Review: Epiphone PRO-1 Acoustic and Les Paul Classic-T Guitars

Playing guitar is supposed to be fun. That’s why it’s called “playing” guitar and not “working.”

However, there are times when playing guitar isn’t as much fun or as easy as it could be. Epiphone has addressed a few of these instances with a pair of new guitar models: the PRO-1 acoustic and the Les Paul Classic-T solidbody electric.

Epiphone’s line of PRO-1 guitars is designed primarily for beginners, with the goal of providing them with instruments that are comfortable and easy to play as well as affordable. The Epiphone Les Paul Classic-T, on the other hand, is the world’s most affordable self-tuning guitar, featuring the motorized Min-ETune system that physically adjusts and corrects tuning quickly and accurately.

FEATURES The Epiphone PRO-1 acoustic collection consists of four different models: the PRO-1, PRO-1 Classic nylon-string, PRO-1 Plus and PRO-1 Ultra acoustic-electric. The PRO-1 and PRO-1 Plus are both steel-string dreadnought acoustics. The PRO-1 has a street price of $119, but for $229, the PRO-1 Plus delivers several worthy upgrades, including a solid spruce top, a bound fingerboard and five-ply top binding. For this review, we examined the PRO-1 Plus.

All PRO-1 guitars have a body and glued-in neck of mahogany and a rosewood fingerboard. One feature that makes the steel-string models easier to play is the shorter full-size scale length of 24 3/4 inches, compared to 25.4 for most dreadnoughts. (The PRO-1 Classic has a traditional 25.6-inch/650mm scale.) This is aided further by the slim EZ-Profile neck profile, jumbo frets, light-gauge strings, low action and PRO-Ease lubricant applied to the strings and fingerboard. The deluxe tuners have an 18:1 ratio to provide more precise tuning, and the EZ-String pinless bridge makes it easy to change strings. The body is also slimmer and more comfortable than what you’ll find on traditional acoustic guitars.

The Les Paul Classic-T is essentially an Epiphone Les Paul model with the addition of the Min-ETune system, inconspicuously mounted on the rear of the headstock. Features include a mahogany body with AAA flame-maple veneer top and a three-piece hard-maple set neck with a Sixties Slim Taper profile, 24 3/4–inch scale, 22 medium-jumbo frets and rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlays. Pickups consist of Plus-R neck and Plus-T bridge humbuckers with open coils and ceramic magnets. The Min-ETune system provides 12 factory tuning presets and six user-programmable presets, and the tuners offer an incredibly precise 40:1 ratio.

PERFORMANCE The features that make the PRO-1 guitars so easy to play may seem obvious, but this level of attention to a guitar’s playability is usually reserved for much more expensive instruments. What makes the PRO-1 so valuable for beginners is that it makes the process of learning kinder, gentler and literally painless. Beginners still develop the same traditional playing techniques as always, but they are rewarded much more quickly, which in the long run encourages them to keep playing instead. Even advanced guitarists will appreciate the PRO-1 Plus and PRO-1 Ultra. The PRO-1 Plus is great for electric guitarists looking for their first steel-string acoustic, and the PRO-1 Ultra is an affordable alternative for performers who want to add authentic acoustic-electric tones to their onstage arsenal.

Without the Min-ETune system, the Les Paul Classic-T would be an impressive bargain, but with it the guitar is an absolute steal. It is, first and foremost, an awesome Les Paul guitar, offering classic warm, fat, well-defined tones and killer playability. The tuning system uses the same technology that until recently was only available on guitars costing several thousand dollars.

Min-ETune is exceptionally easy to use. When powered on, it defaults to standard A440 tuning, and the motorized tuners start tuning the guitar instantly after you strum the open strings. When the strings are in tune, the LEDs for each string illuminate green to confirm proper tuning. The system can also be set for open, alternate and custom tunings with an accuracy of +/-1 cent per string. A slim, rechargeable 3.7-volt Li polymer battery powers the system and provides about 300 tunings before it needs to be recharged. The Min-ETune system accurately changed tuning from standard to DADGAD in about a second—much faster than I could ever do manually using a tuner.

STREET PRICES PRO-1 Plus, $229; Les Paul Classic-T, $599

The PRO-1 acoustic guitars feature a slim neck profile, low action, light-gauge strings, jumbo frets and a shorter scale to provide maximum playing comfort and ease.

The PRO-1 Plus offers a solid spruce top, bound fingerboard and five-ply top binding.

With a built-in Min-ETune system, the Les Paul Classic-T is the most affordable self-tuning guitar available.

The Min-ETune provides 12 factory settings for standard, open and alternate tunings plus six user presets for customized tunings.

THE BOTTOM LINE Epiphone has made guitarists lives easier than ever by offering comfortable and easy-to-play PRO-1 models that beginners and advanced players alike will appreciate, and by providing the incredibly fast and accurate tuning capabilities of the Min-ETune system on its Les Paul Classic-T.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.