I'm sorry...but anyone who can compare an epiphone les paul with a gibson (even a studio) that you have actually put some effort into to test play or at least have some sort of idea if it's a keeper, deserves to stay with teh shit that epiphone put out.
Granted, in recent years Gibson have put out some lower quality les pauls on the same line as some really awesome ones, but the same goes for any manufacturer. The bottom line is, you could go to a guitar shop, pick up 4 or 5 gibson studio's and 95% of the time they will blow away each of the 20-30 epiphone customs or standards there.
Look into the Gibson Studio Premium Plus models mate. They were discontinued in 2007, but you'll find a few around. I've played Gibson standards and trust me, if you can get one of the really good ones (most of them were) you'll never regret getting a studio premium plus. Unless of course you are a huge faggot that bitches about binding.
The fact that it's chambered is a bit of a meh, but I guess it does make it easier than carrying an anvil around.
Just...never encourage anyone looking to upgrade to buy anything that epiphone makes. It's all chinese shit.
Well Gibsons are way too overpriced for what they are. I'm not saying that if I had the choice, I wouldn't want one, but the Epi LP standard plus with A category pickups get the tone. For half the price. Mine has the standard pickups for now, which... well they are nowhere near Gibson. Man, they are faaaar. But I tried an Epi with these: http://www.bareknucklepickups.co.uk
, I think the "Black Dog", on a Marshall JCM 800, and as comparison, a '97 Gibson. The Epi with those bad boys was up to par. I can only encourage you all to put these pickups in anything though.
And Epis aren't bad to play either. It was OK at first, then I took it to a luthier who set it up properly and it's a dream.
Again, I'm looking at this from the budget side, in Hungary Gibsons are even more ridiculously overpriced than usual. (yeah, used ones too.) And as a university student, most of my money is invested in destroying my brain cells (which could just make your point valid, but nevermind :P ), so money can be an issue.
And if I can get the same results for less... I won't try to get a gibson, right now I'm saving money for the BK pu-s and a proper full valve Marshall instead of my valvestate 100. That should get the job done.
Long story short, we agree on the fact that you should listen to everything then buy.