All guitarists know their first real six-string has the ability to make or break them as a player. The right instrument has the power to accelerate your learning, while an ill-fitting axe can put the brakes on your progress. Luckily, the folks over at Epiphone have the perfect solution for younger players, with the new Power Player series specifically designed to make the electric guitar more accessible than ever before.
This brand new line includes both the Les Paul and SG models, with each guitar featuring a unique shrunken-down body and a shorter 3/4+ scale length. Now, as you'd expect, these mini Epiphones stick to the tried and true formula found on their larger counterparts, with a mahogany body and neck, a set of full-bodied humbuckers and dual volume and tone controls.
That said, they do diverge from the traditional Les Paul design slightly with the inclusion of a bolt-on neck rather than the more common set neck found on the grown-up model. This bolt-on neck features a Slim Taper D profile and sculpted heel for improved upper fret access.
Both of the Power Player guitars come in three unique and creatively named finish options - fiery Lava Red, pitch-black Dark Matter Ebony and the frosty Ice Blue. Each guitar also comes equipped with an Epiphone branded gig bag, strap, plectrums, and a guitar cable.
Epiphone Power Players Les Paul: Performance and verdict
Design and feel
It's worth mentioning up top that the mini guitar isn't exactly a new concept. There are plenty of options available for youthful players who struggle with the cumbersome nature of a full-scale axe - this isn't even Epiphone's first venture into the world of junior instruments, with the Les Paul Express being a staple of their extensive catalogue for years.
While the Les Paul Express would struggle to keep up with the likes of the Squier Mini Jazzmaster, Jackson JS Minion or Ibanez GRGM21, the new Power Players will certainly give them a run for their money. The clean and elegant design is a substantial step up when compared to Epiphone's previous offerings and it feels like careful attention has been paid to getting the sizing just right.
: If you are looking for a shrunken-down, alt-rock icon, then look no further than the Squier Mini Jazzmaster. Not only is this stunning guitar easy to play, but it also sounds incredible and better yet, it's broadly cheaper than the Epiphone!
: If your budding little shredder is looking for an axe with a little more attitude, then the Jackson JS Dinky Minion is most definitely for them. Featuring high-output pickups and an array of '80s-inspired finish options - from Gloss Black, Neon Green, Neon Orange, Neon Pink and Pavo Purple - this tiny guitar rocks!
For obvious reasons, many mini guitars can feel a little cramped for us larger players, but there's something about the ¾+ scale that feels surprisingly comfortable and natural in our large, clumsy hands. The neck is smooth with a rounded profile and there were no sharp frets or dead spots to speak of - and that's not something we can say for other petite instruments in this category. The action on our review example wasn't the lowest we've seen, but after a couple of light tweaks, we reckon it would be set up perfectly for full-on shred licks.
Sitting atop this fabulous feeling neck is the new and improved Epiphone headstock, which is a throwback to the original peghead that would adorn their early guitars. We must say, we are massive fans of this design, so it's a welcome feature on this guitar.
Another welcome feature is the compensated Lightning Bar tailpiece, which not only completes the "Junior" look, but again it's a big step up from the bridge found on the Express model. Okay, so this bridge may not be ideal for those wanting to experiment with alternative tunings, but as this guitar is designed with beginner guitarists in mind, we can't see that being much of a problem.
When it comes to a Les Paul, there's a certain sound we expect to hear when we strike an A chord - regardless of its price point. This famous single-cut should sound larger than life, with plenty of punch and deliver that harmonically rich tone we know and love - it's the sound of rock'n'roll, after all.
We are pleased to report that the Power Players Les Paul does deliver a rather stellar sound, despite its small stature. It may not have the low-end of the Epiphone LP Standard or the top-end sparkle of the Custom, but as far as beginner electric guitars go, this one sounds fantastic! On a clean setting, these ceramic pickups are articulate and warm, while at higher gain settings, they deliver a gut-punch of mid-range that will easily be heard over a full band.
This tone comes courtesy of the Epiphone branded 650R and 700T humbuckers, and while they may be a fairly standard pickup with no frills such as coil-splitting or out-of-phase functionality, they do a great job at giving younger players the LP tone they crave on a budget.
Epiphone has explicitly marketed this instrument as a "first" guitar, so as you'd expect, they have thrown in a wealth of extras to help you get started. This includes a fairly basic gig bag which prominently features the Epiphone branding across the front, as well as a black webbing guitar strap, a set of plectrums and a budget guitar cable.
There is one major accessory missing, though, the amplifier. As of now, Epiphone doesn't offer this guitar with a practice amp, but we'd like to think they will bundle this great guitar with a basic amp soon - much like they do with the ever-popular Slash signature AFD starter pack.
We enjoyed Epiphone's latest short-scale venture more than we expected. This guitar may be small, but it produces a sound some larger entry-level guitars would be envious of.
That said, we do have to mention the cost. Coming in at £249/$279, we would consider this guitar to be at the top end of this category, and while we love the look, feel and sound, we think you don't get that much more for the extra cost.
Don't get us wrong, despite the steep price, we strongly believe this is one of the best guitars for kids on the market. If you're seeking that iconic Les Paul tone in a more accessible format, then the new Epiphone Power Players Les Paul is definitely worth your time.
Epiphone Power Players Les Paul: Hands-on demos
Epiphone Power Players Les Paul review: Specifications
- Body Shape: Les Paul
- Body & Neck Material: Mahogany
- Neck Profile: SlimTaper D
- Scale Length: 577.34 mm / 22.73 in
- Fingerboard Material: Indian Laurel
- Fret Count: 22
- Frets: Medium Jumbo
- Bridge: Lightning Bar Compensated Wrap Around
- Tuning Machines: Tuning Machines
- Neck Pickup: Epiphone 650R Humbucker
- Bridge Pickup: Epiphone 700T Humbucker
- Controls: 2 Volume, 2 Tone
- Contact: Epiphone