deleted your rant
there is no need to post this]
Now, on to actually answering the question...
No, I have not tried the Epiphone version. I got a chance to put my hands on the Gibson version at a Guitar Center but I couldn't buy it for a few reasons:
1. Price. They wanted $2,999 when AMS and Zzounds were BOTH selling them for $2,499 new. I got them to price-match, but then they charge me taxes. AMS and Zzounds don't charge taxes. ...Or shipping.
2. Damage. The thing has been passed around GCs in Texas like a $5 hooker in Las Vegas for the past year. The base of the headstock has a chip in it from the damned wall hangers. And Lord knows why they can't keep a decent pair of strings on such an expensive guitar....rusty things in the stores for people to try to play on. So the guitar's damaged...yet they still want to charge me a new price? Refer back to #1 above.
3. I don't have the balls, apparently. So I have the money. But when it came time to swipe the card, I p***ied out. Had a guilt-fix. Apparently, I don't make NEARLY enough money to make me feel ok with dropping another $2,700 on a guitar when I already have a Gibson Les Paul Custom and two Gibson SGs.
How did the guitar feel? It actually felt good. The size of the neck was almost the same as my LPC, chunky yet comfortable. Most of my other guitars have crazy-thin wizard-cut necks. There's just something nice about the Gibson filling my hand while I wrap my thumb around the top of it to mute the low-E string during A-power chords that's very satisfying. The weight didn't bother me at all, as I'm getting used to playing my heavy LPC (9.9 lbs, roughly).
How did it sound? Not sure. Like I said, the strings were rusty, nasty things. But hooked up to a DSL40C on the display floor, it sounded pretty good.
I imagine the Epiphone will be the same except for the nitro-vs-poly finish on the neck. And no nibs. And a narrow-as-sh** ABR-1 sized bridge instead of the Nashville I like so much on my Gibsons. But that can be changed, as can the 3-way switch with a Switchcraft one. Very simple fixes to make it a great instrument. It already has large control pots, Orange-drop capacitors, Seymour-Duncan Alnico 2 Pro pickups, a confirmed hard maple cap underneath the flame maple veneer... What's not to love?