The Worst Piece Of Gear I Own (And Still Love) | Picks

First thing’s first: Epiphone Les Pauls are great guitars. They’re a great entry into the wonderful world of Les Pauls, and many of them are really accessible to beginners. You might even see pros using some of the more expensive models—Noel Gallagher used an Epiphone Les Paul Standard for a while when Oasis was on the rise. However, there’s a bit of a back story to my Epiphone Les Paul Special II (basically the same as the Les Paul Special VE), which explains why it is the worst piece of gear that I own.

For years, my Epiphone Les Paul was my pride and joy. It was my first electric guitar, and it’s what I taught myself to play on. I used to painstakingly play and pause CDs (remember CDs?) by the likes of AC/DC, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Darkness, The Datsuns, and many more to learn their riffs and solos note by note.

Then, after a mishap with a flimsy guitar stand, it fell over, dragging my big old CD player with it, and resulted in a broken neck. This is probably a good time to point out how invaluable a decent guitar stand is—my Hercules GS414s have never let me down!

Luckily, my dad was an engineer and is pretty handy, so he set about fixing up the broken neck (and my teenage broken dreams). I asked him recently how he fixed it, having no experience at all with luthiery. He said he used a ton of wood glue, and clamped the pieces together for three days. The result wasn’t the prettiest job in the world, but that didn’t matter—my guitar was fixed! You can see the cracks and you can feel them with your left hand. If I was to try and sell it on, I wouldn’t get much for it at all.

18 years on, and it’s still going strong. The neck hasn’t budged at all, and the truss rod still works as it should. If anything, it might be stronger now than it ever was. After its three-day surgical procedure, I got my Les Paul back and after a quick restring, it was back in action. Cut to today, and it still has its place alongside my Gibsons and Fenders.

Now, I have it as my drop-tuned guitar. It lives in C# standard, strung with D’Addario NYXL1156, and it’s still a bunch of fun to play. The single volume and tone knobs make for a nice and simplistic layout, while the three-way pickup selector ensures I’ve got a variation of tones at my disposal. I’ve toyed with the idea of swapping out the pickups for something more high output—maybe some Gibson Dirty Fingers or Seymour Duncan Mayhem humbuckers, but then I plug it in and the stock pickups just sound great.

They don’t have the clarity or extended frequency range as most of my other guitars, but that doesn’t matter. There’s something about them that I love. Maybe it's that I’m transported back to my early days of learning guitar—many of us guitarists are sentimental and romantic about days gone by, so that could be a part of it. You could even argue that the neck break and subsequent fix has changed how the instrument resonates slightly and altered the natural harmonics ringing out. But to be honest, I don’t think that’s made any difference. I think I just love it because it was my first electric guitar, and it will always be my first electric guitar.

It’s also testament to the build quality of even the cheapest Epiphone guitars. The neck only broke because a pretty sizable CD player fell on top of it while it was at an angle on the floor, that’s human error on my part. The electronics and the hardware are still working as they should be. It’s had a few setups and makeovers to keep it in good condition, but that should be standard procedure for any guitar. I don’t gig it, but if I needed to, I could.

It sure ain’t winning any beauty contests, and it’s not going to go down in history as a "holy grail" guitar, but all these years later, I’m still as in love with my Epiphone Les Paul Special II as I was the Christmas Day I got it.

comments powered by Disqus

Reverb Gives

Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music.

Carbon-Offset Shipping

Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments.

Oops, looks like you forgot something. Please check the fields highlighted in red.