7 Best Epiphone Les Pauls of 2024

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Epiphone may be considered second to Gibson in terms of build quality, but the guitars they make are anything but second-rate.

Don't make the mistake of overlooking Epiphone guitars just because they are a budget alternative to a more expensive brand. Epiphone guitars are known for their craftsmanship, durability, and versatile sound. They're the perfect guitars for those who want a beautiful, dependable instrument for less than $1,000.

This article ranks the seven best Epiphone Les Pauls on the market today. The number one spot goes to the Epiphone Les Paul Custom, a faithful recreation of one of the most elegant and iconic guitars ever made.

We've also included a buyer's guide and FAQ section to round out our Epiphone showcase. Without further ado, let's get to the list!

Quick Summary of the Best Epiphone Les Pauls

  1. Epiphone Les Paul Custom (Best Overall Pick)
  2. Epiphone Les Paul Studio (The Runner-Up)
  3. Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s (Best for Classic Rock)
  4. Epiphone Les Paul Standard 50s (Best for Vintage Tones)
  5. Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro IV (Best for Versatility)
  6. Epiphone Les Paul Special Vintage Edition (Most Budget-Friendly)
  7. Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy (Best for Metal)

Best Epiphone Les Pauls

1. Best Overall Pick – Epiphone Les Paul Custom

Epiphone Les Paul Custom

SPECS

  • Price: $799
  • Pickups: Epiphone Probucker II and Probucker III
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Ebony fretboard

The Epiphone Les Paul Custom is the top dog of the Epiphone lineup. Take one look at it, and you'll see just what we mean.

Like the Gibson Les Paul Custom, this Epiphone comes in several different colors, but our favorite is the Alpine White. It makes the gold-coated nut and body decorations stand out, and the black knobs and pickguard provide a great contrast.

But it's not just the visual attention to detail that makes this guitar such a powerhouse. It also has the best playability of any Epiphone guitar on the market today. With a slim-tapered neck and genuine ebony fretboard, the instrument feels smooth and natural to play.

Fast riffs and complex melodies will come more easily since the Les Paul Custom's fretboard is so smooth, perfectly adjusted, and free of imperfections.

Epiphone is able to offer cheaper guitars than Gibson by cutting costs in certain areas of their production pipeline, one of them being the assembly. Gibsons have more time put into their assembly and testing than Epiphones do.

That said, The Epiphone Les Paul Custom still has strict standards for craftsmanship, especially when compared to other instruments in the same price range. The Custom is the most meticulously crafted guitar in the entire Epiphone line. For that reason, it was an easy choice for the top spot on the list.

2. The Runner-Up – Epiphone Les Paul Studio

Epiphone Les Paul Studio

SPECS

  • Price: $549
  • Pickups: Alnico plus humbuckers
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Pau Ferro fretboard

The Epiphone Les Paul Studio is a no-frills guitar that prioritizes performance. While certainly not as fancy as the Les Paul Custom, the Les Paul Studio still has impressive specs. It is a versatile guitar, packing a lot of tone control into its simple yet elegant mahogany body.

The pickups consist of one Alnico Classic Humbucker and one Alnico Classic Plus Humbucker. You'll also find a three-way pickup switch, two tone knobs, and two volume knobs.

This configuration of controls yields so many different possible combinations for tone settings. You can use the Les Paul Studio to achieve growling overdrive, punchy distortion, or creamy clean tones.

It's no wonder Les Pauls are known for their versatility. They can be heard on countless albums throughout the decades.

If you're someone who cares about tone above all else, then the Les Paul Studio should have everything you want and nothing you don't. The 1960s SlimTaper D Mahogany neck with Pau Ferro fingerboard is solid, although not quite as high-end as the ebony fingerboard of the Les Paul Custom.

Epiphone was created to bring high-quality Gibson-inspired guitars to the masses for a more affordable price, and that's exactly what the Epiphone Les Paul Studio does. It is right in the sweet spot of value and performance, making no compromises but also adding nothing fancy that would drive up the price.

3. Best for Classic Rock – Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s

Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s Electric Guitar

SPECS

  • Price: $699
  • Pickups: Epiphone Probucker II and Probucker III
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Indian Laurel Fingerboard

The Les Paul Standard 60s edition looks the part of a classic rock guitar, and it also delivers in terms of sound quality.

With a mahogany body, glossed maple top, and '60s C profile mahogany neck, it uses tonewoods that look and feel the same as the 60s Gibson Les Paul that inspired it. The pickups have the same Alinco II magnets as the original PAF-style humbuckers of the '60s.

All this adds up to the iconic Les Paul tone that so many of us have come to know and love. It sounds perfect for classic rock sounds right out of the box. It also keeps its intonation well thanks to the tune-o-matic bridge.

The '60s-style slim tapered neck makes it easy to wrap your hands around, so things like barre chords and large intervals are a breeze to pull off.

Compared to the '50s style Epiphone Les Paul Standard (which is next on this list), the '60s style has higher output pickups. This makes it more suited for playing with distortion.

4. Best for Vintage Tones – Epiphone Les Paul Standard 50s

Epiphone Les Paul Standard 50s

SPECS

  • Price: $649
  • Pickups: Epiphone Probucker I and Probucker II
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Indian laurel fingerboard

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard '50s edition is very similar to the '60s edition, with only a couple of major differences.

Firstly, it has a '50s-style medium C neck, which is slightly thicker than the '60s-style variant. This neck style is no worse or better than the '60s neck; it just comes down to preference. To find out which neck feels more natural in your hands, you can head to your local music store to try out both guitars.

The second difference is in the pickups. The '50s style Les Paul has slightly lower output pickups, making it more suited for soft genres of music like jazz or rockabilly.

While Les Paul guitars are all versatile to some degree, we would not recommend the '50s Les Paul Standard if you're looking for an electric guitar to play heavier genres of music. If that's what you want, you'll find our recommendation for the best metal guitar further down on the list.

Instead, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard '50s edition is a good fit for smooth, clean tones and also the classic tones that are often associated with Les Paul.

5. Best for Versatility – Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro IV

Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro IV

SPECS

  • Price: $549
  • Pickups: Probucker 2 and Probucker 3
  • Body: Mahogany with maple topwood

The Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro IV is very similar in construction to the Les Paul Studio. It comes at a similar price point as well.

If you're looking for a Les Paul in the $500 - $600 range, then the Studio or the Traditional will do the trick, so we recommend seeing what kind of deals or sales you might be able to find for either model.

So, what differentiates the Les Paul Traditional Pro IV from the other models of Les Paul?

Well, first, it's the design. The Les Paul Traditional Pro IV features a more classic and vintage-inspired design, with slightly more attention given to the overall aesthetics.

Then there's the pickups. The Traditional Pro IV has Probucker humbuckers, which perform similarly to the Studio's Alnico Plus humbuckers, but they do have a different visual look. The Les Paul Traditional Pro IV's pickups are exposed, giving them a similar look to single-coil pickups.

What really sells this guitar is its versatile electronics. You can also push on the volume knob to toggle a coil-split, giving you more of a single-coil sound. It's nice that Gibson and Epiphone manage to have robust tone controls while keeping their guitars sleek and simple.

Grab an Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro IV with eye-catching Pacific Blue top wood if you want a unique-looking Les Paul that will really turn some heads.

6. Most Budget-Friendly – Epiphone Les Paul Special Vintage Edition

Epiphone Les Paul Special Vintage Edition

SPECS

  • Price: $199
  • Pickups: 650 R Humbucker and 700T Humbucker
  • Body: solid poplar
  • Neck: mahogany

Most of the time, you risk getting a sub-par guitar if you spend less than $300 or so. The Epiphone Les Paul Special is one of the rare exceptions, coming in with impressive value at $200.

The main differences between a budget guitar like this and more mid to high-end guitars are the electronics and the time put into assembly. Cheaper guitars are comprised of cheaper materials, of course, but in Epiphone's case, even their cheapest Les Paul is solidly sturdy.

It's made of solid poplar, which provides a balanced tone with high natural sustain.

As far as the pickups, they're two open-coil humbuckers that have fairly high output. The guitar has one tone knob, one volume knob, and a three-way pickup selector. While the Les Paul Special lacks the tone control options of some more expensive Les Pauls, it can still handle both high-gain and low-gain signals.

It will sound good clean or distorted, so if you rely on your amp or preamp to do most of your tone control, then you won't need more tone control on your guitar.

If you're looking for the most affordable guitar you can find that's worth your money, then this is certainly a top contender. It's made by Epiphone, a subsidiary of Gibson, so you already know it's going to be held to legitimate standards.

We would highly recommend going with the Epiphone Les Paul Special over a cheaper, off-brand guitar. The Les Paul Special is a perfectly decent first or second guitar, especially for those who travel a lot and don't want to risk breaking a $2,000 Gibson.

7. Best for Metal – Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy

Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy

SPECS

  • Price: $899
  • Pickups: Fishman Fluence active humbuckers
  • Body: Glossed mahogany

It was hard not to give the number one spot to the Les Paul Prophecy. It's a fantastic guitar for not just metal but any rock genre.

The pickups make all the difference. The Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy has two custom Fishman Fluence pickups, which are extremely effective high-output pickups. They cancel unwanted hum better than just about any other pickups out there, and that's why metal guitarists love them.

It will maintain a shimmering, well-defined high end and a punchy low end, even if you crank the gain up super high. This guitar is a perfect fit for metal, hardcore, and experimental genres that want as much distortion as possible.

The pickups also have three distinct voicings you can switch between, in addition to the two-tone and volume knobs you'll find on the guitar's body. Playing around with different tone settings to find the perfect one is a blast on this guitar.

Best Epiphone Les Pauls Buyer's Guide

A buyer's guide can help you reach the final decision on which Epiphone Les Paul to go with. There are a lot of subtle considerations, especially when choosing between guitars that all look similar on the outside.

There are even more Epiphone Les Pauls out there that aren't on this list. If you want to keep searching, you'll find other models like the Epiphone Les Paul Modern and several signature models from high-profile guitarists.

No matter which guitar you go with, here are the main factors for you to consider. Let's explore them all so we can find the perfect guitar for you!

Budget

We're guessing that budget-friendliness is one of the things that attracted you to Epiphone in the first place. It's true; most people can't or don't feel comfortable buying a Gibson when it comes with such a high price tag.

Buying budget guitars is smart since the return on investment is huge. If you've done your practice and have a decent live sound setup, then the audience isn't really going to be able to tell that your Les Paul is an Epiphone and not a Gibson.

Epiphone makes decent mid-budget guitars that are known to be very reliable. They're sturdily built with a lot of tonal versatility. Some other good brands in the mid-budget range are Schecter, Yamaha, and Ibanez.

Preferred Genre

The type of genre you play definitely matters when looking for your next guitar. Some brands like Schecter are more known for metal, while others like Ibanez are known for shred and fusion.

Epiphones are some of the most versatile guitars out there, showing up in venues and studios all across the world. They hold their in just about any rock sub-genre, and they work for jazz, too. These are great rock guitars all around.

Pickups

Out of all electronic components, the pickups have the most sway over the guitar's tonal capabilities. The Epiphone Les Paul Custom has great pickups, and they give it a crystal clear sound with some high-end sparkle.

Higher output pickups will work better for punk and metal because they handle distortion better without losing note definition.

Just about all Les Pauls have humbuckers, which are reliable and highly versatile pickups.

What's more, updating a more affordable Epiphone Les Paul with upgraded pickups is a tried-and-true method to getting the LP tones of your dreams on the cheap.

Design/Aesthetics

How important is the look of your guitar? Well, that's up to you, but Les Pauls do all have an instantly recognizable design. Every guitarist knows about Les Paul; one has probably played one.

The Les Paul Custom is definitely the best-looking Epiphone guitar (with its gold hardware and such), while the Les Paul Studio prioritizes tone delivery over looks.

Looking for an eye catching guitar shape? Check out these Explorer style guitars.

Product Condition

For an even cheaper route, you can always buy used guitars. Epiphones aren't a bad option when it comes to used gear since their sturdy build is less prone to damage.

Just make sure you have the ability to test out a used guitar before you pull the trigger on buying it. While it's rare, some used instruments can be damaged enough to hinder playability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Epiphone a good brand?

Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson, and they're primarily known as Gibson's budget alternative. They offer great guitars in the low to mid-budget range. Epiphone is widely considered to be a good brand.

Their value and dependability is what makes them such a success. While you won't get Gibson-level craftsmanship from Epiphone, most people consider Epiphone a step up from Squire (Fender's budget alternative).

How is an Epiphone Les Paul different from a Gibson Les Paul?

So, how much are you really compromising by getting an Epiphone instead of a Gibson?

Epiphones are produced overseas in places like China and Indonesia, as compared to Gibson's American-made instruments. Some of the materials are cheaper as well or bought in bulk. But overall, Epiphone still uses high-quality wood and electronic components.

The best Epiphone Les Pauls out there are going to sound great on any stage, and the audience won't care that it's an Epiphone you're jamming out on instead of a Gibson.

What genres are Les Pauls known for?

Les Pauls rose to fame in the '50s and '60s where they became known for their contributions to rock, blues, and jazz. Through the decades, they've remained relevant in many different genres thanks to their versatility and durability.

Can I upgrade or modify my Les Paul?

There is a robust community of guitar enthusiasts who love to make modifications to their instruments. If you have a particular modification in mind, there's bound to be plenty of information and tutorials online to help show you how to do it.

Most people would rather modify an Epiphone than a Gibson since it's less of a risk. Epiphones have less time put into their assembly, so if you botch a modification, you're not down three grand.

In Conclusion

We hope you've enjoyed this comparison of the different Epiphone Les Paul models!

It was close, but the Epiphone Les Paul Custom took the top spot because it effortlessly delivers the iconic Les Paul tone and looks great doing it.

Now you can buy with confidence, knowing you're getting a good value for your money. No matter what type of music you love, an Epiphone Les Paul will let you play it!

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