For the Les Paul's the biggest difference is that Epiphone uses a thin maple veneer on the cap instead of a solid maple cap. I think it's about 1 mm thick on a "mahogany" (Nato) cap. The body is also Nato/Eastern Mahogany instead of Honduran Mahogany. Some Elite models do have a maple cap though. I'm pretty sure they source their maple in Asia as well. The body is more often multi-piece as well as the neck's. Usually 3-6 pieces. The head and neck are separate pieces on an Epi. So you have 2 and sometimes 3 pieces not including the fingerboard. The other big difference is finish. Epi's use a polyurethane instead of the labor intensive nitrocellulose lacquer. Here's a tour of the Epiphone Qing Dao factory. http://www.ikebe-gakki.com/web-ikebe/epiphone_GQ-EQ-factory-tour/EQ.html http://www.ikebe-gakki.com/web-ikebe/epiphone_GQ-EQ-factory-tour/GQ.html Here's the veneer.