Two of the most popular beginner guitars are the Yamaha Pacifica 112v and the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. Which one is the better choice?
When you compare the two, the Pacifica comes out a clear winner, not just because its price is half that of the Epiphone, but also because of the tone range, features, and build quality Yamaha has packed into this guitar.
One key difference between the two guitars is their shape: one has the Strat shape, whereas the other is a Les Paul. If you are not sure which one to choose as a beginner, go for a Strat as they are more comfortable to play.
Yamaha Pacifica 112v pros and cons
|Suitable for modifications and upgrades||Vibrato hasn’t been upgraded|
|Unparalleled value for money at $300||The warped neck might cause tuning problems|
|Excellent build quality|
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Epiphone Les Paul Standard
|Classic “Les Paul” sound||High price|
|Ideal for blues players||Raised action|
|Top-notch construction||Inferior components|
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Yamaha Pacifica 112v Overview
The Yamaha Pacifica 112v was released as the most affordable choice in the Pacifica range. The 112 made its debut back in 1993, and has since become one of the top beginner guitars.
Unlike most others in the price range, the 112v was made from solid wood when it was first released.
The Pacifica 112v offers fantastic value for money, featuring decent components and similar base materials to the MIM Strat.
The Pacifica has upgraded pickups: It uses Alnico V-loaded pickups that offers greater versatility and more tonal options.
The bridge pickup has been upgraded with a coil-split humbucker. It can be activated using a pull switch on the tone control knob. The knobs have also been upgraded, and are now made from chromed metal.
The one gripe you might have with the guitar is the floating bridge, which prevents it from staying in tune for too long. This isn’t a Floyd Rose licensed bridge, so expect it to go out of tune quite a bit.
Also, as a beginner, one of the challenges you will face is restringing the tuner. Restringing a guitar with a floating bridge is considerably more difficult, and many people often give up because of these issues.
See the Pacifica here on Amazon
Epiphone Les Paul Overview
While it was released as a beginner instrument, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard has achieved somewhat of a cult status, with players like Noel Gallagher (of Oasis fame) and Frank Lero (My Chemical Romance) taking them up on stage.
The main “ingredients” that define an Epiphone Les Paul is a solid mahogany body, two humbucking pickups, and a maple top. The guitar has parallelograms as inlays, instead of the conventional dots used in most guitars. This also raises the price a bit, however.
Construction quality is decent, and the Epiphone Les Paul can easily last you a long while if you treat it well.
The tuners are made by Grover, one of the most respected brands in the world. However, the rest of the hardware used in the guitar is unbranded.
The Les Paul has the standard three-way switch, two knobs (one for each pickup), and the master volume control knob.
This is one of the most popular guitars in the world. However, when compared with the Pacifica, the Les Paul leaves some to be desired, especially considering the higher price.
You can shim the Pacifica to get a closer action, and the “tighter strings” will make a huge difference for beginners.
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Pacifica 112v vs LP Standard: scale & neck
Yamaha Pacifica 112v
The Pacifica features a 25.5-inch scale length and a 13.8 inch radius. The higher scale length makes a massive difference to sound quality.
The guitar produces beefy tones without focusing too much on the mid-range tones.
The split coil may sound a bit boring when you play it clean. However, add a bit of distortion in the mix, and it produces a gnarly sound that gives your music more character.
The single coils are the real deal, however, as they provide just the right amount of “twang” and decent mid-range.
The neck features a thin satin finish, and in true Strat fashion, is mounted with a neck plate and screws.
The full C neck will allow beginners to rest their thumb conveniently when playing barre chords. The frets are well-made, and you will notice a slight curve at the corners of the fingerboard, just like vintage Fender instruments.
There clearly is attention to detail in the design of the instrument. These subtle nuances improve playability considerably and make the neck quite stable.
You can shim the Pacifica to get a closer action, and the “tighter strings” can make a huge difference for beginners.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard has a 24.75” scale length, making it best if you started with a short-scale guitar. The shorter scale length means that beginners will find it easier to play as the strings are tightly packed.
The Epiphone LP features a mahogany neck. It’s not a bolt-on, so there are no screws attached at the back.
The hardware on the Les Paul is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t require a lot of tinkering to string the instrument or get started with it.
The quality of construction is excellent. The neck’s heel sits neatly in line with the rest of the guitar’s body, and you won’t find any blemishes or poorly machined parts.
The rosewood fingerboard feels good, and the Tune-o-Matic bridge also allows beginners to adjust the guitar without any extra tools.
For the price you pay, it’s a pretty good instrument.
Pacifica 112v vs LP Standard: pickups & tone
Yamaha Pacifica 112V
By default, the Pacifica features a HSS pickup configuration. There’s a humbucker at the bridge, and two Alnico single coils in the middle and neck position each.
This is the same configuration used in the top-tier Fender HSS Strats, and opens a whole new world of tonal options when compared with the Les Paul, which only features two humbuckers.
With the passage of time, the Pacifica will sound much better to your ears. When you start exploring different tonal range options, the guitar will really begin to shine as it offers versatile, bright tones.
The single coils are also pretty impressive, sounding bright but not too shrill. It has built-in hum cancellation, and you will only get a bit of uhm from the single coils.
The only issue you will face is with the vibrato, which can cause tuning problems. It may add a bit of shimmer to your tone, but tuning stability may suffer.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The reason why so many blues players swear by humbuckers is because of their thicker tone compared to a single coil pickup.
Even on clean, the guitar produces a bright tone, but it doesn’t have the “twang” that sets the single coils apart.
When it comes to cranking out a few blues licks, this is perhaps one of the best guitars to begin with.
Increase the volume on your amp a little, and you will notice a classy blues crunch developing in your sound. It sounds very Clapton-ish, so to speak. Add a bit of overdrive, and you will enter blues-rock territory.
Just know that these are not your top-quality humbuckers, and you will have to replace them within a year or so if you want to keep the guitar playing.
The good thing is that there are plenty of humbucker options available, so if you are willing to spend, the sound will improve.
Pacifica 112v vs LP Standard: budget
The Epiphone Les Paul costs around $599 brand new. For the price you pay, it’s an excellent instrument. There aren’t many better guitars in this price range.
However, the lower price point of the Yamaha Pacifica 112v is one of the main reasons why it’s such a popular choice for beginners. It starts at $299, and there’s a range of Pacificas that cost much more.
However, the value drops as the price goes up, because there are better options available then.
A major concern for beginners is the resale value of the instrument. For the Epiphone, some special editions might be harder to sell off, e.g. a 50s left-handed Special Edition.
With the Yamaha Pacific, In contrast, you don’t have to worry about that as each guitar is merely a variant.
If you need a starter guitar, you simply can’t go wrong with the Yamaha Pacifica 112v. If the bridge is causing issues, just get a hardtail installed by a professional. If you want, you can also upgrade the electronics and you will have a guitar that will easily last you for decades.