Epiphone Les Paul Custom 3 Plus review

  • £685
Black Power: the Epiphone LP Custom 3 Plus and its trio of humbuckers

MusicRadar Verdict

Not only does its sleek dark look press all the right buttons, but the three Alnico humbuckers provide a good range of tones as well.


  • +

    Great look, performance and range of tones.


  • -

    Extremely complex. Rather expensive. Steep learning curve.

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It was way back in 1957 that Gibson originally changed the spec of the Custom from offering P-90 and Alnico pickups to a trio of PAFs.

Whether it was inspired or not by a certain tri-pickup, double-cut guitar made available by a rival company we'll probably never know, but the Custom Shop still offers a 1967 Les Paul Custom and what a work of art it is.

Epiphone's Custom 3 Plus is almost as easy on the eye, boasting a genuinely atmospheric and excellently applied trans-black finish over a flamed maple veneer. There's also a trio of uncovered Alnico Classic humbuckers.

It's simple to see just how cool original black Customs can be when poring over the off-white binding and the none-more-blackness of the remainder of the finish here.

Naturally, all outstanding fixtures and fittings are also black and it's a shame that proceedings are let down by an overly dry fingerboard complete with fret-finishing file marks.

After flinging the Ultra about during our earlier review, the weight of the Custom 3 Plus - 10lbs! - brought us back down to earth with a bump.

It's smack in the middle of shoulder-worrying territory and we suggest as wide a strap as possible is your next purchase following the guitar.


This weight adds a great deal to the overall tone and, of the three Les Pauls we have here, this is the one that offers the most traditional performance to our ears.

The bridge pickup is just sharp enough to cut through with the body mahogany, smoothing the edges and adding depth in the classic manner, while the neck is soupy and warm with as much push as you could ever need. Great stuff.

A common misconception regarding tri-pickup Les Pauls is that the central position of the toggle switch solos the central humbucker: it actually combines the outputs of both the middle and bridge pickups.

The tone here is best described as offering the best of both of those worlds and it's also different enough from the middle switch selection of a traditional Les Paul, possessing equal amounts of bite and cream without ever being overpowering.

In fact, if the tone from any Paul's neck pickup is too much for you (as it can be from time to time), this is a compromise to be seriously considered.

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.