Best Epiphone guitars 2024: classic Les Pauls, Flying Vs and more

Many people think of Epiphone as the budget version of Gibson, and while that isn’t completely untrue, they do have a rich history that goes beyond being bought out in the late ’50s. Epiphone has been making instruments for over 150 years now and you’ll actually see many of the best Epiphone guitars being used in studios and on stages around the world by amateurs and pros alike.

Starting out making lutes, banjos, acoustic guitars and other instruments, Epiphone was acquired by Gibson in 1957 and remained in the US until 1970. Production then moved to the Far East and that’s where most Epiphones are made today. 

Epiphone produces more affordable versions of Gibson’s most popular models – the Les Paul, SG, Explorer and more, but they do also make some guitars that are exclusive to them, like the Casino. The quality of Epiphones is very, very good – you might even find that the certain Epiphones give some of the cheaper Gibsons a good run for their money.

There are lots of different models on offer, with many of them looking the same; they even have incredibly similar names too. We’ve picked out what we reckon to be the best Epiphone guitars on the market right now. We have only included electric guitars (they make so many good acoustics that it wouldn’t be right to include just a few here!), and we have stayed away from the more expensive USA-made models.

Best Epiphone guitars: Quick list

The best Epiphone guitars available today 

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Best Epiphone for tone

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone Kirk Hammett Greeny 1959 Les Paul Standard

(Image credit: Epiphone)
A high-spec Epiphone that’s a Gibson in all but name

Specifications

Shape: Les Paul
Body: Mahogany with maple cap
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Custom Greeny Profile (late ’50s style)
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Gibson USA Greenybucker with Reversed Magnetic Polarity Reverse Mounted (Neck), Gibson USA Greenybucker (Bridge)
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector, ’50s Wiring
Case: Hardcase

Reasons to buy

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Amazing Gibson Custom Shop pickups
+
Great build
+
Feels and sounds like a good Gibson

Reasons to avoid

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It’s still a Chinese-made Epiphone

One of the most talked about guitars of 2023, the Epiphone version of Kirk Hammett/Peter Green/Gary Moore’s ‘Greeny’ Les Paul, whilst expensive, is probably the best new Epiphone guitar you’ll get your hands on. In a lot of ways, it’s a Gibson in all but name – it’s got the open book style headstock, Gibson Custom Shop pickups, plus if you close your eyes and play it, you’ll convince yourself you’re playing a full-fat USA Les Paul.

Yes, it’s expensive for an Epiphone made in China, but honestly, it really is a fantastic electric guitar. It’s made incredibly well, it looks amazing, especially with its satin-style finish, and it really sounds the part too. The Gibson Greenybuckers fitted in this guitar are almost identical to the ones you get in the Custom Shop version (the difference is that these are wax-potted). They dish out the highly sought-after vintage PAF tone really well, though these perhaps sit at the hotter end. If you’re seeking classic rock or old-school blues tones, then the Epiphone Greeny is a perfect choice; that said, stick it through a really distorted amp and you’ll still get great results. 

The Epiphone Greeny is very much inspired by the much more expensive Gibson models, and whilst expensive for a Chinese-made guitar, still comes in a lot cheaper than those and doesn’t compromise on quality. 

Read our full Epiphone Kirk Hammett Greeny 1959 Les Paul Standard review

Best Epiphone for punk

Best Epiphone Guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Special

(Image credit: Epiphone)

2. Epiphone Les Paul Special

Stripped back but capable of pretty much anything

Specifications

Shape: Les Paul
Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Vintage ’50s
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: P-90 Pro Soapbar Set
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: N

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of different tones hiding in there
+
P-90s cut through a mix well
+
Nice, chunky neck profile

Reasons to avoid

-
You miss the warmth of humbuckers

What you can’t do with two P-90s, a volume and tone knob for each and a three-way pickup selector, we don’t want to know about. The Les Paul Special is a real back-to-basics rock and roll machine, but it’s also really versatile. 

Sitting sonically somewhere between a regular single coil and a humbucker pickup, a P-90 can give you the best of both worlds. They’re bright and cutting without sounding thin, and they can be beefy and thumpy without being muddy or boomy. Whether you’re playing clean or driven, they stay articulate and clear, plus if you’re playing through a distorted rig, they’ll clean up nicely as you back the volume down. 

The design is as stripped back and simple as you can get without sacrificing any sort of versatility or practicality, and the TV Yellow finish is an absolute classic. Great value, and definitely one of the best Epiphone guitars out there. 

Best Epiphone overall

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone Casino

(Image credit: Epiphone)

3. Epiphone Casino

A classic that’s a classic for a reason

Specifications

Shape: Casino
Body: Hollowbody layered maple
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Slim Taper ’60s C
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Epiphone PRO P-90s
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: Gigbag

Reasons to buy

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Classic, vintage style
+
Big sound
+
Nice hardware

Reasons to avoid

-
Not one for metal players

The Casino is a guitar in its own right, in that it’s not a direct copy or recreation of a Gibson model (though it is similar to a Gibson ES-330). Used by the likes of the Beatles, Paul Weller, Gary Clarke Jr, Elliott Smith and loads more, the Casino is a hollowbody guitar fitted with a pair of P-90 pickups – and for us, is definitely one of the best Epiphone guitars out there.

The hollow body helps it resonate really well, both unplugged and amplified. It does also mean that it’s more prone to feedback if you’re using a fair bit of gain, though when used carefully, this can actually lead to some really cool results – you can get notes that last forever when controlled right! The pickups have plenty of midrange and top end bite, so you’ll cut through the mix nicely, plus they compress slightly in all the right ways. 

The trapeze tailpiece adds a touch of class, and the Vintage Deluxe tuners keep your guitar in pitch whilst retaining the vintage aesthetic. Unless you’re playing really heavy music, there isn’t much this instrument can’t do – no wonder it’s been a best-seller since the early ’60s!

Best Epiphone for style

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone 1958 Korina Flying V

(Image credit: Epiphone)
A more affordable take on one of the most expensive vintage models out there

Specifications

Shape: Flying V
Body: Korina
Neck: Korina
Neck Profile: 1958 Flying V
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Gibson Burstbucker 2 (Neck), Gibson Burstbucker 3 (Bridge)
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: Hardcase

Reasons to buy

+
Great PAF tones thanks to Gibson Burstbuckers
+
Proper korina wood
+
A great version of the classic 1958 model

Reasons to avoid

-
The shape isn’t for everyone

This is another model made in partnership with Gibson’s Custom Shop. This one takes us back to 1958, and what at that time was a radical new guitar shape – the Flying V. Even now, it’s one of the most striking guitars there is. Also, while it might be on the more expensive side of things for an Epiphone, this is a pretty good recreation of one of the rarest and most valuable guitars ever made. 

The Epiphone ’58 Flying V is made using korina wood, like the originals. It’s also fitted with Gibson Burstbucker 2 and 3 pickups, and high quality electronics. It’s a great sounding guitar – powerful, but dynamic. Whether you’re into heavy metal or slow blues, the ’58 Flying V can cater for it all, and look insanely cool whilst doing so. It’s not the easiest guitar to sit down with, though the rubber knee rest strip on the bottom of the body does help. 

It’s a fantastic recreation of a legendary guitar, built very well with some high quality electronics inside. All in all, one of the best Epiphone guitars on the market. 

Read our full Epiphone 1958 Korina Flying V review

Best value for money

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s

(Image credit: Epiphone)

5. Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s

Epiphone’s take on the last pre-SG Les Paul

Specifications

Shape: Les Paul
Body: Mahogany with Maple Cap
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Slim Taper ’60s C
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Epiphone ProBucker 2 (Neck), Epiphone ProBucker 3 (Bridge)
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: N

Reasons to buy

+
A straight-up, affordable old-school Les Paul
+
Nice, slim neck
+
Quality hardware

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most exciting choice

It doesn’t get much more classic than an old-school Les Paul. The Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s is a modern recreation of some of those early Les Pauls. A vintage Gibson would likely set you back hundreds of thousands; this one, a matter of hundreds. 

Like all other Les Paul Standards, this one has a mahogany body topped with a maple cap. It’s got Epiphone’s ProBucker 2 and 3 pickups in there that deliver the perfect classic rock tone, though should you want to play heavier music, the bridge pickup in particular will allow you to do that just as well.

In comparison to the ’50s version, the ’60s model has a slimmer neck which many players find more comfortable, especially if you use your thumb to reach around the top of the fingerboard. It’s also got a set of fantastic Grover machine heads which do a great job of holding the guitar’s tuning, and there are also some really nice finishes available. 

Best Epiphone for metal

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone Extura Prophecy

(Image credit: Epiphone)

6. Epiphone Extura Prophecy

Radical body shape, even more radical pickups

Specifications

Shape: Explorer
Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Asymmetrical SlimTaper with Contoured Heel
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Fishman Fluence Proprietary
Controls: 1 x Push/Pull Volume, 1 x Push/Pull Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: N

Reasons to buy

+
Three great pickup voices
+
Contoured neck heel 
+
Beautiful finishes

Reasons to avoid

-
Too ‘metal’ for some

Looking at this guitar, you might think that its most striking feature is its shape – it’s a really cool cross between an Explorer and a Futura, hence the name. However, we think the pickups are probably the star of the show here.

The Epiphone Extura Prophecy is fitted with a pair of Fishman Fluence Proprietary pickups that offer you three distinct tones. The first is the classic Gibson PAF tone, so if you want to cover some classic rock territory, then you can. You’ve then got a modern, high output voice that’s perfect for contemporary metal and other heavier styles of music, plus a beautiful, glassy single-coil sound. This makes it supremely versatile, allowing you to change sounds quite drastically at the flick of a switch.

Add into the mix some high quality hardware, slim neck profile and some insane finishes and you’ve got what has to be one of the best Epiphone guitars out there, particularly for more modern players.

Best for playability

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone SG Standard 60s Maestro Vibrola

(Image credit: Epiphone)

7. Epiphone SG Standard Maestro Vibrola

Vintage vibe with modern playability

Specifications

Shape: SG
Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Neck Profile: Slim Taper
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Epiphone ProBucker 2 (Neck), Epiphone ProBucker 3 (Bridge)
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: N

Reasons to buy

+
Works for any style of music
+
Just look at it!
+
Lighter than a Les Paul

Reasons to avoid

-
The vibrola isn’t for everyone

The Gibson SG really is a do-it-all guitar; whether it’s blues, rock, metal, country, pop or whatever else you’re playing, the SG – in particular this Epiphone 60s Maestro Vibrola – can tackle everything. It’s a guitar based on a model from 1961 and is dripping in vintage mojo. There have been a few changes to bring it more in line with the needs of modern players though: there’s a slimmer neck profile, 12” fingerboard radius and medium jumbo frets, making it superbly playable all over the neck.

The pickups are Epiphone ProBucker 2 and 3; the latter being slightly overwound in the bridge position leading to a higher output that sounds immense through a high gain rig. They’re inspired by some legendary Gibson pickups, so they deliver that classic warm PAF-style sound that so many people are after. The old-school vibrola allows you to add some subtle vibrato when it’s called for, though it might not give enough for those wanting more extreme dive-bombs. 

Best Epiphone for jazz

Best Epiphone guitars: Epiphone Broadway

(Image credit: Epiphone)

8. Epiphone Broadway

The best Epiphone for jazz

Specifications

Shape: Broadway
Body: Hollowbody layered maple
Neck: Maple
Neck Profile: Slim Taper ’60s C
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO Humbuckers
Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone, 3-Way Pickup Selector
Case: Gigbag

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful jazz tones
+
More versatile than you might think
+
Classy as all heck!

Reasons to avoid

-
That big hollow body will be prone to feedback

Now this is a guitar that screams class. It’s a design that has been around for over 70 years and is perfect for guitar for jazz. The hollowbody design gives it plenty of resonance, and a deep, luscious tone, further enhanced by the Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers. 

With it having two pickups, and a volume and tone knob for each, you can get a variety of sounds from this guitar. The maple body does lend a touch of brightness to the sound, which means that it works for a lot more than just jazz – old school rock and rollers will love it, as well as blues and country players too. Dial back on the tone knobs though and you’re instantly back in that dark, warm jazz tone territory. 

Wine Red and Sunburst are two classic color options, and the Frequensator Split Trapeze tailpiece is a beautiful finishing touch. It’s also got a very playable Slim Taper ’60s C neck profile and sturdy, quality tuners. 

Best Epiphone guitars: Buying advice

Epiphone headstock on light background

(Image credit: Future/Phil Barker)

What do I need to know about neck profile?

The shape, or profile, of the neck can really be make or break when it comes to a new guitar. How your fretting hand connects to the instrument can make it really comfortable to play, or it can be a hindrance. 

Early Gibson guitars tended to have pretty chunky necks, though it’s worth remembering that they were carved by hand, so there wasn’t necessarily a precise ’59 profile’ for example. Some players like a fatter neck profile as there’s more of the neck to sit in their hands whilst their fingers reach around and do the work. Others like a slim neck as they find that they can get their fingers where they need to be more easily. It’s not really a case of lead players prefer a slim neck and rhythm players like a chunkier one (though that will be true for some) – it’s all down to personal preference. 

If the spec of an Epiphone refers to a ’50s profile, then it’s likely to be thicker and more rounded than a ’60s, or Slim Taper one. 

What pickups are best?

The most important factor in the tone of an electric guitar is the pickups. With pretty much all Epiphones, the choice in terms of what kind of pickup you get is between humbuckers and P-90s. Humbuckers tend to sound warmer and thicker and generally have more output than a P-90. That means that they send more signal to your amp and will be slightly louder, and will push an amp into natural overdrive a little sooner.

P-90s are usually brighter sounding, with more presence in the midrange. Whilst they are technically a single coil pickup, they aren’t a million miles from a humbucker. Sonically, you could place them somewhere in between a regular single coil and a humbucker. 

Again, it’s all subjective, and you can use any type of pickup for any type of music, but if you’re playing heavy metal and djent etc, then you might find that a P-90 doesn’t quite have enough of what you’re looking for. Many punk, indie and rock players have found that a P-90 gives them a really nice bite that helps cut through a band mix. 

A lot of the humbuckers fitted in Epiphones will be inspired by the famous pickups that were in the Gibsons of the late ’50s. These are known as PAFs and are some of the most sought-after pickups ever made. These are warm and open sounding, with lots of clarity and top-end detail.

You’ll see that some of the best Epiphone guitars are actually fitted with Gibson pickups. These do tend to be better in that they have a wider frequency range – that is, you’ll hear more highs and lows, they’ll be more detailed, and they will sound richer and clearer. You’ll usually pay more for these guitars, but it still probably works out cheaper than getting a Gibson guitar. 

Body shape and weight considerations

The body of the guitar can have a big impact on how comfortable it is for you. Something like an SG or Les Paul is generally pretty comfortable to play standing up or sitting down, as the curves of the body allow for it easily – a Flying V not so much!

Also bear in mind the body construction. A Les Paul Standard has a mahogany body topped with a maple cap, which can end up being fairly heavy. A Les Paul Special does away with the maple cap, so will generally be lighter; the same goes for most SGs. A hollowbody is likely to be even lighter still, so if you’re standing up playing for long periods of time, then that could be worth considering. Just remember though that a hollowbody guitar is going to be more prone to feedback. 

How we choose products

Best Epiphone guitars

(Image credit: Future)

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar and bass related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best Epiphone guitars available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best Epiphone guitars on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.

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