Last updated: August 21, 2021
This is the definitive Firefly FFLPS guitar review for 2021 and, yes, I will answer the all-important question: Is the Firefly FFLPS worth buying?
Unlike a lot of the reviews you’ll find, I actually bought the Firefly FFLPS Les Paul style guitar (in gold sparkle finish) with my own money. I was not paid for this review and I don’t get paid if you buy a Firefly guitar from links on this page.
Note: The price as of August 21, 2021 is now $189.99 + shipping.
I spent 5+ hours playing the Firefly FFLPS straight out of the box without any setup and then another 5+ hours playing it after completing a setup. The sound demos on the video I made were recorded pre-setup so you get a fair representation of the guitar out of the box.
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Table of Contents
About The Author
Hey, I’m Karol (like Karl not Carol). I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but I’m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays it’s for fun.
Why should you listen to this review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I don’t get paid for this. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased guitar and musical equipment reviews online. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.
Firefly FFLPS guitar review – key points
Firefly FFLPS Les Paul copy in gold sparkle finish.
Good for beginners and intermediate players
Sounds surprisingly nice
A couple buzzing frets
Pickups aren't great
Needs a few upgrades for most intermediate+ players
Small blemish on the finish
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a video version of the Firefly FFLPS review. This written review is a companion to the video so reading and watching is best. Also note that the audio samples in this review are all before I did any setup. This video was recorded using the guitar as it came to me.
The Firefly FFLPS is a Les Paul copy, with two humbucking pickups, a 3 position pickup switch, 2 volume controls, and 2 tone controls.
According to the GuitarsGarden website it has a mahogany body and neck, rosewood fretboard, maple top, and a bone nut. I’m not able to verify any of this. In my video review I mistakenly said it’s a plastic nut, but it could very well be bone, as stated. The nut does seem to have lacquer or something plasticky feeling on it.
The Firefly comes in a variety of finishes, including “classic” LP finishes, and many modern finishes. I chose the gold because it’s a more classic finish, although it’s a gold sparkle so don’t expect a Gibson Les Paul gold top here.
I was not expecting much from an unknown brand for $199.99 shipped, but as you’ll see throughout this review I was pleasantly surprised.
I ordered the guitar on Saturday July 10 and it arrived on Tuesday July 19 via UPS. It was packaged in styrofoam in a cardboard box and arrived undamaged.
The FFLPS looks nice straight out of the box. There was some dirt and glue (some sort of gummy substance) on the fretboard and a small blemish on the gold top near the pickup switch. This blemish doesn’t show up on camera and I think they just didn’t buff out the finish well.
- The pickups aren’t great. More on this later.
- “Scratchy” frets. Easy to fix by either polishing or they will wear smooth over time from playing.
- Dry fretboard. Easy to fix with lemon oil.
- Dirt/glue on the fretboard that needed cleaning.
- Cheap tuners. Standard, not terrible.
- The volume/tone knobs look bad.
- Buzzing on a few frets which took me ~10 minutes to fix.
- Gold sparkle finish looks great, even with the small blemish.
- Fretboard inlays look good.
- No fret sprout.
- No dead frets.
- Good action (~1.5mm).
- Straight neck. No need for truss rod adjustment.
- Bridge and tailpiece are solid and setup well.
- Pickups are not terrible, and the guitar sounds nice.
How Does It Sound?
The biggest complaint I’ve seen about these guitars are the pickups and that’s a fair complaint. The factory humbuckers are slightly “muddy” and don’t have stellar clarity which is what you’ll likely find in all cheaper guitars. There is only so much you can do with an inexpensive guitar and you could easily pay more for replacement pickups than you paid for the FFLPS. That’s just the way it goes.
That said, I like the sound. The bridge pickup provides a respectable rock or metal crunch and I had fun jamming old Pantera, Sabbath, and Metallica songs on it. That’s my barometer. Can I play Paranoid or Master of Puppets and not cringe at the sound? This guitar passes that test. The clean tones are also decent, but I fully admit that I am an 80/20 dirty/clean player so do what you will with that info.
Would I change the pickups if I was using the FFLPS live? Well, yes, but more on what I would upgrade later.
What Kind Of Setup Did I Do?
I recorded my demo video with the guitar out of box because I wanted to provide a fair representation for a beginner who doesn’t know how to do a setup.
But this guitar wasn’t perfect. While it didn’t need a truss rod adjustment and action was set nicely at 1.5mm there was some fret buzz on the 11th fret on the low E and G strings and the 12th fret on the low E.
Using a fret rocker I found the 11th, 13th, and 14th frets were all high and needed leveling. I am by no means a professional* and I don’t have professional tools, but I was able to do this with a metal fret guard and a high grit polishing “stone” in approximately 10 minutes. You’re better off using fret leveling and crowning tools than a grinding stone, but you gotta work with what you have. The buzzing frets weren’t atrocious or unplayable so I could get away with using the tools I had.
*I am not a professional, but I have some experience. I do want to point out that I have built an acoustic guitar from scratch, including full fret work. I have also built other weird instruments like cigar box guitars. At the moment I don’t have a workshop and if I was working on a more expensive guitar I’d either a) take it to a professional or b) buy better tools.
After grinding/leveling I polished all the frets using a D’Addario Fret Polishing System. This gave a noticeable difference in shine and also fixed the “scratchiness” I previously mentioned.
To finish up I oiled the dry fret board with D’Addario Lemon Oil Cleaner & Conditioner. D’Addario hasn’t paid me for this. They make good products, but you can use any brand.
Before putting on new strings I rubbed graphite from a pencil into the nut slots. Graphite acts as a lubricant to keep your strings from binding. (Seriously, if you’ve ever had a key lock start sticking rub graphite from a pencil on your key before inserting it, pull it in and out, and you’ll lubricate the lock pins. The lock will be like new!) There are specialty lubricants you can use to lubricate the nut (or your key lock, for that matter) but a graphite pencil is a quick fix that works.
Lastly, I put on a new set of strings. Use whatever you like or whatever’s available since strings are such a personal preference. (And they matter a lot less than some people claim.)
What I Would Upgrade
If I was keeping this as my main guitar or a regularly played guitar I would definitely upgrade a few things. These are personal preferences, and if you’re a beginner these are not absolutely necessary. This is why I made sure to record the video review and demo with the guitar as it was straight out of the box.
- Bridge pickup. The EMG H1A is a nice one I have installed on my main guitar and it’s only $99: https://www.emgpickups.com/guitar/humbucking/h1a.html The nice thing about EMG pickups is the included installation kit is solderless. If I’m not mistaken if you’re only installing one EMG pickup and using another non-EMG pickup then you’ll need to do some soldering. (Soldering is easy so don’t be intimidated.)
- Locking tuners. Any locking tuners. Sperzel makes some nice and easy to install tuners (with their EZ Mount tuners you don’t even need a drill) for less than $70. Locking tuners make changing strings a breeze and they help with tuning stability. They’re also an easy upgrade if you’re not generally the type of person who is comfortable with things like that.
- Graphtech Tusq nut. These cost less than $15 shipped. Replacing the nut is a little more advanced and I would only do it if you’re having tuning stability issues. I added graphite to this FFLPS and that is an easy “fix” anybody can do. (As mentioned earlier you only need a graphite pencil. I’ll make a post/video about how to do this soon.)
- Optional: Neck pickup. I personally use the bridge pickup the majority of the time so I’d leave the factory neck pickup unless I was using this guitar in a live band or for recording.
- Optional: Volume/tone knobs. They look terrible up close, but that doesn’t affect playability and I personally wouldn’t replace them. It is a 30 second fix if you want to do it, though.
I’m really surprised with the FFLPS. It’s not that it’s leaps and bounds better than other guitars in its price range, but it is a decent guitar and I think any beginner would be thrilled to have it as a first guitar.
If you’re a more advanced player it’s tough to say if I would recommend it or not. Do you want to learn how to upgrade a guitar without the fear of messing up your main? This is perfect. Do you need a backup guitar for gigs? The Firefly FFLPS is a respectable choice. Are you looking for a perfect guitar out of the box to replace your main? Well, this probably isn’t it in that case.
The Firefly FFLPS is definitely worth in the $200-$250 range, but I wouldn’t pay the $300+ it goes for on Reverb unless the seller did a setup or made some upgrades. The price from Firefly went up $10 since I bought mine, but my general thoughts about the guitar don’t change.
Overall? 7/10. It’s good enough that I’ll try to review the other Firefly models if they’re ever in stock.
Do you own an FFLPS? What were your experiences? Email me or leave a comment below.
8 thoughts on “Firefly FFLPS Les Paul style guitar review (Is it REALLY worth it?)”
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It always amazes me every time I had nothing but great experience with this guitar and like you said it’s a home guitar it’s nothing that could be played on the road but to get your chops out and for $179 I even invested in a case for $74 I’m going to hang on to it a little I was looking to sell it but I did I had the strings changed and I have the neck polished a lot of work had to be done I didn’t change the pickups yet that’ll be done and as far as the walking tuners I don’t think it’s necessary I think if you set your strings up to the locking position you’ll be all right you go on YouTube there’s a couple of guys to show you how to get your strings locked how it gets locked is that it’s in between the strings the guitar is built like a brick
Using talk to type what is supposed to say is I don’t think there’s any need to get locking tuners
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Rich. Locking tuners are ~80% because it makes string changes quick and easy. And, of course, they’re an upgrade from cheap tuners like what’s on cheap guitars. Not an absolute necessity by any means, but I like them.
Been playing hard rock to old school metal for 45 years. I just purchased an absolutely gorgeous FFLPS from Guitar Garden ($248 delivered to my door via UPS). Mine came, packaged exactly as you described (no damage), but mine has no flaws or blemishes as you described (which surprised me). Before purchasing it I decided I would probably be doing all the upgrades and setup that you described. After receiving and playing it, I will probably not do the graph-tec nut, but I will be doing a complete setup including fret leveling as I have one or two areas that have minor, almost unnoticeable, buzzing. I will be pulling out 100% of the electronics and replacing it with 250K pots, switch craft switch gear, Dimarzio Super Distortion (bridge), Dimarzio Airbucker (neck), both with splitters on the tone controls, and some good locking tuners. In my opinion, everything about the guitar body, neck, and headstock rivals the most expensive Gibson Les Paul, but without a complete setup and fine tuning. Once all this is done, I will have the equivalent of a $2000-$3000 Les Paul for $500-$600.
Thanks for sharing Marko. I wouldn’t call that the equivalent of a Gibson Les Paul, but definitely a cool modded guitar anyway!