Submitted October 10, 2013 by Chris B in Gulf Breeze, FL
"Good Value, but be prepared to have a little work done to it"
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I was very impressed with the fit and finish on the Epi. I bought a "blemished" one, the Dark Cherry finish. I thought I would take a chance and save some money since I was planning on using this guitar for gigging, and it's just a matter of time till some scratches and dents are gonna happen. Honestly, other than a very small scratch on the neck pick up cover, I couldn't find any thing else that I would consider a blemish. There was a slight bit of bleed of the red color onto the edge of the binding, but you would never notice that unless you were scrutinizing the guitar and you were very picky. There were a few small scuffs on the case, but I'm sure I will add some more in the next couple of months any way. Nice case by the way, feels rugged and well padded with a nice tight fit. So overall, I think the "blemished" Tribute Plus was a very good value vs. a "brand new" one.
Over all, the guitar looks great, with a very nice match of the maple top pieces. Sometimes you see a guitar that the "stripes" on the maple are so far off from each other that it looks terrible. The finish is very nice, with some of the "3-D" effect you see in higher end Gibsons. You would be hard pressed to find another guitar this nice for the same price.
The set up it came with met factory specs I suppose, but was a little high for my taste. I did have some fret buzz from a high fret, so I had to have that one lowered a bit when I had it set up. Also, the nut was a bit high, especially for the low E, A and D strings, which caused a bit of intonation issues when fretting on the first fret, but again, I got that taken care of with a professional set up. The neck was perfectly straight, with no twisting, so we added just a touch of relief, and adjusted the bridge down a bit to lower the action. The moral of the story is, plan on taking it to a good luthier and having a pro set up and adjustments done, but you should expect to do that with any guitar you purchase anyway.
My guitar tech was a bit skeptical about all the features that the Tribute Plus was supposed to have, so we did some comparisons with a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson SG, both equipped with classic '57 humbuckers. The wiring in the Epi was different, as well as some of the other electronic parts when compared to the 2 Gibsons, so he remains skeptical that the pickups are just exactly like those in a Gibson Les Paul with classic 57's. Then we did a sound comparison of the 3 guitars with the same amp settings. The 2 Gibsons seemed a bit brighter, and the pick ups a bit more responsive, but the Epi still had a very good sound. The pickups on the the Tribute Plus also seemed to start to break up just a tad sooner then the Gibson's did, but we both agreed that that the Epi sounded pretty close to its more expensive cousins. Also, the series / parallel switching on the 2 tone pots is a really nice feature, as it adds some more variety to the sounds you can get out of the guitar.
The only other things I can think of is that the Tribute Plus was not as heavy as a couple of other Gibson Les Pauls that we compared it to, which is fine by me. It still feels very solid and sturdy in your hands.The strap locks that it came with are junk, they shouldn't even bother including those, but that is no big deal, just go buy some real ones.
In a 3 piece working band that gigs 6-12 times a month. I do vocals and guitar.
Classic Rock, Blues, Hard Rock, Country
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