A bit of History

The Les Paul is one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable guitars ever made. Originally produced by Gibson in 1952 in partnership with guitarist Les Paul, it was initially a commercial failure. However, during the sixties and through the emergence of rock music, it became popular for its incredible sound, sustain and reliability.

Various versions of the Les Paul have been played through the years by legends such as Slash, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend, inspiring countless bedroom guitarists to follow in the footsteps of their icons. However, with the quality a Gibson Les Paul brings also comes a high price tag that can run into the thousands- far too much of a stretch for most beginner guitarists.

With that in mind, we’re here to take a look at the incredibly affordable Epiphone Les Paul SL and answer the question- can a £115 guitar really be worth buying?

Epiphone Les Paul

Guitar Information

Overview and initial impressions

Epiphone, Gibson’s biggest rival in the archtop guitar model during the fifties, were bought by the Gibson company in 1957 and today produce officially branded, affordable versions of their Gibson counterparts. The Epiphone Les Paul SL is one of the most recent of these, and is to date the cheapest Les Paul ever released.

We have to say that you’ll be hard pushed to find a nicer looking guitar at this price point. There is, of course, the classic single cutaway shape and some bold new design choices that harken back to the original fifties look. The black mahogany neck and the fretboard are sleek and elegant, and something a little different to those included in the Epiphone LP SL’s rivals such as the Squier Stratocaster.

Available in a range of colours, we played a model that came in ‘pacific blue’ with a flat, white pickguard. We have to say, that the vintage sunburst look seems really cool too! It should be noted here that Epiphones colour description and depiction in promo shots can be a little misleading- we’d call it turquoise (or cerulean green if we’re being creative). However, this takes nothing away from the overall look of the Epiphone Les Paul SL- so far so good!

All colours of the Epiphone LP SL

All colours for all taste : pacific blue, vintage sunburst, classic black and white, sunset yellow…

Construction and feel

For years, the idea of a cheap guitar has been synonymous with a bad guitar. But with companies such as Epiphone and Squier investing in manufacturing techniques that offer beginner guitarists much more for their money, that presumption is changing and the result has been some surprisingly high-calibre models.

The Epiphone LP SL is surely one of the better-built guitars out there at this price. The body finish is perfectly matte and gives the guitar the look of a much more expensive model. When picking the guitar up, it is immediately noticeable that the guitar is around 1-1.5kg lighter and has a thinner body than most other Les Paul models- great for a beginner but also advantageous to an experienced player. The mahogany neck is smooth, but we found it a little chunky. This is something true of many Les Paul guitars with the classic D shape neck and while some players may not find this a problem, some beginners may find it a little wide for their liking and struggle to play some chords.

The 14:1 tuners are of a high quality and offer quick and accurate tuning, as well as solid tuning stability during a playing. We did notice there were some uneven frets and a few that felt sharp, leading to some annoying fret buzz when playing around the low E string. We had to give the guitar a truss-rod adjustment to correct this. The bridge is also a wrap-around meaning it cannot be adjusted. While this isn’t a major problem for a £115 straight-out-the-box guitar, that price could quickly increase if you’re having to invest in rectifying these imperfections.

Sound

Now, as a £115 guitar, this is where the hardest questions will be asked of the Epiphone LP SL. It isn’t unreasonable to expect the price tag to become apparent in this department, but after a few hours of playing various styles, effects pedals and different pick-up switch positions, we were very surprised by just how well this guitar holds up.

The single-coil pickups could be seen as a downgrade for those looking for the truly classic Les Paul P-90 pickups, but these single-coils do a solid job and give a nice, warm tone when playing clean and a classic bluesy thickness when played with some crunch. It’s probably when playing rock and blues that this guitar comes into its own. This is unsurprising considering just how well-known the Epiphone LP SL’s more expensive Gibson cousin is for this kind of sound when played by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

The guitar also sounds great when playing some lead solos and after playing around with the tone control and a few pick-up selections we found sounds that even Slash could never have gotten out of a £115 guitar in the past. As mentioned before, the tuners offer great tuning stability so you can bend those strings to your hearts content without worrying about going out of tune.

Although less versatile with sound styles than a Fender or Squier Strat, for example, it’s hard to look past the Epiphone Les Paul SL when it comes to rock and blues.

Epiphone LP

Guitar Dimensions and Stats

  • Dimensions- 101.6 x 8.89 x 35.56cm
  • Weight- 3.63kg
  • Body Shape- 1960’s SlimTaper D profile
  • Back Material- Mahogany
  • Front Material- Mahogany
  • Colour- Pacific Blue
  • Pickups- Epiphone Ceramic Single-Coil
  • Pickup Configuration- S
  • Top Material- Mahogany
  • Neck Material- Mahogany
  • Frets- 22
  • Scale length- 24.75”
  • Number of strings- 6
  • Size- Full

Experts Feedback on the Epiphone Les Paul SL

The Epiphone Les Paul SL is an extremely affordable and playable electric guitar both at entry-level for beginners or for experienced pros who want something they can modify to their preferred specifications.

We did find some issues with fret buzz and intonation, but these are minor problems that are easily forgiven considering the incredibly low price point. It sounds far better than any £115 guitar has a right to sound.

We’d be happy to gig with it, and quite frankly we wish these had been around when we started to learn to play years ago! If you’re looking for a solidly built guitar with lush, bluesy tones that won’t break the bank, the Epiphone LP SL could be the one for you!

Convinced by our Epiphone Les Paul SL Review?

Follow the link below to find the latest prices and availability for this electric guitar .