Closer Look: Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Review

Epiphone Les Paul, a great beginner electric guitar

Most any guitarist is familiar with the name Les Paul. Although he was an excellent jazz and blues guitarist, his legacy was cemented by another one of his great skills: guitar-making. He made his first guitar in 1940 in the Epiphone guitar factory.  This venture eventually led to the Epiphone Les Paul LP-100.

A lot happened in the 40 years between those two guitars.  Not the least of which was the purchase of Epiphone by its primary competitor Gibson. The latter was the first to produce the famed “Les Paul” while Epiphone made it available to the masses as an affordable electric guitar in 1989.

Epiphone’s produced its first Les Paul solid body electric guitar the same year.

Review of the Epiphone Les Paul LP-100

The Epiphone LP-100 Les Paul is a budget version of its older brother, the Gibson Les Paul, but the guitar – along with all the other guitars in the Epiphone Les Paul series – shares almost all of the same visual characteristics.

Both the Gibson and the Epiphone Les Paul sport the same classic body style made of solid wood fitted with two humbucking pickups, two tone controls and two volume controls. The Epiphone LP-100 is cut from a single piece of mahogany wood topped with maple, complete with a single cutaway.

The biggest visual difference with the Epiphone Les Paul is actually quite hard to see: the size of the body, which is just a tad slimmer than its older brother. On the upside, though, that also means its a little bit lighter too.

Playability of the Epiphone Les Paul

What’s most impressive with the Epiphone Les Paul is its ability to deliver incredible playability within a budget.

Perhaps it has something to do with the slimmer design or even something as simple as the comfortable weight distribution of the solid body; either way, it doesn’t feel like a “beginner guitar” when you’re playing it.

The action along the fretboard is just right and allows for easy movement up and down guitar. The mahogany neck also allows for smooth sliding as you play your favorite lick.

As far as beginner electric guitars go, the Epiphone Les Paul LP-100 is going to be one of the best to play.

Plugging in the Epiphone Les Paul

Epiphone has equipped the Les Paul LP-100 with dual uncovered humbucker pickups complete with a tone and volume control for each.

When plugged in, the Les Paul has a reputation for having a fat, bold tone that stands out among most any other electric guitar. For beginners the fun starts when you start to play with the hundreds of options that the three-way switch and tone controls allow.

Of course, a lot of the tone depends on the type of amplifier that you plug your guitar into. Fortunately, the Epiphone Les Paul LP-100 produces a full sound with even a half-decent amp. There is no better way to motivate a novice guitarist than a beautiful sound!

Overall Impression of the Epiphone LP-100

You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better electric guitar for the price.  So if the Les Paul is your style, the Epiphone LP-100 is going to be an excellent option for you. It doesn’t have fancy inlays and it doesn’t come as a “starter kit”.  But, it will satisfy your need for a great electric guitar.

The LP-100 has what Epiphone calls the “classic look, sound and feel of a Les Paul”.  This is going to be a reliable electric guitar at an affordable price point.

Other Epiphone Les Paul Options

I also wanted to mention that Epiphone produces the Les Paul at multiple levels of quality.  This is something to consider if you want something a little better than the LP-100.  And if you want something not quite as expensive as the Gibson Les Paul.

Most of the incremental improvements with these other options have to do with the electronics, specifically the pickups.  The electronics are better suited for those who plan to play on stage or in the studio.

Epiphone Les Paul Traditional PRO

The next step up from the Les Paul LP-100 is the Traditional PRO. What you get with this is an upgrade in the pickups from Alnico to Pro-Bucker, a quality set of Grover tuners (which helps to keep your guitar in tune longer) and the option for coil tapping.

You’ll be adding a bit to the price.  But, what you get in return is a guitar that is much better suited for performance rather than just practice. If you see yourself being on stage in the future, you might consider the upgrade.

Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-III

The Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-III takes what was great about the traditional PRO (upgraded Pro-Bucker pickups and Grover tuners) and adds one really cool element – USB capabilities.

Plug the Les Paul Ultra-III into a computer.  Now you have the ability to simulate hundreds of amplifiers, pedals and effects.  These features would have costs you thousands of dollars to buy otherwise.

Oh yea, and one more thing: they’ve hidden a guitar tuner into the bridge of the guitar. Nice.

Epiphone Les Paul Quilt Top

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who needs something just slightly different than everybody else, you will love the gorgeous quilted maple top of this Epiphone Les Paul Quilt Top.

All the typical upgrades – Pro-Bucker pickups, Grover Tuners and coil tapping – are also part of this guitar.  So rest assured it will sound as good as it looks.

16 thoughts on “Closer Look: Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Review

  1. Hi Josh,
    Earlier this year I purchased an Epiphone Les Paul Special – Korean built in 1996 – for next to nothing.
    It has a chip in the paint on the bottom near the jack and the body appears to be made from plywood. Would that be true?
    I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this model.
    As far as I can tell, it is stock factory standard with original pick ups, which I was planning to replace in the future anyway.
    Should I just flick it off and try for something better?

    1. By “plywood” I assume you mean laminate wood, and you would be correct. A lot of these beginner model guitars, especially those manufactured in Asia, are produced using laminate wood instead of solid wood. It saves on costs and for the beginner shouldn’t make enough difference in the sound for you to care much.

      Don’t get rid of it just because it’s laminate wood, though – especially if you got it for next to nothing! When you’re ready to replace it, invest in something that is solid wood. Until then, enjoy the Les Paul! 🙂

      1. Okay. Just one more thing, can you recommend a good budget pick up replacement set? I’m not really that happy with the current ones. They sound a lttle tinny. I’m looking for a bluesy rock sound a-la Eric Clayton or SRV. And yes, I am aware they played single coil strats. I removed the screws in the bridge pup and it sounds a bit better but still tinny.

    2. I would agree with Josh and say that just because a guitar is made of laminate or plywood doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad guitar. Despite what various people will tell you about “tone wood” it’s all pretty much BS when it comes to electric guitars. The tone comes from the vibrations of the strings over the pickup’s magnets. It’s an electromagnetic signal, not a microphonic one, so the wood species is a non-issue, at least in terms of tone. I played a Hondo Les Paul copy with a plywood body when I was starting out, and to this day it’s still a great guitar. My rule of thumb is, if it sounds good, who gives a s*** what it’s made of?

  2. Hey, I’m thinking of buying this guitar. I’ve been playing for 2 years and I want to buy an electric guitar. What I wanted to ask was that can I play on the 22nd fret with a nice sound? I’ve noticed on most guitars that one can’t really play on the last fret. So can I play on the 22nd fret on this?

    Plus, I like to play riffs and solos and stuff so should I buy this guitar? I mean slash plays a Les Paul, so maybe this could be my guitar?

    Thanks a ton!

    1. Hey Abhirat, thanks for the comment! So how often do you play on the 22nd fret!? I don’t know if I’ve done that more than once it my life and it was just for fun, not on stage. You can play the 22nd fret on the Epiphone Les Paul but it might not sound incredible. I’ve honestly never played the guitar up there so I can’t tell you with 100% certainty.

      You will enjoy how this guitar plays, though, and I think it will be a joy to play riffs and solos.

      1. You can buy les pauls that have 24 frets, so then the 22n’d would play fine. Otherwise, the 22nd fret sounds weak

  3. Hi, I’ve been playing acoustic guitar for two years now, and think it’s about time i get my first electric guitar.
    I’m just confused, I’ve read a lot reviews on both Epiphone lp 100 and yamaha pac122j, It’s really hard choosing. With all the experience that you had for more than 20years, I believe you could help me choose one. I need the one with good feel, great playability and sound , and versatile. But mostly I consider the size of my hand, small.

  4. I own an epi with the trans amber quilt has a nice weight and the neck feels nice.i understand about the pick-ups,once i had the means i purchased gibson dirty fingers and replaced both pick-ups and what a difference, it sounds killer clean or throw in some distortion it will growl,they are great pick-ups.

  5. Hello, I’ve been playing a fender tele forever it seems but recently got the itch to get a les Paul, I looked and looked and finally picked up on of line.
    When it got to the house I noticed that it says Gibson at the top of the neck between the tuners on the little plate where most I’ve seen say “studio”
    Or “custom pro” I was wondering was there any significance to this?
    For I absolutely love the feel and action! It’s definitely completely different then a tele but not a bad difference….just a different style. I haven’t got to play with it much since I’m an otr truck driver and it came bout 1 hour before I had to leave but so far I love it! If you know anything about the Gibson on the headstock plate and could pass along any info I’d be greatly appreciative!
    Thanks. Frank

  6. That piece of plastic is the truss rod cover. The writing on it usually has to do with what model or version the guitar is. They sometimes change from year to year. When an epiphone says “Gibson”, it usually means it is a low end model like a special or lp 100. You will never see a Gibson with “Epiphone” on it.

  7. Hi Josh
    Im looking to buy and Epiphone Les Paul 11 or special.
    I’m sort of a beginner.
    I was just wondering if its good to cover most of Alter bridges songs.
    But otherwise can they produce a good metal type sound.
    Sincerely Josh

  8. This is a great review – I did an article on the updated 2020 Studio and linked back to this one – thanks for being a great resource!

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