Epiphone Les Paul SL – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Vlad
| Last Updated: January 25, 2021

Epiphone’s slogan says “for every stage”.

And when you take a look at the Les Paul SL, you can tell that they are devoted to their mission. 

If you have wished to learn to play an electric guitar, this guitar is a very affordable way to go.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Comes with a guitar and amp included in the set
  • Uses Less Paul Single-coil pickups
  • A great package for the beginner guitarist
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Epiphone Les Paul SL Starter Pack - Includes Mini Amp, Gigbag, Tuner, Picks, and Strap - Sunset Yellow

PROS

  • Simplified controls
  • Slim Taper neck profile
  • Unbeatable price in low-end tier
  • Design may be a nice motivational boost

CONS

  • Single coil pickups are not how Les Paul works
  • Cheap instrument made for complete beginners

Epiphone Les Paul SL Specs 

List the specifications and dimensions of this product. Use bullet points.

  • Type of Guitar: Electric Guitar

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

  • Number of Strings: 6-string model

  • Tonewood: Laminated all Alder body with SL style pickup

  • Orientation: Available for right-hand players only

  • Neck Profile: Hard Maple 60’s Slim Taper type with 43mm wide nut

  • Fretboard: Granadillo fingerboard with 22 frets and dot inlay

  • Scale Length: 24.75 inches 

  • Bridge: Wrap around combo fixed bridge system 

  • Color: Vintage Sunburst, Ebony, Turquoise,  Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Sunset Yellow, and Pacific Blue

  • Pickup Type: Epiphone 650SCR on the neck and 700SCR on the bridge

  • Weight: 8 lbs approx.

Pros

Here are the primary positives of this product.

Slim Taper Neck Profile

This guitar may be budget-oriented, but it shares the neck profile with other Epiphone Les Paul models. Such a neck profile will be a bit easier to grasp especially while playing the highest or the lowest strings as the sides are equally tapered down. 

Such a feature might mean a world for people who are just starting out, especially for those with smaller hands

Simplified Controls

Sure, having individual volume control is a nice pro feature that allows you to experiment with the tone.

But, if you’re just starting, it won’t mean a lot to you and may even be counterproductive. It will take some time to understand why the middle switch position is so unique. That’s why a simple master and tone pot will be just enough until you understand what is going on.

Also, a 3-way pickup switch that doesn’t come in front of your strumming hand will be appreciated as you won’t hit it by accident.

Unbeatable Price in Low-end Tier

Starter packs for guitar players are cheap, but Gibson managed to provide an affordable model. If you take into account what’s usually needed for such players, you can’t find anything really bad about Les Paul SL.

Design May Be a Nice Motivational Boost

When you’re starting out, your biggest enemy is how to maintain focus and keep up with practicing consistency. For such purposes, all you need sometimes is just a small push. 

Original Les Paul is considered to be one of the most beautiful guitars ever made and Les Paul SL shares the design including that gorgeous sunburst finish on the top. Having a guitar that looks beautiful and simply draws you to hold it just a bit longer may help in those moments when your concentration is getting low.

Cons 

Below are the main cons:

Cheap Instrument Made for Complete Beginners

The best we could say about this guitar is that it’s “okay”. It won’t leave you breathless, it won’t provide hidden value for the money. It is pretty much transparent - you pay an incentive of what the real guitar would cost and that’s what you get - something that looks and sounds like a guitar.

With that being said, if you have any extra money to spend, we would strongly advise you to consider some other Epiphone models because, with a small price upgrade, you can get a much better deal.

Single Coil Pickups Are Not How Les Paul Works

Sure, we don’t expect any significant quality at this price, but when you think about Les Paul, humbuckers are the natural part of its sound.

 Having a Les Paul body is just one part of the equation and unfortunately, the sound has nothing to do with it.

What Recent Buyers Report 

Impressions about this guitar are pretty much biased. Those who bought it and got the proper working piece says that it’s a great present for any beginner, especially for kids and that it’s worth the money invested. 

They find it to be a nice cheap guitar to mess around with as long as you don’t expect pro sound from it. And with such a price tag, buying more than one unit seems to be a pretty realistic option, so you can easily get it in multiple colors. 

Its neck supports the lighter strings as well, but investing in a premium .010-.046 string set should provide you not just the better overall tone but better intonation as well.

But, there are more than several reports that provide valid complaints about quality control in terms of faulty tuners, nuts cut uneven, and general poor intonation issues that make this guitar unplayable. Warranty does cover such issues, but it can be a bit of a hassle to order something and then wait for a replacement to arrive and hope that it will be any better. 

As for sharp frets, don’t worry, those can be fixed cheap at any local music shop.

What Are The Components of the Epiphone Les Paul SL? 

Epiphone Les Paul SL comes with an Alder body with a Wrap-around combo fixed bridge system and chrome hardware finish on both bridge and Epiphone Diecast tuning machines. The stock pickups found on this model are single-coil models and it’s Epiphone 650SCR on the neck and 700SCR at the bridge position and they are handled by Master volume and tone pots and 3-way switch selector. 

The neck is made of Hard Maple with bolt-on joint and it’s ‘60s Slim Taper profile. The fingerboard material is Granadillo and it comes with 22 frets at the 24.75” scale length.

Which Pickguard For the Les Paul SL?

Based on the color finish, Epiphone Les Paul SL comes either with the black or the white SL style pickguard. It's a basic single-ply pickguard.

What Strings Come On an Epiphone Les Paul SL?

Epiphone Les Paul SL has D’Addario .010-.046 string gauge set.

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

It’s a completely beginners-oriented guitar so you shouldn’t expect to have this guitar excel at any specific genre at all. For newbies purposes, it will suit all the genres equally so you can practice your skills without any drawbacks. Perhaps if you’re into modern metal or punk rock it may sound a bit thinner than what you would expect.

But, unlike other budget-oriented Epiphone guitars, Les Paul SL will be a better solution for a clean guitar sound as it comes with single coil pickups. This means you can also play funk, reggae, and even jazz tunes as well.

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

It’s a pure starter guitar. We wouldn’t recommend it to any other type of player as it’s pretty much limited in the build quality and instrument hardware. It’s one of those guitars you are buying to see if playing guitar is your thing at all.

Speaking of playing skill, the neck will be good for all kinds of practicing and beginner’s exercises such as left and right-hand synchronization.

And as for the age part, Les Pauls are usually not recommended for younger teens or pre-teens. Les Paul SL is a bit different as it’s not so heavy so they should be able to carry it around without any trouble.

What is a Les Paul SL?

Les Paul SL is Epiphone’s most affordable electric guitar model. It was built for complete beginners and it comes with the Les Paul body design, single coil pickups and 60s Slim Taper neck profile also found on more expensive models.

What Does SL Stand For on Les Paul SL?

The SL part stands for “Sans Lacquer”. It means that Les Paul SL comes without the Gloss finish usually found on Les Paul guitars (except for Studio models).

Where are Epiphone Les Paul SL Guitars Made?

Epiphone Les Paul SL is made in Qingdao, China.

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

The Epiphone Les Paul SL is a bit different guitar than others on the market. While the most low-priced guitars tend to get a bit of a grasp from the semi-pro tier, Les Paul SL doesn’t even try to get there. 

It’s fully oriented towards beginners and for that cause, it serves the purpose well. It’s also one of the cheapest guitars right now so it may be a decent gift to anyone who would like to get into guitar learning and it shares the Les Paul body design in six different colors so you can pick the one that visually suits the best.

Beginners Tips for Playing Electric Guitar

It’s hard to cover all the facts that may be useful for you, but here are some general tips to keep in mind. We will focus on mindset tips as those are more important tips in the long run than explaining to you how to strum or bend a string.

Be Patient

If you expect to learn to play Guns N’ Roses overnight, we have to disappoint you. It’s not going to happen. It’s probably not going to happen in the next few months either. But, it doesn't mean it won’t happen ever. 

Playing the guitar like a pro requires serious devotion and it progresses with a steep-curve with a lot of ups and downs along that road. We can’t say it’s going to be easy, but there will be a lot of fun and great moments that will make you feel glad you have decided to go on such a road at first.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If you’re in doubt, ask those with more experience for advice. Learn from them, find the guys or channels that seem reliable, and check them occasionally. Even consider applying for some online lessons. There are so many people out willing to help, so use their knowledge to get where you want faster.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

This may be the opposite of the advice we just gave you, but asking isn’t the right way sometimes. Relying on somebody else too much can create a habit of asking about everything. Eventually, you will get used to such a routine so much that you won’t even try to find an answer for yourself.

The best lesson that you can get is the one you have experienced by yourself. Even if you fail to achieve what you had in mind, you may learn along that road much more than waiting to get a reply.

Comparison Overview

We will compare Les Paul SL to some similar models from the Epiphone and other brand based on the price range first:

Epiphone Les Paul SL vs Special II

Both guitars share Les Paul’s body design and are considered as most affordable Epiphone models, except that Special II comes without a pickguard and Les Paul SL is made from Adler instead of the usual Mahogany.

But, when it comes to sound, Special II will remind at least a little bit of what real Les Paul should sound like thanks to humbucker pickups installed. Les Paul SL comes with single coil pickups, so, if we disregard the look, the sound may remind you more of the Telecaster setup. 

To conclude, if your budget is not very tight, we would advise you to go towards Special II. We salute all cheap guitar models, but there is a line to be drawn. Yes, the design is important, but if you disregard the sound, then you’re doing no favor to anyone except for complete beginners. But in that case, the brand name isn’t really important at all.

Squier Bullet FSR Telecaster vs Epiphone Les Paul SL

Those two guitars are the most affordable models from their brands. Bullet is a bit more expensive than Les Paul SL. 

So what’s the difference? Well, they both come with two single coil pickups except for the fact that Squier shares the pickup layout from the original Telecaster while Les Paul usually doesn't come with single coil pickups but in the case of the SL model it does.

Honestly, while Les Paul is a guitar of our choice, in this case, Squier Bullet seems to be a better instrument if you have the money for it.

But, then again, if you have that money, perhaps you should consider other Epiphones as for $20 more you can get into some really interesting deals.

How to Set Up an Epiphone Les Paul SL Guitar

Here are some general tips on how to set up Epiphone Les Paul SL properly.

String Height Setup

String height is a personal thing. Some prefer action to be low, others are better performing if there is a bit of gap between frets and the strings. You will have to try by yourself and see what works the best for you and this heigh can be raised or lowered by applying turns to the truss rod nut installed right next to the nut slot.

But, in any situation, it is always recommended to set those strings parallel to the body. It will maintain the intonation the best and will ensure the longest lifespan.

Changing Strings

Once you pull the strings through the bridge, turn the peg holes directly to the nut slot. Always set the strings from the inner side of the pegs and also remember that the middle (3rd and 4th strings) should be secured to the pegs located at the top of the headstock while the 1st and the 6th string should be installed to the tuning machines that are closest to the nut slot. 

Before you wind the strings completely, stress them out a little bit like you would use them for a slingshot. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the hardest way to learn something is to get started. Epiphone Les Paul SL is not the guitar that was built to impress but it will be more than a handy tool to make those first steps for an incredibly low price.

People Also Ask

This section is intended to be similar to an FAQ section. Please provide a concise reply to the question(s) below and begin the discussion with a short intro.

Is Epiphone Better Than Squier?

Both brands are making a budget and entry-level instruments and both have their fanbase established. Those who love Gibson will enjoy Epiphone models and Fender lovers may follow Squier. But, it’s not so often to see Gibson fans buying Squier and vice versa. So, in general, there is no straight answer and both have their pros and cons.

Is the Epiphone Les Paul SL Hard to Play?

Epiphone Les Paul SL tone might not be amazing but it will have the same neck as some more expensive models so it shouldn’t be harder to play than any other guitar. Because it will be a bit sloppier to play as it won’t have a gloss finish on the neck though.

How to Care For an Epiphone Les Paul SL Guitar

As this guitar is inexpensive, regular fret oiling and cleaning is recommended as it can improve both playability and intonation along with cleaning the bridge and nut slots. 

Also, wiping down strings every time you’re about to play for a longer session may improve the overall feeling.

What Does the Switch Do on an Epiphone Les Paul SL?

There are two pickups on Les Paul SL. One is placed on the bridge and the other is set to the neck. Using a 3-way switch you’re choosing which pickup you want to play and the middle position allows you to use both pickups at the same time.

How to Tune the Epiphone Les Paul SL

Clip-on tuner is the most convenient way for tuning as it’s small-format and reliable. All you have to do is to set it on the headstock and play the strings one at a time and set to corresponding notes - EADGBE. Bear in mind that turning the peg clockwise will move your tone down.

How to Change the Strings on a Les Paul SL

Turn the peg holes toward the nut slot and set the highest and the lowest string to the nearest peg and the middle strings to the farthest. Once you set the strings, make them wind around the peg for at least 3 or 4 turns, and remember to stress strings a little bit before playing.

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.