Epiphone and Gibson. Two guitar manufacturers inextricably linked. Today Gibson own Epiphone and allow them to use the Gibson branded names like Les Paul, but it wasn’t always like that.
Back in the 60s as music and instrument manufacturers were finding their feet, Epiphone and Gibson were in direct competition with each other. It was a strange relationship.
Owned by the same parent holding company, CMI, they were housed in separate locations with their own company structures. The guitars they produced unsurprisingly similar but in competition with each other.
The Gibson EBO bass and the Epiphone Rivoli bass being one example.
Epiphone was considered by many, inferior to Gibson but there were times when the so-called underdog produced better quality as in the Epiphone Casino, a far better looking and playing guitar than its rival at the time the Gibson ES330. John Lennon, George Harrison, and Keith Richards played the Casino. Illustrious company indeed.
In time though. both companies suffered upheavals and Epiphone were finally acquired by Gibson to be their premium alternative to what they saw as the ‘real thing.’
It was marketed that way, and Epiphone became Gibson’s cheaper alternative. Gibson being made in the US and Epiphone overseas added a certain stigma, unfounded as it was, to the Epiphone name.
Today Epiphone have developed a reputation for making great guitars, and that reputation is growing. At the forefront of this manufacturing, renaissance is the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. Now recognized as being something special in its own right, it is worth having a closer look to see what makes this particular instrument a real alternative to its Gibson counterpart.
This guitar is not thrown together as many of the ‘copy’ guitars are. This is because this is no copy.
It is well made using good quality materials. Made at the Epiphone factory in China, it has a solid body made from mahogany with a maple veneer top and a mahogany neck with the standard rosewood fingerboard.
It has the same inlays and binding on the neck as the Gibson models.
The ‘D’ style neck is slim and tapered to allow it to be played with fast action and for comfort. As you can imagine, it’s quite heavy, but then it is supposed to be.
No sacrificing quality in the essentials. Grover machine heads give precise tuning and the Tune-o-Matic bridge with its six adjustable saddles which have been standard on Gibson guitars since the ’50s, provide solidly engineered and highly regarded hardware.
Humbuckers of course. How could it be anything else? Two of them, one at the neck and one at the bridge. Alnico classics provide the noise.
Good materials, quality design, could you ask for more?
How Does It Play?
Very nice indeed. The action on the fingerboard is smooth and fast. The neck structure itself is important, and its slightly deeper shape allows you to feel the neck in the palm of your hand. You cannot avoid thinking that this is a very well made guitar. The action, of course, will be set to individual taste. As with all guitars, you will have to achieve the best playing set-up for you, but the opportunities to set it up as you want it are there.