The importance of Gibson’s Les Paul needs no explanation. That guitar has defined many generations and rock music itself. Ever since it first appeared, the demand for an affordable version was always present. Enter Epiphone and their numerous versions of this guitar, which were aimed at the budget user. Somewhere on the bottom of that list, you will find the Les Paul Special II. This is as cheap as it gets for a licensed Les Paul design. When it comes to entry-level electric guitars, it’s also among the best ones currently available.
Body And Neck
Epiphone pretty much copied down the Les Paul design and simplified it to a point where pretty much only the outline has remained the same. It’s obvious they wanted to distance the Special II from more expensive Les Paul models, which is understandable. Tonewood they used for this occasion is mahogany, which they have used for both the body and the neck. Fretboard comes in form of a standard rosewood piece with simple inlays. In terms of finish options available, you have your vintage sunburst, heritage cherry sunburst as well as ebony.
Affordable guitars usually come with the most basic set of hardware the manufacturer has in their inventory. Same goes for this Epiphone. We’re talking a standard Tune-o-Matic bridge paired with a set of die-cast tuners on the other end of the business. Overall, the hardware works. Intonation and tuning retention are more than satisfactory as long as you don’t push the guitar outside of its comfort zone.
Epiphone went ahead and installed two 700T humbuckers on this bad boy. These are, of course passive pickups which you can find on most entry level Epiphone electric guitars. Pickups are wired to a simple set of controls which include a master tone and master volume knob, and a pickup select switch. Unlike it is the case with the original Les Paul, this switch is located between the knobs. This, as well as the lack of arched top will prompt some to discard the Special II as a Les Paul lookalike rather than a copy. However, considering the price range, we can’t really complain.
The overall tone quality Epiphone Les Paul Special II offers is decent. Those 700T humbuckers aren’t all that hot in terms of output, but they are balanced. Epiphone wanted to give the budget user a performance which is as balanced as possible. Handling distortion is something this guitar does very well, rendering it quite comfortable in rock and metal genres of music. For more subtle and refined stuff like blues, you might start to see the limits of the Special II.
At the end of the day, Epiphone Les Paul Special II is a great beginner electric guitar. Compared to what else is offered for around $200, you will hardly find a guitar that is as balanced as this one.