"Epiphone’s premium recreations of some of the most popular and iconic guitar designs of all time": The 7 new Inspired By Gibson Custom Shop models are a guitar tour-de-force – including Les Paul '59 and Custom models

(Image credit: Epiphone)

It looks like Cesar Gueikian's recent Epiphone tease wasn't even the half of it; four new Inspired By Gibson Custom Shop electric guitars and three acoustics have now been officially revealed.

The additions revealed by the Gibson Gazette are significant; the 1959 Les Paul Standard, Les Paul Custom, 1963 Les Paul SG Custom, 1959 ES-355, 1942 Banner J-45, 1957 SJ-200, and J-180 LS.

Epiphone is not messing around here - and those acoustics even feature torrefied tops alongside LR Baggs VTC preamps. The electrics feature VOS (Vintage Original Sheen) finishes and Gibson USA pickups alongside VTS post, Mallory capacitors and, where model appropriate, 'the 50s wiring we love.

Gibson Gear Guide host Dinesh Lekhraj puts his La session guitarist experience to great use in the video demos above to show us more, but let's have a read of the lowdown on each model too because the specs really do stack up. 

Epiphone's higher end models have come in for some flack for pricing in recent times but I think the value here is quite compelling on paper.

“While you can still get all the same beloved Epiphone instruments at the same affordable price points, the new Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom line appeals to those who want the historic and premium specs that our Custom Shop fans love," says Mat Koehler, Vice President of Product at Gibson. 

"I am proud to say that this new line of instruments represents a true collaboration of our USA teams and our overseas teams in every sense. Collectively, we made sure every possible upgrade was included so that these would become the new crown jewels of our Epiphone range.”

1959 Les Paul Standard 


(Image credit: Epiphone)

The original Epiphone Inspired By Gibson 1959 LP was a big hit – and justifiably so. This takes that premium crossover concept further.

Pickups here are Gibson USA Custombuckers.

The carved hard maple cap features a AAA figured maple veneer, Gibson's 1959 rounded medium C neck profile (on a one-piece mahogany neck), the 'open book' Gibson R9 headstock shape, Gibson USA and 50s-era wiring. 

Other features include a VOS finish in Factory Burst, Iced Tea Burst, Tobacco Burst and Epiphone.com's exclusive Washed Cherry Burst. Tuners are Epiphone Deluxe vintage with Keystone buttons. 

Why buy a Gibson? Well, the finish may be VOS but it's polyurethane, and the fretboard is aurel here instead of rosewood, but for £1,199 I don't feel these are huge compromises considering the specs elsewhere that actually affect the important factors of playability and tone. You'll also get a vintage-style hard case. A very promising Les Paul indeed! 

Les Paul Custom


(Image credit: Epiphone)

Oh lawdy, this £1,199 model is making it count! Available in the classic Ebony or Alpine White this has Grover Rotomatic® 18:1 gear ratio tuners and there's no compromise on the fretboard wood; it's ebony like a Gibson equivalent.

Humbuckers here are all about powerage with the Alnico 5 Gibson USA 490R and 498T. 

You get the tuxedo appointments of mother-of-pearl headstock and block inlays and the neck profile here is the Rounded C – again it's one-piece mahogany and long tenon. The latter was a feature that was only available on the limited Joe Bonamassa  Lazarus 1959 Les Paul in the Epiphone line a couple of years ago as I recall.  I still wish I'd bought that one actually… 

1963 Les Paul SG Custom with Maestro Vibrola 


(Image credit: Epiphone)

Available in Classic White only this recreates the last year the Les Paul name was used with the SG custom but the debut of the Maestro Vibrola. 

This also features a one-piece mahogany SlimTaper profile neck with a long neck tenon that is said to aid stability and resonance. A trio of USA Gibson Custombucker pickups and a bound ebony fretboard raise the game further. 

A hell of a lot of Epiphone here for £1,379. Just for comparison, the Custom Shop version of this guitar is $6,499. Could this be the best deal of the lot? 

1959 ES-355

Available in Cherry Red, Classic White and Ebony VOS, the 1959 ES-355 features a 5-ply layered maple/poplar body with a solid maple centerblock.

The one-piece long tenon mahogany neck has '50s Rounded Medium C profile, and the ebony fretboard that is adorned with block mother of pearl inlays. Tuners are Grover Rotomatic and the tailpiece is a Gibson Historic Reissue aluminum stop bar. 

Pickups for this £1,199 model are USA Gibson Custombuckers. 

1942 Banner J-45, 1957 SJ-200 and J-180 LS


(Image credit: Epiphone)

Overlook the acoustics in this new drop at your peril – Epiphone is getting seriously high-end here with thermally aged tops, solid back and sides, the open book headstocks and the LR Baggs VTC preamps I've been really impressed with on other acoustic guitars I've reviewed in the past. Guitars that were priced significantly more than the £1,199 and £1,379 for the J-45 and SJ-200.


(Image credit: Epiphone)

Both models include hardshell cases and the main compromise looks to be laurel fingerboards (Epiphone isn't even compromising on the hardware with bone bridge pins, saddle and nut here). The J-45's thermally aged top is solid red spruce, while the J-200's is solid Sitka spruce. 

The latter features scalloped X bracing and solid maple back and sides. The J-45 's are solid mahogany as you'd expect from the Gibson's workhouse blueprint. 

Neck profile on the J-45 is V and for the J-200 it's C-shaped with a flamed maple neck. 

Taylor Swift performs onstage during " Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Estadio Más Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on November 09, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Distrito Federa

Twaylor Swift onstage with her custom Gibson J-180 in 2023 (Image credit: Marcelo Endelli/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

The star-inlaid Epiphone J-180 LS in Pink is perhaps the closest thing to a Taylor Swift signature model we'll see from Gibson. But it's also available in Ebony and Frost Blue to widen the appeal further.


(Image credit: Epiphone)

Again, the solid spruce top is thermally aged, and the neck, back and sides are solid mahogany with the LR Baggs VTC system installed. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.