And to your immediate left is one of them. That’s an Epiphone Les Paul Special II, and it was the first guitar I ever owned. While I was sad to part with the Peavey Horizon II that passed out of my hands recently, I did and still do feel it was the right decision under the circumstances. When I think of the Epi, I can’t say the same.
For those who have known Epiphone only as the budget brand arm of the Gibson Company, it’s easy to forget that they were once a powerhouse guitar maker in their own right, accorded equal (and often greater) prestige than Gibson itself. But they fell on hard times and were eventually bought out. The thing is, they still make pretty darn good guitars. Ask Gary Clark Jr., whose go-to guitar is an Epiphone Casino, and it ain’t because he can’t afford an ES-335. While I don’t think anyone is saying that, say, the Epiphone Les Pauls are in the same class as a Gibson Les Paul Standard, the Special II is closer in design and intent to the old Gibson LP Juniors and Melody Makers. And for someone just getting started especially it’s a heck of an axe to cut your playing teeth on. It’s a good sounding, easy playing guitar. Whenever I hit a sour note, I knew it was me, not the guitar, and that’s not always the case for guitars in the “student model” class. That Epi took a lot of the guesswork out of starting out and it was, as my Brit friends might say, “cheap as chips.” I did good when I chose it to start on. I did less good, even though I’m leaning more to Strats these days, when I decided to part with it.
If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have done it. Really big word, that.