Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II Review
Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II Review
By Anton Skvortsov
(This review was posted by me on Harmony Central, and i usually keep copies of my reviews for future reference. I decided that it would be cool to share my experience with GMC.)
Bought mine this month (beginning of June 2009), its been with me for two weeks. In overall scheme of things this is a very good guitar.
Nice mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard. Back of the neck has satin finish, which is a big plus grip wise. Decent gold covered Grover tuners. Alnico Classic Humbuckers + NanoMag, which really give it good tone versatility, you can get almost Fender-like single-coil tones out of this one when humbuckers are used in combination with the NanoMag. NanoMag has extra control knobs on the back panel for treble, bass, and gain. Chambered body makes this guitar much lighter than your average Les Paul. There are two 1/4" outputs, one for all pickups and one for NanoMag separately.
One problem, to switch between NanoMag and Humbuckers you need to work the volume knobs. They should have included a one-button switch. Since they have separate output for NanoMag, they should've made the main one for Humbuckers only. That way A/B switch pedal could've been used for quick switch between the NanoMag and Humbuckers.
9 out of 10
Sound of this guitar is excellent. Like I mentioned in previous section, you can combine NanoMag and Humbuckers for really unique tones. NanoMag by itself sounds very sharp, some adjustment on EQ is needed to get a perfect NanoMag sound on stand-alone.
For perfect setup two separate amps would be best, since this guitar has two outputs this should not be a problem if you own two amps. I got it to sound pretty decent on Peavey Vypyr 15 with NanoMag stand-alone as pickup. But the stereo output is kind of cool, eh? I think so.
Alnico Classic humbuckers are pretty standard. I will upgrade them once i have a chance and i believe then this guitar will achieve even better sound. But don't get me wrong its not bad now, authentic crunchy Les Paul:ish tone with distortion, and clean tone when combined with NanoMag is much better than let's say Epiphone Les Paul "Standard", to which I make most of my comparisons, since I traded my "Standard" LP for this "Ultra II".
Little bit more noise than I would like on some of the distortions, but this I guess can be fixed with Noise Gate pedal which I don't currently own. This guitar's sound/tone is very good, but it’s not perfect to my taste, but please understand that this is a taste-relative opinion.
9 out of 10
ACTION, FIT, FINISH
When I got it from Epiphone, action was just perfect, just the way I like it. Not too low, not too high.
Pickups were set in a pretty standard way, but I like bridge pickup little lower than Epiphone factory standard.
I had a blast when I started playing it, since satin finish on the neck really gives a good grip “feel” so to say. And maybe it seems so to me, but I felt that neck it little bit thinner than in "Standard" model, since I had easier time fretting 6th and 5th string with my thumb.
Played for a day or two, but then I realized that I didn't do the most important thing - inspecting guitar closely.
When I opened a back panel I noticed there two pieces of wood just ratting around in the back compartment. I didn't see that there was a piece missing somewhere, so I removed those to small pieces of wood. But that kind of worried me naturally. So -1.
One of the wires connected to Tone Knob was loose, there was no solder on it, so it was not connected anywhere when it left the factory. Since Tone control still worked, I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, I just put some tape on the end of the wire to make sure it doesn't touch anything. That also worried me, but I decided to let it be. I will show it to a guitar tech when I have time, and I mean REAL Guitar Tech, not Guitar Center. I wish I knew more about Electronics of the guitar.
But this is a sexy guitar, and that can be said for sure. I mean this guitar really looks good, all people who like Les Pauls will be really happy of how this guitar is made.
Here we close the back panel. Read next section.
9 out of 10
I kept inspecting the guitar, and found big flaw. And now let me address the biggest problem that I think this guitar has as far as durability.
Plastic piece that holds two 1/4" is bigger than on regular guitars, since its holds two output and not one. This piece is made out of plastic that is not thick enough to effectively hold those output jacks.
When I got my eyes closer to this little plastic piece, I noticed that it had a small crack next to one of the jacks... I was furious, this guitar is very good, I would've hated it to return it, but I don't want cracks in anything when I paid for a new guitar.
(BELOW IS THE PICTURE OF JACK PLATE THAT I CONSIDER WEAK)
I called Guitar Center and asked them to contact Epiphone and get this part mailed to me, they did and Epiphone did. I haven't got it yet, but it's on the way.
Epiphone/Gibson Support said that this part that will come for replacement will have to be installed by Gibson Certified tech. So that means I will have to give this guitar into a hands of Guitar Center tech. This job is simple, 5 minutes really.... But knowing GC they will probably take their sweet time doing it. So I will be without my new favorite guitar for 3-4 days.
I am thinking that i will have to find a metal worker and make this same piece out of metal and replace the plastic one. This would fix this flaw and i would be quite happy with this guitar.
This plastic piece is obvious flaw, and a serious one at that. Since you cant really reinstall a certified part of this guitar without breaking warranty, the replacement of this part to home made metal one will void warranty for sure. Not that Epiphone limited warranty worth a crap anyway.
Rest of the guitar seems pretty durable, but I guess years of playing and abusing will tell me more truth about it. But for now I cannot add anything else.
(By the way now I already got the plate that was cracked, and GC installed it for me. Though let me tell you I should just installed it myself, it’s total idiotism in my opinion to pay $25 to let them screw on the plate, which is like less than a minute of work. They just “say” that you’ll warranty will be void if you do it yourself, so you would pay them to install it.)
7 out of 10
Well like previous part shows I ran into a problem immediately which required Support. They agreed to send the part immediately as Guitar Center got in touch with them.
I can’t really rate customer support, since it wasn't I who dealt with them.
But I don't consider their action as anything special, since I think they did what any company should. If product arrives with a broken part - replace the part or a whole thing.
So I cant really rate this section.
0 out of 0
I would definitely buy this guitar again if i wanted to buy a Les Paul. Even with this dual-jack holder problem. It's a very versatile guitar, has a good sound for rock, blues and metal that I play. Its light weight, so it's nice to play during gigs when you are playing with this guitar hanging on your shoulders. It wont break your hip *smile*. NanoMag is a good addition; satin finish on a neck is great idea that works.
I would add a button for switching quickly between NanoMag and Humbuckers, and i would have that plastic plate that's holding two 1/4" outputs made out of metal.
This guitar is Korean made unlike Chinese made “Standard” version of Epiphone’s Les Paul. Everything on it seems to be much more exact than on cheaper Epiphones.
So let’s say OVERALL RATING: 8.5 or 9.0 out of 10.0, since flaws are manageable and rest of this guitar clearly makes it worth it.
That's all..... I apologize if you review is not up to good standards, though i like to write, i don't know how to do it well. And if you have any questions regarding this specific guitar, please respond to this thread and i'll answer to best of my ability....
--Sensible Jones 14:18, 2 July 2009 (CEST)