Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3 Electric Guitar Reviews
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Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3 Electric Guitar

2 ratings (2 Epinions reviews)
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Great for a project, decent out of the box

Dec 5, 2010 (Updated Dec 6, 2010)
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Rated a Helpful Review

Pros:Three pickup Les Paul for under a grand.  Excellent starting point for upgrading

Cons:Cheap wiring, nut, cap, switch, jack, pickups.  Limited pickup combinations.

The Bottom Line: If you want a good, playable guitar, get a low end Gibson.  If you really want a three pickup Les Paul, get the Epiphone and pimp it out.


I purchased one several months back.  I'm not a huge fan of black guitars, but I wanted a three pickup les paul, and I didn't have thousands of dollars to spend.  Epiphone's Black Beauty does just that.  As folks love to point out, it is not a Gibson.  It is definitely an Epiphone.  Wiring is cheap, three way switch is cheep, capacitor is cheap, jack is cheap, and the pickups are the ubiquitous Alnico Classics, which I particularly hate.  The wiring setup also leaves something to be desired.  As it is out of the box you are very limited in what combination of pickups you can choose from.  I can't recall exactly how it is set up, but you have only the three way to use, so you are limited to three options.  I find this to be a rather glaring design flaw.  It still plays pretty decently, even out of the box, and if you are willing to upgrade the wiring and pickups, you can get a darned decent guitar at a tiny fraction of what a Gibson would cost.  
I took the time to do a bunch of modifications.  I have never been a huge fan of the gold hardware on a black guitar, so I swapped it all out for chrome.  In the process, I installed a Compton Custom bridge (for a decent improvement in sustain), and locking Grover tuners.  I pulled out the dreaded Alnico Classic pickups and replaced them with Lace's new Alumitone series.  I pulled out all of the wiring, pots, caps, three way switch, and output jack, and replaced them all with quality parts.  In the process, I rewired it so that my three way switch functions like a standard Les Paul switch (controlling only the neck and bridge pickups), and I used a tone pot to control the middle pickup, allowing almost every combination of pickups (I can't get only the middle pickup without wiring as independent volumes).  Finally, I replaced the black speed knobs with slightly less functional, but more aesthetically pleasing chrome knobs.  The end result is a pretty slick looking instrument, that plays really very decently.  It still isn't a Gibson, but for the total of $800 I put into it (including three boutique pickups), I think it's an excellent value for a three pickup les paul.  
Overall, while I have my usual Epiphone reservations (cheap wiring, cheap nut, lousy pickups, way too glossy), and a few particular complaints (pickup selection options), the Black Beauty as it comes is at worst a decent value.  Put some time and money into it and you can get a pretty good guitar for a fraction of the price of a Gibson.


Recommend this product? Yes


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