What I learned shopping for an LP

Discussion in 'Epiphone Les Pauls' started by Sprocket, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. Sprocket

    Sprocket Member

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    I wanted to buy myself an Epiphone Les Paul for my upcoming birthday, Id bought me a Squier Standard Telecaster for my last birthday and the new axe really did alot for my playing as well as more frequent. So naturally a new Les Paul could only help! I enjoy the whole buying/shopping experience, and like taking the time to learn about what Im about to purchase.

    To be honest, a buddy's new Epiphone SG got me warmed up to the idea of a new Epiphone, but it didnt take long before my attentions were diverted to a Les Paul vs. an SG. Jimmy Page was always my number 1 guitar hero/idol...thats why I had to have a Tele! So a Les Paul just seemed natural.

    Well my buddy ordered his SG online...it arrived within days, but to his missfortune, the neck was broke upon delivery and it was weeks before the replacement arrived. So I decided that maybe mail order wasnt for me...but I did learn a valueable lesson from this...if you order a guitar mailorder, youd better buy a case with it! I think this works out best for a couple of reasons, for one, they have to take the guitar out of the original box before shippment, if the neck is broke they should notice. And secondly, youve got the added protection of a case in trasnsit, so its likely the gorrillas shipping it will have a harder time breaking it.

    I live in a small town, but am surrounded by bigger cities with more guitar shops to chose from. Unfortuantely not that many shops carry Epiphone, so I had to drive out to Orlando to try out a few Les Pauls. BUT fortunately I had 3 shops to chose from. I called the shops ahead of time to find out which models they had, I was looking for an Ultra, a Custom, Plus Top and a Plain Top Standard...each shop said they had all the models I was looking for to compair.

    I went to the first shop, George's Music next to the attractions(Wet n'Wild)...they were very helpful and let me try out everything I wanted to, BUT upon further inspection and a scrutinizing eye, it was obvious these guitars had been sitting on the shelf for an extended length of time. Most of the metal or gold plated parts had sweat that had tarnished thier finish, the frets were so dry from being exposed to constant AC that the fret wire was rising out of the fretboards and the binding shrinking...not to mention all the fingernail scratches on all of these guitars. But this was the first shop I went to...yeah I wanted a Les Paul, but these were just nasty! I had told the sales associate(s) that I just couldnt buy a guitar in this shape...and they scoffed at me and told me if I were looking for "quality" then I should be shopping for a Gibson! I just walked away...but later I wondered what these minimum wage jerkoffs were playing?(I just assume they play Ibanez!)

    The second shop was nicer, it was a Guitar Center, they had all the same guitars in much more desireable colors! They were just as nice as the other place and let me test drive everything I was interested in...but still the quality wasnt there and I was beginning to doubt my mission...is this the Epiphone quality I keep hearing about? Once again, dried out fret boards, corrosion, scratches and binding that had seams exposed like it was shrinking...nothing I could live with.

    The third shop was also a Guitar Center, same guitars and still even more color choices...but this shop was cramped and several guitars(in my sellection) suffered from this in the way of broken headstocks! BUT the good news was they had lots of stock still in the box! At this point I was really interested in a plain top vintage burst, my salesman opened a box and before he could get it out of the foam wrapping I could see the headstock was busted! Which makes me tend to believe this is VERY COMMON! I asked to see a honey burst in a plus top, and he came out with a new one still in the box, he opened it and it was flawless! "I'll take it!!!"

    In reading about purchasing an Epiphone or even a Les Paul, the most common reply was "try before you buy!" but having 2 Squiers that Id bought sight unseen, I didnt really "get it" until I did shop around for this Epiphone. My conclusion was that the reason they say this is because of shelf life and the conditions these guitars are subject to in the store as well as in transit, really affect the playability and quality of these delicate instruments.
    BUT also I kinda get the impression you can buy a really excellent guitar mail order, but a case would be advised.

    These are just my observations, but I thought Id pass em along...maybe theyd be of some help or use to somebody else.
     
  2. Sprocket

    Sprocket Member

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    About the guitars in my compairison:

    The Ultra was very brite, louder and hotter...and of course lighter because of its chambered body...and you gotta love that comfy body contour. I really liked this guitar, but wasnt in love with the Cherry burst and also wasnt 100% certain I wanted hotter, brighter & louder.

    The Custom was also very tasty, double binding, bound headstock & nicer inlays. BUT that second binding on the back seemed like it would dig into my ribs a lil too much, added weight and same pickups as the Standard...and no wood grain showing!

    The Standard plain top...I really liked the price point and the single top...I totally would have bought one and been content...if there had been one that was worthy(not broken).

    My choice, the Plus Top...what can I say? I bought one!
     
  3. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Well...I would never...EVER buy a guitar by mailorder. I have to try them first.
    Case in point:
    I went to a Guitar Center and tried 4 SG fadeds. They were all different. The one that I bought was the one that spoke to me and felt good in my hands.
    The others were crap.

    Now, as far as the Epi's being on the shelf and deteriorating, well..ANY guitar
    will do that, including the Gibsons. The music stores don't clean them and keep them in top shape, and if there are multitudes of people trying them out, then they're bound to get cruddy. Just a fact.

    Epiphone quality is the same as Gibson quality, as far as I'm concerned, it's just that the materials in Gibsons are higher quality.
    Case in point:
    I bought two SG's in 1998-2000. Both of them had sharp fret ends and dry fretboards. One of them had to have the frets filed down by FIFTY percent because they were so high. And, the cases they include (the brown ones made in Canada) are crap. The exterior chips easily, unlike the old tolex covered cases. And, I don't want to hear that "Oh, well due to the changes in temperature, the fretboards shrink". WHat a buncha crap. I've played Gibsons since 1969, and they never used to be like that. It's Gibson's sorry
    excuse for poor quality control, and for the prices they're charging, it's a crime.
     
  4. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    But, anyway....congrats on the plus top! I have a plaintop that I truly love!
    And, I used to own a Gibson LP Custom, so I know what I'm talking about!
     
  5. Sprocket

    Sprocket Member

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    What about these "case in points"???
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    These 2 Customs are only available at Musiciansfriend :naughty:
     
  6. SnoMan97

    SnoMan97 Senior Member

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    I bought my Epi Standard PlainTop sight unseen from Music123 before the MF take over. It was on blowout for $149.00. It is also marked as a 2nd on the back of the headstock. I still cannot find a thing wrong with it and it arrived in perfect shape, no case included. I guess you can say I got lucky but this is the 4th guitar I have purchased this way. All have arived with no issues. I have also sold and shipped a few guitars without cases without incident. A case is not neccessary if you know the proper way to pack an instrument. I am not trying to start an argument, I am merely pointing out that buying a guitar online is not always the wrong way to go if you already know what you want. It is tough for me to hit up the music stores in my area. The ones closest to me have not alot of selection and the local Sam Ash and GC are an hour away. Here is a pic of my "B-stock" Epi LP.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Sprocket

    Sprocket Member

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    No arguement here...but it IS kinda difficult to pack the bent headstock without issue...Epiphone, clearly, still hasnt figured that out.
     
  8. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Nope. Still wouldn't buy them without trying them. No way. EVER.
     
  9. tarddoggy

    tarddoggy V.I.P. Member

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    I gotta agree with hedzeppelin on this.There are way too many variables on buying without trying.Im so anal about this that I take my usual practice amp and pedal(s) WITH ME WHEN I get ready to purchase.Alot of PROBLEMS I HAVE ENCOUNTERED ARE TONE RELATED! Not to mention the overall finish,frets,etc.......
     
  10. Bowhunterwt

    Bowhunterwt V.I.P. Member

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    When I bought my Les Paul Ultra at The Guitar Center in Ft Wayne In, the strings were so rusty it hurt my fingers when I tried to play it. But after trying it out where I lived BG, Ky. I still knew that this was the Les Paul I wanted. When I got home the first thing I did was replace the strings.
     
  11. KristianJ

    KristianJ Member

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    I wouldn't go that far myself (I did buy my Epi with its tone being a defining factor though) - but I will never ever buy a guitar without it being in my hands first and being able to hear it. I have bought an acoustic that I first saw on eBay (the seller had advertised it elsewhere and I found the ad and acted from there), but I wanted to make sure I saw the guitar, play it as thoroughly as possible, then complete the transaction.

    Now if there was a great bargain to be had via mail order, and I was saving a significant amount of money on the guitar compared to what I could get it for at my local store, I'd consider it. But all in all, I'd be more inclined to spend just a bit more for something that gave me some assurance before I handed over the bills/card.
     
  12. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    I'm with you on that, too! Different guitars react differently to particular amps.
    Same thing with pedals. One may sound good thru the demo amp in the store, only to find that it sounds crappy thru my own rig. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY, and
    be as close to your own rig as possible!
     
  13. ReverendJWblues

    ReverendJWblues MLP Chaplain V.I.P. Member

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    Guys Im not gving props to guitar center here or anything but every time Ive gone in to test guitar if I asked them to change the strings they have always done it for me, any music store Ive ever asked to do that has always done it for me...A few have even let me set it up the way I wanted. You guys must have got hold of some shitty salesmen, I dont know. Yes theres always problems wih guitars nuthings perfect even if we want it to be. Next time u go to buy ask them to go that lil extra for ya most willdo it. I dont own any epis so I dont really know what their like but Im sure their fine guitars. Just remember get that lil extra help hen buying. Or dont buy from them!!!!!!!!!!!!! BTW I am not a guitar salesman.
     
  14. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Well, you're lucky....and you must do a LOT of biz with them. MOst GC's that I have shopped at wouldn't do that. In fact, I complained to them that their merchandise was cruddy and they should clean at LEAST the floor models (not the ones all over the walls), and they just looked at me funny.

    My main point is, that unless the instrument is SUPER cheap (as in the case of damn yankee's plain top), I wouldn't buy a guitar without trying it first.
     
  15. johnreardon

    johnreardon Senior Member

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    All shops I have ever used in the UK wouldn't dream of changing the strings for you, let alone let you setup up the guitar, just for you to try the thing. That's not them being shitty salesmen, it's just them protecting their investment in their stock. I don't blame them one bit.

    I can easily make allowances for old strings or bad setups. It's how I think I am going to get on with the guitar is the most important. First thing I do with any guitar I buy is change the strings and do minor setup changes.

    I normally like to try guitars before I buy, however, with my latest, one of the Baja Telecasters, I had to risk ordering it on-line. Luckily, I liked it and anyway, it was cheapish.
     
  16. GeeJay

    GeeJay Senior Member

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    Well, as I've said before Epis can be great guitars, but they do vary somewhat, so I would never buy one without first seeing and playing. Here's a picture taken out of a magazine from a while back. Take a close look at the positions of the stop-bar, bridge and knobs. They are all over the place. Now call me old fashioned, but I think that the stop bar and bridge should at least be in a consistent position..

    [​IMG]

    They can be great guitars, but be careful would be my advice..

    Cheers!
     
  17. ReverendJWblues

    ReverendJWblues MLP Chaplain V.I.P. Member

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    Man u can go the BOTB and see vintage models with tail piece and bridge in diff positions. nuthins perfect. Im sorry u guys dont get the same treatment maybe its some kind of respect I dunno. I have spent alot of coin through the yrs maybe that is it. But also I would never walk into any music store and complain about their product. I have never bought anything on line but I have sold a few guitars. And when I say set-up Im talking a few mild tweaks nuthin major. I cant see the protecting their investment thing tho Hell they wanna sell it ........what better way to sell than to give the customer what he wants,(within reason) But I gaurantee you if the strings are cruddy and they wanna sell it they will change the strings. Hell they will probaly give you a few sets of strings. Remember tho u cant get sumthin for nuthin. the old saying grass gas or ass nobody rides for free. They cann tell intrest from sumbody just kicking tires.
     
  18. hedzeppelin

    hedzeppelin V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    I wasn't complaining to them about their product, I was suggesting that they keep their merchandise presentable, hence, they would sell more of it.
    That's basic merchandising. The used car lot people know this....if you polish a car and make it nice and shiny, it's more eye-appealing, and more likely to generate interest in the buyer.
    So much for trying to do them a favor....
     
  19. Dave67

    Dave67 Senior Member

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    I have tried to buy at GC. I when with a pocket full of cash, I was looking for a Epi Explorer. I tried a few that they had out, setups where bad, string where dead and like stated above just nasty. I found one I liked and went to buy it, but sorry you can't buy the display. They had get on still in the box. I asked to try it and was floored by them saying NO. They said that it was just like the one I played. I said sorry and left. I will spend a little more at the small local shops before I will shop at WalMart of guitars again.
     
  20. ReverendJWblues

    ReverendJWblues MLP Chaplain V.I.P. Member

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    I guess it looks like Im trying to piss u guys off, I assure u thats not my intent I dont know where u guys mostly are located but guess we do thins differently in okla. Ive been to stores all over the country and have always been treated well Ive bought only 1 lemon in all my yrs but as far as buying gibson u buyit at GC in okla or your not buyin one as I said earlier in a post I dont hve any epi's so I dont kno how your treatd buying them If it was my stoe then u would be treated good As Im seriously considering openeing a store here.One the way I want it run things would be clean fresh and U could buy aything u wanted bck room off the wall even I even wanna have a tech. But Im still in plannig. If any u guys ever in okla let me know we'll do some shopping theres a pleck machine in norman Its a good big ciy just not over crowded. Used to be some hellacious music stores here but most have passed along. Ihope u enjoy what u get from whre ever u buy after you gotta be the happy 1 JW
     

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