The Raven Chronicles

Rebuilding the Electronics of an Epiphone Les Paul

Let me introduce you to Raven.

Raven’s an Epiphone Les Paul guitar which I had bought from a shop on London’s Denmark Street (“Tin Pan Alley”) in 1999. I had paid a princely sum of £249 1, about three weeks’ worth of my student allowance at that time.

Epiphone Les Pauls are known as replicas of the “real” Les Pauls made by Gibson. Gibson Les Pauls are typically three to four times the price of comparable Epiphones. Why? Well, apart from the brand premium, Gibsons are usually made with better material under (purportedly) more stringent quality controls.

Still, replicas are no pushovers, and can easily hold their own especially when modded with the appropriate tweaks and upgrades.

And for this reason, it’s fairly common to see these “knockoffs” used by professionals both in the studio and on the stage.

The most famous Les Paul slinger of them all, Slash, would use a replica (i.e. not Gibson) Les Paul to play on Appetite For Destruction. Yes, the classic Sweet Child O’ Mine riff was played on a Les Paul knockoff!

Noel Gallagher played an Epiphone Les Paul in the early years of Oasis. He certainly used one to record Definitely Maybe, where he had played probably his best guitar solo in my opinion (Live Forever).

Raven: The Aging Songbird

Now at more than two decades old, Raven is showing copious signs of wear and tear.

As with most Les Pauls, Raven spots humbuckers in both neck and bridge positions, controllable via a two-way switch. Each of the humbuckers have its own tone and volume dials.

This configuration gives Les Pauls its trademark sound: thick, creamy tone with a singing sustain that lasts for ages.

Next: Fixing the pickup switch.

  1. A similar Epiphone Les Paul sells now for about £349 – a very reasonable price. Assuming an inflation rate of 2.8% per year, something sold for £249 in 1999 would cost £435 in 2020.