Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro – Review of the Legend’s Remake!
The Les Paul Standard has been seen in the hands of iconic rock guitarists since it was issued in the late ‘50s. Epiphone offers this true-to-form remake at an affordable price, with the new addition of innovative pickup controls that open up a universe of sonic possibilities.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro electric guitar is a solid body beast with a tone thicker than its name. It costs less than a 2-year old iPhone and will be useful for decades more, so anyone wishing to invest in a high-quality instrument will be happy with this guitar.
Though you might think of the LP Standard as a guitar only suited for hard rock, the versatile coil-tapping controls in this Pro edition allow you to switch from the thick and low tones of the humbucking pickups to a cleaner, tighter tone of single-coil pickups, and anywhere in between. So whether you’re looking to rock out like Billy Gibbons or chill out like Bob Marley, the Epi LP Standard PT Pro has a tone for you.
- A top-notch remake of an iconic rock guitar
- Coil switching for single-coil/higher treble playing capabilities
- 1960s SlimTaper “D” neck profile for comfort and speed
- Over present lows and mids not great for all genres
- Nonstandard fretboard material, pau ferro, not true to classic LP
Epiphone Les Paul standard plus top pro – in-depth review
If you’ve been searching for a solid block of mahogany to carve into miniature armoires, look no further. Aside from a maple top and pau ferro fingerboard, this guitar is mahogany from head to heel.
Despite a few issues resulting from mass-manufacturing without the quality control required to ensure each guitar ships flawless, the FG830 is a well constructed acoustic once its detriments are corrected.
Just like the original Les Pauls, the Epiphone LP Standard PlusTop Pro has a body of solid mahogany with a maple cap. It has the same vintage single-cutaway body shape as the 1950s custom line, with a cream pickguard, 1-ply cream-colored binding, and strap buttons on the top and bottom bouts.
The AAA flame maple veneer top is accented by amber-finished knobs and shining silver of the LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece. This is a scientifically tested bridge and stopbar combo developed by Epiphone to keep their guitars in tune while making string replacements easy.
Compared to older models, the LockTone bridge is proven to improve tone and sustain, while staying in place even while being vigorously shaken with no strings.
The stopbar can be raised or lowered to increase the break angle over the bridge, further improving sustain. Near-perfect intonation can be achieved because each string can be precisely adjusted with the Tune-o-Matic bridge.
The pickups don’t look like anything fancy, but these humbuckers based on vintage 1950s Gibson PAF pickups pack a punch that brings the signature Les Paul tone to life. A ProBucker-2 at the neck and Probucker-3 in the bridge position are each controlled by separate volume knobs, which double as push/pull switches for the guitar’s coil tapping feature.
In addition to the two-volume knobs are a tone knob for each pickup and a 3-way selector switch that enables you to play with either the Probucker-2, the Probucker-3, or a combination of both
Epiphone continues the LP all-mahogany tradition with a mahogany neck, but breaks from the mold with the pau ferro fretboard.
Laws entered into the CITES treaty in 2017 have begun to make rosewood fretboards a thing of the past, and pau ferro has entered the industry as a popular alternative.
Physically, pau ferro is like a middle-ground between ebony and rosewood. It has a tighter grain and lighter color than rosewood and adds more spring to the tone, but otherwise is fairly similar both physically and sonically.
Like the original Les Paul Standard, this homage by Epiphone replicates the 24.75-inch scale length, the 22 medium-jumbo frets, and the Pearloid trapezoid inlays, but uses the more comfortable 1960s “SlimTaper D” neck profile.
The headstock is darkly finished mahogany with a gold “Les Paul Model” silkscreen and Pearloid Epiphone embossment. With the classic LP clipped-ear head shape and 18:1 Grover nickel-plated tuning machines, it’s a headstock upholding the integrity of the Les Paul name.
The synthetic U-rite nut, at 1.68 inches wide, is a comfortable medium between the Fender standard of 1.65 inches and the Gibson 1.69 inches.
Before we dive into how the coil-splitting feature in the Epiphone LP Standard PlusTop Pro can be used to create a huge variety of tones, let’s talk about how the woods used contribute to the guitar’s overall sound.
Mahogany, dark and warm, is a tonewood whose sound emulates its deep red appearance. It resonates with thick, sustaining mids, full-bodied lows, and highs rounded off at the peaks.
Les Pauls since their conception has relied on mahogany for their commanding, confident voices. But, alone, mahogany might be too muddy for anything other than the chunkiest rock and grimiest blues. Enter: the maple top.
Maple is prized for its tonal crispness. A maple neck or maple top can add just the right amount of brightness to a guitar with a bass-heavy body woods. In the LP Standard PlusTop Pro, the maple veneer top contributes just a little chill to the mahogany fire, sharpening the sound to a biting edge.
Pickups and Coil Splitting
There are two humbucking pickups in the LP PlusTop Pro, Epiphone’s Probucker-2 and Probucker-3. Probucker series pickups are made with many of the same specs as Gibson’s best modern humbuckers, and are built to replicate the earliest humbuckers in the business, Gibson’s PAF pickups of the 1950s.
The difference between the Probucker-2, set in the neck position, and the Probucker-3 in the bridge position, is that the -3 is slightly overwound, adding more emphasis to the bridge position’s treble-heavy tone to counterbalance the LP’s overall depth.
My favorite feature of this guitar is the coil splitting mechanism. In a humbucker, there are two coils, hence the term “double coil.” Coil splitting allows you to turn off one of these coils, thus giving you a single coil pickup. In the Epiphone PlusTop Pro, this enables you to bypass a lot of the LP Standard’s inherent thick mids and lows into a crisper, cleaner sound. You do this simply by pulling up on the volume knobs.
Each ProBucker has its own tone, volume, and coil switching controls, and with the 3-way selector switch you can play with either or both pickups in a total of nine different pickup configurations.
If you want to rock out, keep the double coils bucking and crank up the gain, then switch to ProBucker-3 bridge pickup when you’re ready to rip out a solo.
Glisten through jazz by pulling up into single-coil mode and turning up your treble. Get weird and pioneer a new sound.
Whether you want to crush some breakdowns, master the Zeppelin discography, play happy birthday to your grandma, or lead a country western group, the tonal capabilities of the Epiphone LP Standard PlusTop Pro are boundless.
What’s not to love about playing this thing? It’s a bit on the heavy side, but unless you’re playing 3 hour stadium shows, this probably won’t be much of a problem.
I’ve heard people say a SlimTaper “D” neck profile is too small for big hands, but I think that’s ridiculous. Case in point, Steve Vai’s giant hands play the guitars prized for their ultra-thin necks, Ibanez.
You might be hesitant to try a fretboard of an unknown material such as pau ferro. I always am. But it only takes a minute of playing to see that as rosewood fades into the past, pau ferro could easily take the spotlight as the new fingerboard wood.
It’s smooth, fun, and fast to play on, responsive and solid, delivering a lot of sustain and control.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro holds true to form to the original except for the AAA flame maple top, and even that isn’t too far off base.
Excitingly, it’s offered in eight different finish options:
- Blueberry Burst- bright aqua blue center fading to black edges
- Blood Orange- sharp red center fading to crimson edges
- Greenburst- tropical green center fading to dark forest edges
- Honeyburst- golden yellow center fading to mustard tan edges
- Heritage Cherry Sunburst- bright orange center shifting to deep red edges
- Mojave Fade- desert dunes yellow center fading to leather brown edges
- Trans Blue- ocean blue center fading to twilight navy edges
What may be this guitar’s greatest strength could also be considered its greatest weakness. Les Pauls are cherished for their low, warm, powerful tones, but they can leave a lot to be desired in the area of clarity. Even with fine tuning your EQ and effects, you may never get the crispness among notes that is to be found in high-end Fenders. Mahogany and humbuckers are a strong duo for a sound that has come to be associated with hard rock and hair metal, but tone is a matter of preference and you might need more glass than the Epi LP Standard PlusTop Pro can offer.
This is not to say that the guitar can’t sing out a moderate amount of definition. If you set the tone knobs to max and take advantage of the coil switching, even on a half-good amp with adjustable EQ you can get a tone closer to a trebly jazz guitar than you might expect.
The weight and size of this guitar could only be a problem for young children, but is in all other ways totally manageable. If you’ve got a smaller frame, you might have to learn to take control of this instrument to make it your own. It’s got heft, it’s not small, but it’s comfortable once you find your groove.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard vs. Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro
For around $100 less than the LP Standard PlusTop Pro, Epiphone offers the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. In many ways, these two guitars are really similar, but I’d like to point out a few differences in favor of the PlusTop Pro edition.
Both guitars are made with virtually the same tonewoods: mahogany bodies and necks, with maple veneer tops, and pau ferro fingerboards.
They share the same 1960s SlimTaper “D” neck profile and identical fret numbers and scale lengths. Their hardware is virtually identical, from the Tune-o-matic bridge to the 18:1 Grover tuning machines.
There are three key differences between these guitars. Just from looking, you can see the prominent beauty of the flame maple veneer of the PlusTop Pro compared to the plain maple of the simple LP Standard.
The important differences are in the electronics. Firstly, the basic edition of the Les Paul Standard comes equipped with Epiphone’s Alnico Classic and Alnico Classic Pro pickups.
These are generally regarded as the harsh-sounding predecessor to the new and improved ProBucker series. Both Alnico Classics and ProBuckers are based on Gibson’s 1957 humbucker, but it’s clear the sound has improved in the new design.
Since I love the coil switching option in the Les Paul Standard Pro, I consider this the key difference between the two guitars.
The regular LP Standard has no options for coil switching, so you are always stuck playing full humbucker, with no ability to escape to the land of single-coil goodness. This alone makes the Les Paul Standard PlusTop Plus worth the extra cash, as a hundred bucks isn’t worth cutting yourself off from exponentially more tonal capabilities.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro is a beautiful electric guitar with a proud history and a prominent voice. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, this guitar has what it takes to bring out the rockstar in you.