Simplicity and efficiency are siblings born at the same time. Their relationship is so close they could be twins, and yet not all simple things are efficient, and not all efficient things are simple. In the guitar world this becomes especially true. There are so many guitars claiming to be simple or efficient and being neither, that it becomes easy to become disheartened when searching for the combination. Thankfully the guitar we are taking a close look at right now, the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II is a prime example of such instruments existing.
The shape of the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II is very simple and stated in its name. Imitating the famous Les Paul shape, this guitar becomes a desirable single cutaway. The Les Paul aesthetic has been praised and appreciated from the very first days of its appearance. When a cheap guitar uses this shape, it means the manufacturer knows what the customer wants and is willing to deliver it. There are several colour options available so that the buyer can pick one that fits their character the best.
The body of the guitar is built out of mahogany. This means several great and not so great things. The tonewood is well known for its tendency to resonate strongly with the bass tones of a guitar. This means your guitar will have a warm, pleasant sound no matter what. Mahogany is also well known for being a very durable material, withstanding most damage without ever having a dent. Unfortunately this hardwood is also rather heavy. Thankfully the small size of the body means that the guitar will not be a burden on your shoulders when you play it.
The neck of the guitar is mahogany as well. If you ever wanted a solid piece of mahogany as an instrument, well here you have it. The mahogany keeps the guitar together without an issue, making the guitar sturdy and able to withstand most types of damage. The bolt on nature of the neck is something I do not enjoy and yet, in these models, do not really have a problem with either. The fretboard of the guitar is a smooth, pleasant and dark rosewood, a traditional and expected choice for a guitar at this price.
The LockTone Tune-o-Matic style bridge with a stopbar tailpiece is a very decent bridge to have on any guitar. The bridge holds the strings well and is fairly simple to restring. There is a lack of a tremolo bar, but most of us can survive without one.
The nut of the guitar is made of plastic, as is expected with guitars of this price range. This means that the guitar struggles with string buzz slightly, yet the harmony remains viable. The buzz should not be a problem for a beginner, but think about replacing the nut eventually.
The tuning machine of the guitar is, as most of us are used to in the price range suboptimal. The tuning does keep for a few days, but you will have to check and potentially retune after every long session. At least the tuning does not go out mid performance, as with some of the cheapest guitars.
You might notice that a lot of electric guitars are nowadays made with humbuckers. The reason for that is simple: humbuckers stop the extra noise and string buzz from being picked up. This is a good thing for cheaper guitars, especially when the humbuckers do their jobs well. The Epiphone 650R and the Epiphone 700T are two very decent humbuckers, especially for beginners. Steady and durable, they are bound to not have issues until a long time has passed.
The controls on the guitar are rather standard, non exceptional. Two knobs controlling volume and sustain as well as a lever to change your pickup mode. Should be enough for the beginning of your career. If you want to play around more, get yourself some pedals.
The guitar sounds just fine. It has a powerful sound with a bias towards low tones. It can produce a heavy, sustain full sound for those of us with a craving for metal and a clean sound for more tame genres. The sound is definitely something a beginner will enjoy, yet that is the limit of the guitar. Professionals will find it lacking most of the time, though the bones are there and with some upgrades, the guitar might just sound professional.
This is a great beginner guitar. It has all of the basics covered and is very simplistic in its design. A very efficient instrument that can become professional with enough upgrades. Definitely something consider buying if you are just starting out.
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