Epiphone Les Paul SL Review

Well, here it is!    It sill has the plastic on the front and it’s hang tag on it.  All I did was stretch the strings and tune it up.  Literally right out of the box.   Here’s a fun fact:  in 1964, when I bought my first electric guitar, if you could factor the current price of $99.00 back to the equivalent in 1964, it would cost $12.67!   Obviously, in any sense we’re dealing with a bargain.

So why did I order one of these as soon as I could?   The whole idea appealed to me.   Aside from the name “Les Paul” on the headstock, this is about the most unpretentious electric guitar as you can buy.   You can read all the details about it on countless websites, so I wont go into all that.  I’m just going to give you my subjective impressions.

First off, although it really does have it’s “own sound”, it reminds me of all sorts of guitars, from all the mahogany “slab” guitars from both Gibson and Epiphone in the 50’s and 60’s, to Gibson “Melody Makers”.    Perhaps the strongest reminder, at least visually, would be the Kalamazoo brand guitars built by Gibson in the mid 60’s.   It even reminds me of my own 1963 Telecaster that I bought in 1965 for $175. There’s even a little bit in there that reminds me of a couple of solid body Gretsch guitars.  I will tell you that it is a much higher quality instrument than any of the inexpensive guitars of my youth, both in sound and playability.

An actual “Les Paul” is probably the last solid body guitar I’d compare it to, even though the folks at Epiphone state: “new players will develop skills and techniques that directly translate to one of the most popular electric guitars ever made, designed to give you the looks, feel and vibe of a real Les Paul, for less.”   Although it does have the basic Les Paul shape, the guitar really makes no attempt at trying to replicate the sound of one.  Not that that bothers me a bit.

I do have plans to give it a good set up, after I put a 10 to 46 gauge set on it and let the neck settle in to that tension.  But, right out of the box it plays decently and is even fairly well intonated.   I have yet to find any high frets and I can bend the strings a considerable distance without it fretting out.  The nut, often a sore point for me on inexpensive guitars, (and even some expensive ones) is cut perfectly, and there is really no string buzz to speak of.  None of the parts seem “cheap”, and everything works as it should.  Acoustically, guitar is quite resonant unplugged and chords just ring out of it.  It reminds me of a Les Paul Jr. in that respect.

As I said, it has it’s own thing.   But, it does respond quite will to how far away from the bridge you pick, and with both pickups on, I found you could get a hellacious twang out of it, or a rather Gretsch-ish sound, with a few hints of Rickenbacker thrown in for good measure, all depending on where and how hard you pick it.   Despite the 24 3/4 in scale it does feel more like a Fender to me, but I might alter that when I get around to restringing it, as I’m having some difficulty adjusting to the lighter strings.

This little guitar, (it seems to weigh about 5 pounds) doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, being powder blue and all.  (I’d love to see one on stage with a death metal band)  But, I found that it ends up being really fun to play, and it’s taking me forever to type this, because I keep sneaking back to play it.

I plan on bringing it to the next band rehearsal, as I think I can find a couple of our tunes that would benefit from some of the unique sounds I’m discovering.

What I don’t plan on doing, is modifying it.   I predict you’ll see a lot of that sort of thing, with the temptation to “improve” it and make it sound like a budget version of something else being strong.  I’ve already got the Les Paul, Strat, Tele and 335 bases covered, I want this little guy to have his own voice.    I think I’ll call him “Lester”———