Thursday, March 10, 2011

Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Guitar

Good morning!

Before you start sniffing at today’s subject guitar, I have to say that the Elitist models are not your run-of-the-mill Epiphone guitars that are put together by little kids in China. These were assembled in Japan using American pickups and hardware from Gibson. They are a tremendous value, and are very well made.

This one is a 2000 model year Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Studio. It is finished in glossy black with chrome hardware. If you do not look at the headstock logo (or the dot inlays) you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and a Gibson Les Paul Studio.

The non-bound body is made of mahogany, and does not seem to be chambered. I am not super-keen on the black pickguard, but it is what it is.

The electronics are very good. It is wired with a 3-way switch and dual volume and tone pots like every other Les Paul, and it is equipped with Gibson pickups: a 498T in the bridge position and a 490R at the neck.

The neck is nice and thick with a 50s feel. The rosewood fretboard and dot inlays are not high end like ebony and MOP, but you have to save money somewhere on a budget guitar. The tuners are chrome Grovers. Nice!

The overall condition is good. The paint is nice and glossy, with some swirling and a few small dings. The most notables are one on the front, and another on the back of the neck. Neither is bigger than a pencil eraser. There is very little wear to the frets, and no signs of a hard life or abuse.

It is a really good guitar, and probably is better quality than 90% of the guitars coming out of Gibson’s US factories today. It plays like butter and sounds killer. My guy set it up with Ernie Ball Slinky .010s. He also replaced the plastic output jack cover with a chrome one, as the original one had cracked. This is the only modification to the guitar.

This one came to me with the original Elitist case, which is a hard-to-find item. It was a big plus for me.

The Epiphone Elitist models are also available in Les Paul Standard, SG and ES models. It you are looking for a budget Gibson, keep an eye out for fan Elitist.



  1. The best new SG I've played in the last 5 years was a black Epiphone Elitist.
    The shop s a full line Gibson dealer, and none of their brand new very-high-dollar SGs came close in resonance, playability, or value.

  2. Hi Corey!

    They are peaches, eh? Any experience with their ES style guitars?


  3. Hi Rex,

    Nope, though I have played a relatively modern fully hollow Casino from them. Except for the poly finish, which was good and thin anyway, it was as nice as a 1960s original.