The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top is a solid sounding and easily playable Les Paul for a small fraction of the cost of the Gibson equivalent.
Like the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul has become a guitar icon, favored by players in such diverse styles as rock, metal, blues, jazz, and country. From Slash to Jimmy Page, the devotees of the Les Paul are common. For us mere mortals, there’s usually only one downside to owning a Gibson Les Paul. They don’t come cheap! The average street price of a new Les Paul is well over $2,000, which is hardly pocket change. What’s a Les Paul lover to do? Enter the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top.
Aside from its signature Epiphone headstock, an Epiphone Les Paul is a Korean-made guitar that looks, feels, and plays like a Gibson Les Paul without the hefty price tag. It even bears the signature of the late, great Les Paul on the headstock. So how does it stack up?
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus top features a solid mahogany body with a flamed maple veneer over its carved top. It has a set mahogany neck that is slim-tapered with a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard on its 24-3/4″ scale. The nut width is 1-11/16″. The pickups are two Alnico Classic humbuckers. As you’d expect for a Les Paul, a Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece are standard. Both the body and fretboard have cream binding. Chrome hardware is standard.
We reviewed a transparent Blue Les Paul Standard Plus Top, and I have to say the guitar has one of the most beautiful tops I’ve seen in this price range. The figuring is absolutely beautiful, and is wonderfully complimented by its crème-colored binding and chrome hardware. Aesthetically, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top is simply a gorgeous guitar.
Having owned a Gibson Les Paul Standard for a few years, I was interested to see how the Epiphone Les Paul would stack up, and I have to say that I was very impressed. The slim-tapered neck is reminiscent of the 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard neck and in many ways was much faster than my Gibson Les Paul Standard with a 50’s style neck. The rosewood fretboard felt great and the frets were well-polished and smooth on the whole, but not quite as flawless as my Gibson Les Paul. Still, the fretwork is very well done, especially given the instrument’s price.
The alnico classic pickups deliver the classic Les Paul bite out of the bridge pickup and a smooth, round tone from the neck pickup. I usually swap pickups out of most stock guitars and would likely do the same here. I think a Duncan JB and Jazz would sound great in this guitar, but the replacement would be more of a preference than a necessity. These pickups sound great and might be what you’re looking for without the need for replacements. They did tend to squeal somewhat at high volumes, but not annoyingly so.
The compromises in a model such as this guitar aren’t readily apparent. Epiphone saves money by having a veneer flame top glued to non-flamed maple. Likewise, where Gibson Les Paul Standard bodies are made from a single mahogany slab, the Epiphone mahogany body is laminated, as is the neck. Still, these cost-cutting measures allow the guitar to weigh even less than their Gibson counterparts. For the price, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top is a solid sounding and easily playable Les Paul for a small fraction of the cost of the Gibson equivalent.
Name of Gear: Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top
List Price: $953.00
Manufacturer Info: The Epiphone Company; epiphone.com
Pros: Great value; beautiful top; good sounds and playability
Cons: Some minor fretwork imperfections