players have a lot of questions: What’s the difference between an Epiphone and a Gibson? Is Epiphone as good as Gibson? Should I buy an Epiphone now or save for a Gibson?

If these issues are on your mind this review may be able to help clear things up.
But here's a little preface before we get into the meat of the matter: There is no universally correct answer to the Epiphone versus Gibson dilemma. On one extreme you have the Gibson purists who wouldn’t dream of soiling their hands with an Epiphone. They consider the Epiphone crowd unsophisticated and naïve.

Then there are the laid-back Epiphone folks, happy enough to play a decent guitar. To them, the Gibson people are all cork-sniffing elitists and they don’t get what the fuss is all about. For a guitarist in the middle, which is most of us, it can be a little maddening when you’re trying to get honest answers.

You can choose a side if you want to, but it’s probably better to keep an open mind. I’ve played guitar for a long time. I’ve owned both, and been very happy with both. In fact, many Les Paul lovers own a few of each. Epiphone and Gibson guitars are both great instruments and each has their strong points.

The bottom line is about making the choice that is right for you. A new Gibson Les Paul will cost several thousand dollars, whereas an Epiphone Les Paul will be a fraction of that price. There are both among the best guitar brands in the world. So how do you choose?

It’s a big decision, so let’s get down to it!

Quality Comparison

You may already know this, but Epiphone is owned by Gibson. That means Epiphone is licensed to use the Les Paul name, and follow Gibson’s specs. That makes an Epiphone not only the best Les Paul copy out there today, but in many ways a real Les Paul. Does that mean an Epi is pretty much the same as the Gibson? Nope.

Gibson guitars are made in the USA and of much higher quality when it comes to materials and construction.

In contrast, Epiphone Les Pauls are built overseas. This accounts for some of the price difference between the two, but it goes a bit deeper than that.

Both guitars appear pretty identical at first glance. In fact, they look similar enough that unless someone is at a close enough range to see the name on the headstock, or they’re a guitar geek like some of us, they probably aren’t going to know the difference.

So that’s a good thing to get out of 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.

But there are a few aesthetic differences for those who look closely enough. The Epi headstock has a different shape, the body is not quite as thick, and, for guitars with a sunburst finish, the wood underneath isn’t as pretty as their Gibson brother’s.

Gibson / Epiphone Construction Specs

Gibson and Epiphone both construct their guitars using a similar combination of tonewoods: a mahogany neck set in a mahogany body with a maple top. But they’re not quite the same. Gibson uses higher-quality woods, and their tops are solid maple where the Epiphone has a thinner top, and often incorporates a veneer.

The electronics and hardware in the Gibson are superior as well, and less likely to wear down over time. Gibson Les Paul Standards feature Gibson's powerful Burstbucker pickups. Historically, Epiphone pickups have been good, but do not match the depth and clarity of the Gibson’s.

However,the Epiphone PRO series features the new ProBucker pickups, and these do an impressive job of narrowing the gap between Gibson and Epiphone.

Epiphone has also done a great job of improving their switches, jacks and other hardware over the years. It seems Epiphones are more and more becoming a good alternative to the Gibson Les Paul.

The Gibson Les Paul is a bit heavier than the Epiphone, but all Les Pauls are weighty.

Gibson makes their fingerboards out of high-quality rosewood or ebony, and they are beginning to experiment with some other woods in order 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 pretty clear that a Gibson Les Paul is superior to an Epiphone in construction and quality. But that doesn’t mean Epiphones are bad! Gibson guitars are among the best in the world, so Epiphone has a lot to live up to.

The Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop PRO

If I were going to recommend one guitar for someone who wants a Les Paul but isn’t convinced they should spend too much money, it would be the Epi LP PlusTop PRO. There are many affordable Les Pauls out there, but this one, I think, is one of the best examples.

It’s a great way to get a real Les Paul without missing a mortgage payment. I’ve owned a few in the past, but the versions I’ve played recently are even better. I think the ProBucker pickups have really narrowed the gap between Epi and Gibson, and judging from the comments I get on this article and others it appears a lot of guitar players feel the same way.

This article covers the main differences between a Gibson and Epi LP, and those are apparent in the PlusTop PRO. It also has a coil-split function for the pickups which is pretty cool, and comes in some really beautiful finishes.

Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric Guitar with Coil-Tapping, Vintage Sunburst
Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric Guitar with Coil-Tapping, Vintage Sunburst

The LP Standard PlusTop PRO is a solid instrument that sounds and looks like a Les Paul should, and it comes in at a fraction of the cost of a Gibson. Amazing!

The ProBucker pickups sound fantastic, and they're a big step up the Alnico Classics. Epi has made other improvement in recent years, pushing them closer in quality to Gibsons.

 

I’ll extend my praise to the LP Custom PRO as well. It has the same ProBucker pickups, and in true LP Custom style comes in some classy finishes.

The basic Epiphone Les Paul Standard is a fine guitar too, but it does have the old Alnico Classic humbuckers. These aren’t bad, but I don’t think they are up to par the ProBuckers. Still, it’s one the best electric guitars under $500 you’re going to find.

The Les Paul Guitar Sound

The Gibson Les Paul sound is legendary, and some of the best guitarists in the world play them. No doubt you can name a dozen guitarists that play a Les Paul whose tone you’d love to cop. From Zakk Wylde to Jimmy Page, this guitar has shaped some of most amazing sounds in the history of rock music.

I’m guessing you don’t need to be further convinced of how awesome a Gibson Les Paul sounds. If you didn’t already know this you probably wouldn’t be reading this article!

But the real question is: Does an Epiphone Les Paul sound just as good as a Gibson?

The answer: No! But, with a difference in price of a few thousand dollars, you have to ask yourself if the Gibson sound is worth that much more to you. Epiphones sound really, really good, and they do indeed have that deep, rich Les Paul sound, but of course they are not on par with a Gibson.

The new ProBucker pickups have really improved the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. But, to me, the sound differences still come down to two basic factors:

  • Clarity: It may be the quality of the electronics, or the wood, or a combination of both, but Epis simply don’t have the same definition to their sound. Sometimes they can be a touch boomy in the low-end. This issue is much less pronounced in the higher registers.
  • Resonance: You want to feel it in your gut when you play a chord on a Les Paul. This is something that should even come through when the guitar is unplugged. With the Epi this isn’t quite there. Perhaps this is more a sign of the greatness of the Gibson rather than a shortcoming of the Epiphone.

Again, the Epi sounds great, but it’s just not a Gibson. The reasons for the differences are obvious. Body materials and construction, pickups, thickness of the wood in certain areas, all of these points make an Epiphone cheaper than a Gibson, and influence the tone.

Is it a $2000 difference? I say no, but that’s up to you!

Below: Guitar World Reviews the Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop PRO

Defending Epiphone

There are definitely some reasons someone may prefer an Epiphone over a Gibson.

First of all, Epis are beautiful guitars. They look every bit a Les Paul, down to the shiny chrome hardware and vintage tuning pegs and pickguard. As stated earlier, don’t let the name on the headstock make up your mind here. What other people think does not matter.

Second, I’m a firm believer that your hands and style have a huge influence over your tone. Think Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen would sound bad playing an Epi? Of course not. So if you want to get down to it, a guitar is just a tool to express yourself with.

Why pay several grand when you can get an effective tool for a quarter the price?

Finally, every guitar has its own personality. Some Epis sing as sweet as any Gibson, and some Gibsons sound like the worst Epi. 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 lineup, but there’s that price thing again. Don’t count the Epi out until you’ve tried a bunch and you’re convinced you’ll never find one to meet your liking.

And Epiphone doesn't stop with the standard Les Paul model. They also feature higher-end guitars like the Les Paul Ultra III, an upgraded axe with a price tag still lower than a Gibson.

On the other hand, they feature budget-level guitars like the Studio and LP-100. These instruments come in at prices almost any guitar player can afford, so if you really want a Les Paul Epi gives you a way to grab one.

Gibsons has a few relatively affordable options as well, such as their Faded Series instruments (see my 2016 LP Studio Faded below). They cut a few corner to make them more more wallet friendly, but they are still America-made Gibsons.

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded T
Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded T

Is An Epiphone a Gibson?

I’ve already explained how Gibson owns Epiphone. They are a different company, under the Gibson umbrella. So, does that mean an Epiphone is a Gibson, or not?

You tell me! Here are a few more interesting facts you might ponder when considering how closely the Epiphone Les Paul is related to a Gibson.

  • Les Paul, not the guitar but the guy whom the guitar is named after, is credited as the inventor of the solid body electric guitar. He built the first prototype he called “the Log” in the Epiphone factory in 1940.
  • Paul approached Gibson about marketing the solid body electric, but they rejected his ideas. Only when Fender starter to capitalize on the solid-body electric did Gibson bring Paul in and begin collaboration of the now-famous guitar that bears his name.
  • Epiphone has been around longer than Gibson. When Gibson was founded in 1903 Epiphone had already been making instruments for almost 20 years and had made a name for itself.
  • The two manufacturers were major competitors throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s, but when Epiphone fell on hard times in 1957 Gibson bought them up.
  • Orville Gibson, one of the founders of Gibson, started out making mandolins. Today, vintage Gibson mandolins and banjos can go for tens of thousands of dollars on the open market.

That's some interesting info, and we've come pretty far in this article, but I know why you're really here. Let's not delay the big question any longer.

Which Les Paul Should You Get?

I hope you haven’t read this far looking for a clear-cut answer! The decision is yours alone, and only you can weigh the facts and make the choice. But if you’re looking for opinions, here are a few:

You should buy an Epiphone Les Paul if:

  • You’re a hobbyist guitarist who plays for your own enjoyment.
  • You’ve always wanted a Gibson Les Paul but can’t justify the price.
  • You’re a part-time pro and you don’t want your good Gibson to get stolen or damaged at a gig.
  • You intend to whip out the soldering iron and make some modifications.
  • You are a young guitarist just getting started in a band or as a serious musician.
  • You love Les Pauls but think its silly to spend three grand on a guitar.

You should buy a Gibson Les Paul if:

  • You’ve played an Epiphone for a while and it’s time to move up.
  • You’re a professional musician.
  • You’ve always wanted a Gibson and finally have the cash.
  • You want your new guitar to stay in the family for generations and possibly increase in value.
  • You’re such a tone freak that nothing else will do!

All of that said, ultimately it’s up to you! I hope this article has helped you make your choice. Whichever you decide on, a Les Paul is a great instrument that you’ll no doubt love. Epiphone or Gibson? Come back and let me know what you decided in the comments section!

Epiphone Les Paul vs Gibson Les Paul

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Questions & Answers

  • Are the pickups on an electric guitar the most important thing when it comes to sound?

    If I were to put the parts of the guitar in order of importance when it comes to how much they each influence sound, I would put the pickups at the top of the list. The pickups, more than any other component of an electric guitar, have the power to shape the sound. They drastically influence the character of an instrument, and they are extremely important, along with the capacitors and the rest of the electronics inside an electric guitar.

    But other things are important, too, such as the tonewoods chosen to build the instrument. When I say this, some guitar players immediately take it as some kind of challenge against pickups and electronics, but that’s not the point. Yes, pickups may matter more than anything, but other things matter, too. The wood. The nut. The bridge. The way the neck is attached. The body cavities inside the guitar. Even the paint.

    An electric guitar isn’t some artless electrical thing thing like a toaster or microwave oven - it's a complex machine, and someone has put a great deal of thought into the design. Yes, the electronic technology is important, but so is the craftsmanship. Pickups may matter the most, but I think everything matters. To whittle the factors that influence the sound of an electric guitar down to the pickups alone is extremely over simplistic.

Comments

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    • profile image

      RickyLee3 

      24 hours ago

      The most important ingredient, for any guitar player, regardless of what kind of music your playing, regardless of what guitar you use, are ones fingers, or, what players refer to as "ones touch". I've always maintained, "its the touch, not the tool". So for all of you young guitar players out there, take my words seriously. You can spend all sorts of money, time and energy on guitars, pedals, amps, strings, take all of that time, energy and passion and Play! a good guitar player can make any guitar sound good. Far to many people spend so much time, energy, and money on equipment, thinking that it will make them sound better, what will make you sound better is developing a feel, which you can do on any old guitar that will stay in tune. Take all the time, energy, and effort, you spend on learning about equipment, and put that into your playing, you wont be sorry.

    • profile image

      Bob R. 

      3 days ago

      Les Paul, himself, didn't actually like most of the guitars bearing his name. He gave several interviews in Wisconsin (where I am) and mentioned this in a couple. He played a heavily-modified Les Paul Studio, as he did not like all bindings and other 'fancy' crap they toss on the high-dollar models. Further, having played many of the models, I see why he chose the studio model: it just sounds cleaner. That being said, two Epiphone Les Paul models stand out to me and I own both: the silverburst and the Zakk Wylde bullseye--they sound great.

    • profile image

      David Clarke 

      4 weeks ago

      I already own a les Paul but it’s the studio not the standard. But I read and WOW,had a good thought. Epiphone might not sound as good as a Gibson but les Paul the man worked for epiphone. So therefore in a way in my mind a les Paul is a Epiphone guitar not Gibson. Les Paul made it,he worked for Epiphone and it started long before Gibson did. Pity they are made in the Far East but quality wise they do look good and sound good and hope being made under a watchful eye of decent quality control staff. My next guitar will be a Epiphone Les Paul standard for the affordable price and quality. Slash plays a Gibson but gets his for free. Anyway that’s my choice and comments and hope they help. Good playing all!!!!!!!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 weeks ago

      @Scott - Don't sweat it! There is nothing wrong with Epiphone, and in many ways I think they are a better choice for guitarists these days. Play what you can afford and have fun!

    • profile image

      Scott 

      4 weeks ago

      Thank you for the short and informative history of Epiphone/

      Gibson connection. This has confused many guitarists

      For many years, as the makers of these

      Fine guitars. I have enjoyed Epiphone guitars,

      And would like a Gibson, but never had the money to afford

      The name.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      2 months ago

      @CGRT - That was true decades ago. Today, Gibson is the parent company. Gibson and Epiphone were both bought by CMI back in the 1940s. CMI sold out to another company in 1969. In the 1980s they changed ownership again, and rebranded as Gibson Guitar Corp, and later changed the name to Gibson Brands Inc. Epiphone, Tobias, Kramer, etc are all under that Gibson Brands umbrella.

    • profile image

      GCGRT 

      2 months ago

      Gibson doesn't own Epiphone. Gibson was bought out by CMI who later bought Epiphone. They are two separate companies owned by the same parent company. Epiphone was given the Les Paul license, as well as other Gibson licenses, by the parent company because Les Paul himself was a huge fan of Epiphone. Epiphone still competes with Gibson under the parent company. Gibson is struggling while Epiphone is sitting pretty on it's pile of cash. Well until the tariffs kick in that is...

    • profile image

      T Archuleta 

      4 months ago

      I always said if it’s not a Gibson Les Paul , it’s not a Les Paul. Then my friend bought a epi les Paul can custom pro and I loved it . So the next day I found one in Modesto c. For about 15% of the cost for a new Gibson. Save your money, Epi will get the job done

    • profile image

      Mark 

      5 months ago

      Great article, I own 5 Gibson Les Pauls, If I were playing out I would hesitate taking mine. I think they would be a great alternative. Thank you for the info.

    • profile image

      Brian conlon 

      5 months ago

      My Epiphone Prophecy comes with Gibson pups and Grover tuners, Mother of pearl and abalone inlays with gold hardware and quilted Maple veneer top with hard case for under a grand. It sounds as good as I can play it although cos I can't put it down it's improved me immensely. I play at home for fun.

    • profile image

      Ralph Bush 

      6 months ago

      I recently bought an Epiphone Les Paul Pro Plus Top,with Honey Burst finish. I own and love two Fenders, a 2005 Deluxe Stratacastor and a 2016 Elite Telecaster. I wanted too add to the collection a Les Paul sound. I am pleased with the quality of sound from my Epi and found it to be pleasingly affordable. I may not have the "PURE" 1950s Gibson sound but I don"t play through Marshall Stack Walls either. The Epi sound is very good and is a different tonality than my Fenders. Different animals for different sounds. I just bought a Trans Blue Epi Les Paul for my son's 25th birthday and he is a happy young man.

    • profile image

      Leland McKinney 

      6 months ago

      I have a 2015 epiphone les Paul standard pro and bang for buck I have no complaints what so ever, I've owned both the Gibson and epi model, and in my 40 plus years of playing I still prefer the epi over Gibson, bang for buck!!!!!

    • profile image

      George 

      6 months ago

      Have owned Epi Les Pauls and Gibson Les Pauls. I currently have an Epi 1960 tribute plus Les Paul which comes with Gibson 57 classic pickups and a maple cap and solid mahogany body. This guitar is top notch and IS a les Paul through and through. Sounds and feels like a Gibson for a quarter of the price. Don't know how Gibson allows this guitar to be built. Must be taking a huge portion of sales away from Gibson with this amazing guitar.

    • profile image

      Rick 

      6 months ago

      I think today most musicians would love to have a Gibson Les Paul for recording and an equal model Epi for performing. A change of electronics on an Epiphone can do wonders to the sound. Everything else being equal. I believe this is the main difference. And to upgrade an Epiphone this may be all that is really needed. As things go, I foresee when the bottom of guitar pricing will fall out. People will be looking to sell guitars and it will be a buyers market.

    • profile image

      Big kev 

      7 months ago

      @guitar gopher tbh I’ve played guitars with maple and mahogany necks and to be honest I don’t think I could tell the difference in a blind play test but I do like the feel of the slim tapper.

      As for the pick ups, I’m one to change pups quite bit but these will do for now, and for me the price increase was just the right side of acceptable.. I understand inflation and cost increases but I do feel sometimes Gibson pull their prices out of the air.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      7 months ago

      @old Chicago guy - You will likely need to do some soldering to install new pickups. I'm also not sure the P-90s will fit correctly without modification. If you ask this question over on the Gibson forums they will probably be able to provide you with specifics.

      @Big kev - I have a 2016 Les Paul Studio Faded and I absolutely love it. My only complaints with the 2017 and 2018 versions is they went back to a maple neck and changed the pickups. And the price went up.

      I agree about the QC.

    • profile image

      Big kev 

      7 months ago

      I recently purchased a 2018 Gibson les Paul faded t. Yes it’s the bottom of the line up but the stripped back looks actually appeal to me. The actual build quality is superb but I must admit I have some issues with the finish, lacquer bubbles on the neck behind the fifth an twelfth frets and One spot at the neck join that looks like a finger print and the pots rattle, although they work fine and don’t crackle they aren’t as stiff as you’d expect from a Gibson and none of those things prompted me to return it even though it probably shouldn’t have left the factory like that and Gibson should have tighter QC, I also hold the shop I bought it from to account for those issues, I feel that if they were a little stricter about what they are willing to accept and sell on Gibson may have no choice but to shape up. that said it plays and sounds fantastic despite the action being a little high for me, I never understand why people complain about the set up of a guitar when it comes from factory and label the guitar trash or junk, action is a personal thing so it seems unlikely that they’re going to have set it up exactly to your liking.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      7 months ago

      @dharris - I've read that too re: Gibson, but I've not experienced it myself. I haven't played a 2018 yet, but the 2017s I played were very good. My advice is to get out there and play a few and forget about the rumors.

      I haven't heard/read anything negative about Epiphone.

      You can save a few bucks going with a pre-owned instrument, especially if you are considering a Gibson.

    • profile image

      dharris 

      7 months ago

      I am hearing a lot of negative issues with Gibson quality recently(2017-2018). I would like to know if Epiphone is experiencing the same issue seeing that they are both owned by the same company. Should I be looking for an older used Gibson or Epiphone instead?

    • profile image

      Al Sautner 

      8 months ago

      I have both Guitars and both play well and look great. I have had the guitars for over 15 years each. They both play well and both sound really the same. You can not tell the difference. I have seen newer Epiphones that do not sound as good. I think when I got the guitars the quality of the units were much better. I love them both.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      12 months ago

      Thanks Nick! That's a gorgeous guitar. Congrats!

    • profile image

      Nick 

      12 months ago

      Great article. Very helpful and reassuring that Epiohones aren't half bad! Good to know because I just purchased a Epi limited edition les paul custom pro koa!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      14 months ago

      @Steve -Glad you love your guitar! The Tributes are a bargain for what you get. It's scary to see how good Epis can be with a few upgraded components.

    • profile image

      Steve Strunk 

      14 months ago

      I have owned a 74 Gibson Les Paul but now play Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II and the Epiphone 2010 Tribute. I love the tuner, usb, and light weight of the Ultra III, but the 2010 Tribute with Gibson pickups just feels like my old Gibson Les Paul plus you get the push-pull tone pots to give you a variety of almost Strat like sounds. If I had to own just one electric, it would be the Epiphone 2010 Tribute followed closely by a 1985 Fender Contemporary Strat. Just my 2 cents!

    • profile image

      Matt Zalac 

      14 months ago

      I bought my Epi Les Paul Classic after playing quite a few of Guitar Center's wall full. Quality/playability varied greatly. Conveniently this store also had a nice stock of Gibsons to compare. Bottom line, try before you buy. I love my Epi and it is exceptional in fit, finish and sound. I guess a blanket statement is not valid from what I have seen They are close enough where a one to one comparison needs to be used.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      15 months ago

      @Raymond. A lot of players who loved Gibson Les Pauls and gave up guitar go for an Epiphone when they come back to the instrument. It's a smart choice. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Raymond 

      15 months ago

      I dreamed a drooled over a Gibson Les Paul when I was a teenager who was sure I was going to be a rock star in a few years. Now I'm a grown up who hasn't played in decades. I want a guitar to use with Rocksmith, so I'm going to buy an Epi.

    • profile image

      chris 

      16 months ago

      buy an epiphone and save up for a better quality amp if you're just starting up

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      16 months ago

      @ Murray: No hate here, bro! I mostly play a Gibson myself these days. If you (or me) find the right one, there is sure nothing wrong with that. I do appreciate the Epis though, and I think for many players they are "just right". Thanks for the kind words, and love the covfefe reference, BTW!

      @ John: I suspect Gibson holds the Epis back just enough so they never really cross into competitive territory with their expensive instruments, quality-wise. They came somewhat close with their Elitist series. However, that doesn't mean they aren't awesome guitars, totally capable of doing the job for professional musicians. Glad you love your Epi!

    • profile image

      John 

      16 months ago

      I couldn't afford a Gibson Les Paul, so I bought a Epiphone. It's been great so far, so I'm gonna encourage others to buy it. The main reason is I get almost the same sound from both & I love playing my Epiphone. I reckon everyone would buy an Epiphone if all the big names were playing them; so in the long run, it's all a matter of how you play it & what tone you create....

    • profile image

      Murray 

      16 months ago

      Hi Guitar Gopher, great article. It was about 2 months ago when I read this and all the comments. I had just bought a new Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute and wanted so much just to love it till the end of days (I'm 60). Not to be. I brought it back along with a 1990 Gibson LP Studio and Fender Tele (US Special) and traded 3 guitars for a single brand new 2016 Gibson Les Paul Traditional. Sorry but there is no comparison and I am now a Gibson snob that we all hate...not because I want to but because the difference in feel, quality, playability, and sound just makes it that way. Hate me if you must but just know that there is no covfefe between the Epiphone and Gibson...

    • profile image

      Taz4965 

      18 months ago

      hi folks, played epi's for years. For my 50th birthday bought a Gibson lp standard. Difference is huge frankly. I then found I had some cash for a Gibson lp 'tribute' model which I got for a real saving, getting the 2016 model after the 2017 models had been released. Again, feel so much better than an epi but was approx £100 more. Maybe do a comparison between top epi and bottom Gibson, you'll be surprised!

    • profile image

      Edwin Haorokcham 

      18 months ago

      I have an epiphone les paul pro plustop. It's really an awesome piece! The clean sound is unbelievable. I know Gibson is a better guitar but still I'm really satisfied with my piece!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      18 months ago

      @Joe: The Standard is a fine guitar, especially for the price. But I think you'll see a big difference when you get your hands on a PlusTop PRO. A few dollars more, but totally worth it in my opinion. Good luck! Either is a great choice.

      @Greg: Congrats on snagging a great Epi! I like the Custom PRO a lot, and probably would have grabbed one if Gibson hadn't come out with the LP Studio Faded last year. If I were making the choice this year I think I'd have gone with the Epiphone.

    • profile image

      Joe 

      18 months ago

      Still a hot topic after years. When i started playing the guitar i thought there is nothing better than Gibson on the market (I was repeatedly told so). I probably could afford a Gibson by now but as a hobby player that only plays at home for fun the difference is just not worth 2k for me. Played the Epiphone LP Standart today at my local guitar store which is just about 450$ and i absolutely loved it. The was no Custom Pro in stock but i hope i can test that one too soon and maybe get one of them. Very helpful article to justify my own decision :)

    • profile image

      Greg 

      18 months ago

      Thanks for the great article. It helps explain why there is such an extreme difference in price between Gibson and Epi, and really makes you think about what is important to you when making your decision between the two.

      I got back into guitar last year after playing off and on for many years. I wanted a Gibson LP and was thinking of going with a brand new one in Pelham Blue. While I was shopping, I came across a used Epiphone LP Custom Pro in Silverburst. It has the two stage volume and tone controls to switch between single and double coil. The guitar was six months old and had barely been played. I fell in love with it and was able to get it for about one tenth of the price of the Pelham Blue Gibson I had my eye on.

      Anyway, I now have a beautiful, great sounding guitar, and still have some money in the bank. I may change my mind and upgrade down the road (upgrade? who am I kidding, I never get rid of guitars, only add to my collection), but this guitar is just right for me right now. Thanks again for the article.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      19 months ago

      @matt tan: I can't tell you how many times I've heard similar stories. Guy played a Gibson back in the day. Guy quits music. Guy decides to get back into guitar after many years. Guy passes out when he sees the price of a new Gibson. Guy grabs an Epiphone instead and loves it. Awesome!

      This is why I always say Epis aren't just for new players. They're for anyone who loves Gibson guitars, but for whatever reason doesn't love the price.

      Enjoy your new Epiphone and thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      matt tan 

      19 months ago

      I had several gibsons (les Paul black , custom horn cream 3 pu, sg , sd 175) in the 70s when i was playing pro. I also had Fender (telecaster, jeff beck signature, 330) , i still have photos as proof on my website LOL.

      last month after decades of retirement from music, i decided to return to my first love ie. playing the guitar and composing.

      i looked at the price of my 175 today, or theCustom and LP, i shook my head , wish i had kept them. anyway, i finally settled for an Epiphone tribute plus, wine color. i never expected much when i ordered it. today after a month of playing, i tell you, i can't tell the diff between this epiphone and my gibson originals of the 70s. except this one stays in tune hell of a lot better and sings sweetly . will i pay 6k for a recreation gibson 175???? hell ffs, no!!!

    • profile image

      Sambo 

      19 months ago

      I own both, I play my Epiphone because it is more comfortable sitting down or standing up. I love my Gibson mostely because it say's Gibson on the headstock,,most people want a Gibson just because it say's GIBSON,,but with new P90 & P93 my Epiphone sounds just as good as my Gibson,,just in a different way. Whatever,,I love both guitars. Of course the Gibson will increase in value while the Epiphone probely will not,,but at my age it doesn't matter,,I will always keep both. Just for your information my Epiphone is a 2000 Korean model,,the Chinese models I will not comment on,,A Chinese Epiphone will just not do it for me.

    • profile image

      Tommy Guitar 

      20 months ago

      I've been playing guitar for forty years and still gig on weekends so have owned many guitars and three of them gibson les pauls and two epiphone les pauls.I've had alot of problems with the gibby's as far as bad necks and tuning issues but only needed a small set up with the epi's except one bad pickup selector switch.Just purchased a new epi trditional pro and can't get over the quality of this one from past epi purchases.The bad part is I lost alot of money selling my gibsons because of problems but very happy with the sound of this new epi.

    • profile image

      troy46 

      20 months ago

      congrats on writing a article that receives comments two year later.I havent read any comments about buying U.S. built products.Here in beautiful Flint Mi. They used to take it pretty serious.You couldnt drive a foreign built car without getting keyed or at least spit on.Then G.M. showed their loyalty to the U.S. Worker by leaving this town in a cloud of haz-mat dust.Im just starting to play guitar.Im 55 and have always wanted to play but kids and work took up my leisure hours.I appreciate your honesty and will ne looking for a epi Les Paul. Southern rock and slide rule the southern rock I love demand it. thanks for the honest comparison

    • profile image

      Eric 

      21 months ago

      I have both, Epis and Gibsons and my Epis are easier to play and the sound's as sweet or sweeter than the Gibsons.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      21 months ago

      it's always been a $$ issue for me. I've played junk my whole life so an Epi is a step up for me in quality.. also for me it is about the tone and the feel.

    • profile image

      sah dude 

      21 months ago

      cool ax bra

    • profile image

      Cully 

      21 months ago

      I've owned a Gibson Les Paul before. I just bought the Epiphone Traditional Pro II Jan 2017. It plays and sounds amazing! I think Epi has really stepped up their game over the years. No doubt Gibsons are made with hire quality wood/parts etc. but for the price, you can't go wrong with a mid level to hire end Epiphone. After owning my first Epiphone and playing it out one gigs, I have no issues and it continues to impress for a fraction of the cost of the Gibson.

    • profile image

      Bryce 

      21 months ago

      After fifty years of playing acoustic and acoustic/ electric guitars except for a couple of band years back in the sixties. Being at the point in my life that I could afford a new Les Paul. I drove into a big guitar shop up in the LA area to try a few guitars and amp combos. The shop had a bunch of new and classic used guitars. I spent the largest part of the day. The result came down to , of all the instruments I tried that day I walked out with an EPI LP PRO Plus top in Redwine. To my 65 year old ears with me and another person playing so I could listen it sounded and felt the best. I am very happy with my Les Paul .

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      22 months ago

      @John: I'm glad you were able to get the guitar you wanted, even if it took a little perseverance. It has to be so tough finding the right lefty guitar, especially if you are into the Les Paul single-cut design.

    • profile image

      John Keene 

      22 months ago

      I just bought an Epiphone. Les Paul Custom Pro. I play left hand, so its always difficult for me to find a good guitar. I keep hearing and reading, "Try out many guitars!" Well, usually, you can't find many lefty guitars. And they are always so pricey. I have a Gibson LP studio, lefty. Its been a very nice guitar. It fell over in the case last month and the head stock broke. You know how that goes. I got it repaired, but I decided to look for a new on as well. Gibson doesn't offer a huge selection of lefty Les Pauls. They have a cheap studio, and then they go up to as much as $5000 from there. I love the Frampton Les Paul but Gibson told me to get lost when I asked them about a lefty. Reverb.com offers a couple of beautiful classic black beauty lefties, but $6500+ is a bit out of my range. I went to Guitar Center to look at the Epiphone. Les Paul Pro. They told me they wouldn't special order it for me. I said, "but its available at Epiphone", he guy said, sorry dude, and walked off. Guitar Center sucks! I finally called Sweetwater, ordered it cold online. I love it! Like the article said, Eddy V. or any other great guitarist is going to sound great on an Epiphone, but I could play a $8500 dollar classic Les Paul and it wouldn't make any difference. I love to play..........the Epiphone is a little bit different from my Les Paul Studio, but the difference is negligible. I will never make a living with my guitar, so I don't see the advantage of a Gibson. But for me, the Epiphone was the right choice. I don't feel let down, but it has always been my dream to have a Gibson. With age, I've decided, to others, it may look better for me to play a Gibson, but for me, the Epiphone does the trick.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      22 months ago

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, figmo! Always great to get the opinion of a veteran guitarist.

    • profile image

      figmo 

      22 months ago

      "Gibson guitar is solid wood versus Epiphone which is veneer...." Just not true. Look at the wood on the top of the Gibson LP above. See that line down the middle where the two pieces of top flamed maple join together? The thickness is just enough to accomodate the contour of the top. No manufacturer in their right mind would build that kind of top from a piece of solid 2" thick piece of high quality flamed maple. And they would not make the top from two pieces split down the middle when they can use a slab of inexpensive mahagony and top it off with thinner piece of maple ).

      Besides the top isn't really "veneer" anyway. Veneer is usually around 0.05" think and only installs over a perfectly flat top. When the top is contoured like an LP or other carved top guitar, the top wood is really about 1/2 inch inch thick maple (that's not really "veneer").

      The quality of the wood in a Gibson isn't significantly different than an Epi. Everyone buys their woods from the same sources and then stores it in humidity controlled rooms until time to make a run of guitars.

      It is all part of the Gibson marketing "mystique". If your product is very expensive and all the top players use it, it must be better than the lower priced competition right?

      Wrong ! It is just a marketing strategy. The strategy is : 1. Give your product to all the top bands so people will associate your product with good sound, 2. Keep the price very high so people will think it is higher quality.

      Since most musicians are not scientists or science oriented it's easy to convince them that the Gibson name means magical tone. They will sound just like Santana or [insert your fav guitar player's name here]. There are slight differences in tone between guitar makers BUT nothing that cannot be compensated for by small adjustments in amp tone controls.

      Your sentence above "Epiphone is made by [blank]. The word Gibson should have been at the end of the sentence. Yes, Gibson owns Epiphone and has for several decades. It's all a marketing strategy. A lot of players don't want to pay $3000 for a guitar that should really sell for $700 (the price of an equivalent Epiphone). So they will buy an Epi. I've played them both. There were slight difference in tonal characteristics between the two brands but nothing that I couldn't compensate for by adjusting the tone controls a bit on the amp. And as far as build quality--the Epi's are flawless ! Workmanship is excellent ! I've seen new Gibson's that showed poor craftsmanship, but the Epi's I have seen were all of the finest craftsmanship. It doesn't matter really WHERE they were built. All the manufacturers know that to compete in this marketplace your craftsmanship and aesthetics must be the very highest. The geographic location of the factory does not matter !

      Besides, if you play two Gibsons of the same brand they will sound a little different due to differences in wood density. Wood isn't a uniform homogenous material, even wood taken from the same board varies in density and tonal characteristcs.

      I'd rather adjust my amp tone slightly and save $2300!

      This is just my opinion.

      I've been playing guitar for over 40 years and have owned a dozen different guitars.

      Some people just have to have a Gibson, (they have been so conditioned by the really great Gibson marketing department) and my son is one of them.

      He wants a Gibson L5. That's about $9000 new from the custom shop!

      Maybe I can convince him to just adjust his amp's tone slightly. He could buy 10 Epiphones for the same price!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      22 months ago

      You got me there, Russ! Well done! You can indeed get the Studio model for under thousands of dollars.

    • profile image

      Russ 

      22 months ago

      The author has indicated that all Gibson Les Pauls cost "thousands of dollars". That is not the case. Yes, the custom models do cost thousands. But, a new Studio model can be bought for less than 2k, which is not"thousands". I recently bought new 2017 Gibson Les Paul Standard for $2,450. That price may seem high to many, and it is. But, to say that "Les Pauls costs thousands" is a little bit over the top.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      22 months ago

      Glad I could help, Hector. Epiphones are fine guitars. You can always save your pennies for a Gibson down the road.

    • profile image

      Hector 

      22 months ago

      Thanks guitar gopher you really made up my mind I couldn't make up my mind to buy a epiphone LP or a Gibson LP I'm definitely getting a epiphone LP as my first electric guitar

    • profile image

      MATT 

      23 months ago

      the only thing I was disappointed with the epiphone les paul is that the sound tends to get muddy and doesn't produce the clear tone like the strats do, but it is great for playing the blues.

    • profile image

      Steve 

      2 years ago

      I owed a Gibson LP Studio -- note the past tense. I recently purchased an Epiphone LP Custom Prophecy Plus with EMG pickups for about the same price. So much more guitar, great workmanship and quality and it sounds amazing. The "real" Gibson gave me nothing but trouble after two pro setups. I say just buy an Epi and save your cash!

    • profile image

      Graeme 

      2 years ago

      Whilst this is a good and informative article I always love the it when there are comments about the wood used and whether there are veneers involved etc. Unless the reviewer or the people commenting have actually sawn up lots of Gibsons and Epiphones they really don't know what is under the nice glossy finish. You can see the grain on some guitars through the finish but that's it. You can look in the control cavity but that is usually painted and shielded anyway. The only other way is to visit the factories and see first hand what goes in there and even then they are only going to show you what they want you to see. In my opinion the big difference in price between an EPI and a Gibson is where they are made. It doesn't mean the quality suffers it is simple economics. Labour, factory rent, everything is much much cheaper in Asia. Even when it comes down to hardware and switches far east stuff isn't inferior anymore. They are the world centre for electrical and electronic components. At the end of the day how it sounds and feels comes down to your ears and your fingers and what amp you are going through plus pedals etc, and finally just how important is it to you to have Gibson on the headstock. If you've just shelled out £2,500 for a guitar you are hardly going to say it's got shortcomings even if it has. on the other hand if you find a budget guitar that works really well you will tell everyone what a great deal you got. I have a friend who played with a globally known progressive folk rock band for 25 years. He owns many vintage guitars but he takes great pleasure in making any guitar sound great. How? Ears, fingers, musicality.....oh and he can really play. He still jumps in with local bands now and again and it's really funny when folks come over during the break and see to their dismay that he's playing a budget EPI not a Gibson or his Fender Strat isn't a Fender at all.

    • profile image

      Matias Chile 

      2 years ago

      Hi i now people it's talking about les pauls but is about diferences between gibson and epiphone.... Well i bought my gibson explorer 06 brand new in 07 on an ebay auction and i'm in love with her, the action is awesome and the tone soo fat for metal is a dream but i only plug her for gigs and recording... four years ago i got epi explorer gothic china made for 250 usd....at the begining i just used her for rehersals then i put a 500t pickup the same on the gibson and now i can't really say wich one sounds better maybe you note the diference pluging them with exacts amps and i did it with peavey 6505+ and gibson wins but slighty it's got more sustain... The big diference is weigth distribution in the gibson is just perfect but in the epi the headstock allways is going down... In my experience the chinese does not have to envy too much from the real thing but clearly the gibson is better in every aspect but saying 8 v/s 10...it's really depends on your money and if you don't have it go for epiphone.. the quality control realy works there... Pickup replace and thats it tone diference is minimal

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      2 years ago

      Very interesting, Jeff. I have no idea if it's true or not, but certainly interesting.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      2 years ago

      A little Trivia.... I read years ago that the first person to hear Les Paul's prototype solid body guitar was none other than W.C. Fields. Any truth to that rumor ? I too have a "Pot of Gold" Epi. However, I looked at about 30 guitars before choosing the one that I bought. I agree with M42. If I'm going to buy a Gibson, I'll spend a lot more than $2,000.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      2 years ago

      Congrats on finding a gem, Michelleuk! I love to hear stories about how players found that "one" guitar. Great stuff!

    • profile image

      Michelleuk 

      2 years ago

      After being an all out Telecaster player for 25 years I suddenly bought a second hand Epiphone Les paul plus top which was made in Korea in 1996.

      I just happened to pick it up to kill time while waiting for the sales person and suddenly "I was in love"!

      I had never been a Les Paul fan, but this guitar had ultra low action making it feel amazing and very easy to play.

      It also had so much tone and sustain ( acoustically ) that i just had to plug it in.

      It sounded amazing and played amazingly.

      After a while I entered the "expensive room" and picked up and played a number of different Gibson Les Paul standards to compare, but they ALL felt terrible compared to the Epiphone.

      The sounds were not any better either! And these were VERY VERY expensive Gibsons.

      The second hand price on the Epi plus top was " Mickey mouse money" compared to the highly inflated price of these exclusive Gibson Les Pauls.

      People will still buy these average guitars simply because it says "Gibson" on the head.

      My Epi guitar may be one of those rare pots of gold that come along every now and again but I would certainly buy another Epi in the future as many of them are guitars of amazing quality and I dont care what is written on the head.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your input, Mike! When Epiphone can impress a veteran guitarist like yourself it shows they are really on the right track.

    • profile image

      Mike 

      3 years ago

      Here's my take on the Comparison of the guitars. Last year I sold my Gibson 1976 Black beauty for a good price. I've been playing for over 50 years so that gives you some idea how old a guitar player can get. I played that Gibson over 25 years. At my age a 13 pound guitar gets to be a drag. I just picked up an Epiphone Ultra II and I'm so impressed with it my Fenders are gathering dust. This Epiphone is just so much guitar I've been able to get stereo sounds that blow me away. The fit and finish of this Epiphone is as good as I've seen at any price point. I also have an Epiphone Broadway and it too is a great guitar vs the L5 Gibson.

    • profile image

      M42 

      3 years ago

      Personally I would rather have a high end Epiphone Les Paul than a low end Gibson LP and put the savings in my pocket. Given the quality control problems of Gibson over the past couple of years I'm not sure the higher priced ones are worth it anymore.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Good luck with your new LP, AnonymousZ! With the Aqua finish that's a great-looking guitar.

    • profile image

      AnonymousZ 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the article. I have just ordered an Aqua Epi LP 2014 traditional, keeping my fingers crossed. I've owned two actually Gibby LPs and disliked both of them. One was a bad sounding piece of wood; the other was was passable but had finish problems. Been an Ibanez guy for years, though my first "main" guitar was an LTD LP copy. Epis get points for Grover tuners and a better looking headstock if you ask me....

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      I noticed that. The plastic top is present in wide shots and missing in closer shots. Sorry about your LP Deluxe!

    • profile image

      Epiphone quality 

      3 years ago

      It may be worth mentioning that the top of the pickup-selector switch broke off during the shooting of the Ephiphone video you've linked.

      FWIW, I only noticed because the switch on my 75' Les Paul Deluxe broke in the same manner.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      @Rockhopper: I think you about summed it up. Sometimes the question isn't which guitar is best, but which guitar is best for you. Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      Rockhopper 

      3 years ago

      I played the Gibson LP Standard in my local guitar store and then the almost visually identical Epi version. The difference between the two was subtle but the Gibson just had the edge. Having said that the Gibson was £1300, the Epi £300..............for what I needed it for and the pleasure the Epi gave me.........I bought the Epi. One day I may splash out on the Gibson but for now Im happy with the Epiphone

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Thanks to Andrew for pointing out this article was in need of a little attention!

    • profile image

      Semiografo 

      3 years ago

      One annoying thing about Les Paul reviews is that most of them only present the dirty, overdriven sound of a LP. Overdriven sounds maybe can show a longer sustain in a Gibson LP, but aside from that, you can't really distinguish a Gibson from an Epi. You are even more confused when it's an Epiphone with good alnico pickups.

      I think what the best distinguish an Epi from a Gibson is the clean tone from a tube amplifier. Even in this case, pickups can make a big difference which don't mean one guitar is better than the other. 490R/490T pickups are high-gain ones, they have very pronounced mids, while more "classic" 57s are more on the bright side.

      Newer Les Pauls have the coil-tapping feature, which make comparisons even harder. A 490R/490T Gibson/Epiphone can sound as if it had a couple of P90s. I think the best reason to buy a Gibson is reliability over time instead of sound/tone concerns.

      A Gibson is supposedly made from cured woods which will be more stable over time once you keep it stored in the case or bag. An Epiphone, on the other hand, can show neck and hardware issues over time which will be a source of small headaches. Once you have a good offer of luthiers nearby your home, you'll be fine with Epis.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Thanks Axis. There is certainly good reason players get hooked on Gibson. Thanks for adding your story to the mix!

    • profile image

      Axis 

      3 years ago

      Hi there.

      Very interesting stuff here!

      I've been playing Epiphones AND Gibsons for about 20 years. I started with Epiphone les pauls because of the cost obviously but I found they worked absolutely fine for both studio and touring work- this would have been around the late 90's. I also got the chance to tour with a 1979 Gibson deluxe and an 80's Gibson Les Paul Standard around the same time and found that although these were both great guitars, there really wasn't that much between them and the Epi's- maybe a little bit more responsive in the upper neck notes but pretty much done the same job.

      When I turned 40 (gulp!) I decided to treat myself and finally buy a Gibson Les Paul- nothing too fancy, just 'off the peg' will do. This was around 4 years ago so what I ended up with was a Gibson Les Paul 2010 standard gold top that was chambered.

      Now, I have to say that this guitar has been an absolute revelation!

      The tone is just beautiful, the sustain sings and because of the chambers it has an authentic kind of 'woody' sound-very acoustically strong with a very slight 'twang'. On the downside it is slightly thinner sounding than what I was used to previously but the pluses more than compensate for this in my opinion.

      Needless to say I have become a bit of a Gibson obsessive and have been doing a lot of research into these new guitars and their relation to the 'original' Gibsons of the 50's and also to their Epiphone counterparts.

      My conclusion is that any beliefs that Epiphones are just as good as Gibsons hold water when comparing them to Gibsons made from the Norlin era (70's?) onwards- basically they are both solid,reliable,heavy guitars that give you that chunky, bluesy rock sound that we've all grown to love. But there is no comparison to the guitars Gibson have been making recently-possibly the last 15 years?

      These 'new' Gibsons are not to everyone's taste and I still also still rate the Epiphones very highly- I even tried out a 1973 Gibson Les Paul deluxe in a shop the other day that was priced at £2500(!) and could really see no difference- so why not get a 2nd hand Epi for a fraction of the price!- Job done!

      To my ears though the newer Gibsons (chambered, weight relieved or fully solid) are just in a different league. The only thing I don't like about them is the obsession with gimmicky details like auto-tune etc but in terms of the basic build and pick-ups the're a definite step forward ( or is that backward?).

      Anyhow'

      Keep it rockin'!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the kind words, Rdpurdom!

    • profile image

      Rdpurdom 

      3 years ago

      Hey guys, this dude indeed knows his stuff! I think he has given a lot of food for thought here. He's been as honest and forthright as anyone I've ever heard on the subject. I don't think it can rover emphasized, don't let the price and the name on the headstock enfluence your decision too much. Let your hands and your ears enfluence your choice. Remember, it's all about having fun playing! If you can't have fun unless the headstock says GIBSON then I suggest that you've got bigger issues going on than this article (alone) can possibly deal with.

      Rock on!

    • profile image

      Mark 

      3 years ago

      The setup should not be discounted. Often times a new Epi is in need of some proper tweaking.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Very thoughtful, Rich. I truly appreciate your input. Thanks for taking the time to comment and add to the discussion!

    • profile image

      Richie 

      3 years ago

      First off what a really great piece, informative and with nice conclusions.

      I wanted to contribute something because I find so many discussions of this nature end up degenerating in to name calling and petty insults which I'm getting a little tired of reading. Everyone should feel entitled to express an honest opinion without someone resorting to calling them names or insulting their intelligence. This is one of the few articles and discussions I've read that has largely avoided that, i wish there were more.

      Anyway, down to my own views on the humble Epiphone Les Paul. First off I should point out that I only started playing a Les Paul earlier this year after being a Fender man my whole life. I just fancied a change was all, never having had a Les Paul I thought it was maybe time to try one. I should also point out that I had largely quit playing guitar for over ten years so I was coming back with virtually no knowledge of the current guitar market and what was happening in guitardom. I was in for many surprises.

      The first major surprise when I started looking at guitars with a view to buying was the price of Gibson Les Pauls. I was expecting them to be expensive, they always had been ever since I started playing, but I was not expecting the price of many models. I am in the UK and a Les Paul Standard now retails here for £2500 GBP, the vintage reissue models for much more, anything in the region of £3550, 4500, 5500, I have even seen £9500. I'll be honest and say this took my breath away somewhat. Now I know some may say that the difference in the quality of the materials justifies the price of these instruments but this got me to thinking that if I'm paying £3500 GBP (for the US readers that's $5483) for a vintage reissue then surely it must already be made using the highest quality materials in stock, well I would have thought so. I don't understand where the difference lies between a vintage reissue costing say £3500 and one costing two or three thousand pounds more.

      I detect a change in the guitar market. Whereas once the guitar playing community themselves would decide which instruments became collectors items by buying them up and thus increasing the price. The manufacturers themselves made their standard ranges and the players decided which became collectable. It seems to me that now the manufacturers are artificially attempting to create collectors instruments from the get-go. This explains why they need to give out all that literature and brochures and certificates with the instruments, they need to convince people that they are buying something extra special to justify the price.

      The other major surprise that I encountered was the rise in the number and quality of the mid range instruments. If you can't afford a Gibson or are not keen to spend that sort of money there are many affordable guitars that are very nicely priced.

      When many people do the Gibson v Epiphone debate many focus on the Epiphone Plus Top Pro as a comparison. I purchased one of these instruments earlier this year and I was pleasantly surprised how good it is. It's well made, well finished, and sounds beautiful. The Probucker pickups are excellent and I would not change them. If I'm being totally honest the sustain does fade a little sooner than a Gibson but all in all it does a really good job of justifying it's Les Paul name tag.

      However, when many players talk of Epiphones not being as good as Gibson Les Pauls I believe that in many cases their comparison model is the above mentioned Plus Top. Whilst this is a fine instrument in my opinion I would have to concur that it probably doesn't strike the highs of the real thing, it's not far off but not quite there. But, I also have the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute and I would be as bold to suggest that this does reach the same heights as a Gibson. It has the weight and feel of the original. The build quality is superb, unlike the Plus Top it does have a thick maple cap and not just a veneer, as I understand it, it has a plain maple cap and a flame maple veneer over it. Well, I suppose it has to cut some corners somewhere. It looks and feels exactly as a Les Paul should do. In addition, it is fitted with Gibson USA vintage reissue pickups as standard.

      I believe from looking round the internet that many people are under the illusion that the Tribute is the same guitar as the Plus Top side from the pickups and tuners, believe me it is nowhere near the same instrument. I think if many Gibson players tried the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute their opinion would change somewhat. Of course there will always be people that prefer to spend the extra to have the prestige of having the name and to know it is built in the USA. I think that's fine, each to their own choice. But for in my case I do truly believe that the Tribute is equal to the Gibson LP Traditional, it's a stunning guitar. More people should try it rather than basing their opinion of Epiphone on the Plus top alone.

      Sorry for waffling on so much. It was just nice to finally come across a discussion which was balanced and reasonable. As I said earlier this is just my opinion so feel free to differ, there is room for all of us. I have very much enjoyed this site though and will be adding it to my favourites.

      Thanks for reading, Rich.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      3 years ago

      Thanks to anonymous "S" for an insightful comment on Gibson vs Epiphone quality. I understand your concerns and have removed your original remarks.

      @Ted: Sounds like you landed a great guitar, and got an amp upgrade as a bonus. I love these stories where people A/B Epiphone and Gibson guitars in the shop and leave with the Epi! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ted Parkinson profile image

      Ted Parkinson 

      3 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Thanks for the great article. As you say, there is really a great range of guitars, both from Epiphone and Gibson. I bought an Epiphone Les Paul "Classic U.S. Goldtop" that has "Limited Edition Custom Shop" and "made in China" on its back. It has Seymour Duncan pickups and cost just over $800. I don't see it around anywhere, but it is similar to the "Slash" model. I played it for 15 minutes side by side with a $2000 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. They felt and looked almost identical. The Duncan's had a slightly warmer sound which I liked. So I bought the Epiphone and it's a fantastic guitar.

      On the other hand, Epiphones start under $300 and most of those are not very good, except for beginning players. On the other hand, compared to when I started playing guitar 40 years ago, almost ALL guitars, not matter how cheap, are much better made. "Back in the day" the lower priced copies were not in tune about the 5th fret, whereas these days, even the cheap guitars are in tune and sound "ok".

      To my mind, the biggest ripoff is the Les Pauls that are $5,000 and more! It is crazy reading the Gibson promo material as the marketing folks try to explain why a certain Guitar is worth $5,000 rather than $2,000 or even the (approx) $1200 that Gibson's start at.

      One thing playing my Les Paul (in the store) made me realize was that my existing Fender Blues Junior amp was simply not cutting it. Very soon afterwards I traded it in on a VOX AC 15 and have not looked back. Both Les Paul's had beautiful tone that really sparkled when plugged into a VOX amp!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Totally agree re: White Falcon, Nimish. That's a good-looking instrument. Bummer about the import taxes on the Epis though.

    • profile image

      Nimish 

      4 years ago

      Due to the high border taxes in my country, even an epi is expensive.Not huge expensive but expensive notheless.I bought a cheap chinese sx les paul knockoff which looks fabulous, doesn't sound too good, yet I love it anyway. Aim to own a Gretsch White falcon one day by saving money before I die. Damn that guitar is beautiful!!!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Thanks Flame Top! I admit I don't know whole lot about Orville guitars by Gibson, other than that they were made in Japan. You might find one pop up on eBay if you keep an eye out. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Flame Top 

      4 years ago

      I've been reading your hub for a couple of months now and I have to say that in really impressed with your articles because it helps me out a lot. If I were to choose from the two brands, I would definitely choose Epiphone because it's good value for the money. I was also wondering if you could write an article about the now defunct brand, Orville by Gibson. I'm actually in search now for a good Orville guitar. It seems like a good brand and not known by a lot of people here so it's gonna stand out with the usual Gibson and Epiphone crowd here. Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for your feedback, Joseph, especially about the LPJ. I've been wondering how they are going to fair against the Epiphones over time. Good luck choosing your new guitar!

    • Joseph Machney profile image

      Joseph Machney 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for this hub Guitar Gopher, I've been wanting a les paul for awhile now and I tried an Epi at a music store last week and was really impressed by it. I tried an Gibson LPJ the same day and thought it had no life in it. I own an Epi Dot and it sounds amazing, so I'm really considering an Epi les paul instead of a $2000 plus Gibson les paul. Thanks for all the posts as well people, I appreciate all the perspectives. Rock on!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Thanks nickd. Totally agree about EVH!

    • profile image

      nickd 

      4 years ago

      Both are great guitars.but its all in the fingers.eddie van halens main guitar was one he put together for bout 200 dollars and it sounded great. Keep playing!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Thanks wah graphics! Hope you find a great guitar. I think you'll love the Epiphone LP Custom!

    • profile image

      wah graphics 

      4 years ago

      thank for the great article. this certainly cleared my mind to go for Epiphone custom pro. I will try several different ones thou before I purchase it. thanks again!

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Sounds awesome, Mark! Congrats on your new guitar!

    • profile image

      Mark 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for your reviews, they were very helpful for me to make a decision!

      Finally got my Epi Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro. It looks great in Honeyburst (or even better;-), sounds good. Well, the Probuckers are not as bright and warm as Gibson's Burstbuckers, at least in this model (though I tried only 60s Tribute in the shop), but buying the "made in Indonesia" Epiphone for about $450 (not a bad price in Poland) I was expecting Les Paul, not Gibson. Anyway, I'm sure it's perfect for a non-pro home player.

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      I understand what you mean there, dlake, re: why you didn't go with the Gibson. My mind works like that sometimes too!

    • profile image

      dlake 

      4 years ago

      I just picked up an Epi LP Plus Top. I started the project by asking the Guitar Center Guitars Manager to pull what he thought was the best Gibson LP off the wall to get a sense of the instrument and he selected a 2500 dollar model that did sound great. Then, because that's not in my budget (or part of my buying philosophy), we worked down through several variations until we got to the Epi I got for 400. Just to be sure I went all the way down but didn't like the sound of the lesser expensive guitars. I really like how the Epi plays and sounds and it's a nice alternative to my $99 Tele.

      The manager asked about why I didn't go with an American LP and I said that my Tele was a win-win because if anyone didn't like the way it sounded I could reply that it was just a $99 Tele and if someone liked its sound I could say the same thing and that I was trying to accomplish the same goal with the LP (I can't imagine anyone not like the sound of the Epi though).

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      @nspdx: I think that's a good perspective on Epiphone. I can understand the need to justify your guitar to yourself, but it sounds like from your comment you already see all the reasons you really don't need to. I hope you enjoy your Epi and never look back!

    • profile image

      nspdx 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for the article. This is one of the fairest comparisons I have seen of Epi vs Gibson Les Paul guitars.  Perhaps not the most thorough, but fair. I read your article for the same reason as most, I assume;   I am an (new) Epi Les Paul owner (standard plus-top Pro HB, FWIW) trying to make sense of the instrument that I've recently purchased, in a way justifying my purchase.   Of course the comments are mostly full of pro Epiphone sentiment, because Epi owners are the ones reading it mostly.  I imagine many Gibson owners (of the sort who look down their noses at Epi's) have little interest in the comparison.  Which, I suppose is as it should be. Folks posting inflammatory comments are largely just trolling.  

       

      I really like my Plus-Plus-top Pro by the way, it looks terrific, plays well and sounds good.   I'm just getting into electric, and would feel ridiculous with a $3000 guitar, I would be ridiculous.   I chose the Epiphone knowing that it isn't a Gibson and not expecting it to be. I know that the beautiful flamed top is just an inconsequential veneer, the "mahogany" is Nato of uncertain quality, and that while a quality instrument, it is not the best of the best.   

       

      The value of a Gibson is perhaps not exactly worth the extra price, at a certain price point, you encounter the law of diminishing returns: you have to spend a LOT more to get something that is measurably better, but the quality increase is not necessarily equivalent to the price increase.   I think this is probably true here. The Epi's ("Pros" anyway) are good guitars, good enough for most, practically speaking; however, if you have the money and value quality highly, a standard Gibson LP is probably a good investment.  

       

      My acoustic is a Martin DX1, I bought it valuing tone over material or appearance (it's pretty much made of formica) since the guitar itself is really the sole determinate of tone with an acoustic.  With electric, there are so many potential variables after the signal leaves the guitar, I considered appearance more heavily in this decision.  I could have bought a Gibson Studio, but already have a guitar with a good name on the headstock stripped of all unnecessary appointment.

       

       I'm happy with the Epiphone, and would consider a Gibson in the future.  I am glad that there is enough interest in the comparison that there is quality content available to read about my instrument; however I hope folks can just appreciate what they have for what it is.  If you can afford to own a top of the line instrument, by all means, own one! If you can't, you're in luck! There are good quality instruments available that won't cost you a fortune! And you're absolutely right, in talented hands, excellent music can most certainly be made on an Epiphone or any number of moderately priced instruments.  Conversely, if you're not talented, a million dollar guitar won't make you sound any better...  

    • Guitar Gopher profile imageAUTHOR

      Guitar Gopher 

      4 years ago

      Good advice, Paul! Thanks for your comment. I was fiddling with an Epi LP Custom at a guitar shop the other day and further convinced myself you don't need to drop big money to land a great guitar. I see why people love Gibson, and they are incredible guitars, but Epiphones are pretty amazing too. Hopefully this article helps people to make an informed decision, whichever they choose.

    • profile image

      Paul Gold 

      4 years ago

      I have been a player for about forty years now. I have played mainly fender guitars and have used them live and in studios. I resisted the Gibson until I started playing more slide and now own an SG which is great. But, and this is the point, I now own and Epi tribute 1960 Les Paul. I fell totally in love with this axe and really use it almost exclusively now. I found another one on eBay and bought it for my brother who has several serious Lps and my god he has been playing this guitar since I have it to him. So what the issue here? Clearly Gibson has the name etc but when it comes down to it what is the real difference. My tribute has all the hardware and pickup spec as any les Paul you can mention. 57 humbuckers grover locking tuners etc.

      this isn't the point. The Chinese have been making stringed instruments for 5,000 years. They know how to make a guitar. The issue is about feel touch. It's not about making the absurd comparison. All real players will tell you that when Derek Trucks plays his 61 reissue which he has had since he was 16 he plays it because it's part of him. It doesn't even have the original gibson spec. His tech told me that they change it all the time. So get a guitar and play!!!!!

    working

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