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Thread: Epiphone Tribute Les Paul vs. Agile AL3000 in a battle royale

  1. #1

    Default Epiphone Tribute Les Paul vs. Agile AL3000 in a battle royale

    As promised, here is more insight into my two newest additions to my growing family. I'll make it relatively brief, as I have company coming, and I'm feeling very, very thirsty.

    First, the basic facts: The Epi was purchased for $799.00 through American Musical Supply (I used the link from TheFret so as to kick some love back to our beloved forum). The Agile was purchased from Rondo Music for $299.00. The Epi included a hard case, and I paid $49 for a hard case for the Agile. The Agile was marked down nearly $100 because it's a B-stock, due to a very minute flaw in the finish below the neck tone knob.

    Both have AlNiCo pickups; the Epi has the Gibson 57 and 57+ pickups, which are AlNiCo II. The Agile has house-brand pickups which have AlNiCo V magnets. The Epi also has the added feature of Series/Parallel switching for both pickups.

    Both have full body and neck binding. The Agile has triple binding, and also has binding on the headstock.

    The Epi has a "Faded Cherryburst" finish, and is a plain-top. The Agile has a Cherry Sunburst finish, and has the flame-top. Both are slim profile necks, the Epi being the "60s Neck". The Epi has a 14" fretboard radius, the Agile 13.7". The Agile also has a Graphtech nut and hand filed frets. The Epi has MOP inlay, the Agile abalone. The Epi's inlays are not perfectly straight, and that is very annoying to me. I try not to think about it too much.

    The Epi has locking Grover tuners. The Agile has non-locking Grover tuners. The Epi also came with straplocks, something that the Agile could really use.

    The Agile came set up better than the Tribute. Both were almost in tune, but the Tribute will need a tad bit of tweaking, as it has some slight fret buzz on the A and D strings. Not bad, but not perfect either. No buzz on the Agile. I don't think it needs any set up at all, as far as I can tell. .

    Both guitars sound fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the stock Agile pickups sound. Although they sound similar, the Epi has a bit of an edge over the Agile. I would say that the Agile sounds a bit brighter than the Epi in general, although the neck pickup on the Agile is slightly darker and just a hair muddy. I should point out that the Epi uses Mallory 150 tone caps. No idea what the Agile uses, but I will find out soon enough. More on that later.

    The necks feel extremely similar. The Agile has a less pronounced "D" feel to it, but it's not that noticeable. The action feels about the same, and the neck finishes are pretty much identical. The Agile lists the frets as Jumbo, the Epi Medium Jumbo. Perhaps it's just me, but they feel the same to my fingers.

    For the money, I'd have to say that the Agile is the better guitar. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret buying the Tribute at all. I love the sound, the feel, the lifetime warranty (which is voided if I add a pickguard. Grrrr...). The sound of the Gibson 57s is amazing. Even if it wouldn't void the warranty, I wouldn't change them. The Agile sounds good, too. That said, I have always wanted a Cherryburst LP with zebra pickups, and seeing as I can't/won't change the pickups in the Epi... I ordered the VEH (Vintage Extra Hot) pickups from Guitar Fetish. In Zebra, of course. I also ordered the "blackout" kit for the Agile from Rondo. I can fulfill my need to tinker with the Agile. I'm one of those people who often can't leave well enough alone, and I have to try and hot rod things. I may also change the caps in the Agile, although I haven't decided that one for sure yet. Stay tuned for that project, I'll post pics as I change things.

    Meanwhile, here are some more pics of the two new ladies:



    Questions?
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  2. #2
    Regular Fretter Katastrophe's Avatar
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    Two beautiful guitars, Frankenfretter...

    The more I read, the more impressed I am with the quality of the Agiles, especially for the price. I really never noticed how stubby the Agile horn was until I saw it next to the Epi.

    Great review and pics, man!

  3. #3

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    Thanks, Kat. I'm very happy with both of them. I will definitely consider Agile as my first choice next time I buy another guitar.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  4. #4
    Regular Fretter Blaze's Avatar
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    Very cool review Frank.. Thanks..

    Since you have both ,are you the one that will make us a shoot out clip ?

  5. #5
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
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    Nice looking guits there.

    Thanks for the comparison. I agree that the Agile horn is much more noticeable next to the Epi.

    In due time, let us know, now that you have some LPs and a few strat-ish axes, which tends to be your go-to. Just curious where everything fits together.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze
    Very cool review Frank.. Thanks..

    Since you have both ,are you the one that will make us a shoot out clip ?
    My brother, NW Basser, is coming down today and has his 4-track with him. I guess I'll do what I can, as long as you folks don't haze me too much for my lame playing. ;-)
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  7. #7

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    Beautiful guitars FrankenFretter!!

    You couldn't find a better place (To do what you can) then around here. That's one of the best parts of the Fret, IMHO of course.

    Thanks for the great review.

    M

  8. #8
    Contributing Member sunvalleylaw's Avatar
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    Nice review FF!
    Steve Thompson
    Sun Valley, Idaho


    Guitars: Fender 60th Anniversary Std. Strat, Squier CVC Tele Hagstrom Viking Semi-hollow, Joshua beach guitar, Martin SPD-16TR Dreadnought
    Amphs: Peavey Classic 30, '61 Fender Concert
    Effects and such: Boss: DS-1, CE-5, NS-2 and RC20XL looper, Digitech Bad Monkey, Korg AX1G Multi-effects, Berhinger: TU100 tuner, PB100 Clean Boost, Line 6 Toneport UX2, Electro Harmonix Little Big Muff Pi, DuhVoodooMan's Rabid Rodent Rat Clone, Zonkin Yellow Screamer Mk. II, MXR Carbon Copy Delay


    love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart. . .
    - j. johnson

  9. #9
    Valar Morghulis Tig's Avatar
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    Great review with some excellent info. They look like twin sons from different mothers (my sister had that album). I think you have a set of winners.
    The more I look, the more I like the smaller horn on the Agile. It's just cosmetic, anyway.


    // I almost pulled the trigger on an Agile tonight, but the plan is to buy a new amph first. I had Clearance From The Tower (wife) on the new amph. I'll write it up with pixxors when it arrives later next week.
    Doug

    Guitar: Gibson SG Standard Natural Burst, Squier CV 50's Tele, Hell Guitars No. 2, Squier CV 50's Strat, Reverend Club King 290, Taylor GS Mini spruce,
    Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Short Scale

    Amp: Fender Super Champ X2 Head, Egnater Tweaker 15, Fender Mustang I, Acoustic B20 1x12 bass amp
    Pedal: Catalinbread Echorec, Wampler Velvet Fuzz, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, Catalinbread RAH, Hardwire Supernatural Ambient Verb, Wampler Ego Compressor, Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, TC Electronics Gravy Tri Chorus & Vibrato, Budda Budwah wah, BYOC Boost/OD-2, BYOC Mouse 2.0 Distortion, MXR Carbon Copy

  10. #10
    Regular Fretter ZMAN's Avatar
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    FF: I am a little confused with the pictures. At one point you mentioned voiding the warranty if you put a pick gaurd on the Epi. In some pictures, You show the Epi Sans gaurd, and some with, and vice versa. Is this trick photography or are you swapping them back and forth?
    I will be more interested in the 3 way comparison between the Epi with the US pickups, the Standard and the Agile.
    Try to use one setting on your amps and pedals for all three. It will really become apparent which is the nicest tone.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZMAN
    FF: I am a little confused with the pictures. At one point you mentioned voiding the warranty if you put a pick gaurd on the Epi. In some pictures, You show the Epi Sans gaurd, and some with, and vice versa. Is this trick photography or are you swapping them back and forth?
    I will be more interested in the 3 way comparison between the Epi with the US pickups, the Standard and the Agile.
    Try to use one setting on your amps and pedals for all three. It will really become apparent which is the nicest tone.
    I put the bell knobs and pickguard from the Agile on the Epi, but didn't actually mount the guard on the guitar. It's held there by tension alone. I do think the Agile looks great without the guard, although I'll be putting a black one on there soon enough.

    We played all three last night, switching between the amphs and players. In my personal opinion, the Tribute has the edge in tone. I believe my brother would agree. The more I play/listen to the Tribute, the more impressed I am with the tone. I'm okay with the Agile sounding different than the Epi, since there wouldn't be much point in having two nearly identical guitars that also sound the same. I'm not sure where the LP Standard falls in with the other two; I'd say it's sort of in the middle, as far as tone. We'll be playing more today, so I'll have more updates later this weekend.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  12. #12
    Displaced Texan bcdon's Avatar
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    Great review, Sean! Thanks a lot.

    Man, that Agile is sweet! Those two LPs side by side with the Marshall in between is some serious Ménage à trois guitar porn.

  13. #13
    Regular Fretter ZMAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankenFretter
    I put the bell knobs and pickguard from the Agile on the Epi, but didn't actually mount the guard on the guitar. It's held there by tension alone. I do think the Agile looks great without the guard, although I'll be putting a black one on there soon enough.

    We played all three last night, switching between the amphs and players. In my personal opinion, the Tribute has the edge in tone. I believe my brother would agree. The more I play/listen to the Tribute, the more impressed I am with the tone. I'm okay with the Agile sounding different than the Epi, since there wouldn't be much point in having two nearly identical guitars that also sound the same. I'm not sure where the LP Standard falls in with the other two; I'd say it's sort of in the middle, as far as tone. We'll be playing more today, so I'll have more updates later this weekend.
    Thanks FF:
    This review agrees with you 100%. It has to the the pickups.
    Epiphone Tribute Les Paul
    Overview
    BuyReviewsVideosPhotos.Rating: with 3 reviews. Write A Review
    Description: Epiphone Tribute Les PaulEDIT.As Good As It Gets! Epiphone’s history and association with Les Paul dates way back to the days when Les, working at the Epiphone factory on 14th St. in New York, created the world’s first electric guitar. Over the years, Les continued to work closely with Epiphone by reviewing new product ideas and offering suggestions. The NEW Epiphone “Tribute” Les Paul Standards honor that relationship by combining “as good as it gets” performance and features with legendary Epiphone quality and value. At the heart of the “Tribute” Les Paul is construction. Tribute LP’s feature a solid Mahogany back with a solid, carved hard Maple cap to create the ultimate combination of warmth and bite. Everyone knows that set-neck guitars provide the best rock tone and sustain and the “Tributes” take that to the next level featuring the original “deep set” neck joint. The solid Mahogany neck with hand-fitted, glued-in joint extends well into the neck pickup cavity creating maximum neck-to-body contact and acting almost like one continuous piece of wood. Combined with the Mahogany/Maple body, the result is a tribute to Les’ timeless guitar design with the sound that you can only get from a Les Paul. Your choice of neck profiles. Depending upon your taste, you have the choice of either a traditional “1960’s” SlimTaper™ neck profile or an Asymmetrical neck profile. The “1960’s” SlimTaper is a comfortable “D” shaped neck that was used and made famous on many 1960’s era, Kalamazoo-made guitars from Gibson and Epiphone. The newer Asymmetrical neck has multiple radii and combines a more rounded “D” shape on the bass side of the neck with a flatter “C” shape on the treble side. This leads to a very comfortable neck that more ergonomically contours to fit the hand of most players. Both profiles are available on the Tributes and the choice is yours! But quality construction, premium woods and choice are only part of the equation. Capturing all the power and nuances of the “Tribute” is a pair of authentic Gibson USA ‘57 Classic humbucking pickups. With its “Patent Applied For” decal on the base plate, the ’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus are faithful replicas of the famous Gibson humbuckers that helped define the music of the late 1950s. The ’57 Classic gives you a tone that is warm and subtle with full, even response that doesn’t hold back when you need that classic Gibson humbucker crunch! The ‘57 Classic Plus is the perfect bridge pickup and mimics humbuckers of that era that received a few extra turns of wire. This treatment gives the pickup slighter higher output without sacrificing its rich, vintage tone. In combination, this pair of humbuckers overdrives tube preamps to a smooth level of saturation without becoming overpowering. Both ’57’s feature Gibson’s special Alnico II magnet, vintage enamel coated wire, nickel plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers and vintage-style, braided wiring. But this guitar is not just about recreating the “old”, it’s also about looking ahead… just as Les himself continued to do throughout his lifetime. Using 4-conductor pickup wiring, Epiphone has added two push/pull tone pots to allow for series/parallel pickup switching. The result is a Les Paul with all the standard sounds plus a huge palette of tonal possibilities at your fingertips. Loaded with premium add-ons! Other upgrades include a U.S. Switchcraft™ 3-way toggle, Mallory-150 tone capacitors, Epiphone StrapLocks, 16:1 ratio premium Grover™ locking tuners and a premium hard case. Like every Epiphone, it features their Limited Lifetime warranty backed by world famous 24/7/365 day Gibson Customer Service. This guitar is not only a tribute to Les Paul, it’s a tribute to just how good a guitar can be…TODAY!

  14. #14

    Default Under the hood of the Agile

    I popped the cover off of the electronics cavity on the Agile in order to swap it for the black one that arrived today. Inside I was happy to see Alpha pots, and what may or may not be Sprague caps. They are orange, and they're not the cheap ceramic caps. The pickup selector switch is also quality, looking similar to a Switchcraft.

    The new pickups for the Agile come on Monday, along with the black speed knobs. I'm hoping I can tell a difference, and I'm hoping it's a good difference rather than the other way round.

    I changed the strings on the Epi today. No more dirty fingertips. The locking tuners confuse me a bit; I've never had them before, and I don't know if I'm understanding them correctly. Maybe someone here can explain how they're supposed to work.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  15. #15
    Regular Fretter Duff's Avatar
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    Default Tribute locking tuners

    The way the Tribute locking tuners work is to put the string thru the post hole from the middle line of the guitar, the line going from the middle of the tip of the headstock to the tail pin. Orient the post hole 90 degrees approx from the normal orientation of the string, sideways. Push the string thru towards the outside of the guitar and pull it thru until you have about an inch and a half or so of string going sideways back from the hole toward the mid line, held sideways to the normal string direction, at a right angle to the normal string orientation, pulling the string taught.

    Hold the string at about the mid line and turn the tuner button. At first the string will not start to wind, but a cam inside the post will swing into place inside the hole the string is in and push the string against the other side of the hole, clamping it firmly in place. At this point continuing to turn the button will cause the string to wind onto the post.

    You only need to wind it like one and a half times around the post. Having only a small length of string wound around the post helps keep the string in tune, especially on Fender style tremolo guitars where each time you apply the whammy bar the string loosens up and then tightens on the post. Each time it loosens and tightens, it takes up slack you can't see in all the winds that are commonly put around a standard post. This tightening up of the slack around the post results in the string being loose and therefore going out of tune, and visa versa.

    People use locking tuners on non tremolo guitars as well. Again there is less slack around the post because you only wrap it around one and a half times.

    Once you get the hang of it, it makes restringing really fast. And you can usually reuse the strings if you have to take them off for whatever reason, new pickups, etc.

    I really like locking tuners and think they are worth the extra money, which can be as high as 80 dollars just for the tuners, as in Fender Locking Tuners, plus minus.

    Hope this description helps show how the Tribute locking tuners are strung up and work, approximately. There are even more detailed methods of stringing them where the angle of the post is different for each string on each side of the head, but just having the hole sideways seems to work real well. It takes a few times to get it so you know just how much string to hold back so you don't get too many winds around the post.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    The way the Tribute locking tuners work is to put the string thru the post hole from the middle line of the guitar, the line going from the middle of the tip of the headstock to the tail pin. Orient the post hole 90 degrees approx from the normal orientation of the string, sideways. Push the string thru towards the outside of the guitar and pull it thru until you have about an inch and a half or so of string going sideways back from the hole toward the mid line, held sideways to the normal string direction, at a right angle to the normal string orientation, pulling the string taught.

    Hold the string at about the mid line and turn the tuner button. At first the string will not start to wind, but a cam inside the post will swing into place inside the hole the string is in and push the string against the other side of the hole, clamping it firmly in place. At this point continuing to turn the button will cause the string to wind onto the post.

    You only need to wind it like one and a half times around the post. Having only a small length of string wound around the post helps keep the string in tune, especially on Fender style tremolo guitars where each time you apply the whammy bar the string loosens up and then tightens on the post. Each time it loosens and tightens, it takes up slack you can't see in all the winds that are commonly put around a standard post. This tightening up of the slack around the post results in the string being loose and therefore going out of tune, and visa versa.

    People use locking tuners on non tremolo guitars as well. Again there is less slack around the post because you only wrap it around one and a half times.

    Once you get the hang of it, it makes restringing really fast. And you can usually reuse the strings if you have to take them off for whatever reason, new pickups, etc.

    I really like locking tuners and think they are worth the extra money, which can be as high as 80 dollars just for the tuners, as in Fender Locking Tuners, plus minus.

    Hope this description helps show how the Tribute locking tuners are strung up and work, approximately. There are even more detailed methods of stringing them where the angle of the post is different for each string on each side of the head, but just having the hole sideways seems to work real well. It takes a few times to get it so you know just how much string to hold back so you don't get too many winds around the post.
    Thanks, Duff. Did your Tribute come with instructions on how to use the locking tuners, or did you already have this knowledge? Mine came with no instructions, and they weren't obvious in their usage. Not to me, anyway.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  17. #17
    Valar Morghulis Tig's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankenFretter
    Thanks, Duff. Did your Tribute come with instructions on how to use the locking tuners, or did you already have this knowledge? Mine came with no instructions, and they weren't obvious in their usage. Not to me, anyway.
    Careful, Sean... Real men never read instructions!
    What's next, asking for directions? Sheeesh!
    Doug

    Guitar: Gibson SG Standard Natural Burst, Squier CV 50's Tele, Hell Guitars No. 2, Squier CV 50's Strat, Reverend Club King 290, Taylor GS Mini spruce,
    Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Short Scale

    Amp: Fender Super Champ X2 Head, Egnater Tweaker 15, Fender Mustang I, Acoustic B20 1x12 bass amp
    Pedal: Catalinbread Echorec, Wampler Velvet Fuzz, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, Catalinbread RAH, Hardwire Supernatural Ambient Verb, Wampler Ego Compressor, Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, TC Electronics Gravy Tri Chorus & Vibrato, Budda Budwah wah, BYOC Boost/OD-2, BYOC Mouse 2.0 Distortion, MXR Carbon Copy

  18. #18
    Regular Fretter Duff's Avatar
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    Default Locking tuners

    Sean, I know about a couple types of locking tuners and these are different from either the Fender locking or Wilkinson locking types.

    Actually these are really nice because the locking mechanism works automatically, there is not knob to turn or extra hole to push the string thru; they just work by turning the button and the cam inside the post presses against the string pushing it against the other side of the hole.

    I read about them on some site, guitarfetish or the grover site or something. Because that is where I found out about the cam. There might have been a hang tag on the guitar, I can't remember.

    Just align the holes sideways to the medial line of the guitar an hold about an inch and a half of string out from the inside side of the hole and start turning the button, it clamps onto the string and the string winds on. Try to get about one and a half turns around the post, not a lot of turns.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tig
    Careful, Sean... Real men never read instructions!
    What's next, asking for directions? Sheeesh!
    Yeah, I know. I usually throw the instructions in the garbage as soon as I open the box.

    Thanks for the info, Duff. I already changed the strings, and I seem to have done alright. Next time I'll do it in the manner you suggest.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

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