EPIPHONE LES PAUL SPECIAL II GUITAR
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The guitar that I shall be reviewing today is the Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar. This is an entry level guitar, and according to Epiphone, it is their most popular selling guitar. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II lists for $249.00, but it can be had for a discounted price of $149.95 at most good musical instrument national chain stores, as well as from a reputable Internet dealer.
The Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar is a very basic, entry level guitar that is most suitable for beginners. It is light in weight, which is nice for younger beginners. The body is made from either a laminated Alder/Maple combination or from Basswood. Since this guitar is usually made in Korea (some are made in China), many of the newer models are being made with a Basswood body, as this is a type of wood that is more readily available in the Southeast Asian region. The neck is made from Mahogany, and it is bolted on to the body. The fret board is made of Rosewood, and it has dot inlay position markers. The neck has 22 frets, and the generous cutaway makes it easy to hit even the highest notes on the fingerboard.
The electronics of the Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar are very simple and straightforward. There are two open coil Alnico V Humbucking Pickups, with the bridge pickup being a 700T and the neck pickup being a 650R. There is only one master Volume Control and one master Tone Control for both pickups, and a 3-way pickup selector switch, which permits one to choose among three different pickup combinations. The pickup combinations are as follows: neck pickup alone (up position), both pickups in combination (center position), and bridge pickup alone (down position).
The hardware on the Epiphone Les Paul Special II is chrome platted, which includes the Stopbar Tailpiece and the Tune-o-matic Bridge. The combination of this type of bridge and tailpiece, along with the humbucking pickups, are in large part responsible for the legendary Les Paul sound. The tuning pegs on this guitar are rather low end, and they have a low gear ratio, which basically means that you have to be very careful when tuning, as the slightest bit of a turn makes for a tighter or looser string, which in effects serves to make precise tuning a bit difficult. However, I found that the guitar did hold its tune quite well, that is when I was finally satisfied that it was tuned correctly. This guitar is available in several colors, including Ebony, White, Vintage Sunburst, and Heritage Cherry Sunburst.
How does this guitar sound and compare to a Gibson Les Paul? Let’s get this first point straight right from the start. In this world, you get what you pay for. You simply can not seriously compare this basic entry level Epiphone Les Paul that lists for $249 to a Gibson Les Paul that lists for 10 to 20 times this amount of money. There is a world of difference in the sound, the feel, the quality control, the construction techniques, the materials used, and the overall quality of the craftsmanship. That being said, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II is still a remarkable value for the money.
Allow me to elaborate on some of the pros and cons of the Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar. The first issue to be aware of is the variability in quality control. I tried three of these guitars. Why three? Because the first two had unacceptable problems. On the first guitar that I tried, the action was very high, and the frets were very uneven, and one of the frets on the 12th position had a sharp overhang to it which almost actually cut my skin as I slid up the neck. This issue with poor fretwork is a problem that I have encountered on some other lower priced guitars from other manufacturers, and it is not unique to lower priced Epiphone guitars. The second guitar appeared fine, and it felt quite good. The frets were set well, the action was good, and the intonation was accurate. Then I began to encounter electrical problems. One of these was that the sound of the guitar actually cut out when the Volume knob was turned to 10. It was fine on all other settings, but this is a ridiculous problem to encounter on a new guitar. The third guitar that I tried was surprisingly much better built than the other two. The frets were set well, the action was excellent, it held its tune well, it had no unexpected electrical problems, the finish was quite nice, and it felt good and comfortable to play. It also sounded surprisingly good for a guitar in this price range.
The problems that I described above may be a fluke, but I rather think not, as I encountered similar problems on another occasion that I was trying out an Epiphone SG. The issue of quality control brings a very important point to the forefront in purchasing this guitar, or any other lower priced or entry level guitar for that matter. If one does not know anything about guitars, and is going to purchase one of these for themselves or for another beginner, I would strongly recommend that you bring along a friend who plays the guitar and who is sufficiently experienced to test out the guitar and put it through its paces. That may be the only way you will be sure that you are not getting stuck with a guitar that has problems.
The bottom line is this. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar is a remarkable value for the money, and it can be an excellent guitar for a beginner. However, I must emphasize that I encountered quality control issues with this model, and I would definitely recommend that the buyer either be a person who is knowledgeable about guitars, or that they bring someone along with them who is knowledgeable to help them in choosing the right guitar. This being the case, it would be a risk to buy this guitar sight unseen from an Internet dealer, unless it is from a major dealer who would be willing to replace the guitar with another one should you encounter problems.
Well I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to read my review of this musical instrument. But now, if you well excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.
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