Epiphone Les Paul Junior Review – 2021 Overview

Vlad
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

If you are a huge fan of Les Paul guitars then you probably know that back in 1954, Japan has made a guitar that never got exported before.

Well, there is a reissue of that specific model now - Epiphone Les Paul Junior.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Vintage mahogany neck with Indian Laurel fretboard
  • Tonewood designed for mid-range and low key
  • Dog-ear Pro pickups with single coil for P90 sound
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PROS

  • Affordable for the starters
  • So odd that it’s a gimmick
  • Proper build quality for the price

CONS

  • Single coil setup doesn’t work these days
  • One color option, and it’s not even the original

Epiphone Les Paul Junior Specs 

  • Type of Guitar: Electric Guitar

  • Body Size and Type: Single cutaway Les Paul solid body

  • Number of Strings: 6-string model

  • Tonewood: Gloss Mahogany body with Black pickguard

  • Orientation: Available only for right-hand players

  • Neck Profile: Mahogany Vintage ‘50s with 43mm wide GraphTech NuBone nut

  • Fretboard: Indian Laurel with dot inlay and 22 Medium jumbo frets

  • Scale Length: 24.75 inches

  • Bridge: Wraparound Lightning Bar fixed bridge system

  • Color: Vintage Sunburst

  • Pickup Type: Dog Ear Pro P90 single-coil pickup

  • Weight: 8 lbs approx

Pros

Few guitars are as iconic as the Epiphone Les Paul Junior. Here’s why.

So Odd That It’s a Gimmick

One single-coil pickup on a guitar in 21 century seems like a bit of a joke. But actually, it’s such a joke that will turn against you and find you craving as a must-have model because of the hype it has around it. 

It will be far from being your number one guitar, but it will have that P90 pickup that will handle the clean sound sweet and warm so you can play a lot of handy jazzy licks on it. The mid-range will sound emphasized, you could bet on that.

And if you’re just starting, having all focus on playing may have a huge impact on developing playing skills as you won’t waste hours on dialing the ideal tone.

Proper Build Quality for the Price

A bunch of details was carefully copied to match the real deal from 1954. We especially appreciated the transparent back tonewood as it improves the overall visual aspect of the instrument a lot. Also, it has 12 inches fretboard radius to prevent fretting out if you would try to perform string bendings.

Affordable for the Starters

If you know that Les Paul is the definite guitar that you were seeking, there is nothing better than to start your guitar adventures exactly from your favorite body type. 

You will outgrow it, that’s for sure, but it may find a special place in your heart as your first guitar ever.

Cons

Here are some drawbacks:

Single Coil Setup Doesn’t Work These Days

We may see how this guitar model was important back in 1954. But nowadays, especially at the price Epiphone is asking for, this guitar is interesting only as a rarity. 

One pickup configuration can’t be found that easily and there is a good reason why - dual or triple pickup setup became a trademark that has revolutionized the guitar world. Without it, your tone variety feels very limited and even then, a single coil pickup won’t work well for modern music. 

So, if they wanted to make a reissue, we find it would be more suitable to modern days to include one humbucker configuration with a coil splitting option.

One Color Option, and it’s Not Even the Original

Once again, if Epiphone wanted to pay a tribute to this instrument from 1954, we find quite odd that the colors don't match. They feel missed completely, and there is only one color choice in total. 

What Recent Buyers Report

The neck profile seems to have a bit more thickness than regular Les Paul and such a choice appears to be interesting for some buyers while others complained that it was too much. They find the vintage vibe around the finish color nice and the sunburst on the black surface quite pleasing.

Buyers especially liked the fact that one pickup concept was all about setting your favorite tone and forget about touching the knobs ever again. As we’re speaking mostly of inexperienced users, they felt relieved that they could stick to the basics.

However, they were expecting a bit more from volume and tone control and it left them craving for more. Perhaps they were expecting a bit too much? Could be. Have in mind that this instrument wasn’t intended for semi-pro players at all. 

Those who were the main audience for this group had fun playing this guitar and they were quite aware they were buying something more historical than useful. Some of them bought it only to resale in the years to come. Epiphone did a good cloning job as they couldn't find any significant difference when compared with the Gibson Les Paul Junior model.

What Are the Components of the Epiphone Les Paul Junior? 

Epiphone Les Paul Junior comes with the all-Mahogany Gloss body along with the black pickguard and Glossy Mahogany neck that has an Indian Laurel fingerboard. 

The neck profile is made in the form of Vintage ‘50s style with a scale length of 24.75 inches and a fretboard radius of 12 inches. The fingerboard inlay is dots while the nut is made of GraphTech NuBone material 43mm wide nut. 

The headstock is a typical Epiphone styled with a mother-of-pearl logo and Deluxe Vintage Ivory Button tuning machines while the bridge is fixed in form of Lightning Bar wraparound.

What Pickups Are On the Epiphone Les Paul Junior?

It comes with a one Dog Ear Pro P90 single coil pickup with a dedicated volume and tone control equipped with the black Top Hat knobs. This means that the only way to change a sound on a guitar is to dial the tone pot at certain knob positions.

How Many Frets Does a Les Paul Junior Have?

Epiphone Les Paul Junior comes with a regular 22 medium jumbo frets.

What Strings Does Epiphone Put on Epiphone Casino?

All Epiphone guitars come with a standard D’Addario string set at .010-.046 string gauge.

What Types of Music is the Epiphone Les Paul Junior Best For?

Epiphone Les Paul Junior will work best for those clean and warm tones with a lot of mid-range. It doesn’t have enough grit for any kind of modern playing so our best guess would be if you would like to play retro music such as power pop or perhaps some jazz and vintage blues and country tones. 

We can imagine that it could work for funk as well along with some experimental purposes for indie rock music, but honestly, that’s about it. Anything rock-related will sound mediocre at best and we can’t recommend it at all.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Epiphone Les Paul Junior Suitable For?

This is a typical example of guitars for newbies. They may enjoy the shape and the look of this guitar without having a struggle about what all those pots and switches are about. Instead, they will have a plain single pickup with two basic pots, so all that they need to do is to turn the volume and play.

Speaking of ages, while it looks basic, it still may not be suitable for all ages as it’s big for younger kids and it’s such a shame there is no short scale model that would fit them perfectly.

What is a Les Paul Junior Guitar?

Epiphone Les Paul Junior is a guitar-oriented for students, more precisely, a budget-friendly version of the original Les Paul. It’s a unique model that comes only with a basic setup that includes only one single-coil pickup.

Where are Epiphone Les Paul Junior Guitars Made?

Epiphone electric guitars are being made in Qingdao facilities in China.

What Makes the Epiphone Les Paul Junior Stand Out From the Competition?

Epiphone Les Paul Junior is a unique guitar on the market. It’s one of the only models with a one single-coil pickup setup and it’s something that you will notice straight away. 

It may be an interesting add-on to any collection and because of its price advanced players may bite the bullet and increase their collection with the showcase how guitar used to sound at certain points in history.

Also, it will be a very suitable model for all kinds of newbies as they won’t have that much about tone setting up and focus on proper playing more.

Comparison Overview 

While it’s quite obvious that all the mentioned instruments will be a much better choice than a Les Paul Junior as they are oriented towards the semi-pro market, let’s check what are the main differences between several Les Paul instruments so that you may know what steps you can take next once you decide to move from Les Paul Junior. 

But first, let’s review the ultimate clash:

Epiphone Les Paul Junior vs Gibson Les Paul Junior 

Just like with the regular guitars, because of improved quality control and the “made in the USA” label, Gibson Les Paul Junior is about five times more expensive than its Epiphone counterpart. 

Generally, we’re talking about quite the same models that include a lot of the same aspects such as P-90 type of pickups. But, the Gibson pickups are way better and more true to the original sound than the Epiphone version. 

Also “made in the USA” label also means perfect quality control, so there is no chance to get unpolished frets or heat the fret buzzing with the factory setup.

So, is it worth the price? Even with the hard case included, we would have to say no. 

Unless the history is what you’re really interested in or you’re a hardcore fan, we don’t see any particular reason to drop so much money on the model that is on the verge to be considered as a toy instrument.

Epiphone Les Paul Junior vs Studio

Les Paul Studio is probably the most affordable “Standard” type of Les Pauls out there. It will provide you with all the HH pickup sound configurations Les Paul is famous for but without a glossy finish which makes Les Paul great gear for stage performance.

That’s how it got its name - simply put it will work in the studio the best. But honestly, even with the stripped down appearance, we don’t find it anything less beautiful than a real deal.

And we also have to say, the price difference between those two models can be so small that the only reason for you to buy Junior instead could be that Studio models are unavailable at the moment or you have found the Junior version on a nice sale.

Epiphone Les Paul Junior vs Special

It may sound like Epiphone Les Paul Special is better than Standard, but it’s not. It had a similar role just like Epiphone Les Paul Junior, to replicate the sound of the ‘50s Gibson Les Paul Special Yellow TV model with a dual P-90 pickup setup.

And due to much higher production volume, those models can be found even at a lower price than Epiphone Les Paul Junior models.

Epiphone Les Paul Junior vs Standard

Epiphone Les Paul Standard shares all the typical Les Paul aspects which made this guitar legendary. Slimtaper neck profile with glossy finish and that nice Maple top which makes Les Paul sound authentic for the last 6 decades. 

But, along with those traits, comes a significantly higher price, which might be a dealbreaker for users on a tight budget.

Conclusion 

Unless you’re an advanced player, there will be nothing wrong with the Epiphone Les Paul Junior. It will be affordable with a quite decent build quality so you’re ensured that this guitar should last for decades without any worries. It may not be the best guitar out there, but it’s one of the most unique at the moment.

People Also Ask

Now that we have resolved the review of Epiphone Les Paul Junior, let’s resolve some of the most common misconceptions and also provide you with a bit of regular technical questions that may aid you with any guitar you may have such as maintaining your guitar or setting up the correct action.

What is GraphTech NuBone?

NuBone is a resonant material that can withstand huge temperature changes. It’s made out of an organic material called TUSQ that doesn’t contain oil or animal products. It has been optimized to provide your guitar with the optimal frequencies every time and it’s considered as a better solution than a bone nut.

Is the Epiphone Les Paul Junior Hard to Play?

Not at all, it was intended to be as basic as possible. There will be no struggling about setting the right pickup volume or choosing the correct pickup switch position. All that you will focus on is your playing and minor tone adjustment so it’s ideal for beginners.

How to Care For an Epiphone Les Paul Junior Guitar

Taking care of Les Paul Junior doesn’t require any additional effort than other solid body guitars. Simple plain cotton cloth or old t-shirt will remove the dust from your instrument, and with another cloth, you can apply polishing from time to time to keep your guitar fresh.

How to Date an Epiphone Les Paul Junior

Epiphone guitars store their serial number on the back of the headstock. Using this number may help you to find out more about your guitar manufacturing date and location.

The easiest way to do it is to go next website and enter your serial number.

Is an Epiphone Les Paul Junior Smaller?

No, while the name may lead you to think it’s a short scale instrument or intended for kids, the Epiphone Les Paul Junior is the regular size guitar. Junior suffix represents the budget-line model oriented for students.

Why Are Les Paul Juniors so Expensive?

Epiphone Les Paul Juniors are a bit of Limited Edition guitars that aren’t made in huge numbers, so their definite number raises its price a little bit. Also, they represent a part of Gibson’s history, so it’s more of a hype than the actual reason to have so high a price.

How to Adjust String Height on an Epiphone Les Paul Junior

You will have to remove the truss rod cover and use the Allen wrench to drop or raise your string height. So, if you want to raise your string height, turn the nut counter-clockwise. For lowering your strings, go the opposite direction and rotate the nut clockwise.

How Do I Tell if I Have a Genuine Les Paul Junior?

You could check if you have the serial number on the back of your headstock, or give a quick look at the truss rod cover - it should have only one hole on the bottom once you remove it and the truss nut should be visible.

How Much Thicker is a Les Paul Than an Epiphone Les Paul Junior?

The answer is about the same as for other sizes. Epiphone Les Paul Junior is about the same thickness as the regular Les Paul. Visually, besides one single-coil pickup instead of two single-coil or humbuckers, there is no physical difference in size regarding those two models.

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.