Epiphone Les Paul Standard vs Epiphone Les Paul Custom – Battle of the Axes!

When you can’t afford a Gibson, where do you turn? To Epiphone of course! Gibson’s more affordable – and equally respected – subsidiary Epiphone create more wallet-friendly versions of famous Gibson models, with very little compromise on quality.

Today we’re checking out two variations of the iconic Les Paul, both from Epiphone – the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and the Epiphone Les Paul Custom.

The Custom comes in at a higher price than the Standard, so we expect a few upgrades to justify the amount. But which one is better for you? Does one particularly stand out in terms of value for money? There’s only one way to find out!

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Total of 4.64/5  

A beginners jewel by Epiphone. Superb starting axe.

+ - Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Total of 4.82/5  

A “tuxedo guitar" that’s dressed to kill – with a sound to match.

Body & Neck

On the face of it these two guitars are incredibly similar – they both sport the famous Les Paul single-cutaway body shape, with a 24.75” scale length. It’s a distinctive look that’s been copied by many, although Epiphone are the closest thing you’ll get to the real deal without buying an actual Gibson.

Both models feature a solid mahogany body with an arched maple veneer on the top. These bodies are finished in a high-gloss paintjob (more on the colors below) and have the traditional raised pickguard, delivering that classic ‘tuxedo’ style.

There’s also a mahogany neck on both the Custom and Standard, both featuring rosewood fretboards and 22 easily-accessible medium jumbo frets. The Standard offers trapezoid fretboard inlays, while the Custom shows off pearloid block inlays. Both necks feature a hand-friendly profile and are easy to play for any ability, as you’d expect from a guitar that bears the Les Paul name.

So, from a design point of view, these guitars are very similar. The Custom does seem to have that extra feeling of elegance, with all-gold hardware and attractive 5-ply binding, but that’s one of the reasons you pay a little more. When it comes to build, they are also very similar, and feel well-made with a reassuringly heavy weight that’s still very comfortable for playing both standing and sitting.

Hardware

It’s the hardware where these two Epiphones split, as the Custom shows off upgraded electronics. We’ll start with the Standard, which features two wax-potted Alnico Classic humbuckers at the bridge and neck positions. These are tended to by a volume and tone control for each individual pickup, along with the traditional rhythm/treble selector switch on the upper bout.

The Custom is voiced by two advanced ProBucker pickups at the bridge and the neck, which are all-round hotter and more vintage in tone – akin to the original hand-wound PAF humbucker tone so many guitarists crave. Similar to the Standard, the Custom is controlled by two volume and two tone control knobs, although each volume control doubles up as a push/pull coil-tapping switch, while the tone has a built-in phase switch. More on this in a second…

At the top of these guitars sit sets of good-quality Grover machine heads, with a 14:1 ratio. The bridge – as is the case with all Les Pauls – is fixed, with a LockTone tune-o-matic locking bridge and a stopbar, which keeps your tuning safe and secure.

What’s Unique?

One of the most unique aspects when it comes to tone is that the Custom uses the same ingredients as the original PAF pickups, meaning no two guitars will sound identical. This is very subtle, but technically gives each Custom its own individual character.

As we’ve also mentioned, the Custom also comes with coil-splitting, offering the ability to turn each humbucker into a single-coil pickup for huge versatility. So, you get the grit and power of a humbucker, but the focused sparkle of a single-coil too. In addition, one of the tone controls doubles up as a phase switch, for additional output balance and feedback reduction.

On a cosmetic note, the lower-priced Standard does have a slight one-up on the Custom, as it comes in a couple of different colors for the more extroverted player. As well as the classic Ebony, you’ll find three cool vintage-tinted finishes in Metallic Goldtop, Pelham Blue and Cardinal Red. The Custom only offers Ebony and a snazzy Arctic White alternative.

Value

Both Custom and Standard are fairly priced at under $600, with the Standard around $150 lower in price than the Custom (usually working out at under $450 on most market places).

For the build quality and sound on both, they offer very good value. Even the cheapest Gibson Les Paul is considerably more expensive than an Epiphone offering, so – for a similar feel and tone – you can’t help but feel you’re grabbing a real bargain.

The Conclusion

There we have it – two excellent Epiphone Les Paul models, both punching above their weight when it comes to price.

But is there a big enough difference to justify the extra cash for the Custom? Ultimately, yes – $150 really does make a difference. The Custom just feels like a better guitar than the Standard, due to the upgraded hardware and the advanced electronics.

You may be torn, but if you are deciding between these two and looking for a new axe to record or gig with, you should set your sights on the Custom. In addition to the additional aesthetic bling, this model unbelievably versatile and sounds great whichever way you play it.

However, beginners and intermediate players on more of a budget would be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck guitar than the Standard. Although, if you can stretch to pay that extra cash, the Custom is a worthwhile investment that will last you a long time.

For more on both the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and the Epiphone Les Paul Custom, check out their full reviews.

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Total of 4.64/5  

A beginners jewel by Epiphone. Superb starting axe.

+ - Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Total of 4.82/5  

A “tuxedo guitar" that’s dressed to kill – with a sound to match.


Reader Interactions

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *