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When Epiphone approached Trivium guitarist Matt Heafy to collaborate on his signature guitar, he had two requests: the guitar had to play, feel and sound like the Les Paul Custom that he’s played for these many years, and it had to be reasonably priced—Heafy rejects the trend of offering signature guitars in either price-prohibitive or performance-compromised versions.
Through their close collaboration, Epiphone and Heafy were able to reproduce every specification of his original LP Custom and build it to a price point that’s not out of the average player’s reach. Heafy further challenged Epiphone for this seven-string version, asking that it be just as easy to finger as the six-string and almost identically proportioned. The resulting signature Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom-7 is the actual guitar that he now shreds onstage and in the studio, and it’s one of the most playable seven-strings you can buy. The resulting signature Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom-7 is the actual guitar that he now shreds onstage and in the studio, and it’s one of the most playable seven-strings you can buy.
Although it looks like a standard gloss-black LP, there are many inconspicuous details that differentiate the Heafy LP Custom-7 from its brethren. Weight was a serious consideration in creating this Epiphone. It had to be light, but not to the point of creating sterile-sounding lows. Epiphone started with a mahogany body, then added a thin maple top to impart tonal clarity without adding perceptible weight. The neck is carved with Epiphone’s Sixties SlimTaper and a D-shaped profile, achieving its superlative comfort with heavily rolled shoulders and tighter-than-average string spacing. It truly feels only slightly wider than the average six-string’s neck. An Axcess neck-heel taper removes any barrier to the upper frets, allowing you to slide your fretting hand directly behind the top registers.
The EMG active pickups include a 707 in the neck and an 81-7 in the bridge. These are wired to individual tone and volume pots in a traditional LP configuration but with the added twist of the neck pickup’s tone pot serving as a kill switch. Known as a “kill pot,” tapping this spring-loaded pot interrupts the signal no matter which pickup is selected, creating the stutter effect made so popular by Randy Rhoads and other LP notables.
You only have to play one note on the Heafy LP Custom to know that this is a shredder’s guitar. The action is low and flat across the 12-inch-radius board, and the top-to-bottom note volume is very even. Sweeps are executed as easily on the Heafy Custom-7 as with any conventional six-string, particularly due to the slightly tighter string spacing. You can certainly achieve brutal tones with the ceramic-based bridge bucker, but it really excels at producing iron-fist punch and clarifying notes through high-gain rigs, all while remaining highly musical and rich. Neck pickup response is very quick and bright enough to deliver expressive solos on the low strings.
List Price $1,332
Manufacturer Epiphone Guitar Corp., epiphone.com
Electronics include active EMG-707 neck and EMG-81-7 bridge pickups and a spring-loaded kill pot that momentarily interrupts the signal when tapped.
The tapered Axcess neck heel makes it possible to play in the topmost frets, while the neck’s rolled shoulders help the Custom-7 feel akin to a six-string’s neck width.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve struggled to transfer your six-string shredder skills to a seven-string, the Epiphone Matt Heafy signature Les Paul Custom-7’s narrow and slim neck is the ax that can help you reach that next level.