Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review: Can it Compete with Gibson?
The Les Paul – just looking at one conjures up images of rock-and-roll legends playing sold-out stadiums, smoke-filled blues bars, and searing, distorted lead lines.
Starting in 1952 with the production of the first Les Paul, this classic design has become one of the world’s most iconic guitars and has been the chosen guitar of countless musical icons across a wide range of genres.
With this Les Paul Standard 60’s edition, Epiphone has produced a truly magnificent guitar with everything there is to love about the Les Paul – the looks, the tone, and the playability – all at an affordable price.
If you’ve been thinking about making the Les Paul Standard ‘60’s your next ax and are wondering if it’s right for you, this review will help answer any questions you may have about it and decide if it fits your style, preferences, and wallet.
About Epiphone Guitars
Epiphone is Gibson's subsidiary brand that produces affordable versions of Gibson's classic designs including the Les Paul, SG, ES-335, Flying V, and many more.
Although today Epiphone is largely known for producing great-sounding, more budget-friendly alternatives to Gibson models, the company has a unique story of its own.
The Epiphone story started all the way back in 1873 when the company was first founded in Turkey and began manufacturing fiddles and lutes. The company produced a variety of stringed instruments throughout the early 1900s, even taking the name ‘The Epiphone Banjo Company’ at one point.
Fast forward to 1928, when the company started manufacturing archtop guitars, and was in quite a rivalry with Gibson at the time to see who would come out on top with the most innovative new guitars.
In the end, Gibson’s parent company bought Epiphone which has led to them being what they are today – the only company to officially manufacture Gibson-licensed products.
Most of the Epiphone guitars that are Epiphone only and not budget-friendly versions of Gibsons mainly fall into the hollow body category. The most famous and widely recognized of these being the Casino, played by the likes of George Harrison and John Lennon, and the Sheraton played by Noel Gallagher.
So whether you’re going for an Epiphone exclusive like the Casino, or just wanting to get your hands on a great-looking and sounding Les Paul without breaking the bank, Epiphone has a wide range of options to fit every style and budget.
Check out my guide on the Best Les Paul Style Copy Guitars
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s Review Highlights:
There are a lot of things to like about this Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s. From its striking flamed maple top to its classic punchy sound, there is something that everybody will like about this guitar.
Let’s take a look at some of the things we like, and a few of the things we don’t like about this guitar. (For the things we don’t like the section I had to get really nitpicky, as this guitar really doesn’t have any large downsides that I could come up with)
What We Liked
- Epiphone Probucker Humbuckers – They give you the thick, buttery bluesy tones on the neck and the in-your-face drive in the bridge that so perfectly characterizes a Les Paul.
- Hand-rolled edges of the neck – for a much more comfortable overall playing experience.
- Slim C-profile neck – for effortless gliding up and down in all positions on the neck.
What We Didn’t Like
- Neck pickup can be a bit muddy for chords with higher gain
- Polyurethane finish can feel a bit sticky if you’re used to the feel of Gibson’s nitrocellulose lacquer
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s Review: Features & Specifications
- Mahogany neck with SlimTaper 60s C profile
- Grover Rotomatic 18:1 ratio machine heads
- Mahogany body
- AA flame maple cap
- LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge
- Epiphone ProBucker pickups
- Set-in neck joint
- Trapezoid Pearloid fret inlays
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s Review: Our Insights
Alright, so the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s is a great budget-friendly Les Paul with some killer specs for the price, but how does it play, perform – and most importantly – feel when you’ve got it plugged in?
Picking up this Les Paul you can feel the quality, it’s got a nice heavyweight to it that you feel when picking up a Gibson, and this Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s has some other features on it that make it play much better than previous models.
Let’s take a look at some of the details about the sound, playability, and overall feel and design.
This Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s has the classic Les Paul design that everyone loves, however, there are a few new design features on the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s.
One big feature of these new generation Epiphone guitars is the redesigned headstock.
Gone are the days of the oddly shaped headstock that stuck out and made for a slightly awkward appearance that led many people (and I’ll be honest – myself included) to immediately discount the idea of buying an Epiphone.
Although it shouldn’t have been such a big deal-breaker, that really was the reason that myself and many other guitarists tended to shy away from Epiphone guitars, even the higher-end models that play exceptionally well.
The new headstock design brings it much closer to the look of the Gibson headstock and makes for a much more aesthetically pleasing look.
To top it off, the flamed maple top gives it a dazzling finish that you can’t take your eyes off of.
The ‘60s slim profile neck makes it incredibly comfortable to play, allowing you to put down rhythm chords with ease or lay down those rich, gutsy lead lines that the Les Paul has come to be known for
In the past, Epiphone didn’t have the best reputation when it comes to build quality when compared to its Gibson counterpart. However, over the past decade, the quality of their guitars are significantly improved to the point where they’re comparable to pretty much all of the top guitar brands at this price point.
The mahogany body is solidly made, which you can feel in the weight of the guitar as soon as you pick it up.
Another great feature of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s is that the edges of the neck are hand-rolled just like the Gibson models. This is a HUGE deal as it was one of the real sticking points and issues that really stuck out on earlier Epiphone models.
Putting your hand around the neck of this Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s feels so much more like you’re playing on a Gibson thanks to this small, but hugely important design tweak.
Most of the tonewoods that Epiphone uses are the same as those used by Gibson in their US-made instruments – meaning primarily mahogany for the neck and body, a maple top, and rosewood or rosewood-like wood for the fingerboard.
These are the woods that make it onto the Gibsons, and in turn, they find their way onto Epiphones as well.
Starting with the body, the solid mahogany gives you a warm and resonant sound that will sustain for days, a feature that I really love and appreciate about playing a Les Paul.
You can hit a chord or a note and let it sustain for what seems like minutes on end.
The set-in mahogany neck is a solid feeling and also helps lend itself to the sustain.
Moving to the fingerboard, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s uses Indian Laurel on the fingerboard, a smooth feeling wood that allows for easy bending without the feeling of getting stuck that some lower-quality guitars have.
Hardware and Electronics
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s features some great quality hardware and electronics that make the sound shine.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s under the hood of this guitar.
This guitar really sounds like a Les Paul should sound. This is due partly in thanks to the pickups that are used.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s features Epiphone’s own Probucker pickups. These pickups use Alnico II magnets and are modeled to sound like vintage PAF (“patent applied for”) pickups that were used on the 1958-1960 Les Pauls.
These pickups were known for their versatility, with plenty of mids and clarity in the high end. They formed the basis of early hard rock and crunchy blues.
The Probuckers on this Epiphone are excellent pickups. The Alnico II magnets give these PAF-inspired pickups a finely balanced tone – with these you get a sound that’s warm, with a good amount of width and depth to the tone.
Another exceptional aspect of these pickups is the level of clarity in the high end, with the best part being that you lose none of it if you want to roll the volume back.
Moving to the wiring, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s uses a vintage-style wiring loom that features high-quality CTS pots, which makes both the tone and volume controls do their job and achieve a lot of variety in sound by tapering them off.
The bridge position utilizes the Probucker 3, which gives the characteristic growly gutsy Les Paul sound with some gain cranked on. Although some people say it’s a bit overwound and produces a thin sound at times, I did not find that to be the case when testing out the guitar.
The neck position uses the Probucker 2, which gives this guitar that wonderful molasses-thick tone you want from a neck position humbucker.
The ‘60s style neck with its rounded edges makes this neck one of the most enjoyable and playable Epiphone necks I’ve played on.
Although this guitar does come out of the box with new strings, etc., we also recommend to everyone to get it set up properly by a professional when you first receive the guitar out of the box. It will greatly improve the playability of the instrument and how much you enjoy playing it.
There are a few small issues with playability for those who haven’t handled a Les Paul before.
The single cut-away doesn’t provide as ease of access to the top frets as a double cut-away guitar does, but this certainly doesn’t hinder overall playability.
For those who have never played a Les Paul before – be warned – they’re heavy! If you haven’t handled one before, be prepared for playing while standing.
This guitar is an excellent value for the money, offering all of the great features of the Les Paul at a fraction of the price of owning a Gibson model.
For guitarists who are concerned with quality, craftsmanship, and tone but are on a tight budget it simply doesn’t get better than this Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s Review: Buying Experience
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s can be purchased in a variety of in-person shops and online stores, and of course your personal buying experience will be dependent upon which store you end up buying your guitar from.
For maximum convenience with no hassle buying, we at Guitar Advise recommend buying your guitar directly through Sweetwater.
The details below on shipping and return policy are all the case when buying through Sweetwater directly.
Sweetwater is one of the largest and most reputable online music instruments retailers in the world. Get the latest deals on the biggest guitar brands including Gibson, Fender, PRS and Ibanez and more!
All guitars from Sweetwater ship for free following a thorough 55-point inspection.
Sweetwater is not only known for its great customer service but also its attention to detail when it comes to shipping products like guitars and other gear you may need.
One important thing to note is that this guitar will ship only in the Epiphone cardboard box, so if you’re worried about protecting the guitar on its way to your door you can opt to buy a case through Sweetwater, and they will place the guitar in the case for you before it ships.
The hardshell case is HIGHLY recommended – I can’t even count how many times my guitar could’ve been broken into two pieces if it weren’t for it being placed in a hard case.
After purchasing and receiving your new Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s, you can go online and register your instrument through the company’s website.
After registering, you’re able to take advantage of the Epiphone lifetime warranty for your instrument. (subject to come conditions of course – check the official warranty after registering for up-to-date information)
If there is any sort of manufacturing defect or issue that is caused by defective materials there is no need to worry. Epiphone will replace the defective part, or even the entire guitar if deemed necessary, at no cost to you.
What happens if it turns out that the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s isn’t for you? We don’t think that’ll be the case, but in case it’s not the one for you, Sweetwater offers a great, “no hassle” return policy.
When buying online from Sweetwater you have 30 days to test out your new guitar and send it back with no questions asked, as long as it’s still in the same condition as it was when you received it.
If you want a refund, Sweetwater will deduct the actual amount to ship it back to them from that refund.
Should You Buy the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s?
If you’re someone who wants the classic look, feel, and sound of a Les Paul without breaking the bank, then the short answer is … yes! Absolutely!
You should seriously consider adding the Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s to your collection of guitars if you fit into one of the following categories:
– You’re looking for a more affordable version of the Gibson Les Paul.
This goes without saying, but this Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s will get you so close to what the Gibson version offers while saving you $1500+.
For a lot of people, it’s hard to justify spending that much extra on the Gibson when the Epiphone gets so close in its own right.
– You’ve been playing on a beginner guitar for a while and want to step up to something nicer that will allow you to continue to develop your skills.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s is the perfect mid-level guitar for the budding guitarist who has built up some good chops and had begun to outgrow the low-range guitar they started on. This guitar will help take your skills to the next level.
– You want a well-made dual humbucker guitar for playing rock or blues.
If you’re coming from an SSS configuration and want to play something dirtier, these Probucker pickups really get the job done well.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s Alternatives
Let’s take a quick look at other Epiphone offerings similar to the Les Paul Standard ‘60s.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Vs Epiphone Les Paul 100
The Epiphone Les Paul 100 is an excellent guitar aimed at beginners and intermediate players.
For a few hundred dollars less, you could pick up this Epiphone Les Paul 100, putting it solidly into the category of a good beginner guitar.
The Les Paul 100 has the same mahogany body and neck but skips on the flamed maple top. The dual humbuckers are also lower-end offerings, but still good enough to get the job done for some heavy rock, blues, or even metal.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Vs Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro
Coming in at a similar price point the Standard ‘60s is the Les Paul Traditional Pro. There are a few key differences between the two guitars:
- Pickups. The Les Paul Traditional Pro comes with Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers, as opposed to the Probucker PAF style humbuckers on the Standard ‘60s.
- Coil Tap. The Traditional Pro has a coil tap switch, to give you a single-coil sound.
- Finish. The Traditional Pro comes in 4 different “worn” finishes – wine red, ebony, metallic gold, and pacific blue. If you’re looking for a guitar with a more stunning finish and color, this could be the option for you.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Vs Epiphone Les Paul Studio
From warm, fat blues tones to scorching rock riffs and solos, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio does it all at a fraction of the price of a Gibson
Also at a similar price point is the Epiphone Les Paul Studio. The main differences between the Studio and the Standard ‘60s are:
- Pickups. The Studio has Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers.
- Fingerboard. The Studio has a Pau Ferro fingerboard compared to the Standard ‘60s Indian laurel.
- Weight. The Studio is lighter than the Standard ‘60s, meaning you won’t get quite as much sustain out of it.
The Bottom Line
Epiphone really stepped their game up with this Les Paul ‘60s edition. This is a great mid-range guitar that any guitarist would be proud to play.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard ‘60s offers:
- Great vintage-style pickups
- Super playable neck
- Exemplary build quality
If you’re coming out of the beginner stage and want to upgrade your axe, or if you’re a seasoned player looking for a Les Paul that won’t empty your bank account, you can’t do better than this Epiphone Les Paul ‘60s.