And let's not forget Mike Bloomfield and Roy Buchanan. Sadly, along with Gatton, all these guys are dead.
There was an article in Guitar Player a few years ago where they compared an $8,000 Les Paul Standard to the $800 Epiphone version. Naturally, they said the Gibson sounded better--but if the Epiphone was upgraded it might sound pretty good.
Weirdly, within days I ended up with the very Epiphone model they reviewed (though I paid $300 for it--it was in mint condition and had never been played).
So, using some contacts I have, I managed to gather together all the Gibson parts I needed (pickups, electronics, pots, etc., etc., even the plastic pickguard)
I then had my luthier (Rainbow Music, Cornwall) strip everything off the Epiphone that wasn't wood and replace it all with the real Gibson parts.
The guitar sounds amazing. If you want a list of parts etc., send me an email to email@example.com