2010 EPIPHONE LES PAUL OXBLOOD (“jeff beck”)

The Epiphone version of the famous Oxblood Les Paul.

The Limited Edition Epiphone 1954 Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar has a maple top with a solid mahogany body. The oxblood finish is a deep chocolate-brown color that shows some oxblood tints in certain light. The guitar’s set mahogany neck has a comfortable ’50s rounded neck profile and a 22-fret rosewood fretboard with trapezoid inlays. Epiphone loaded their 1954 Les Paul Standard remake with an Alnico Classic Humbucking pickup in the neck position and a high-output Alnico Classic Plus humbucker in the bridge position. Individual pickup volume and tone controls, and a 3-way select toggle give you command of this tone machine. This limited-edition Epiphone guitar has nickel hardware including precision die-cast tuning machines, and a vintage wraparound stop bar bridge/tailpiece.

Epiphone Ltd Ed 1954 Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar Features:

Style: Single-cutaway Les Paul
Top: Carved maple
Body: Mahogany
Neck: Set mahogany
Scale length: 24-3/4″
Neck profile: ’50s rounded
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Fingerboard radius: 14″
No. of frets: 22
Fingerboard inlays: Trapezoid
Nut Width: 1-11/16″
Neck pickup: Alnico Classic humbucker
Bridge pickup: Alnico Classic Plus humbucker Controls: Two Volume, Two Tone, 3-way toggle pickup selector
Hardware: Nickel
Tuners: Precision die-cast
Bridge: Wrap-around Bridge/Stop bar
Finish: Polyurethane
Case: Not Included
Don’t miss your chance to own this affordable historic limited-edition.

It’s basically the Epi version of the legendary oxblood LP Jeff Beck played (and pictured!) in his highly acclaimed album Blow By Blow.

The GIBSON version is more of a complete replica of the original, aged and relic’d, down to the dings and scratches and even the distance of the bridge humbucker to the wrap-around bridge. This made the Oxblood sound unique as it lends to a thinner bridge sound being so close to the bridge itself. There’s also the difficulty of changing the high E string, again with the bridge sitting real close to the humbucker mounts. The bridge pickup ring mount being so close to the bridge, the pickguard wasnt even flush to it – there’s a noticeable gap between them. These are all in the new Gibson Oxblood replica.

People online say the intonation is horrible, the reason the tune-o-matic stop bar and tailpiece was invented. To which i point out Jeff beck didn’t seem to have a problem with it – just listen to his album, or even SEE him play it:


There were only 50 of these Gibsons made, and each looked over AND played (albeit briefly) by Jeff Beck himself. How much? $25,000. Cant afford it in one shot? They have a 10 payment plan of $2,500 each.

note: there WAS an original run of 100 Jeff Beck Oxbloods before this, but did NOT have the “exclusivity” of having been played personally and signed off by Jeff Beck (hence the sky-high price).
http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Gibson-Custom-Jeff-Beck-1954-Les-Paul-Oxblood-Electric-Guitar-mdash-VOS?sku=580841original VOS run without the Jeff Beck signature

there’s even the current run of (non Jeff Beck) Oxblood Sparkle for $3,325.00

Well, THIS epi was sold online for $499, and had a brief (just maybe 4 months) run (as opposed to the Gibson model that’s still available – i wonder why… $$$). Apparently the Epi was only available online, and not in retail stores at all, unless its special-ordered directly from the warehouse distributions. It’s not even in the Epiphone online catalog anywhere.

I paid less than half that.:D

Granted it was a condition 2 instrument – it was a return and had some very minor scratches (Which personally i couldn’t see upon physical inspection), now being sold at a deeply discounted price. Add in the limited time used-gear coupon on top of it, and we have a sale! It took me a bit of browsing online to figure out what this one was about, and when i came to realize that it WAS a unique Les Paul, and it for the price it was unheard of, i started on a frantic pace to get the guitar ordered IMMEDIATELY. I’ve had several MISSED opportunities before due to being slow to the take – i was hoping someone was passing this up. It helped that there were other desirable deeply discounted guitars for much much less, which garnered more attention. Personally my magic price is $100 – if a relatively expensive guitar is discounted well within that figure, there’s a good chance i will buy it. This was NOWHERE near that, but the discount from the original price was so deep with the coupon code, there was no way i WOULDN’T order this. Coupled with the fact that this is a unique les paul to begin with, all made me hit the Go Baby Go (!!!) button.

Now i’ve made statements before where i lambasted and derided “higher end” Epiphone les pauls, whose prices were WAY too expensive in my opinion. Why would i pay for their top of the line les pauls when i can buy a TRUE GIBSON Les Paul for the same if not cheaper price (Or for not a whole lot more)? I thought that was stupid. Sure the lower-ticketed Gibsons were Studio models, the ones without the carved maple top (an essential ingredient of the les paul sound, not just its looks), just an all-mahogany body with its top carved. It’s STILL a Gibson – Why even get epis then? So in a way i told myself, im not going to get a Les Paul unless its Gibson.

But something unique and super cheap as this is good enough to make me eat my words, and enjoy it! Granted i did not pay full price (and i still wont. ever!), so i guess im off the hook on this one. 😀

How does it sound? The clean sound is there. But i’m not fully bowled over by the overdriven sound – it’s a little mushy (plugged into my Prosonic), and needs to be coaxed with a bit of controls tweaking to get a good rockin’ sound out of it. It’s there, just not jumping out of your hands right away. I guess im used to playing my Gibson SG where there is clarity and true grit when the amp is overdriven, with very little futzin’ around. To me a guitar and amp sound is best when you don’t have to tweak much – just plug and play! I want to get up and go as soon as im plugged in – im impatient when it comes to playing.

I thought about replacing the Alnico humbuckers, but decided not to. I could get better sounds with a swap, but it already sounds good as it is. I know that not all guitars will sound great on one amp – it varies from amp to amp, and i have several others i can plug this into and find out. That will be for later!

Well, it only took a bit of tweaking, and MAN!!! Still using the Prosonic with the WGS Veteran 30 12″ speaker, i was able to find the sweet overdrive spot for this oxblood. I normally turn down my mids, but at a setting of 4, the grit and bite came out – this baby has sharp teeth! I set both the Treble and Bass a bit past 6 or 7, Master Volume starting at 4 (and UP, depending on the level i prefer at the time). Bluesy-edgy breakup? Id set Gain1 at a hair under 2, Gain2 at Zero. Classic British tones? Id turn Gain1 up to 3 or 4, Gain2 still at zero. For that classic American rock bite, Id keep Gain1 at 2, and set Gain2 to 3. Keeping that gain1 setting, Id set Gain2 at 6 or 7 for a brutal thick modern distortion, at which point id turn the mids down for a thrash-y metallic buzzsaw.

I’ve decided to keep the guitar stock – mostly. The essence is to get close to the Jeff Beck Oxblood vibe, not necessarily copy it. What did i change? the back plates. Epiphone decided to make the back plates black, instead of the original oxblood (and replica) which had cream back plates.
NO coil tapping, no phase reversal switches, no tuner replacements, no pots replacement. It will be stock. This is significant as each guitar i own have a “Marcus twist” on it. Electronics replaced, pickups swapped, upgraded tuners, etc. Something to suit my taste.
This Epi im keeping as is (just the black back plates!).

Cream backplates came in, and now installed. Had to shim off a bit on the control plate with a file, as it was a smidge wider.

I AM curious to know how a true 1956 neck is – as i mentioned earlier the Gibson version even copied the neck profile on the original Oxblood, which was then slimmed down like the original oxblood.
It’s easy to recognize a slim neck – to my hands it feels like im holding a deck of cards! I don’t have a problem with them at all, i can play them either way. i just have big hands that feel more at home with a thicker neck. Plus i don’t shred, i bend and “try” to play more of a blues-y sound when i do any solos, so a thin neck isn’t a big priority for me.
I’ve played a Gibson Les paul before, and compared to that, this oxblood felt thinner. Not as thin as most shredding machines like an Ibanez or some other modern guitar, but definitely, not chunky.

Another small “feature” of the Epi Oxblood is the truss rod cover. Usually you would see the model name engraved on it, but this one is just blank. The headstock itself only has the epiphone name on it, no other engravings or inlays or silk screened prints to distinguish its model.

The tuners ARE the chrome machine heads similar to the original jeff beck oxblood also, usually all Les pauls have the standard Kluson Tuners.

A nice touch when i opened the back plate to the switch – it’s not the cheap box-type toggle switch! It’s the open type Gibson uses on their guitars. Whether epiphone uses these also on all their higher end les pauls or not, im not sure, but im glad to see they didn’t scrimp on this switch.

The Pots are run-of-the-mill ALPHA pots, not CTS. Curiously enough, the Bridge Volume pot is Linear taper (B500K). Usually you’d see audio taper pots used for volume (A500K). For those who dont know, Linear taper makes the sound seem to jump from silence to a louder volume, as opposed to Audio taper, which (to human ears) the volume gradually increases from silence to full on. On tone controls this isnt a big deal, but on volume controls, this can be annoying to some people. I havent noticed it enough to bother me when i played and futzed around with it (before i knew about it). I would assume that this isnt whats on the original oxblood copy (unless someone can verify it for me), and id chalk it up to poor quality control. For high-volume production guitars this is expected. Even so, i wont change it. The other 3 pots are audio taper, by the way.

Well, that linear taper volume pot for the neck pickup has turned up a nice use – a kill switch! A quick twist back and forth allows the sound to cut in and out abruptly. This affects not just the neck position, but also the neck AND bridge together. The Bridge position, the volume level for it is more gradual in decrease or increase.

I ended up ordering a hard shell case for it – something generic, but sturdy enough to keep it safe. I was tempted to get an epi brand, but again, im cheap! $80 just to show its the same brand, when a no-name brand is less than twice the price. Sure id buy one… if it was real cheap! Besides, i don’t want to advertise for any brand, unless im the one getting paid to advertise them. I never understood why people love to display those brands they just paid for… to show off? get approval from others? to see who’s got the higher piss on the wall? who knows. that’s psychology 101, i guess, but that’s a whole different story. Let’s stick to something more divine – rock and roll! (divine and rock and roll in the same sentence… the devil is having fits!)

That generic hard shell case didn’t fit – too damn small! Well, that’s what i get for not getting an epiphone case (ha ha! told me so!). So what did i do? use that case for my Electric 12-string Dean Boca. Funny that a guitar with longer headstock fits perfectly for it… What else did i do? I ordered a Washburn hard shell case. Did i not learn anything??? Nope and yep! This time i compared the dimensions of a true Epiphone hard shell case to the Washburn, and they’re exactly the same. At half the price, the Washburn case is it. If not, hey! i got another case for another guitar in waiting… 😛

BAH! that Washburn case is MUCH smaller…dammit! So now it begs to be told.. I TOLD YOU SO! ha ha! if i had gone out and bought a TRUE epi lp case, this would have been over by now, and i wouldn’t have wasted time and money, not to mention saving myself the frustration. But no worries, the Washburn case ended up housing the Epiphone Nighthawk perfectly.

A couple of days after this, i saw on Craigslist a used Gibson Les Paul case – a TRUE Gibson Les Paul case. For $60! Whats even more amazing is that it’s the 80’s brown tolex/fuzzy pink inside lining, the same exact kind as my 1988 Gibson SG Special. When i got it home i put it side by side, and man, they’re like brothers reunited! And yes, this fit the epi oxblood like hand in glove. Like a dream!

So i wrote i was going to keep this thing stocked. Pffft! NOT ANYMORE! Hey, i can and will change my mind to suit what i like, ok? I guess it’s the latent perfectionist in me. Or the dormant engineer that always thinks how something can be further improved. Or just plain fickle. Whatever the case may be, i changed my mind. Again. 😀
What i did was to change the stock pickups to Seymour Duncan P-Rails. Admittedly my heart was not set on its tone. As previously outlined, it took a bit of fiddling with the Prosonic to get the Oxblood to shine. As always in my own litmus test of something special, if i have to spend some time finding the tone i like, then it simply isn’t THAT special. I’ve always loved plug-and-play. Less futzin’, more playin’!
Two things made me decide the change. I’ve read about the Seymour Duncan P-Rails for about a few months now, and it was intriguing: a pickup with 3 distinct sounds: the humbucker itself, a single coil rail, and a P-90. I’ve always loved the clean sound of a single coil, the power of a humbucker, and more lately, the biting grit of a P-90. This pickup is impressive! So i went on eBay and waited for a good price fo one, used or new. I wasnt about to pay FULL retail. NO sir! And wouldn’t you know it, i got a set for cheap!
Now i really would not have sprung for the set if i had not come across the OTHER deciding factor: the Seymour Duncan Triple Shot. For those who don’t know if it yet, it’s a humbucker pickup ring with two micro-mini slide switch, which interacts with each other. It does four positions or combinations: one for a regular humbucker wiring (series) , a parallel wiring, a split to one coil, and a split to the other. On a regular humbucker it would only produce 3 distinct sounds, with the splits so close to each other they almost sound the same. But used with a P-Rail, it gets to put out FOUR DISTINCT SOUNDS. Talk about versatility!
The Oxblood now has a set of P-rails in it. While i was at it, i decided to replace the import pots which sounded ok, but didn’t feel correct. Instead of using 1Meg pots, or 1Meg push-pull pots for more wiring options, i decided to go with plain 500k Ohms CTS log pots. I used .015uF PIO caps from Russia (K40Y-9’s) for each tone pot. The guitar’s brand may be of “lower tier”, but that’s not to say it’s relegated to cheap parts.
How does it sound? far better than the stock! No fiddling around and futzin for tone – plug and play! Four distinct sounds on each pickup, multiply that by the other -the Triple Shot just made switching a lot more convenient. Im partial to the P-90 Sound on either neck or bridge, but im finding the parallel switch on the neck produces a more pleasant tone than the overpowering default series wiring. But on the bridge, BRING IT ON! whether its the single coil, or P-90, or the default series wiring between the two, the growl just makes for a heavenly fearsome thunder! I probably doodled and riffed around for a good hour and a half just exploring those P-Rail sounds. With the PIO caps, rolling back the tone pot allows for that sweet woman tone that people keep gushing about. Thick as molasses, sweet as golden honey -both rail and P-90 single coil settings ooze so much sweetness!

One thing i love about single coil sound is when its set closest to the neck. That reed-y tone simply gives me goosebumps.  One thing about the P-Rail set is that the neck pickup is supposed to be set where the seymour duncan name/logo is readable when you prop thw guitar up. The problem is that the sweet rail side is further away from the neck. SO i switched it around, again to suit my taste.  The P-90 side is fat/wide enough that it made little tonal difference.
The bridge pickup, i initially did the same thing – the Rail side was set closer to the bridge. This gave a real high piercing tone, which at first wasnt very appealing to me. When i turned it the “right way” around though, the pickup immediately shined. The sound was so much crisper, less shrieky, so i decided to keep it in the right position. In hindsight, if i was to follow the spirit of the original oxblood, i should have kept it the “wrong” way around, to have that piercing tone its known for. But then again im not Jeff Beck, i’m not making Blow By Blow, and it’s not a Gibson! so ill go with what best suits ME. 😛

Probably the last thing i did was to change the wraparound bridge itself. With the thicker gauge strings, and the full-step detuning, the intonation would suffer greatly if it isn’t adjusted. Unfortunately for the stock wraparound bridge, you can’t do ANY adjustments. So i looked around and found several choices, of which Tone Pros was the best looking of them all. Unfortunately again, this will set me back a good $100+. Another brand that was within reasonable cost was the Leo Quan bridge. I set about to find a decent deal until i stumbled on cheaper alternative – a Tone Pros copy! This was a third of its price too, MUCH more reasonable. People find that buying the best means buying the most expensive. I say there is always a choice, and it doesn’t necessarily, and doesn’t ALWAYS mean it’s of lesser quality. The tone pros copy i got was certainly no slouch, and looked well made, not just badly put together.
Installation went without a hitch, and finally, i can intonate the strings far more accurately than the stock bridge. And it looks Badass on the oxblood!

SO! to recap what i did:
1) changed tuners to Kluson.
2) Changed pots to CTS.
3) changed stock pickups to Seymour-Duncan P-Rails, with matching cream Triple Shot h/b rings.
4) changed the control back plates from black to cream.
5) changed the bridge to an adjustable tone-Pros copy.
6) got an authentic 80s brown Les Paul hard case (with the fuzzy hot pink interior! ha ha)

These other photos are of the stock oxblood.

This pic was shot with the guitar on a blue background (i AM Captain Obvious). It’s not easy to spot the oxblood color in standard lighting, and have to be shot with a flash at angle. The other pics below show the color better.

Notice the gap between the pickguard and the bridge mounting ring. This can be found on the Gibson replica also. Les pauls usually have this flush. no gaps. Also this was taken without any flash at room ambient light. The color looks like its black.

Turned over, and shot with a flash. Shows the red tint, along the neck, the non-kluson tuners, and the black backplates (which have been replaced with a cream set)

The back with the control cavity plate off. Taken with a flash at an angle, the see-thru oxblood color can be better seen here. It’s NOT wine-red at all, since wine red can still give you a hint of its color even in poor lighting and even at first sight. The oxblood looks black at first sight.

The front, with an almost direct flash on the top. The oxblood color isn’t as apparent, but hints at it only.

What made it so cheap? a broken top of the bridge tone knob! Noticeable only upon closer inspection. Not broken or scratchy, smooth and  works fine. Id say it gives it character! Again, you can notice the red tint.

***UPDATE  x 5!!!***

Well, i could NOT leave it well enough alone. I changed the pickups. AGAIN!

I had some more bonus money, and i wasn’t feeling right with the P-Rails. And it occurred to me, i changed the looks to get it close to the Gibson reissue, why don’t i get the same pickups Gibson used with their reissue? DUH!!!

Gibson put in a Burstbucker 1 on the neck, and a Burstbucker 3 on the bridge, both unpotted (as opposed to the BB Pros which are potted). I scored the ones i got for cheap on fleabay. Yeah, i wont pay full price for anything. Why would you when you don’t have to?

And man! talk about LOVE! (love removal machine! he he!) These Burstbuckers simply are what rock n’ roll is all about. They’re really the same specs as what was made back in the 50s, and that rock tone through the decades is right in these bad boys.
I have a pair of BB Pros on my 81 Goldburst, and overdriven they definitely have a distinct slight difference from each other. I can describe the BB Pros as a slick back demon, while the Original Burstbucker is a hairier untamed dragon. I’m not just referring to the fact that they’re not potted, and can feedback much sooner than a potted Pro (which i so fucking LOVE!), but just the quality of the tone lends to more grit when overdriven. I think of the Burstbucker family as shotguns, potent and dangerous, where the only difference is that the original BBs are sawed-off, and sprays more indiscriminately.

I was thinking of selling off this guitar after i had gotten the 81 Goldburst, but after experimenting with the different Burstbuckers and hearing how beautiful and glorious they ALL sound, i decided to keep this baby.

And that would be it! i think… (he he…)