Gibson purchased the Epiphone guitar company in the 1950s. Gibson recognised that there was a market for less expensive versions of classic Gibson guitars such as the Les Paul. The Epiphone versions of Gibson guitars uses cheaper quality wood and fewer electronic parts and hardware. Epiphone guitars are now manufactured overseas and this also brings down the overall cost of the guitars. Epiphone Les Pauls vary in quality and price, between £110 to £585 as of 2011. The quality of a high-end Les Paul is similar to a Gibson Les Paul. The lower and mid-priced Epiphones can be modified to improve the overall sound and quality of the guitar. The biggest expense is replacing the pickups, £78 to £130. The expense of the other modifications is minimal, £19 to £32.
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Changing the pickups in an Epiphone Les Paul makes the most significant change in the overall sound and quality of the guitar. A variety of pickups options are available. One choice is to replace the pickups with Gibson humbuckers. Gibson makes a variety of different humbucker pickups. In addition to Gibson, pickup manufacturers such as Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio and EMG pickups make high-end pickups. Seymour Duncan has a version of the 1959 vintage Les Paul pickup. Take the time to research the pickup option available in order to find the ones that best suit your style. Find out what style pickups your favourite guitar players use. Visit a guitar store and try out various pickups
Replace the tuners on the Epiphone with a set of Grover locking tuners. Replacing the tuners on a guitar is one of the easiest modifications to make. Simply unscrew and remove the old tuners and insert the new ones in their place. The locking tuners lock the strings in place, making Improving the guitar's tuning more reliable and dependable. Once the guitar is properly tuned it will not slip out of tune.
The Bridge and Nut
Upgrading the bridge and the nut improves the Les Paul's intonation. The bridges on Epiphone Les Pauls are made from cheap materials. Replacing the bridge with a higher quality bridge, such as a Gotoh-tune-o-matic bridge, significantly improves the tonal quality of the guitar. The nut is commonly neglected in a guitar modification process, unless there is a problem with it, but the nut makes an essential contribution to the sustain, intonation, and general resonance of a guitar. Nuts are made from a variety of materials. Epiphone Les Pauls commonly use plastic nuts. Replace the plastic nut with a bone or graphite nut. Bone nuts are generally preferred by guitar techs.
Upgrading the pickups, tuners, and the nut and bridge will all improve the tone, playability and reliability of the Les Paul. Finishing touches such as changing the pickguard and replacing the knobs on the guitar can significantly improve the appearance of the guitar. Pickguards and guitar knobs for Les Pauls are available online.
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