Les Paul guitars are known for their solid build, smooth action, crunchy lows, dynamic harmonics, and wide options in tonal qualities. At a midrange price point, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro has several unique features that offer the versatility and power nearly equal to its Gibson cousin, at 1/10th the price. Les Paul’s first attempt to get this loud was with a strung railroad tie! After some failed attempts to convince Gibson of his design, he built the first prototype in Epiphone’s New York workshop. This is where he finally achieved the characteristic long sustain and timbral variety without excessive feedback. The model was manufactured and sold by Gibson from 1952. In 1957 Epiphone was bought by Gibson and began to manufacture Les Pauls. It is not surprising then, that Epiphone’s Les Paul series are real contenders with Gibson’s in terms of sound quality and feel. The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro is a significant upgrade from the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro in terms of materials and options.
Classic Quality Inside and Out
Both the look and the build provide for flexible use from swanky jazz, to screaming metal, blues and country, and anything in between. The solid mahogany body responsible for the forceful low-end range. It is fitted with a glued in joint to the mahogany neck. This allows for the whole instrument to resonate as one piece of wood. Unlike some Les Paul variations, the LockTone tune-o matic bridge and LockTone stopbar tailpiece are affixed directly into the body of the instrument with metal bars. This means even the strings are deeply integrated into the vibration of the whole, enhancing presence and dynamics. The other benefit to this bridge and stopbar combination is that they do not come off during string changes.
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro is sturdy and requires some strength to hold at around 7lbs, but is still not as heavy as the 9lbs Gibson Les Paul Custom Pro. The balance between body and neck is even, and won’t send you spinning or knocking over the high hat when you’re playing with a strap. A slim “D” style tapered neck allows for fast movement over the 24.75 length scale. The rosewood fret board is also a consistent feature. Gibson, unlike Epiphone, is testing out different materials for the fret board of Les Pauls due to environmental scarcity of the material. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Epiphone is manufactured in China and Gibson is made in the USA. However, the main difference in manufacture location seems to be price rather than materials. The Grover tuning heads maintain steady tuning. A Graphtech NuBone nut prevents frequent detuning by keeping the strings from binding with the nut. Regardless of these quality components, get a good set-up after purchase to check for any quality control issues overlooked on shipping. Uneven coating on the frets or overly high action can contribute to uneven wear and tuning issues in the present or future.
A thin layer of maple veneer fitted to the carved top pushes through the higher sizzling tones. Unless you opt for the limited edition 100th Anniversary Les Paul Custom the wood grain is not visible. Slick Ebony or Alpine monochrome finishes edged with contrasting white or black keep it classy, tuxedo style. Add all gold fittings and pearloid inlays on the neck and headstock, and the instrument looks like a very fancy piece of gear. You might want to keep that in mind when you’re loading into the venue.
Crunch, Dirt, Squeal, Cream
With two ProBucker pickups, coil splitting options, and a phase switch, tonal variety is easily the best feature of the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro. Similar to the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro, the guitar features a ProBucker 2 pickup on the neck and a ProBucker 3 pickup on the bridge. These pickups are modeled on the Gibson BurstBucker, to deliver an exceedingly hot sound with adjustable layers of full-range harmonic detail.
A 3-way toggle selector switch allows a choice between activating one or both of the pickups. All of the tone and volume controls are fitted with 500K Ω potentiometers. Volume alone has a huge effect on timbre. Turn up the neck pickup volume to find a more Stratocaster sound useful for solos. Crisp attacks with round sustains are clean with crunch. The bridge pickup is warm, and throaty with grist.
Each volume knob has a push pull switch. Pull it and each ProBucker can become a single coil pickup. This allows for a more biting squeal on the neck pickup or creamier midranges on the bridge pickup. The tone knob of the neck pickup also doubles as a phase switch. This feature is available only on the Custom Pro and not the Standard. The phase switch can be used with any combination of pickups, in single or humbucker mode. With both pickups engaged the phase switch spreads out the midrange and treble and you can really hear the space psychedelically expand.
Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro?
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro does not skimp on quality or options. Some diehard fans insist that the Gibson Les Paul Custom Pro provides just a tiny bit more power. The Epiphone gets you very close and provides all the classic features nonetheless. Plus you have a variety of sounds with core-spitting and phase controls on the pickups. If you are looking to purchase a guitar for a budding guitarist over the holidays, this is a great option. Being relatively affordable it provides the opportunity to learn on a quality piece of equipment that will not depreciate in value or professional utility as skills progress. A great guitar that’s fun to play, the tonal options make this like having at least two guitars.
Coil-Splitting via push/pull controls
Graphtech® Nubone Nut
Now with push/pull Phase switch
Top maple veneer
Neck Shape SlimTaper™ “D” profile with a satin finish
Neck Joint glued-in
Truss Rod adjustable
Scale Length 24.75″
Fingerboard rosewood with pearloid block inlays
Neck Pickup ProBucker™-2 (4-wire)
Bridge Pickup ProBucker™-3 (4-wire)
Controls Epiphone all-metal 3-way pickup selector
-Neck pickup tone with push/pull Phase switch
-Bridge pickup volume with push/pull coil-tapping,
-Bridge pickup tone
Nut Graphtech® NuBone™
Binding -Body Top (5-ply white/black)
-Body Back (5-ply white/black)
-Fingerboard (1-ply white)
-Headstock (5-ply white/black)
Fingerboard Radius 12″
Frets 22 medium jumbo
Nut Width 1.68″
Machine Heads Grover® Rotomatic™; 18:1 ratio
Colors Ebony (EB), Alpine White (AW)
Guitar Weight 6.5-7lbs
Optional Hard Case
Typical Weight (+/- 5%) 8.7 lbs
Strings D’Addario® 10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro is built with the solid quality of its more expensive relatives, with a hugely versatile range of sound. It’s almost like having two guitars in one.
Reader Rating90 Votes
Tone Variety with split coil and phase options in the ProBucker pickups
Appropriate for snappy dressers
Excellent quality for the price
Not quite as loud as the Gibson Les Paul Custom Pro