Sunday, August 3, 2014

2008 Epiphone Les Paul Custom Silverburst Electric Guitar Review

Hi there!

I am as much of a guitar snob as the next guy and am often quick to sniff at a cheap instrument and buy something more expensive on general principle, but this imported Epiphone is no joke. Today we are looking at an Epiphone limited edition Silverburst Les Paul Custom guitar that was only sold for a brief time in 2008. The quality of this instrument is impressive, especially when comparing it to the guitars that Gibson is crapping out of its American division.

The Custom has always been the top of the Les Paul line-up, and this one is a tribute to the original Silverburst instruments that were made from 1979 to 1985. The vintage Silverburst Les Pauls have been the go-to axe for Adam Jones from Tool, so they have developed a cult following and they are stupidly expensive now.

Les Paul Customs are set apart from the Standard models by more intricate inlays, as well as multi-ply body binding. This Epiphone got these adornments, but not the usual gold-plated hardware (thankfully).

Other than the color, the specs are fairly standard for an imported Les Paul. It has a mahogany body with a carved alder top, which is surprising considering that these usually have maple tops. The 24.75-inch scale set neck is mahogany, which is normal, but differs from the maple necks on the original Silverburst Les Pauls. The whole thing has a coat of thick poly and the silverburst fade is only on the front. The back is glossy black, while the originals were Silverburst back there instead.

The neck has a 1 11/16-inch wide neck, and a fairly fat profile. The rosewood fretboard has trapezoid pearl inlays, and it has an evenly applied cream binding. The headstock carries the 5-ply binding over from the body, and it is equipped with chrome Grover sealed-back tuners. In case you care, there is a diamond mother of pearl inlay on the front of the headstock, and an Epiphone Custom Shop Logo on the back.

The rest of the hardware is standard fare, with a chrome Tune-o-matic bridge with a stopbar tail piece and a multi-ply black pickguard. And the electronics are just about what you would expect on an Epiphone. These Customs come with plain-Jane Alnico humbucker with the usual Les Paul 2 volume / 2 tone knobs set-up.

In the end, this turns out to be an acceptable collection of parts, and Epiphone’s Chinese (or Korean, I am not sure which) factory did a fab job of sticking them together. I am continually astonished that the public continues buying $2500 Gibson Les Pauls with lumpy fretboards and hillbilly smile frets when there are much better alternatives out there for less money.

This Silverburst Les Paul Custom has a nice neck with perfect frets and a pretty low action with no fiddling around or modifications. It has a C profile and its thickness is right in the middle between the 50’s and 60’s neck profiles that are so popular. This translates into a lot smoother playing experience for me, which is worth a bunch because I am a horrible guitarist.

The tone is good enough if you are looking for the classic blues/rock sound, especially with the selector in the middle position. It certainly could benefit from better pickups and wiring, and I think a set of Burstbuckers (maybe out of phase) would be magical in this guitar. If you are going for the full Tool mod, Jones says he uses a Seymour Duncan JB at the bridge, though I have my doubts that he is being truthful, and without an ebony fretboard it just will not sound the same anyway…

As far as weight goes, this one is right in the ballpark for a Les Paul, coming in at around 9 ½ pounds, which is lighter than the Telecaster I am playing right now. Then again, maybe that says more about how ungodly heavy my Telecaster is.

When this run of Epiphone Silverburst Les Paul Customs was originally on sale their street price was around $600 (with no case), which is pricy for an Epiphone Les Paul. But nowadays they go for around $400 to $500, which is a good price for a nice guitar. By the way, Epiphone is now selling a Custom Pro Les Paul in Silverburst, but I have not had a chance to try one out yet. When I do, I will let you know!

Mahalo!

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