Thursday, March 21, 2019

1999 Epiphone Japan Gold Top Les Paul Standard LPS-80


Before you start rolling your eyes at today’s subject guitar, I have to say that this is not one of the run-of-the-mill Epiphone guitars that are put together by little kids in China. These guitars were assembled at the Fujigen factory in Japan, so they are very well made and a tremendous value for the player who is on a budget.

This one is a 1999 model year LPS-80 so it originally sold for 80,000 yen, which is a good chunk of change. It is a gold top, which is not the most common Epiphone color and it has the Gibson-style open book headstock shape. If you do not look at the headstock logo you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and a real Gibson gold top.

The bound body is made of mahogany with a carved maple top and it does not seem to be chambered. The hardware is standard Les Paull-issue chrome stuff (including Gotoh-sourced Kluson copies), and the single-ply pickguard matches the cream-colored binding.

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 has a very beefy tone. As it plays well and sounds good, I did not pull the pickups, but rumor has it that they were supplied by Gibson: a 498T in the bridge position and a 490R at the neck.

The neck is nice and thick with a 50s feel. It has a rosewood fretboard and MOP inlays and fretwork show fine craftsmanship, and still look very good 20 years after this guitar was built. I do not really see anywhere where they cheaped out on this one.

For a 20 year old guitar, the overall condition is very good. The paint is still nice and glossy, with some swirling and a small chip on the back of the headstock. The headstock laminate started lifting at the nut, but this has been arrested, for now at least. There is very little wear to the frets, and no signs of a hard life or abuse. There appear to be no other repair history of modifications.

This Epiphone is a really nice guitar for not much money, and it is probably is better quality than 90% of the guitars coming out of Gibson’s US factories today. After I set it up with Ernie Ball Slinky .010s. and it plays like butter and sounds killer. I hate to say it, because it never comes true, but this one might be a keeper!



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