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Gibson or Epiphone


blc9918
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Hi everybody!

 

I currently have a starter fender guitar and I was looking into getting something a bit fancier.  So far I've had my eye on some type of Les Paul.  Basically I'm asking if it's a better deal to go with a Gibson model or an epiphone model that's "better" in terms of highest to lowest quality... For example, a Gibson studio vs a "high end" epiphone model? Thoughts? Also, is there a huge difference in quality for spending more on the Gibsons or do they only get slightly better as the price goes up? Thanks!

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I went through the same thing you did except it took me half a year to decide. I ended up buying a used Gibson. Did a lot of research and window shopping. The biggest thing I'd say is to play both the Epiphone and Gibson you like. For the Epiphone, in my opinion, aim for at least the Standard which runs around $400-500. Then when you look at Gibsons, play whatever catches your eye. Even if it's just the Melody Maker. Gibson's pricing is mostly brought down to made in the USA, what kind of paint job/finish, the name brand, and the electronics. Try something out that would make you want to play it everyday. Just keep trying them until you find the one that sings to you. And of course the usual things, check the neck width for comfortability, ease of finger reach for solos at the end of the fretboard etc.

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i have a Gibson Studio and a 68 Reissue (so one of the cheaper and one of the more expensive ones in Gibsons lineup) and i have to say that i grab the Studio 90% of the time  (unless I need the sound of the PUs or the seemingly endless sustain.. so nothing of relevance when practicing or playing RS ;)))..

 

I went through a couple of Studios at the store and they all felt and sounded different..

when i got a hold of the one that I now own it just felt "right" (size of the neck, movability on the fretboard..) when playing.. not even the 68, or a friends 59 RI feel that "good" to me, so the best advice I can give is to just try them out locally before spending any cash..

if it feels right to you it doesn't matter if it says "Gibson" or "Epiphone" on the headstock (or if you paid 500 or 5000 for it)..

 

a Gibson would be easier to re-sell (in case that's ever needed) though..

 

edit: oh.. weight is also important.. my 68 is so heavy that you couldn't last a full gig with it over your shoulders without getting sore.. the studio is MUCH lighter, as it's not solid (either chambered or weight relieved, which also affects tonality).. one of the reasons the 58/59's are so expensive is also that they are solid and still pretty light..

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Well, in my guitar collection right now, there sits:

an Epiphone Les Paul standard

a Gibson 60's Tribute Les Paul

a Gibson SG Special

and a Gibson Les Paul Classic

(plus some others, including a PRS SE Custom)

 

I've had the Epi the longest(bought new in 2002), and the Classic about a month.

 

None of them are what i would call a 'bad' guitar. They do all feel different to play, and sound slightly different. Try them out. When I bought the classic, I tried about 4 or 5 other guitars that day(a standard, standard quilt top, a studio and a couple of other classics), and the one I got really just made me want to play, even though I really hate playing in public on my own.

 

So try as many as you can. Epiphone make some very good guitars, don;t rule them out just because of the name.

 

Oh, and try a few PR SE singlecuts. They're Les Paul shaped, have mahogany bodies and maple tops(but they're a bit less bulky than a Gibson or an Epi). Worth a go, at the very least.

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I have an Epiphone Les Paul 60's Tribute Plus and play it every day. I am very happy with it. It is a solid body and pretty heavy. It has Gibson USA pickups and electronics in an import guitar. I am new to guitar and couldn't see spending the money on a Gibson just  yet. This guitar played well right out of the box. I have since had it set up and it plays even better to me. Having said that, I am wanting a Gibson for whatever reason. I may be better than I was a year ago, but I am still not $2000 dollars better.

 

I also have a Fender American Deluxe Strat that I thought I had to have. I bet in the time I have had it, I have probably put 10 hours into the guitar. Sweetwater wants $1700 or so for the guitar now.

 

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v399/Eddie70/Guitar%20Stuff/DSC04731_zps6f7c6213.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v399/Eddie70/Guitar%20Stuff/DSC04732_zps307ac477.jpg

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I've owned both Epiphone and Gibson LPs; I currently have a 2014 Gibson Les Paul Studio, which I absolutely love.

 

If you stay away from their lowest priced options, Epiphone puts out some very good guitars.  They don't quite have the QC that Gibson does, but you do get the Gibson limited lifetime warranty with an Epi...meaning that Gibson is willing to back Epiphone guitars without any reservation.

 

The biggest differences you're going to see are in appointments and hardware.  The hardware differences are actually pretty significant when added altogether:  A Gibson will have better pickups, the nut will be synthetic bone and PleK'd, the body itself will have fewer pieces of wood, and the mahogany will be better quality.  Epis have a maple veneer, while Gibsons have actual maple caps...this makes a BIG difference in tonality.  Tuners will be of higher quality on a Gibson, and what I find most important...the fretwork on a Gibson will beat the fretwork on any Epi, no matter the price point.  For me personally, I haven't come across many Epi LPs that have the feel and overall playability of a Gibson LP.  Also, if you get an Epi, you can always trade out the hardware for better components as you go, and really make a nice instrument.  There's some diminishing returns there, though...the more you change out, the closer you get to spending as much as you would have for a Gibson in the first place.  For example, if you get an Epi Standard Plus Top, and switch out the p'ups for a higher quality set, you're already just about 50 short of what you would have spent to get an LPJ.

 

That said, Epiphone guitars are very good once you get to Standard and up from there.  One of the nicest guitars by Epiphone I've played is the Zakk Wylde LP...it's a very fine instrument.  However, you can get a Gibson LPJ for not much more, and benefit from the better quality control Gibsons get.  As a bonus, if you buy a Gibson, even a low end, eventually it will start to increase in value, provided you keep it in decent condition.  An Epiphone will almost always depreciate in value.  This all applies to Squier vs Fender, too.

 

You need to play these instruments, too...don't order them online (if you must, make sure you take it to a luthier for a professional setup...that can make all the difference).  Go to GC, Sam Ash, your local store, and play everything; take the guitar that plays best for you, regardless of the name on the headstock.  


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A couple of weeks ago I went to buy myself an Epiphone for my birthday. I was convinced that was what I should get and even had a little spreadsheet detailing all the ones I was interested in! I must have tried every Epi in that store (and there were a lot!), but when a Gibson Melody Maker was put in my hands, I just knew that it was the one for me. What I learned from this is - you can spend ages pouring over reviews and forums and other people's opinions, but you'll only really know what's right for you when you play them. For me it was the Melody Maker - much lighter than the standard Les Paul style and a sweet neck! Only cost as much as a top-end Epi...

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Really depends on your budget.

 

I own a Gibson Les Paul, the faded series with the 60s neck. I like the thinner neck, plus I like the chambered sound of the Faded Les Paul -- a bit more woody, but still got that thick, full-bodied Les Paul sound. Love love love this guitar. I've been a Fender Stratocaster (and Ibanez S Series) guitar player, but never could get that Les Paul sound (and I've tried), until I got my Les Paul.

 

I've also been wanting to get a backup Les Paul and I've looked at Epiphone Les Pauls over the years. And they are all over, quality and sound-wise. I've played lots of stinkers, but there are some  really nice ones It's usually been the more expensive models above the Epiphone Standard, like the tribute ones, the artist branded ones, like the Slash or Zakk Wylde ones. They are still Epiphones but often play (and sound) better than the standard model.

 

The dilemma then becomes that at that price range, around 900 to 1000 dollars US for the Epiphones above the standard model, you can start looking at used Gibson Les Paul Studios. But that depends if you find any listings for used Les Paul Studios.

 

Bottom line, though, try as many Epiphones as you can till you find one that feels good. You really can't tell until you hold it in your hands and play it. Even the same model, even color, will play different from each other. I think the quality control on the Epiphone line is lower so there is a lot of variance, but you can find a good one.

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I have an Epiphone Les Paul 1960's Tribute Plus in vintage sunburst. It has Gibson '57 Classic pickups, which are far better than the 490R's you get on a Gibson LP Studio. It also has a set of locking Grover tuners, a step up from the Gibson as well. It looks prettier too. I'm very happy with it, and would choose this Epiphone over a Gibson Studio any day of the week.

 

My opinion is that if you want a Gibson, you have to get a proper Gibson - the Standard or a at least a Studio Pro. 

 

Unless you are a metal guy, don't get the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy. While these are great for heavy stuff, they aren't too good for more bluesy songs.

 

I also had an Epiphone LP Standard. It was a really good guitar - beautiful, low action, no fret buzz, keeps in tune. The only complaint is that the pickups were a bit muddy. Not terrible, but not too pleasant. As somebody already mentioned, each Epiphone varies greatly, you might get a great guitar, or you might get a faulty one, however if you buy it from a good store, they should fix it or exchange it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had an Epiphone Les Paul Special II (£135 guitar) and when I knew and had some money given to me I went looking for better.

 

I spent hours in a guitar store and tried various guitars from fender, gibson etc... also tried a PRS Paul Allandar and found it far too bright sounding, same thing with the Gibson SG, and I wanted a nice 'warm' sounding guitar and ended up with a Gibson Les Paul Studio 2014 and find it a very good buy as it has the exact sound warmth I want, not too muddy just nice and warm with coil taps for when I need them (think thats what they are called.

 

tris

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my experience if you are a really good guitar player then you should get a Gibson because they just sound and look/feel better and you can pull it off. If you are a beginner or really poor or anti expensive crap and want to look like a true punk then go Epiphone. The one thing I can't stand about Epiphone is that the headstock looks like "something unappealing". But I got the Epiphone Korina Flying V so I don't have that problem.

 

Also, Gibson will hold its value better. If you could purchase a $10000 vintage Gibson and resell it for $10000 or more down the line vs buying a new $350 dollar Epiphone and reselling it for $150, then who has won at the end of the day? In Japan this is called "buying cheap and losing money for it". But of course real life doesn't always work out so well...

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Gibson quality control is horrible lately. I bought a standard and had to go through 3 of them before I got one that didn't require a luthier on a brand new 2500 dollar guitar.  Honestly, if you want a Made in USA guitar buy a USA Strat.  If you want a new short scale, "Les Paul", buy the epiphone right now, if Gibson wakes up and starts producing real instruments again I will buy another.  Usually I would say buy the Gibson but not with the crap they are releasing to the public these days.

 

The other option here is buying a used Gibson, I think that 88 to 93 were some of the best most consistent instruments they've made in recent times.

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Gibson quality control is horrible lately. I bought a standard and had to go through 3 of them before I got one that didn't require a luthier on a brand new 2500 dollar guitar.  Honestly, if you want a Made in USA guitar buy a USA Strat.  If you want a new short scale, "Les Paul", buy the epiphone right now, if Gibson wakes up and starts producing real instruments again I will buy another.  Usually I would say buy the Gibson but not with the crap they are releasing to the public these days.

 

The other option here is buying a used Gibson, I think that 88 to 93 were some of the best most consistent instruments they've made in recent times.

I've purchased a Gibson SGJ and a Gibson Les Paul Classic and a Studio this year.  No problems with any of the guitars.  The Studio is long gone in a trade, the Classic is one of the best guitars I've ever owned, and the SGJ is a bare-bones, very nicely made instrument.


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I bought a Gibson LP Studio 2013 for 1000€ (inkl nice hardcase) before a few months. Handmade in USA.

Handling is very Great and I love the sound.

The handmade Quality is good ! but not perfect. There are 3 optic faults. You need to look closely to see them, but for 1000€ ?.... out of place. I play with Gibson Les Paul 10 Lights Strings, and 3 times i got damaged strings. All were bent down on the same place. You can see it from 2 meters... Its angrily because they want 9€ for one set.

So Gibson is good but not without fail.

Epiphone is the affiliated company of Gibson.

Epiphone LP Custom for 500€ is not Made in USA ( made in Asia), but has a very nice quality , good handling and great sound. And  I would buy it without worries. So i think Epiphone is a very good choice. They have very nice guitars for very good price!

If you want to save money buy an epiphone, i´m sure you will not be disappointed.

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Do you have a music store in town that has the guitars you are looking at?  I would suggest going down and playing on them for awhile.  When my Kramer got stolen I spent a good month researching on line what I wanted to purchase.  I ended up selecting a Schecter c1 classic.  I went to Guitar Center ready to buy.  (Found my stolen Kramer on their used shelf, but that is another story).  I picked up several Schecters, some Gibsons and Epiphones, but finally settled on a Fender Strat.  It is a "made in china" guitar and some people would look at is a cruddy guitar for that.  For me, it feels right in my hands and sounds good when I play.  Or at least no worse than playing guitars that cost 3 times as much.

 

The short of the story is, play on them and decide what is good for you.  Don't buy a label to impress people.  But then, I don't flip my strat over to everyone and show the made in china label either ;). 

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