The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 03/10/22 •  9 min read

Epiphone has always been the affordable option to Gibson for decades now, and every year they seem to get better when it comes to quality. Today, we will look at the top 5 models, spanning all of the price points.


The Gibson Les Paul is an iconic guitar, and the single-cut design has been around since the dawn of the electric guitar. The Les Paul is the choice of so many guitarists, mostly because of its history and sound. I personally favored them for years!

But there are PLENTY of excellent Gibson Les Paul alternatives around, providing you know what to look for.

Gibson is usually the company you think of when anyone mentions Les Paul guitars. I feel like Epiphone often gets unfairly overlooked by many guitarists. Epiphone may be less expensive, but many models feature the same specs and features as their expensive Gibson counterparts.

And this applies to its ever-popular range of SG guitars too. And if you’re more of an SG man, take a look at how the Les Paul compares to the Epiphone SG instead.

Not everyone can shell out a couple of grand for a Gibson Les Paul in the beginning…or ever. Luckily, Epiphone has got you covered no matter what your price point!

Let’s take a look at the best Epiphone Les Paul choices; we’ll cover all budgets from entry-level and affordable to the more expensive, as well as the best option for metal music.

Best Epiphone Les Paul Models

  1. Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy
  2. Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy
    $845.00

    With its Fishman Fluence humbuckers, iconic design, and amazing specs and components, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy is easily the best Gibson Les Paul on the market right now. In fact, I think I’d still take one of these over a proper Gibson Les Paul. It is that good…

    Buy Now
  3. Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Special Edition
  4. Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Special Edition

    This Epiphone Les Paul model features the same body tonewoods you'd find on an original '59 Les Paul: namely mahogany with a AAA maple veneer top. Available in two sunburst finishes, the wood grain shines through and so does the tone. The neck is made of mahogany with a rounded medium C profile. It is an absolute beauty, basically.

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Are Epiphone Guitars Good Quality

Whenever you buy a more affordable guitar, one of the first things you worry about is its overall quality – does it hold its tune, will it be set up correctly before shipping? And these are important questions, especially if you plan on playing live or recording.

When I got my first Epiphone – around 20 years ago now – the company’s quality control was, well… not very good. The guitar didn’t hold its tune for very long which was a problem when playing live and the electronics were iffy, to say the least.

But this was 20 years ago, an AGE these days. During the past several years, however, Epiphone has done a complete 180º on this issue, not only improving the quality of its guitars but also making them almost as reliable as Gibson and Fender guitars which are WAY more expensive.

I’ve owned a couple of modern Epiphone Les Paul guitars since then – the Classic and the Prophecy – and both have been incredible instruments, easily on a par – although not quite as good – as my Gibson Les Paul Standard. And this is massively significant, as well as a huge boon for Epiphone, given the price difference between an Epiphone Les Paul and a Gibson Les Paul.

The only minor difference between the two guitars, however, is to do with the overall tone – the Gibson just has a warmer, more organic tone which is derived from its use of more expensive woods, as well as the fact that it is hand-made in Gibson’s US factory. This is really what you’re paying all that extra money for.

What’s the bottom line here? Pretty simple: if you’re worried about quality when it comes to Epiphone Les Paul guitars, you really needn’t be. If you’re playing live, recording music, or just jamming with a band, any of these modern Epiphone Les Paul guitars will be a perfect addition to your collection.

I’d also argue that a post-2018 Epiphone Les Paul is a near-perfect guitar for intermediate players that are looking to upgrade from a cheaper model, something like a Squier or Harley Benton. The difference in quality, electronics, and overall playability, as well as tone and the pickups, will be a huge step up from these cheaper models.

For a more detailed overview of each of our recommended Epiphone Les Paul models, read on below…


#5 Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT

The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal
Epiphone Studio LT

The Les Paul Studio LT is a brand new model for 2020, and it is the most proper Les Paul ever released at this price point! This model has every feature that its bigger brothers have, at a fraction of the cost.

This is obviously a re-design from their beginner models from previous years. But instead of dialing back the features, Epiphone has only added them! This is a ton of bang for your buck!


#4 Epiphone Les Paul JR

The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal
Epi Les Paul JR

The Les Paul Junior has been around for a long time and is a staple of Rock and Metal. The body is slightly smaller than a traditional Les Paul, and the top is not carved. For some guitarists, simplicity is key.

Adding to the already simple design is the removal of the neck pickup entirely. This lends the Junior models to being great rhythm guitars for heavy tones.

Simplicity is key, so the features are dialed back:

If “simple, yet effective” is your motto; This is the Les Paul for you. Many famous guitarists prefer the single pickup simplicity, like Phil X, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Joan Jett.

There is a reason these are favorites for so many guitarists. 2020 is the first year that Epiphone has made these “inspired by Gibson” designs. I think they hit a home run with this new series!


#3 Epiphone Les Paul Classic

The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal
Les Paul Classic

Also new for 2020, is the “Classic” series. These are satin finish models that are very close to the Gibson specs. All of the new Epiphone guitars for 2020 are exciting to me, but this one takes the cake!

This new addition to the Epiphone line has several different “worn” satin finishes. Some of the colors are limited edition, or they are limited to a specific vendor.

Make no mistake, this is a proper Les Paul. The specs reinforce this:

I got to try these out at the local shop, and I cannot believe this is a “budget” guitar. The cool thing about these different satin finishes is they will eventually “wear away” the more you play. Like their expensive Gibson counterparts!


#2 Epiphone Les Paul Muse

The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal
Les Paul Muse

OK. These things are crazy.

Epiphone took the classic Les Paul design, and tweaked it…a lot! The new “Muse” series doesn’t have much in common with a classic Les Paul outside of the shape.

The body woods are completely different, as well as the neck woods. The body itself is chambered to lighten the load of the usually heavy Les Paul. Not to mention, the insanely cool colors that these new models come in.

This is the most radical departure from the traditional Les Paul that Epiphone has ever made. I really want to pick one of these up for myself! For the affordable price, I may actually grab two.


#1 Epiphone Les Paul Modern

The Best Epiphone Les Paul Models: 5 TOP Choices for Rock & Metal
The New MODERN

At the top of our list is the new beautiful Les Paul Modern. At this point, Epiphone is just showing off.

The new Modern models are out of this world, and probably the closest you will get to an actual Gibson model, under the Epiphone name. These are outstanding quality for the money.

Epiphone has experimented with the maple cap of the Les Paul before, but the new finish process is truly something to behold. These guitars look like a much more expensive instrument.

To be honest…the new 2020 Modern offers some specs that even Gibson doesn’t:

This really IS a “modern” Les Paul. By far, the Modern models outshine everything else in Epiphone’s new catalog. The features like locking tuners, Flame maple cap, and a tapered neck joint cannot even be found on Gibson guitars!

The Les Paul Modern is a shred machine, and a classic redesigned. While Epiphone often gets overlooked, with models like the Modern I think some heads will definitely be turning.


Best Epiphone Les Paul For Metal?

All of the Epiphone Les Paul models listed above are great for metal and hard rock, as well as pretty much any other style of music. But for modern metal, Epiphone has a specific Les Paul tailored to the needs of modern metal guitarists.

That guitar is the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy and it is by far one of our favorite guitars on the market right now. Unlike ALL of the models listed above, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy runs Fishman Fluence pickups which are hum and noise-free making the Prophecy ideal for creating insane heavy but super-clear guitar tones.

The Best Gibson Les Paul Alternative
Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy
$845.00

With its Fishman Fluence humbuckers, iconic design, and amazing specs and components, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy is easily the best Gibson Les Paul on the market right now. In fact, I think I’d still take one of these over a proper Gibson Les Paul. It is that good…

Buy Now

The Prophecy is also way lighter than Epiphone’s other models too, thanks to Epiphone’s focus on weight-relief inside the guitar. The end result, combined with the myriad of specs and features included inside the guitar, makes for one of the best guitars under $1000 on the market right now.


epiphone sg colors

Learn More About Epiphone Guitars: Best New Models, Buying Guides & Tone Tips

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Recommended Gear

The latest and best gear we recommend right now…

Spark Amp – The amp itself is brilliant, coming with a bunch of great tones and plenty of power with its 50W speaker. But the real magic happens when it is paired with your phone, opening up access to thousands of effects and tones that you can customize to your exact specifications. And best of all? It’s not even that expensive either.

BIAS FX 2 – If you want to run your guitar through your PC or Mac, BIAS FX 2 is one of the best ways to develop and create amazing-sounding tones. BIAS FX is an amp and effects simulator and it is one of the best in the business. Inexpensive and perfect for jamming and recording, BIAS FX 2 is one of my favorite amp sims for Mac and PC.

Fender Mustang Micro – The Fender Mustang Micro is a small gizmo that plugs directly into your guitar’s jack. You then plug in some headphones and can switch between 12 of Fender’s Mustang amp, complete with effects and modification options. It doesn’t have any wires, it will fit in your pocket, and it even doubles as a USB audio interface too. It is one of the coolest things I’ve tested all year.

Fender Play – Learning guitar can be hard. It takes forever, seemingly, and progress is slow. But if you take a focussed approach with learning the basics and even more advanced stuff, you’ll develop much quicker. That’s why we love Fender Play; it has over 3,000 lessons and everything a beginner player needs. You can also get a free trial right now too – so you have literally nothing to lose!

Learn The Guitar Faster

If you’re struggling to progress on the guitar, I feel you. Improving your rhythm and developing technique takes time. But you can speed things up with a more focussed approach to how you practice. That’s where Fender Play comes in; it has over 3,000 lessons, covering everything you’ll ever need to know. It costs $10 a month usually, but you can get a free trial using this link – we love this program. 

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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