A Big Review Of The Les Paul Special 2 And A Comparison Between The Best Affordable Epiphone Guitars

#ModelRatingType of mounting neckBody Material
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1The Les Paul Special 2 illMahogany1 Check
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2The Les Paul LP 100 illMaple, Mahogany3 Check
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3The Les Paul Studio glued inSolid-wood2 Check
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The Les Paul Special 2
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Body Material
Mahogany
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The Les Paul LP 100
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Body Material
Maple, Mahogany
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The Les Paul Studio
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Solid-wood
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Even if you’ve never been a fan of Epiphone (God knows why), you still can’t deny the fact that they are pretty amazing at making guitars. When it comes to Les Pauls for the average players (I’m talking about the beginners and people with at least some experience), this company delivers the best combination of quality and price. Today we’ll talk about the Epiphone Special Model 2 and compare it to the other LP models that are available on the market right now.
Tip:Les Paul is not just another name in the industry – it’s a legend – and that is why every single release with that “badge” instantly grabs the attention of the musical world.

What does Epiphone has to offer this time? Did they deliver yet another masterpiece, or is it just a new toy for the novices? Les Paul Special is a well-respected brand, but let’s leave our emotions at the door and go through with our comparison. Now I have to mention that the very first Gibson LP Special saw the light of day back in 1955 (more than 60 years ago) and was supposed to fill the gap between the already existing LP Junior and the LP Standard that was way more expensive. Today, Special II is the most popular and best-selling model by Epiphone. Let’s get to the Epiphone Les Paul II review and see whether it’s worth all the praise or not.
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Getting To Know The Instrument Better

According to the ads, this is the dream Les Paul that every single musician out there can afford, including the struggling kids that just want to play. But can it really be called a top-class guitar, or maybe the company had to sacrifice way too many features in order for the price to be this low? Many experts have stated that the Gibson Epiphone Special model looks more like the aforementioned Junior model than the big brother, and that’s the truth. The biggest difference between the two: the Special guitar comes with not 1, but 2 humbuckers in the body (as opposed to 1 single-coil pickup at the bridge). The classic Les Paul body has also been changed.

  • First of all, it’s significantly flatter.
  • Second, the headstock and the tuning peg design are nothing like what you’ll see in a real LP. At the same time, the Special II guitar comes with a TOM bridge made of nickel, which is pretty standard.
Still, the pickups are made by Epiphone, which puts the guitar further away from the original. The fretboard features 22 frets, and that will make the instrument feel like the standard LP, as the length of the scale matches. At the end of the day, there are more similarities between the two models than differences. The Mahogany body only adds to the overall great appearance, even though some folks do claim that it’s basswood/alder/maple.

The Pros And The Cons – Our Gibson Les Paul Special II Review

Tip:No matter how the instrument might look and feel, it can’t be 100% bad or good. There’s always a list of pros and a list of cons. It’s time to see what this bad-boy is really about.

The Pros Of The LP Special 2

The guitar is solid, no doubt about that. And while you might not look as cool as your favorite rock gods, you’ll still be able to steal the heart of the local girls and easily switch between the pickups to get just the right sound. Now, I have to say that this is, indeed, a Les Paul guitar, without any discounts. It comes with the exact same pickups, a TOM bridge, and a stopbar tailpiece that the considerably more expensive Gibson guitars comes with. The most obvious signs of a cheap EG are the so-so pickups that don’t seem to have a strong, sustained tone and sound muddy in every single position. Well, that’s not the case with the Epiphone LP Special 2.

LPS II pickups

And while the tone might not be a 100% match to the more expensive model, it is just as nice and smooth, which means you’re not limited at all when it comes to getting inspired by the sounds the instrument makes. If you feel it’s a bit…bubbly at times, that’s totally normal. LP Special 2 might fall a bit short on resonance, and that’s probably due to the flatter body. Here comes the most important part: when you’re playing this guitar, it doesn’t feel like a cheap instrument or a fake. The neck is fast and solid, no problems there. And finally, the Epiphone model is lighter than the original. And no, that’s not because of the low quality of the “stuffing”.

The Cons Of The LP Special 2

Ok, now let’s talk about the downsides of this otherwise great instrument. We need to be realists: with a lowered price-tag, you can always expect more than one sacrifice. The biggest concern for me was the bolt-on neck. What’s wrong with that? Well, this does change the tone a bit; furthermore, the sustain won’t be as bright and beautiful, which is never the case with a top-class electric guitar. You might say that a number of A-grade guitars also come with bolt-on necks, and they sound absolutely gorgeous. The Stratocaster is a great example of that. In all fairness, you’ll need to be a hard-boiled musician to notice those slight differences. LP Special 2 comes with 1 volume control and 1 tone control (as opposed to 2 of each on the standard LP).

LPS-2 bolt-on neck

The plastic nut is another big turn-off. And while there are many jokes on the Internet about the bone nuts, they are definitely the best choice for any guitar. The math is simple: while a plastic nut will never be able to give you the same experience as a bone nut, this usually isn’t a huge concern when looking for a guitar on a budget, and the Epiphone Special model is definitely on that list. On the other hand, you’re always free to ask a guitar master to change the nut for you. I know some professional musicians (both studio heads and gig fans) that don’t have any problems with a plastic nut. It all comes down to personal preferences, I guess.

Summing Up

Tip:So, as you can see, despite the fact that this is a very affordable Les Paul, the cons aren’t that big and they won’t make your experience with the guitar any less enjoyable. The Epiphone model will be a solid pick if you’re craving that iconic look and sound of an expensive LP but simply don’t have the cash to spend. For a beginner, this is a God-sent. Even if you’re a fella/gal that’s constantly on the road, this guitar will still be a great choice. First of all, it’s significantly lighter, which is a serious factor when you’re constantly gigging. Second, it’s always better to leave the more expensive model back home. Who knows what could happen on the tour, right?

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For the tone junkies, this guitar is not even an option. But to become a tone junkie, you’ll have to have at least a decade of experience behind your back and a certain love for exquisite tones. The rest of us will enjoy this affordable beauty for the years to come. Right now, you can get an Epiphone Les Paul Special 2 Sunburst for just $169 on Amazon! The ebony model might be a bit more expensive, but, again, very much affordable. You do know how much a standard Les Paul costs these days, correct? Aha, that is exactly why the Epiphone models are becoming more and more popular, especially among the young fans of electric guitars.

Comparing The LP Special 2 With LP 100 And LP Studio

Alright, now that we know what the LP Special 2 is all about, let’s compare it with some other Les Paul guitars by Epiphone. I gotta stress out that this company is owned by Gibson, which means you can rest assured the quality of the guitars is high-end. The heads at Gibson are used to being one of the leaders in the industry, and they invested a lot of time, energy, and money into this project. Yes, I’m saying that this is the real deal, not some third-party firm that makes cheap-yet-useless models. But how can you pick just the right Epiphone guitar? How do you know which one will suit you best? Well, follow my lead and you’ll find out!

I can say this: there’s enough to pick from, meaning even the most demanding electric guitar fans will find something that’s perfect for them. The one thing that the three models – Studio, LP 100 and Special 2 – have in common is affordability. And while you should always make lists of pros and cons before paying for something, it might be a bit hard to make sense of all the details, especially if you’re a beginner. An Epiphone Les Paul Matte Black might grab your attention, but it might not be what you really need. Each one of these guitars is intended for a different kind of musician. Which one are you?
Pros
Price-quality ratio
Sound quality
Cons
Build quality
High weight

The Les Paul LP 100

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This model resembles the LP Special 2 a lot. The fingerboard is also made of rosewood. Plus, this model comes with a mahogany body and a bolt-on neck. In those regards, it’s pretty much the same instrument. Oh, and the LP 100 also features the exact same two humbuckers. However, when it comes to the overall construction and the electronic components, this guitar has a series of advantages. The top is thin; the switch is right where it belongs, and there are two controls both for volume and tone. With all those features, the LP 100 looks and feels a lot like the standard Les Paul that costs significantly more. So, where’s the catch? How does the guitar sound?

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The bodies are almost the same in size, and I can say with certainty that for the average player, the slight differences in sound won’t be noticeable. I mean, these guitars are intended for the beginners that are looking for that Les Paul sound, and for them, both guitars deliver. At the same time, in terms of controlling the sound, the LP 100 offers more options, thanks to the more advanced electronic systems. The difference in price is almost too tiny to take into consideration and the LP 100 is still a cheap and solid pick for the beginners. My advice to you is

Tip: if you have some additional bucks to spare, this guitar will be a good investment.
  • 700T (bridge) and 650R (neck) humbuckers
  • Rosewood fretboard and controls- 2-volume, 2-tone
  • 24.75″ inch scale
  • Mahogany body and Maple top
Pros
High-quality assembly
Simple sustain
Independent tone and sound adjustments for neck and bridge
Cons
May be: thin neck
High weight

The Les Paul Studio

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And what about this one? Is it best suited for studio sessions, or does the name have nothing to do with the guitar’s strong suits? It’s obvious that LP Studio has some serious advantages over the previous two models. It is still in the “affordable” zone, but the upgraded capabilities turn it into a solid intermediate-level guitar. The biggest difference is that the neck is set like a true Les Paul, not bolted on. In case you didn’t know, set necks tend to offer better sustain and resonate more. For an experienced guitar player, those words mean a lot. And if you’re a beginner, you’ll start to appreciate the increased flexibility soon, trust me on that.

The pickups are also different. Instead of the good old ceramics, LP Studio comes with open-coil Alnico Classics, which is a huge step up. They will make sure the sounds are smooth and evened out. The electronics are also better. I gotta note that this guitar is not being positioned by the company as an upgrade from the LP Special 2 but rather as an affordable version of the standard Gibson Les Paul. With the Les Paul Studio, you’ll feel more like you’re playing the real thing than a much cheaper substitute. Keep that in mind when choosing between the various models. You won’t have any problems using the LP Studio touring with a band.
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And, as I just said, it will be a good pick even for the novices, especially if they plan on growing as musicians. The professionals claim that it’s always better to start with a solid instrument. That way, you’ll master the various techniques faster and will love and respect your very first guitar, which is a very important thing in music. Besides, you won’t have to upgrade that often, which will make this particular model a wise and profitable purchase. Choose your LP Epiphone model wisely, dear friends, and don’t let anyone fool you.

  • The classic tone wood combination of carved maple top with mahogany back with modern weight relief delivers timeless Les Paul depth, clarity and sustain.
  • Features common to the Gibson USA’s 2016 Traditional range include our original neck width of 1 11/16″ at the nut, historic neck heel shape, standard high-quality manual tuners, a traditional Graph Tech nut.
  • The pickups are the 490R and 490T humbuckers and offer superbly rich vintage-inspired tones with the ability to grind out the highest-gain modern rock, plus coil splitting for authentic single-coil tones.
Pros
Acceptable price
Comfortable fingerboard
Cons
Maybe: pickups are not the best quality

The Conclusion

Oki-Doki, boys and girls, it’s time to set the record straight. There’s no doubt that Epiphone created a fine line-up of guitars that will become your new favorites. Between the three, The Special II is the most affordable and the most basic pick. If you’re a beginner and want to learn how to play electric guitar on a Les Paul, but don’t have the necessary budget, this is a perfect choice. It sounds good and will make your room look cool. True, it’s not a real Les Paul, but still very close to it. The price-tag is super low; yet, the opportunities this model provide are enormous (I’m talking about the beginners, of course). Be advised, though, that if you’re serious about mastering this instrument, you’ll probably want an upgrade in about 1, 5 years.

As for the LP 100, it’s the golden middle. For the beginners, it’s more than fitting. The price is not significantly higher, which makes this guitar a very attractive pick. It both looks and performs like the standard Les Paul. Furthermore, if you start with this guitar, an upgrade won’t be necessary for a very long time. Even if you’ve been playing the guitar for as long as you can remember, you’ll still appreciate the capabilities of the LP 100. I’m not saying this is the best model in the world, but Epiphone sure did create a modern-day masterpiece with this one. Definitely worth every last penny you spend on it.

And finally, there’s the LP Studio. This is a big-boy toy. Guitar players that are regularly touring with a band will love this model. It’s on a whole another level compared to the other two and offers solid performance for the intermediate-level musicians. I know a lot of guys that switched to the Studio after they got tired of the Special 2 and haven’t changed their guitar since. The choice, as always, is yours. The Epiphone Special 2 is a wonderful instrument for its price, that’s for damn sure. So, make your choice wisely!


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