Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sydney Australia
Re: Tried 2 Les Pauls out today
Believe it or not Danny, they are called Epiphone Elitists! They are made in Japan, they are very good, and they are VERY EXPENSIVE! Like, so much that they are not imported into Australia because there is almost no difference in retail price.
To answer Rocker's question, there really is a universe of difference between an Epiphone and a Gibson - ALL of the hardware on an Epi is pretty well, um, crap, their gold plating is infamous for having a working life of a few days, the electrics are absolute junk and the pickups are ordinary at best.
So, you can take an Epiphone Les Paul, put in Burstbuckers, replace the bridge and tailpiece with Tone Pros (which are considerably better than Gibson hardware for a few reasons) and you will have a pretty decent Les Paul copy - but you still have to factor in two, or actually three things; As Sal said, the actual strucure of the guitar is different, so it is never quite going to be a Les Paul; you will end up spending quite a lot of money on parts, and tech time if you don't do the replacement yourself - how much more would the real thing cost? And lastly, what's the resale/trade in value going to be - Epi's don't really hold their value very well in the secondhand market because there as just so damn many of them out there.
So, thik through carefully what you want to end up with. Epiphone, when they first were restarted by Gibson did actually make guitars for the Japanese market - you can tell these mainly because they have the correct Gibson headstock shape, Japanese Tokais are really excellent Les Paul copies (Korean Tokais are junk), Japanese Fernandes Les Pauls were pretty cool too - all three MUCH better than the Korean/Chinese Epis.
Also, I know it's not quite what you are looking at, but a reasonable alternative to all of the above is the PRS Tremonti SE - PRS get their Korean guitars from World Music (Cort), and I don't know quite how they achive it, but the build quality, finish, playability and sound are miles above anything else that seems to come out of Korea, so if you can get your hands on a Tremonti SE, or a Singlecut SE, give 'em a try before you whack down bucks on an Epi.
You can add BurstBuckers to any of the above (obviously) - they are easily the best pickup Gibson have produced in the last thirty or so years, so again, as an upgrade, fantastic, but work out what it is going to cost you - in the end, what you really want is a Les paul - it might be better to simply save a bit longer!