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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

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Do all Gibson and/or Epiphone Les Paul guitars sound the same?


I'm just starting out and am looking for an inexpensive Les Paul guitar (which I can only seem to find over the web), but I've been told all guitars sound different.
I can't find any inexpensive lefty Les Paul guitars that I can hear what they sound like (because of course, it's over the web and I've yet to find a site that will play an example of what I'm looking at)
Honestly, I just want a lefty guitar that sounds just like the guitar Mick Ronson played in Slaughter on 10th Avenue which I think was a Gibson Les Paul...
So yeah, is it the brands that make the sound differ or..?
I wanna know what my guitar is gonna sound like before I decide to buy it over the web...
March 18, 2008 @01:13am

You really, really, really need to play the guitar in order to determine if it right for you. I have bought guitars "in the blind" and I will NEVER do it again. Surely, somewhere near you is a Guitar Center or other similar venue in which you can go to and play some different guitars. If you like a crap shoot, then buy one without playing it.
Now, speaking of guitars, I will take a beating for this, but hey, I really don't give a rats behind. I like the Epiphone Les Pauls personally. I'm talking the higher end versions they have, not the $399 models. To me, I can get a relatively close guitar (and in some instances I dare say better) to the original Les Paul's for a fraction of the money. They sound pretty good to my ears, and I've been playing for over 30 years. I personally don't care if the head stock says ACME, if it sounds good and is fun to play, then I say get it. I don't need a Gibson or Fender guitar to know that I can play. Find your guitar and enjoy....
Soap box placed back under the table, thank you very much.
March 18, 2008 @01:14pm

There is a definite difference in the sound and feel between Gibson and Epiphones. There is a significant difference from guitar to guitar whether it be a Gibson, Epiphone, Fender, Squire, ect. The more high end the guitar is, the less variation there will be within the same model, unless it's a custom which you want to be different. Gibson has a number of different p/ups which all have different outputs and will sound different depending on what amp you're playing through. Personally I like the low output humbuckers, but to some other people they would hate them and think they are dull and weak whereas I find them warm and smooth with some decent punch when needed. I would discourage buying a guitar online although I have done it once and I was not dissapointed. I bought my '52 reissue hot rod tele from AMS without ever playing one and I love it. But then again I knew exactly what I wanted and knew it was a high end model and unlikely to dissapoint me. On the low end of the guitar spectrum is where you need to be more scrutinous. Good luck.
March 18, 2008 @04:37pm

It should just be considered a different brand of guitar - Gibson and Epiphone. They maybe the same shape guitar, same model but the sound is very different just as Squier and Fender... I could go on but I am sure you get my point. :) My advice would be to go into a local guitar shop and sit down and play a few guitars - you might find that you like the feel but not the sound or vice versea so try another of the same model with different pickups. Pickups are a very big deal just as the wood guitars are made of - higher end models usually have better materials to produce a better sound. Either way its all what you want to hear not what someone else wants to hear.
March 19, 2008 @01:07pm

don't forget changing pickups is always an option
March 25, 2008 @03:22pm

I just purchased an Epi Les Paul from Sweetwater Sound last week. I had a set of Gibson tuners and pickups install by the good folks at SS. I have an Epi "56" Goldtop with P-90's that I absolutely love. Still haven't decided if I like the 490R and 498T pickups I had SS put in my Epi LP. They're a tad bright and they definately pack a wallop. To more directly answer your question, you definately need to play as many guitars in your price range as you can. Keep in mind that when it comes to electric guitars most of your sound is determined by the amplifier you use. Of course there are many more variables to consider also.:)
March 30, 2008 @12:51am

i don't like the 490 pickups in my fadded sg, to thin
March 30, 2008 @11:24am

The 57 classic is great. Output is not that high but really warm sounding in the neck. The 57 classic plus in the bridge is a little bright but works really well with some gain, great for searing solos - not for metal though, more of a zeppelin sound. Blending gives some great tones for bluesy leads. These come stock on the classic antiques, which I happen to have. The main reason I bought this model les paul was these p/ups.
March 30, 2008 @11:46am

i don't like the 490 pickups in my fadded sg, to thin

I agree; Classic 57's are the ticket. Put a Classic 57 Plus in the bridge position and you've got a tonal monster IMHO.
March 30, 2008 @12:34pm

Late in 1989 after shopping for a Les Paul, and planning on spending a small bundle, I was absolutely shocked to end up with an Epiphone Gold Top. This guitar had a neck/fret job that was FAR superior to everything else I played, including a few other Epiphones and several Gibsons. The P-90s that came installed have a range of sounds that you will have to hear to believe.
As far as the standard Les Pauls are concerned, I would start with the Epi and change pick-ups down the road, if necessary. You can go to Stewart-McDonald for a Gotoh bridge/stop bar, and updated tuners and come out with an outstanding guitar.
I should note that I have nothing against Gibson. I have their faded double cut with P-90s and an old Les Paul Custom from the early 70's. I just haven't found one lately that I thought was worth what they were asking for it. I only paid $300 for my new Custom in 1970. Those days are long gone though.
May 1, 2011 @01:06am

I have one of those epiphone limited edition midnight les paul. Traded a wore out nomad100 Mesa head for it. This guitar been used so much the bride saddles are worn down. Best playing guitar I've ever played. Even beter than my Gibson sg
May 1, 2011 @01:40am
Billy Hell

I have $300 guitars and $2,000 guitars and right now my Epi Les Paul Plus Top Pro FX is my favorite. It plays well, has a great neck, beautiful wood and sounds and feels like a top notch guitar. If anyone says an Epiphone will never sound like a Gibson they don't know what they are talking about. I did switch out the pickups. I have a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates in the neck and a $30 GFS VEH in the bridge and I'm here to tell you I live on the GFS pickup. You can have a great playing/sounding Epiphone without spending a ton of cash!
May 6, 2011 @01:41pm

Dont get too caught up in the details. Gibson/fenders will "feel" different due to radius of the fretboard, scale length, etc.
Gibson les pauls are very heavy.
Most single coil guitars will sound simmilar, as will most humbuckers.
There are too many variables in the sound chain, amps, effects, etc.
ANY brand sells guitars at different price points. Any brand's "better" as in good better best should do.
I own a fender american deluxe strat, fender japan 57 re issue strat, and an epiphone les paul custom.
All great guitars, and all sound and feel great.
Buy something that feels good to you and inspires you.
Jack White has a guitar made from plastic and I have heard some killer sounds from him.
August 23, 2011 @10:50pm

I have Gibsons, Martins and Fenders. They are nice guitars but... I'm a big fan of Epiphones and Squires. You can't beat them. One thing no one mentioned is that most of that great sound comes from your fingers. A good example that comes to mind is a YouTube player who was recently praised by Paul Gilbert in Total Guitar magazine. Go to YouTube and type in the search box for Squire Strat sounding AWESOME! or click the link if it showed up. See what someone can do with a 200 dollar guitar.
September 5, 2011 @05:23am

Maybe I'm too picky
Maybe I'm just unlucky
I'm disapointed with my brand new epi ultra III Les Paul
Oh....It's beautiful. I'll give you that.
The action just feels like a cheap guitar to me.
Maybe 750 dollars IS cheep
You get what you pay for.
The tuner is worthless. If I go by it, the strings are out of tune.
To me it was just a gimick anyway since I have almost perfect pitch.
When say...the C major chord is perfect, some of the others are not.
If I get the others in tune, the C chord is back out of tune.
and if I have the strings perfectly in tune, and play a scale, it's out of tune.
Also there is a screw rattlling around inside the body; easy to fix, so that's
no big deal, perhaps that happened in transit; I can't believe that flaw would
slip through so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps I would like strings of a smaller guage.
The big e-string does rattle on the frets......shrug....I was warned about that.
I remember playing my friend's brand new Les Paul Deluxe 45 years ago
Man......It cost 600 bucks brand new, but gas was 30 cents per gallon and
I made $1.40/hour bussing tables. The action on that guitar was ...sublime.
He may have had slinkys so it was real easy, but the action was real low and
it was in tune in every way from all directions. Back-breakingly heavy.
I wonder what a Les Paul of that caliber would set me back today?
Probably north of 2 grand. That's the last time I buy a guitar without playing it.
Yeah the guest artist hawkers make it sound good; the touch of the
master's hand. I feel like a fool. Maybe I just got a lemon. Maybe a
Gibson is way noticeably better than an Epi. I'm gonna go to a Music
store and see if my memory is a glowingly false one; I don't think so.
I don't mind saving up and laying down the big bucks. I don't care about
the sound of pickups that much. It's the luxurious action I'm after.
Sigh...it's such a beautiful guitar....to the eye. Live and learn.
I wonder if that tuning and action problem can be solved by a luthier
or if it's.......'just an Epi'.
"Waves hand like Caesar....Let the flame replys begin!"
December 30, 2011 @09:37pm