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Epiphone Les Paul Standard '50s review

A gold standard from a golden era of inspiration?

Epiphone Les Paul Standard '50s
(Image: © Olly Curtis/Future)

Our Verdict

A Les Paul that's indicative of Epiphone's stellar year, this '50s Standard has a lot of class, with sweet sustain, a classy feel and a pickup pairing that puts a wealth of classic rock and blues tones at your fingertips.

For

  • Wonderful range of classic Les Paul tones.
  • Neck profile feels comfortable.
  • Long-neck tenon is vintage-appropriate.
  • The ProBuckers have a lot of PAF magic in them.
  • Great sustain, great value.
  • Build and finish hard to fault.

Against

  • It's heavy.

It’s been quite a year for Epiphone; starting strong at January’s NAMM with a tour de force in the shape of the Inspired By Gibson range, we’re now able to take stock of models in isolation. 

And if we’re talking Gibson legacy, its 1950s Les Pauls don’t get much more hallowed in the halls of legendary guitars. Alongside the Standard 60s, Custom, Junior, Special and higher-end 1959 model in the Original Les Paul Collection, the range allows players to hone in on the specific Les Paul experience they want. 

But what is a '50s LP, and does Epiphone deliver it here? Firstly, like the era of models it takes inspiration from, there’s no weight relief body chambering here (you’ll need the Modern and Muse moderns for that).

This weighs in at 9lbs. That kind of weight is an accepted part of the LP experience (we’ve heard of examples going up to a whopping 11lbs!) and it feels balanced in play, but we’d advise investing in a padded strap with 3” width or above for comfort.

The more specific point of distinction here is the neck, the general perception is the Les Paul necks of the '50s were fatter in profile, while the 60s examples were slimmer. Except ’58 and ’59 examples are feted for their goldilocks position between the two, but even the details of this is debated as the carve would vary between individual instruments.

Epiphone 50s Les Paul Standard

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Here though, Epiphone’s neck is a ‘rounded medium C’, and the 60s model is a SlimTaper 60s C. It’s a significant difference. This is meaty, clubby – but that doesn’t mean uncomfortable, especially with the low action out of the box here.

Neck and fretboard radius is a very personal choice and we can’t recommend comparing and contrasting Epiphone’s ’59, 60s and 50s models in person enough to find your vintage preference.

Neck profiles are subjective but the build quality here is not. We have no complaints; this is a wonderful example of Epiphone QC in 2020. But the real joy is plugging in. This is what we want from a Les Paul and it’s Gibson-worthy – a huge gamut of tone to cover with two versatile ProBuckers and four controls. Touch sensitivity, midrange bite, singing highs – it’s all here!

The taper of the controls here allows you to really clean up with the volume while retaining clarity and treble; if you’re skipping this you’re really missing out on the versatile vintage LP experience that legends like Clapton capitalised on.

Crucially, the neck humbucker is spot on; muscular with broad singing sustain, and all this combines to give you a huge palette for far more than classic rock.

Specs

  • PRICE: $599/£549
  • BODY: Mahogany with carved hard maple cap with AAA flame maple veneer
  • NECK: Mahogany with 50s Rounded Medium C, 12” radius
  • SCALE: 628.65mm (24.75”)
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
  • PICKUPS: Epiphone ProBucker 1 (neck), Epiphone ProBucker 2 (bridge)
  • CONTROLS: 2 x volume, 2 x tone with CTS pots and 50s-style wiring, 3-way pickup switch
  • HARDWARE: Epiphone LockTone stop bar and Tune-O-Matic bridge, Epiphone Vintage Deluxe 18:1 machine heads
  • LEFT-HANDED: Yes
  • CASE: No
  • FINISH: Metallica Gold (reviewed), Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Vintage Sunburst
  • CONTACT: Epiphone