Alright this thread should contain everything that has to do with Epiphone Les Pauls. Enjoy Q. What's is the difference between studio, standard, custom, elitist. A. Basically the studio standard and custom are all pretty much the same guitar, but with different trim levels. Think about cars, you can get different packages for your guitar to make it suit yourself, but you will pay more money. Your studio is your bare bones guitar, no binding, dot inlays, just kind of more boring. Standards step up up with binding on it, you start getting into plus top guitars, trap inlays, some say they have better finises, but it's a personal opinion. Customs have headstock binding, and overall just seem to be cooler. Worth paying an addition 150 for it? Maybe, dunno. All depends on what you like. Now the elitist is a whole other animal. If toyota is epiphone, lexus are the elitists. Everything is upgraded. No veneers (Except on plus tops), better Pups, electronics, neck binding, one piece maple caps (Bookmatched so technically 2 pieces). Overall a crap load better. They are comparable to Gibson Standards, some say they are better. I will let you decide for yourself. Q. So Elitists are better? Yup, Elite/Elitist Les Pauls were made in the Fujigen factory in Japan (same as MIJ Epiphone line and Orville by Gibson). Some specs are: 2 piece solid backs made of African Mahogany, 2 piece solid maple caps (veneers on + tops), one piece quartersawn neck, correct Gibson headstock angle and truss rod, bone nut, Gibson USA pickups, quality japanese switches/pots, real mother of pearl and abalone headstock inlays, small post ABR bridge, vintage correct long neck tenon joint. They are great quality instruments - the main difference between them and a Historic Reissue Gibson are the 2 piece back and the poly finish. Q. What is the neck profile on my Les Paul? A. Usually Epis are pretty similar, but it's more of a hybrid between a '59 to the '60. But leaning on the fatter side. Q. What is my cap made out of? A. Usually pieces of alder and maple stuck together with flamed/plain maple veneer on top. Q. What size replacement parts do I need? A. You need metric! I will repeat, you need metric! Q. I want to upgrade electronics, what parts should I get? A. 500k pots and .022 or .015 caps. If you want a .015 it should go in the neck to clear it up. Hit up jonesy if you want to replace your electronics. He sells imperial pots, so if you really want them, you have to sand out the pot holes. Also you will need to buy imperial knobs. Q. I want to mod my guitar, what order should I do this? 1. Setup: I consider this a mod because it's beyond the original, advertised cost of the guitar. But with a lot of these guitars (especially online orders), it's a necessity if you want a guitar that has good action along with reduced fret buzz. Before considering ANY upgrades, you should get a setup from a professional on your guitar. (Roman Rist covers an extended setup in his thread up top. In most circumstances a truss rod verification, action, and intonation setup should be enough to get you going.) 2. Straplocks: Because of the angle of the post by the neck, the strap tends to have an angle on it...and after nearly dumping my Gibson once, I was convinced that this was a necessity on my Les Paul guitars. 3. Guitar nut: There's a lot of different materials out there. Most people like bone or tusq, but graphite and brass nuts are also considered superior to plastic. In any of these circumstances, if you're considering a nut, get one cut by a pro as a poorly slotted and fitted nut, no matter what it's made out of, will probably make the guitar sound worse, not better. Often times people will replace the nut when getting a setup done...that's not a bad idea at all as this nut will require less maintnenace than a plastic one. 4. Capacitors: So, you've got your Epi Les Paul, you're jammin' through a good amp...but the sound isn't quite there. Hahahhaah....Note the sign that Dante did when he wrote The Inferno. A lot of upgrades obviously address tone and sound. The first thing I would change or verify? The capacitors. The stock ones are very, very cheap, and in truth a set of good caps might be all the difference between cleaning up your tone a bit and giving you more control over your tone knobs vs. dealing with a sound you're not quite satisfied with. It's also one of the cheapest upgrades...even with a set of good caps. 5. Potentiometers (pots): Some people might disagree with this, but my thinking is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Nevertheless, changing your import pots on those guitars for some CTS pots or any other brand that makes high quality potentiometers (and upgrading the wiring along the way if you're going to dig that far in) can offer benefits to tone. Bear in mind that no matter what the tweaks, we're still talking about a signal and a ground wire sending the signal from the guitar to the amp, so it goes without saying that the transmission materials used does have an effect. A lot of times these are bumped together because they go hand in hand when someone is rewiring a guitar, but if one had to choose, I give caps the win....but it's still a great upgrade for an Epi. (And the cost to do is not expensive as long as you've got a soldering iron, some decent wire, and caps and pots which could probably be acquired for under 30 dollars for all of the components.) Bear in mind that if you change your pots, you're going to have to bore out the holes a bit on an Epi LP. My favorite technique is to simply roll up some sandpaper and bore out the holes by hand since the difference isn't that great...yes, it takes longer, but on the upside I don't have to worry about cracking the finish on my guitar with a drill bit. 6. Pickups: Yup, ranked number 5. I often wonder if boutique pickups are purchased without trying other things first to improve the dynamics and tone quality of these guitars. And often, this is usually the first mod a lot of people make...and it's a great one (pickups have a lot of determination towards the sound that will come out of the amplifier) but I don't think it ranks above wiring. In any case...as far as Epi's go, I've had great luck with Gibson passive pickups in my Plus model, while my Custom got a lot of needed tone from actives. Every person probably has a slightly different idea of what they want, so atypically pickups are best left up to the consumer and their ideal of the best tone possible from an Epi. 6. Guitar nut: There's a lot of different materials out there. Most people like bone or tusq, but graphite and brass nuts are also considered superior to plastic. In any of these circumstances, if you're considering a nut, get one cut by a pro as a poorly slotted and fitted nut, no matter what it's made out of, will probably make the guitar sound worse, not better. Often times people will replace the nut when getting a setup done...that's not a bad idea at all as this nut will require less maintnenace than a plastic one. But even at that, I do not rank this one as high as the others. It's an important component to the guitar, but as far as tone someone could also argue that as soon as your fretting a note, the nut is out of the equation outside of sympathetic vibration discourse. So, the nut's #6 on my list. 7. Tuners: So, you have a nut, and the thing is still going out of tune? Maybe at that point you should consider tuners, although Grovers have one of the best gear ratios advertised at 18:1. IMHO if the Grovers are not working, you may want to consider going with a locking tuner since you are not dealing with string wrapping at that point. (and yes, if your wraps are not clean, your guitar will probably not stay in tune as well as it should.) I've tried a few brands, (and I will probably try a few more), but the best locking tuners I've found so far in terms of ease of use and installation on an Epi are the Planet Wave locking tuners which have a great gear ratio and clip the string so no tools are required. With a set of these you could probably change out a set of strings in literally less than 5 minutes and be off to the races. It's good stuff. (I also like Sperzels, but they have more of a bling factor to 'em.) The best cheap tuners I've tried for under 40 dollars were a set of Gotoh's that had 16:1 gear ratio. (I'm also interested in the Gibson modern machine heads for non-locking tuners...I suspect they'll have the same gear ratio as standard grovers.) A lot of people like green keys for asthetic reasons IMHO, but bear in mind that these only have an atypical 15:1 gear ratio...but with a good nut (or one that is well-maintained) that should be more than enough to keep your guitar in tune. Some also state that better tuners increase sustain, but that's a subjective argument IMHO and even with proven results I do not believe that the change is dramatic enough to justify the cost of tuners. 8. Bridge: Sometimes bridges are changed out for ease of comfort, sometimes for arguments towards better tone and sustain. Although I prefer the Nashville bridges Gibson has vs. the ABR bridges on the Epiphone Tune-o-matics, a bridge should be way, way down on the priority list. The cheapest way to upgrade a bridge would probably be new saddles from Graphtech (I like the string savers), as this would likely cause the least amount of headaches since basic hardware remains the same. Others like Gotoh briges, others still Tonepros, and some have even gone for the 100 dollar Graphtech superbridges which combine their string saddles on a Tonepros II locking bridge. No matter what your poison, just make sure it's metric with the large posts so it fits in there nice and snug. You might also want to make note of your action before doing this, and be prepared to redo your intonation after changing a bridge out. 9. Stop bar: Ranked below the bridge. there's a couples of things to consider with the stop bar: Yes, this is what allows the tone from the wood in your guitar to resonate through the strings via the miracles of sympathetic vibration. And typically, the lower your stop bar, the less resistance there is to that sympathetic vibration. But, on the downside....some argue a lower stop bar will lead to more string wear and tear. My experience: On a stock Epiphone, even if the stop bar is all the way down (which it is in most circumstances on the Epiphones), there is usually enough room to clear the ABR-1 bridge before it meets the saddle. This may not be the case on aftermarket bridges. Players will often compensate for this via top wrapping their strings over the stop bar with the added implication that there is less tension in the strings. Others favor aluminum tailpieces which offer a brighter tone vs. stainless steel or zinc for a slightly different tone. In my experience? Since the Epi is metric and most aftermarket vendors make tailpieces in standard sizes out of special materials, it's probably more trouble than it's worth. You should get more than enough tone through a standard stop bar. Q. What is under my paint job? A. A variety of things, I have heard there was a zakk wylde bulls eye under an ebony finish. So you can never be too sure. Q. What is my guitar finished with? A. Epiphone always uses Poly, unless it is a faded model, in which case I believe they use a satin finish. Also if your Epi is MIJ it may be finished in nitro. Q. My serial number is EE080502372 when was it made? A. It was make 2008 (first 2 digits) in May (3,4 digits) the production number was 02372 (Remaining digits) Q. What do the letter prefixes mean? A. They are the factory it was made in SI = Samick - Origin - Indonesia S = Samick - Origin - Korea SJ = Saejun - Origin - China SM = Samil - Origin - Samil,Korea U = Unsung - Origin - Korea UC = Unsung - Origin - China Z = Zaozhuang saehan - Origin - China J = T Terada - Origin - Japan O = Choice - Origin - Korea P/R = Peerless - Origin - Korea FN/N = Fine Guitars - Origin - Korea I = Saein - Origin - Korea K = Korea Ins - Origin - Korea F = Fujigen - Origin - Japan EE = Qingdao - Origin - China EA = Qingdao - Origin - China MC = Muse - Origin - China DW = Daewon Origin - China B = Bohemia Musico - Origin - Czech Republic These are the factory codes for serial numbers that start with numbers instant of letters 11 = MIC sticker on a '08 Masterbuilt 500 12 = DeaWon or Unsung (China -- uncertainty remains as to which factory) 15 = Qingdao (China) -- electric 16 = Qingdao (China) -- acoustic 17 = China, unknown factory 20 = DaeWon or Unsung (China -- uncertainty remains as to which factory) 21 = Unsung, Korea 22 = Korea, Unknown Factory 23 = Indonesia, Unknown Factory Mod edit: Updated serial# info can be found in post #2 Q. My guitar won't stay in tune, HELP A. Sometimes you will need a string change. If your strings are constantly changing pitch, it signals the end of life for your strings. Also you can lube your nut. Guitar places stock nut lube and various products. You can also just use pencil savings and place them in the slots of your nut. Q. I must need new tuners if my guitar won't stay in tune. A. Incorrect, if there is a problem with the equipment, 90% of them time it will be your nut. Lube your nut, or replace it with a Tusq or Bone nut. Q. Fret Buzz, help!! A. You need to get your guitar set up. Usually Epis are set up like crap out of the factory. You need an action and truss rod adjustment. Don't know how to do that? Take it to a tech. Sometimes you will have a high fret, and the tech can take care of that as well. Once I find out more info to add here I will. Thanks Thank you Diceman, The Sentry x2, RMC1 for additions.