Pros: Very decent guitar for the price
Cons: Needs better pickups to reach potential
One of my favorite subjects is Les Paul copies. Really. I've pored over literally dozens of texts and spec sheets, checked out hundreds of reviews of Agiles, Tursers, Memphis, Epiphone, Silvertone, "Lawsuit" Japanese copies, and the numerous no-names that all their buyers hope will do one thing.
Give them a Les Paul that sounds as good as the real thing for thousands of dollars less!
It's not for lack of trying or choices. Agiles have the reputation of being the closest copies in terms of wood used. But change the pickups and six months later, the owner is trying to sell it on Craigslist for 250.00, saying of course, it's just as good as a real Les Paul.
Samicks have another reputation. Buy an Epiphone, and you're really buying a Samick, so save your money and just get the latter. There's something to that though Samick no longer makes Epi's.
The LS450 is gone, out of production. If you want a Les Paul copy you have to get the Avion line. Which on paper looks pretty good. A mohogany guitar with a real maple cap (instead of alder like Epiphone likes to use), nice styling, and a cooler cutaway.
Add two good PAF pickups and you would probably get 80% of the Les Paul, at one fourth the price. Get a used LS450 and the savings go up. That's not a bad ratio.
In some ways, the quest for a cheap but effective Les Paul is going to lead to disappointment. Frankly, the Les Paul is a seriously overpriced guitar, and can be so due to demand. If a guitar costs a lot of money, it adds an aura you can't replace.
Unless you're someone who just cares about sound. Then guitars like the Samick gives you options.
On a practical level, many companies are making Les Paul copies with mohogany bodies, maple caps and set necks. You can see the lower line Gibsons that are coming out, so the company is aware of the market reaction to expensive LP's.
Also, many guitar buyers (mainly the younger ones) have a hard time seeing what the value added to money ratio on a Gibson Les Paul, and are making the Les Paul copy market a hotter and hotter one.
The Samick LS450 is a very decent copy, particularly in the sunburst. It has the sharper Silvertone style cutaway, nice finish, decent tuners, and good stock pickups. It's wood may not be as high grade as a Les Paul, but it is a set neck mohogany guitar with a carved maple cap. That's a good basic framework to improve into a better guitar, and it has a very good word of mouth reputation.
The Gibson Les Paul is still the King. However, there was a time when Ford and Chevy laughed at those funny little cars coming over from Japan, and now they can't make a car that's better than a Toyota.
Looking at guitars like the Samick LS450, and it's successor, the Avion series, and you have to wonder; at what point will Gibson and Fender suddenly find they can't build a better guitar than the overseas factories.
After all, at some point, the Asians will realize that they don't have to make guitars for us for peanut wages.