The following content is related to the April 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.
Ever since blues rockers like Clapton, Bloomfield and Page rediscovered the Les Paul Standard in the Sixties, it’s been difficult to find a bona fide Les Paul Standard for a price that doesn’t give you the blues. This situation was fixed in recent years as Epiphone introduced awesome Les Paul models with otherworldly mojo and a down-to-earth price. The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro offers all the familiar features of a classic Les Paul Standard—dual humbuckers, a maple top on a mahogany body, and a set neck with 24 3/4–inch scale—while adding the tonal versatility of coil tapping and the beauty of a AAA flame maple veneer top.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro faithfully duplicates the essential features and appearance of the classic late-Fifties Les Paul Standard. The pickups consist of a ProBucker 2 at the neck and a ProBucker 3 at the bridge, both featuring the same Alnico II magnets used in vintage PAF humbuckers. The volume controls for each pickup also feature a pull switch, allowing you to engage coil splitting for each pickup separately.
Other enhancements include a LockTone Tuneomatic bridge and StopBar tailpiece that remain in place when the strings are removed. The rock-solid bridge, tailpiece and Grover 14:1 tuners ensure that the guitar remains perfectly in tune. Epiphone offers 10 different finish options, including Vintage Sunburst, Trans Blue and five exclusive colors, like Iced Tea and Trans Black, available only from select retailers.
Having played numerous Les Pauls of various vintages over the years, I can attest that the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro feels like an old friend. The neck profile has the comfortable, slim profile of an early Sixties neck, and the detail in the fretwork is impressive for a guitar that sells for less than $500 on the street.
However, this model’s tone is even more stunning than its classic looks and outstanding playability. The ProBucker pickups are perfectly dialed in to provide the ideal balance between clarity and warmth, with responsive attack, smooth sustain and fat midrange that gives the guitar a bold, assertive voice. When the coils are split, the treble is enhanced, but the overall tone is still fat, similar to a P-90, allowing you to get Burst and Goldtop tones from the same guitar. This simple feature enhances the versatility of the Les Paul design while maintaining its classic appeal.
List Price $1,082
Manufacturer Epiphone, epiphone.com
The ProBucker pickups feature Alnico II magnets to provide classic PAF tones, while coil splitting enhances tonal versatility.
The LockTone Tuneomatic bridge and StopBar tailpiece enhance tone and sustain by remaining solidly locked in place.
The Bottom Line
With its classic appearance, versatile tonal palette and affordable price, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro provides more bang for the buck than the typical Les Paul.