Hello there, and welcome to back another budget LP model guitar. This time we will be looking at an Epiphone Les Paul Special II electric guitar. If you have been following my reviews, you have probably bumped into my post on “Epiphone Les Paul 100 Excellent Les Paul For Beginners“.
Well, even though Les Paul 100 is considered and priced to be an entry-level guitar, some starters might want to step back a little bit and spend less for their first guitar. For this reason, I would like to tell you about another great option by Epiphone again.
“Epiphone Les Paul Special II” (now replaced by Special VE) electric guitar is still one of the best-selling electric guitars in 2021!
Its Epiphone’s number one best-selling model for beginners to get started while getting the vibe and tone of a Les Paul without hurting their wallet 🙂 But don’t get me wrong. This guitar is not a toy guitar that you would buy for your little kid. It’s a standard instrument that can do wonders.
I had the chance to play lots of them in our office back in the day, both in our test room and in our studio. My first encounter was back in 2014, recorded with a Rode VideoMic Pro and a Marshall AVT50 amp + an old Boss SD2.
So what makes this guitar a step back from Epiphone Les Paul 100? Well, just a few things. According to Epiphone’s website, its body and neck are now made of okoume rather than mahogany.
Back in the day, when we checked their website, it was all mahogany so the ones you’re hearing here and I have played are all-mahogany body and mahogany neck versions. Epiphone has probably preferred this wood to (maybe) lower the costs or keep the price segmentation at the same level.
Other than that, Epiphone Les Special II has only two pots as one master volume and one master tone whereas Epiphone Les Paul 100 has one pair of volume and tone controls for each pickup. In addition, the pickup selector is placed in between the pots. In a traditional Les Paul design, it’s on the top right.
Lastly, Epiphone Les Special II does not have a pickguard which is just cosmetics and doesn’t affect the tone. Other than that, both are very very close to each other. Let’s hear the guitar in full action which was recorded with a Marshall JVM205C valve amp + Shure SM57 microphone and an “all controls are 12 o’clock all the time approach!“, please see below.
Epiphone Les Paul Special II review video (no talking)
*Please forgive my very bad playing, it was one of the first videos that I recorded after many years of not playing the guitar and it felt really awkward 🙂
Actually, user reviews tell a lot of things. My favourite comment from an end-user is “For the price, possibly the greatest guitar in the world!” 😉
Epiphone Les Paul Special II Tech Specs
|Frets||22 Medium Jumbo Frets|
|Pickups||700T Humbucker (Bridge), 650R Humbucker (Neck)|
|Finishes||Ebony (EB), Heritage Cherry Sunburst (HS), Vintage Sunburst (VS)|
|Typical Weight||Around 3.5 - 3.7kg|
As you can see from the information above, it’s just a little of a step back from an Epiphone Les Paul 100. It has been one of the best-selling guitars on this planet. Don’t expect it to be the highest quality instrument for the money you pay. But they have been always in pretty good shape out of the box and required just a little bit of adjustment such as neck adjustment.
The tuners were OK, working as they should be. Pickups are great for the money as you will have the same pair of pickups with a step-up model. One thing that bothers me is that there’s no certain information on its fretboard.
Most websites say it has a rosewood fretboard. But these tech specs belong to an older era (let’s say a couple of years ago) and it doesn’t make sense to me that this has okoume wood on the body and the neck but rosewood fingerboard.
Would that make a huge difference? I don’t think so, because serious and huge guitar manufacturers like Epiphone would not risk changing the base material of a guitar that would sound completely different from an earlier version of the instrument.
As one of the best comments on this guitar, “For the price, possibly the greatest guitar in the world!”
You might also bump into the Epiphone Les Paul Special VE model, I guess this model has replaced the Special II model after CITES hit guitar manufacturers. If you are also interested in an SG version of this guitar, please have a look at my Epiphone SG Special (VE) review as well!