Three Les Pauls

Three Les PaulsI’ve been playing an Epiphone 1960 Les Paul Tribute Plus for the last couple years, and loving it.  On a whim, I recently tried a couple of these unbelievably inexpensive Monoprice Route 66 guitars.  A couple weeks ago, my birthday rolled around, and I ended up purchasing a new Gibson 2013 Les Paul Studio.  The Gibson is twice the price of my Epiphone and nearly ten times the price of the Monoprice.  What are the differences?  How do they stack up?

There was a brief window of time before I returned the Route 66, where I had all three guitars on hand- my trusted Epiphone, the low cost Route 66, and my brand new Les Paul Studio.   So being the obsessive guitar nut that I am, it seemed like a good opportunity to film a comparison:

Three Les Pauls

Les Paul 1952 Ad

Ted McCarty and Les PaulThe Les Paul. 

It’s an iconic guitar- first introduced in 1952 as Gibson guitar’s response to Fenders solid body telecaster.   It was Gibson’s first solid body, and was designed by then Gibson president Ted McCarty in collaboration with the man himself, Lester William Polsfuss

As with most things, this guitar is available at all different price points and quality levels.  Today I’m taking a look at three Les Pauls, at three different price points.  First up is  this beautiful 2013 Gibson Les Paul Studio, at around $1100.  Next is this gorgeous Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute Plus, at around $600.    And last is this Monoprice Route 66 imitation Les Paul, which can be had for a mere $100. 

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.  

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A Little Love for the Les Paul Tribute Plus

Epiphone Les Paul Tribute PlusAfter nearly a year, I’m still loving my Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute Plus.  I‘ve played a number of gigs with it and it has proven itself absolutely reliable and roadworthy.  It has really excelled in every situation – loud indoor gigs, scorchin hot outdoor summer gigs, and of course my everyday practice, both unplugged and amplified.

This model seems to be a diamond in the rough at Epiphone- a truly great collection of features, including the awesome Gibson ‘57 Classic pickups, for a very competitive price.  

140 Years. Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute PlusI’ve often wondered why I haven’t seen Epiphone really promoting this model as much as it deserves.   Well today, I noticed that it’s currently featured on the front page of Epiphone’s website, as part of their 140 years (1873-2013) anniversary.  There’s a nice write up with a few choice quotes from Les Paul, and some gorgeous pictures. 

Maybe they’ve finally decided to seriously promote this gem of a guitar!

Sweet ES-355

When I purchased my Riviera P93, what I really wanted was a semi-hollowbody in the traditional Gibson ES shape, with a Bigsby tailpiece.   I didn’t want to invest the extra several thousand dollars in a Gibson, and the only model available from Epiphone was the Riviera P93.

I took a chance on the P93, and as you may have seen in my blog, it turned into quite a project trying to improve its sound.  In the end, even after replacing the pickups and electronics, I am ultimately frustrated by the three pickup, three volume, one tone configuration.  I would have preferred the traditional two humbuckers, two volume, two tone configuration.

I still haven’t completed my planned changes to improve the usability of the middle pickup, nor have I replaced the buzzy bridge with the roller.  Changing these three pickups to two humbuckers is certainly possible, but the result would be less than beautiful due to the different hole-spacing and routing requirements of dog-eared P-90’s versus humbuckers.

A couple months back, Epiphone announced the guitar which I wish had been available when I purchased the Riviera P93: the new Epiphone ES-355

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