Russell Bateman
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Eternally After Death God Blesses Everybody ”         7/5

“ retsaE tA knurD steG ynnuB retsaE ”                             ("Easter bunny gets drunk at Easter")

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Pro Solidbody

This is my guitar. Epiphone is owned by Gibson, but it's a far better value, especially for the price, than a Gibson Les Paul. This Epiphone is one of the most beautiful guitars I have ever seen. It's well built and I only wish my playing did it justice. Someday. Here's some advertising fluff as well as cold, hard specifications below.

Serial number: 19041527322
Production date: April 2019 (serial 27322)
Quingdao (electrics), China

In the serial number, besides the obvious year and month, the fifth and sixth digits are the factory code, Quingdao (electric), China, and the last five digits are the sequence number of that factory (i.e.: the 27,332nd guitar built in April of 2019).

Quingdao, China, pronounced /KEEN dah-o/, is on the Pacific coast far south east of Beijing, and means "Green Island". Electric guitars are built there.


The ProBuckers™ on the Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro feature Alnico II magnets—same as sought-after vintage Humbuckers—for rich, warm tone with crystalline highs and a tight bottom. With a ProBucker-2 in the neck position and a (slightly overwound) ProBucker-3 in the bridge position for a legendary Les Paul fat, snarling tone, served up with days of sustain.

Coil-splitting, controlled by push/pull volume pots, for a variety of sounds from single-coil spank to full Humbucker shred. Press down for Humbucking, pull up for single-coil. Push-pull potentiometers to switch between pick-up styles is after-market for Gibson. It's factory on this Epiphone guitar. (Notice that the sticker incorrectly proclaimed "coil-tapping." See Coil-splitting versus coil-tapping below.)


Technical specifications

Body Material Mahogany
Top Material Flame maple veneer
Body Finish Gloss
Color Heritage Cherry
Neck Material Mahogany
Neck Shape 1960s SlimTaper D profile
Radius 12"
Fingerboard Material Pau Ferro (Brazilian hardwood)
Fingerboard Inlay Trapezoid
Number of Frets 22, medium jumbo
Scale Length 24.75"
Nut Width 1.68"
Nut Material Plastic
Bridge/Tailpiece Tune-o-Matic/Stopbar
Tuners Grover, sealed
Neck Pickup ProBucker
Bridge Pickup ProBucker
Controls 2 × volume (push/pull coil-split),
2 × Tone, 3-way selector


The Plustop Pro comes with Epiphone's Limited Lifetime Warranty and is backed by Gibson's 24/7/365 Customer Service.

Choosing a guitar, what's important

In order of importance...

  1. Neck dive, weight of the head stock making you hold up the head's weight with your left hand while you're trying to finger it.
  2. Ergonomics, bevels, contours, scoops to get body closer to playing area and increase the comfort, sheer weight of the guitar.
  3. Neck profile (shape of back of the neck), radius (front, modern is flatter), fret size.
  4. Pick-ups:
    • single coil: bright, punchy, chimey, cutting, clean tone
    • humbucker (to buck 60-cycle hum): warm sound, play with more game
    • humbucker, single, single (3 pick-ups): all-purpose
  5. Aesthetics
  6. Tone, comes from the amplifier, less from the guitar

Tips for older beginners...
  1. Practice every day, but only for 5 minutes. This doesn't mean you must not practice longer, it only means that you never hold yourself to practice longer than 5 minutes. Psychologically, if you impose a 30-minute or 1-hour practice session every day, you'll never do it. Imagine saying you'll go to the local gym for an hour every day: it will almost never happen, will it?
  2. String your guitar with extra slinky strings. They may buzz against some frets more and go out of tune faster, but they will hurt your fingers less. Later, as you develop callouses, you can restring with proper gauge strings.
  3. Toughen the ends of your left fingers (unless left-handed) to get them ready for fretting. Use anything from a fretboard to tools especially made for this, to just the thumbnail on your left hand against those finger pads during the day (while doing other things like attending meetings).
  4. Keep your guitar out where you can grab it. Buy a stand or hang it on the wall. Don't leave it in a closet.
  5. Warm up with exercises. You'll have to find these.
  6. Practice efficiently. For example, don't wait 12 bars into a song to reach your problem—maybe it's a chord or a chord change. Repeat the problem inside of and across a natural, but greatly reduced phrase over and over again. This is called circular repetition.
  7. Learn simple songs. Don't try to learn to play Stairway to Heaven first.
  8. Practice before a mirror instead of turning the guitar back toward yourself to see if you're fingering correctly, then turning it back out, then back in, etc.

The history of Epiphone...

Anastasios Stathopoulos born in 1863, a Greek luthier who started a mandolin and violin company in 1873 in Pellana, Greece. In 1903 he emigrated with his wife to New York. As luthier he started a year later a company that mainly produced mandolins. The company did well and he hired Italian luthier, Henry Cappielo.

After the death of Anastasios (1915), his son Epaminondas took control of the company. Under his management the company grew to one of the biggest of its kind. Later, Epaminondas opens a factory for banjos.

In 1924 Epaminondas registered the brand name Epiphone, a combination of his nickname (Epi) with the Greek word for sound (phone). Shortly thereafter, he bought the banjo company, Favoran, and introduced the Epiphone recording line of banjos. Because of their quality and elegant design, they would be a great success.

Because of this success, a recording line for guitars was also established in 1928 and a full line of f-hole archtop guitars was introduced in 1931. There were 12 models, including: Broadway, Triumph and DeLuxe. Epiphone had been competing with Gibson for some time and with the introduction of the Epiphone Emperor in 1935, dealt Gibson a serious blow. In 1937, Epiphone introduced the Electar series, an electric guitar with an adjustable pickup.

Epaminondas passed away in 1943 and the business was continued by his two sons, Orpheus (Orphie) and Frixo. The two brothers struggled to get along and the company went through hard times after World War II.

By the mid-1950s, Epiphone's output remained small. In 1957, Epiphone was sold to the Chicago Instrument Company, which also owned Gibson, for a mere $20,000.00. A full line of newly designed acoustic and electric guitars is launched in 1958. Then, in 1960, Epiphone's production moved to the Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

At the beginning of 1970 the production under license from Gibson moved from the US to Japan, then opened production in Korea in 1983 and again in 1995 also in Indonesia. In 2004, Gibson opened a factory in Qingdao, China for the production of Epiphone guitars.

Although the vast production of Epiphone guitars takes place in these countries, some more exclusive models are still being made in the USA.

Coil-splitting versus coil-tapping...

Especially for Humbuckers, this is terminological distinction that's important to grok.

First, humbuckers were a way to use two coils together, each with the inverse field polarity of its partner, to counteract the humming that a single coil (Gibson's P-90) produced.

In recent times, however, it's become fashionable to modify humbuckers such that one of the coils can be dropped out to turn the pickup into a single-coil, presumably in imitation of the pickups Fender and other manufacturers mount on their guitars. This is what my Les Paul has; single-coil is obtained by tugging out (or upward) on the leftmost potentiometers.

This is called coil-splitting.

Coil-tapping is where an electric lead comes out from somewhere in the middle of the coil to short it if you choose to use that lead and the bottom lead instead of the final and bottom leads. This is a frequent technique in the manufacture of transformers more than guitar pickups.

How to quick-learn a song...

The first step to nailing any song quickly is to:

  1. Determine the key signature.

    Pluck the low E string on your guitar while the song is playing. Slide your finger along the frets until you hear the same starting note of the opening riff or fundamental in the chord of the song.

    A good example is Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl.

    The first note is G. This tells you that the song is in G major.

  2. Use the 1-4-5-6 chord sequence.

    Hundreds of thousands of songs use only 3 or 4 chords. You only need to figure out which 3 or 4 chords are used in a song.

    Brown Eyed Girl is played in G major. The chord progression in the G major key is [ G A B C D ].

    The chord sequence (or pattern) of most popular songs is [ 1 4 5 6 ].

    Answer the question, "What are the 1, 4, 5 and 6 chords in G major?"

    Number Chord Why?
    1 G major
    4 C major 4th in line (G A B C)
    5 D major 5th in line (G A B C D)
    6 E minor the relative minor chord

    Train yourself to answer the question, "What are the 1-4-5-6 chords?" when you've foud the starting key of a song.

  3. Play the first verse and chorus.

    Shows you've figured out 80% of the song. The rest is whatever the composer or lyricist did to make it unordinary (if anything).