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I started on acoustic and was daunted by the cost of an electric at first so went for a cheaper model. I wasn't disappointed really. Out of the box it was pretty much playable after a quick tune up. It wasn't the most perfectly set up guitar in the world and the action was a tiny bit high. The machine heads aren't great but hold the guitar in tune relatively well for the budget. The pickups really aren't too good at all but they are far from the worst I've used and I can get a reasonable sound from them. The neck feels surprisingly good considering the price point of the guitar and its pretty comfortable. In terms of cosmetics what you see is what you get. The guitar is far from impressive to look at. I have since owned an Ibanez RG370DXL which I ended up selling but my Epi is still here and still gets played. i have even set the bridge angled for higher action at the heavy strings and lower at the top and the guitar handled it fine. For the price of this guitar it is impossible to argue! It will put a smile on your face if you are just starting out!
~A versatile beginners guitar~
As guitars go you could do far worse than choosing something like the budget priced Les Paul Special II electric guitar that is produced under the Ephiphone label as part of their electric guitar range. This guitar is a good little full sized starter instrument that has enough going for it to ensure that you will want to continue learning to improve your technique whilst enjoying the tones, sounds and effects you can achieve whilst learning the ropes, which with a little practice will soon begin to sound really rather good. There is nothing worse than trying to get to grips with learning a new instrument and finding that the one you have picked out is substandard and makes practice time a chore rather than a guilty pleasure, so buying a first or second guitar such as this one, is something that needs a little thought.
When I bought my first guitar I went for a different yet equally well known model but soon wanted another budget priced beauty to give some added versatility without breaking the bank and as I already had a large bodied acoustic guitar, I opted for the super cheap Epiphone Les Paul Special II as it seemed like a good choice at the time. Having owned one of these models which was bought many years ago I feel able to say that this model of guitar is one that is ideal as a beginners guitar, as it offers a range of playing styles, is well made and sells for a fair price, having enough about it to hold your interest until you are able to move on to something a little more refined and ultimately more expensive.
~The good, the bad, the ugly~
The Special II comes in the trade mark Les Paul style with its simple yet highly attractive single cutaway design which adds to the look and feel of the guitar without being overly fancy and getting in the way. The angle of the cutaway section with its carefully smoothed carved out shape doesn't get in the way when playing the guitar and must ultimately contribute towards the feel and balance of the guitar when in use. Having had the use of an Encore P29 in more recent times which shares this single cutaway shape of the Special II, I feel that the cheaper Encore guitar which was bought for my child to learn on, is no where near as good as the Epiphone model which has better pickups and offers greater refinement when in use. Of the two models I would most certainly say that this one is the better of the two and it is worth spending a few £s more to buy one of these, if you are buying this for an adult to learn on as it will last longer in terms of what it can offer you, once you become a little more able to handle a number of playing styles.
The over all make up of this model is rather good for a budget priced guitar in my opinion, with the one I had being in use for a number of years before I parted company with it. The only real issue of any note I had with my Special II was that the strap button at the neck end came off and needed to be re-drilled in order to be able to hold a guitar strap and take the weight of the guitar when in use. This is something that has happened with a number of guitars I have had (including the Encore P29) so I wouldn't say it is something which should cause any great concern if it happens as it is easy to remedy. In the case of the guitar I had I took the easy route and used a small sized slim wall plug to give added strength and grip, that was placed into the hole and then re fitted a new strap button in place which worked well to keep the strap button safely and securely where it was meant to be.
~Set up to play straight from the box!~
Whilst there are plenty of guitar players who would agree that a professional set up can be a benefit I feel that when buying a simple budget priced guitar such as this one, the instrument should be something that you can unpack, pick up, dust off and plug into an amp as soon as you have tuned up. In the case of my Special II I found that the factory set up was good enough for me to be able to do just that with no serious issues or worries as to whether I should adjust the action greatly or make any major changes to what had been put in place at the factory. In fact as I recall the intonation of the guitar was rather good and the action was comfortable enough to leave well alone, as it was about right for my needs with it being neither too high or too low.
Once plugged into an amp the guitar had a good clean sound and was able to produce a nice range of tones and sounds including the signature Les Paul clean tone which the makers say is in part due to the mahogany body and neck of the guitar. Once this guitar was hooked up to an effects pedal the array of sounds and effects that this guitar was able to produce was extremely good considering its price and spec. The use of the effects pedal combined with this guitar allowed for a wide range of playing styles from lighter pieces right through to some pretty heavy material and some almost other worldly tones and sounds could be had with a little tweaking of the settings of both the guitar and pedal when used together.
The pick ups that came fitted on the guitar were much better than those that came fitted on the Encore P29 as the Special IIs pick ups comprise of two Alnico V open coil humbucking pick ups, with an Epiphone 700T pick up set at the bridge position and a 650R pickup at the neck position, with there being a 3 way toggle switch built in to allow you to change which pick ups you are using to vary the sounds and effects that are possible. These pick ups being humbucking pick ups means they have a slightly higher output than standard single coil pick ups, as both the coils are connected in series, which ultimately means that noise and interference is reduced by the humbucking pick ups. The term humbuckers is due to the fact that they can help to 'buck the hum' and any buzz which is often found when using standard single coil pick ups. I certainly agree that the use of humbucking pick ups can help to stop buzzing and interference as the P29 I have which is not fitted with humbuckers gives far too much buzz which the Special II didn't suffer from most of the time.
~Whats so 'Special' about this guitar?~
This model being Epiphones number one selling model means that it certainly has plenty going for it in terms of its features verses its price and although it doesn't have as much refinement as the more expensive Gibson Les Paul guitars do, it still has a number of nice features that work well. The guitar comes fitted with a Les Paul style Tune O Matic bridge which provides a reasonable degree of sustain and a silver toned stop bar tail piece, which was prone to some slight degradation in terms of its shiny new appearance on my guitar. The design of the stop tail makes it easy to get to grips with when wanting to re string the guitar as you just need to thread your new set of strings through the holes on the stop tail, with no need to ever try to remove it (which is not recommended). The guitar comes fitted with one volume control and one tone control which are both sited at the front of the guitar body towards the bottom of the guitar and these are easy to use once you become accustomed to using them.
The machine heads on my guitar were covered for greater stability and ease of use and these worked well enough on the guitar I had with no issues of any note that effected their usage. I found that the guitar would stay in tune for a reasonable length of time when in use before it needed slight re tuning which was easy enough to do. The neck of the guitar was bolted on and was in the trade marked 1960s 'slim taper' style, being well sized for ease of use when holding down the strings and having a mahogany neck with a rosewood finger board and 22 well spaced easy to use frets with a simple yet well positioned plastic nut. The dot inlays on the neck were simply finished and placed where expected, which I feel makes positioning easy when learning the basics such as simple scales and arpeggios. As mentioned the action on the guitar was just right, making for ease of use with minimal effort and pressure needed on the strings to achieve nice clean notes.
~Main features of the model~
Mahogany neck wood
Bolt-on 'slim taper' neck
Dot inlaid position makers
22 well spaced frets
Humbucking pickups (1 x 700T 1 x 650R both open coil)
1 volume control
1 tone control
3 way toggle switch pick up selector
1 output jack
Fully covered machine heads
The model comes in a choice of white, wine red, ebony, heritage cherry sunburst and vintage sunburst which was the colour of the model I had. The vintage sunburst option has a nice retro look to it with the main body of the guitar being in a deep black lacquer finish with a central soft light honey tone that deepens towards the outside of the lacquer before becoming engulfed by the darker finish. The back of the guitar is finished in the same dark lacquer on this colour option with no fancy or coloured bindings to the body of the guitar. I had no major issues with the lacquer on the model I had, which remained in good condition with just some light scratching to the front body of the guitar due to over zealous use of a plectrum as there was no pick guard fitted. A good polish was more than enough to hide these so I cannot mark the guitar down for this as there was no other damage to the lacquer that is worth mentioning.
~Price and rating~
As it is some time since I purchased my Special II I had to check more recent prices when writing this and at the time of writing prices for this guitar seem to range from £120 to £146 at most online stores which I feel is good value. There is also a starter set up kit/ performance pack which includes this guitar along with an Epiphone 15R amp, a guitar bag, strap, tuner, dvd and pick etc which sells for between £170 and £199 which offers fair value based on the items you get within the set. As for rating the guitar I feel it has plenty going for it that make it good choice for a beginner to use, as it can be used to play a variety of styles, has a nice action and good intonation straight out of the box and has easy to use controls with a useful set of humbucking pick ups. Over all as I had no problems with my guitar (other than with the strap button coming lose) I feel that this model is deserving of a 4 star rating as a budget priced beginners guitar.
Ive had this guitar over 2 year and man has it served me well! After learning to play on an encore strat copy, I was ready to upgrade. After looking round at all the Vintage, Squires and Crafters, I decided to take a risk and buy the Epiphone off the internet for £115 withough having played it first..and im so glad I did! For a beginner to intermediate player, or even for an expert as a second guitar this is a fantastic axe! It feels solid and has a good weight to it and hung down low like Slash or Billie Joe makes you feel like a rockstar. The double humbucker pickups have that great rock sound, which is great, however I guess one of the downsides is it is a guitar for rock and not much else. If your into your Jazz etc this is obviously not the guitar for you, but if Green Day, Blink 182 or Fallout Boy is you thing, then I would say this is the best guitar you can get without spending £400! And for just over a quarter of that, this guitar is amazing for the price.
A while ago i had gotten to the point were my cheap argos special strat rip off was not able to keep up wih my playing. I wanted to get something better and heard that epihone copies were very good. and as at the tine i was working to a budget I decided to go for this guitar,
it looks great, it is beautifully made it has the shape of the actual les paul but much thinner and with less knobs and switchs and my sunburst one looked great every time i picked it up out of its bag... but unfortunatly that is were all my good comments about this guitar have to end.
the pick ups on this guitar are awful it always has a fuzzy unclear sound to it.
anything i played abovethe 12th fret ratteled and vibrated and because of the cheap fixed bridged system it has this is impossible to correct this problem without making the bridge loose.
Also the first time i tuned it the nut (plastic part the strings feed through on the neck onto the head) litterally snapped in half. and had to be sent back to epeiphone for 2-3 MONTHS!! and it returned with a new one badly glued in place.
I actually swapped this guitar back for my old cheapo argos classic to my little brother
I paid £130.00 (okay cheap by guitar terms) but this a complete rip off considering I recently upgraded the les paul special 2s replacement epiphone sg for an amazing Ibanez 170 it was in a double sale for £149.00 but they norally retail at about £200.00. i would urge anbody to save that little but extra
My first guitar.
When i bought this guitar for £120, i was expecting nothing special, just a guitar. But i was quite surprised when i got it and played it.
The Guitar has two hambuckers that do there job, From Rock, Metal, aggressive, to even more heavier tone, you can get it from this guitar.
The Guitar has three controls, one for the master volume, one for master tone and the other being a selector with three options.
The Output (Jack) is found on the bottom of the guitar on a out of way place, for when your sitting down and playing it.
The gloss finish on the guitar body is done as expected, no flaws in it and has a amazing shine on it when cleaned and put in your guitar stand.
The quality and play from this guitar is amazing for it's price, a must have if you are a beginner.