Epiphone teams up with the Gibson Custom Shop for the 1961 Les Paul Standard SG

Epiphone 1961 Les Paul SG Standard
(Image credit: Epiphone)

Epiphone has been on top of its game in recent years, pushing parent brand hard with its Inspired By Gibson series reinterpreting a number of classic designs as competitively priced electric guitars.

But with the launch of the 1961 Les Paul Standard SG, it has taken things a step further, sharing desk space with the Gibson Custom Shop to spec up the ultimate tribute to the original SGs.

Offered in Aged Cherry and Aged Classic White, these handsome solid-body doublecuts assume a familiar form, with their nigh-on symmetrical ‘devil horn’ cutaways and familiar 5-Ply pickguard. 

What will give players pause before parting with over £1,500 for a Gibson USA model is that these Epiphone SGs are equipped with a pair of BurstBucker 2 and 3 pickups. Gibson pickups in what’s sure to be a trim and tidy Epiphone chassis for £649 street begs the question whether the extra outlay for US-built model is worth it.

It is beyond doubt is that these stack the spec high for Epiphone, and offer pro-quality details at a working player’s price point.

These 1961 Les Paul Standard SGs have two-piece solid mahogany bodies, with one-piece mahogany necks carved into a playable SlimTaper C profile and topped with bound 12” radius Indian laurel fingerboards. 

Okay, the Gibson USA models will have rosewood, but the aesthetic  and performance is much the same. Like their Gibson counterparts, these Epiphone SGs have trapezoid inlays, and the traditional bell-shaped truss rod cover with ‘Les Paul’ engraved on them.

The attention to detail is impressive. The control circuit for those BurstBuckers is designed to get all of the dynamics out of these PAF-alikes, and uses CTS pots, Mallory capacitors, and hard-wearing industry standard Switchcraft switches and jacks. In terms of hardware, Epiphone has gone for a nickel LockTone tune-o-matic bridge and matching Epiphone Deluxe double ring tuners.

Best of all, the Epiphone 1961 Les Paul Standard SG comes in a vintage-style hardshell case, and is priced just £649 / $849 street. That's right, Gibson USA electric guitar pickups, a hardshell case, at £649 / $849. Incredible. See Epiphone for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.