Epiphone Jared James Nichols "Old Glory" Les Paul Custom
By Chris Loeffler |
No guts no glory!
Epiphone (by way of Gibson) has turned out a steady stream of artist signature guitars for decades now that has always been a mix of guitar legends (Slash, John Lee Hooker) and players they believe will be the heroes of tomorrow (Lee Malia, James Bay). It only makes sense that they’d eventually land a deal with Jared James Nicols, winner of the Les Paul Tribute Contest (he was born in the same town as Les Paul), blues/rock virtuoso, and wielder of an iconic, single-P90 equipped Gibson Les Paul “Old Glory”.
The Epiphone Jared James Nichols “Old Glory” Les Paul Custom Outfit is a limited edition recreation of his most famous guitar, with a 1955-style Les Paul Custom body, Seymour Duncan P-90 pickup in the bridge (Lead) position, “Blues Power” custom cover plate, and ebony fretboard that ships in a hybrid hard/soft (EpiLite) case with a signed certificate of authenticity.
What You Need to Know
The Epiphone Jared James Nichols “Old Glory” Les Paul Custom Outfit is exactly what you’d expect from a vintage-inspired Les Paul; well balanced with a hefty weight. The flat-black paint job is accented by white-and-black binding that crawls the length of the top, back, neck, and headstock. The “Blues Power” etched cover plate sits below the bridge, framed by white burst diamonds.
The neck is a classic, mid-50’s “C” shape at a 24.75 scale with a 1.68” nut, 12” radius, and medium jumbo frets. As Phil O’Keefe will say, while many players are completely at home with this style of neck, people with small hands or extreme shredders may find the neck a bit challenging. I found it comfortable for my mitts, and well contoured for ergonomics.
One of the most striking things about the Jared James Nichols’ “Old Glory” is the decision to include a single Seymour Duncan dogear P-90 pickup, rather than the traditional two humbucker format (putting it in the same camp as a Melody Maker or LPJ). The pickup is modeled after the first generation of hand-wound P-90 pickups invented by Seth Lover in the late 1940s, and is modified by Volume and Tone controls with color-matching black hat knobs.
Speaking specifically to the pickup, you likely already know the sound of a vintage Seth Lover P90, and yes, this pickup nails it. If you haven’t, it has most of the articulation of a vintage Fender-style single coil pickup with less of the harsh high end associated with the bridge position and more snarl, presence and harmonic grit in the midrange. The “Old Glory” pickup filled out the dipped mids of my late 70’s Fender Pro Reverb, while my AC15 and Marshall-styled amp found extremely musical crunch in their already pronounced mids when the preamp was pushed at all.
The case/gigbag hybrid included with the guitar is a nice addition that side-steps the disadvantages of bulk and weight of a traditional hardshell case while providing rigidity and protection beyond most gigbags.
I’d be hard pressed to say “Old Glory” is a one-trick pony, but it isn’t a super flexible guitar.
The faceplate copy is very specific.
The Epiphone Jared James Nichols “Old Glory” Les Paul Custom Outfit embraces (embodies, even) raw minimalism and seems primed to be run straight into a hot vintage amp and let the Volume and Tone controls do the talking. Classic styling, classic P90 tone, and a reasonable price of entry makes this an attractive option for JJN fans or anyone seeking the Melody Maker or LPR vibe with a twist.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.