The three finishes of the Les Paul Special

Epiphone, as you probably know, is owned by the legendary guitar manufacturer Gibson. Up until that purchase though, it was Gibson’s main rival. Originally known for its mandolins and archtops, it eventually changed into producing affordable alternatives to its parent company’s models, such as the Les Paul. These designs were quite successful, and many artists, including top musicians such as Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon from The Beatles, The Edge from U2, and jazz guitarist Joe Pass, preferred them to the more expensive guitars made by Gibson. Even now, contemporary artists such as Gary Clark Jr and Matt Heafy of Trivium rock out with their Epi models on stage. On a much smaller scale, my Joe Pass Emperor model has accompanied me on countless hours of practice and gigging during my university days.

I had the chance to test drive an affordable entry model recently: the Les Paul Limited Edition Special I. I’ve received three guitars in different finishes, and I’ve filmed a video of my impressions and showcasing their tone (in different settings) and versatility.

The spirit of the Les Paul

Affordable Les Paul modelTrue to its name, the Epiphone Les Paul delivers a simple 2 humbucker guitar. These pickups double the coils to produce a louder, thicker sound than the single coil versions. When played with a minimal amount of gain or overdrive, they produce a warm, beefy tone perfect for jazz lines and classic rock accompaniments. With some hair, they produce some of the most satisfying crunch tones guitarists crave perpetually. With thick overdrive or distortion, they sing with massive sustain and personality. Although the particular models in this guitar aren’t the most complex sounding, they get the job done, in any situation.

Being a Les Paul style guitar, it features a 24.75 inch scale which is slightly smaller than Fender’s 25.5 and offers easy playability and bending—ideal for younger players starting off on the electric. The neck is also on the smaller side, especially when I compare it to my Gibson models. This makes these Epiphones a breeze and a joy to play.

Other specs include a basswood body, mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard. It features no carved maple top usually found on regular, more expensive Les Pauls. The absence of this feature and the selection of basswood help to lower production costs. The classic trapezoid and block inlays are replaced with dots (which I find quite refreshing actually), and a very nice dark binding wraps around the neck.

Black binding wraps around the neck

The tuning pegs’ stability is hit or miss, unfortunately. It’s probably due to the affordable nature of the instrument, but angled headstocks are notoriously hard to keep in tune. Make sure you either have a tuner nearby or some nut lubricant to make your playing experience more enjoyable. Down the road, you might consider upgrading to locking tuners; an upgrade that is well worth the low price of admission!

Three wonderful finishes

Les Paul upgradesThe Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Special I guitar is offered in three different finishes, two of which salute Gibson’s history. All three of them are worn, meaning they are slightly faded and transparent, something I feel most guitarists will enjoy. The tactile sensation is quite enjoyable also, presenting a satin feel on the body and neck.

The first variation, black, is the least adventurous of the three, but still holds up well and features an understated, yet elegant presence. Black also matches with all colors, so the fashion minded guitarist will enjoy this one!

Next, the worn cherry finish is a lovely homage to one of Gibson’s most beloved colours. Although the sunburst isn’t present on this model, the fiery red is very eye-catching, and fans of Jimmy Page and company will be able to easily channel the raw energy associated with that particular imagery.

TV Yellow, a wonderful finishFinally, the TV Yellow finish is a sight to behold (and is my favourite of the three options). It’s so easy on the eye that I still find myself scrolling through my pictures of it in my studio. The origins of the colour’s name are also interesting—and are at the centre of an ongoing debate amongst guitarists. Some state that TV Yellow refers to the colour used to finish a certain model of cabinet that housed televisions back in the 50s.

Others believe that Les Paul himself commissioned Gibson to build him guitars in this colour for his TV work. This colour would counteract the distracting glare that his white guitars would produce in the black and white screens of the time. At this point, it seems that it is lost lore to anyone but Gibson employees, but what I know for sure is that this wonderful colour looks amazing in your hands, on a stand, or hanging on a wall.

Affordable, yet built to last

Epiphone Les Paul electronicsThis guitar is ideal in a couple of situations. First of all, for a first time buyer, the price and specs are excellent. With a small, comfortable neck and a 24.75 inch scale, this will be an inviting home base for inexperienced hands. Being able to handle jazz, pop, and all shades of rock, it’s quite versatile. As you can see in the video, it also plays very well with different pedal and amplifier combinations.

It’s also an excellent guitar to grow with. It’s no secret that guitarists love to tinker with their instruments. As you cultivate your style, you’ll probably want to also. Some popular upgrades include changing the tuning pegs, the bridge, and pickups. This is the perfect affordable platform to experiment with.

Also, for guitarists that already own another type of guitar (such as a stratocaster, telecaster, hollow-body, etc), this is a very affordable entry point into the magnificent world of Les Paul style tones. If you are looking for something to complement your single coil tones without breaking the bank, look no further.

Source of Inspiration

The Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Special I guitar is impressive, especially when you take into account the price tag. What surprised me the most was that I had an easy time extracting riffs, melodies, and solos from this guitar. Finding inspiration to build songs also came naturally. Not all entry level guitars award that kind of individuality.

Check out the Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Special I (coming soon online at Best Buy) and other Epiphone products on Best Buy’s website.

362 COMMENTS

  1. My hubby needs to learn and sing Uptown Funk
    ✰T❤️H❤️A❤️N❤️K❤️S for the opportunity to #win this awesome prize (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ
    (¯`v´¯)

  2. Since retiring I could certainly use another hobby, and learning to play guitar would be a great change of pace. The first song I’d like to learn would be “Back in Black” by AC/DC.

  3. My girlfriend used to play and if we had a guitar in the house I know she’d pick it up again. She loves playing indie music and classic rock and I like hearing her play.

  4. I like where the pickup switch is on this one. Nice and simple design. Could use an upgrade on the bridge PU. But the black and red is a great contrast. The old man could definitely do with learning guitar, that’s for sure! Get him started with Rock and Roll Music by the Beatles!

  5. Wow! That tv yellow is stunning. What an odd choice of name Hehe. I would love to the opportunity to learn down by the river by Ben Caplan on my own guitar! Thanks for the chance!

  6. My grandson would like to learn playing guitar, I like the idea that it is slightly smaller and ideal for younger players starting off on the electric.

  7. I’m learning guitar right now, but ‘d love it if little Karl could join me. He could start with Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.

  8. I need to get back into playing guitar and learning more intricate techniques. The next song to learn on this guitar would be Eruption by Eddie Van Halen!

  9. I’m a university student who has been learning guitar on my dad’s old acoustic, I would love to win an electric since I won’t have the money until after I graduate. While a big dream of mine is to play the outer to Hotel California, I would want the first song I learn to be Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits.

  10. My daughter is learning on an acoustic and has mentioned wanting to move to electric, what a great guitar. On her way to playing Eruption, maybe not quite like the late great Eddie Van Halen!

  11. I would love to try and learn to play Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.
    I didn’t realize that this was a little smaller of a guitar, it would hopefully help with my small hands.
    (And if I ever get good enough, I’d love to be able to play Kiss by Prince.

  12. What an amazing and beautiful guitar. I would love to learn to play the guitar. I have always wanted to but could never find the time. Now retired, a mom and gramma, I have all the time in the world. I would love to learn to play Christmas music for my family at Christmas, then all kinds of different songs. Playing on an Electric Guitar would be my most favourite way to learn to play the guitar.

  13. I have promised myself to learn to play after my 3rd surgery on my arm next month. I want to play Surfing with the Alien by Joe Satriani.

  14. I would love for my granddaughter to learn to play guitar!! Her father is an extremely talented guitar player & singer. As for what song she should learn to play I’d love for her to learn You are My Sunshine.. it’s our goodnight song.. and then whatever her little heart desires

  15. My wife would like to learn guitar and I’d ask her to learn some Pixies songs for our household enjoyment Maybe start with Where is my Head :).

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