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James Allen

love and hate

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I have 2 Gibsons and 2 Epiphones. The '99 Gibson I've had since it was new. It's heavy, I don't play out, so I picked up a nice '12 Epiphone LP Std +PRO. Wow - great player, feels great, sounds great ... After this great experience, I picked up an Epiphone Ultra-339. Another great experience.

 

 

A bit later I ran across a really good deal on an '07 Gibson Studio VM, so I grabbed it.

 

At this point I had 3 LPs that don't sound identical, but they're close enough to need to change something. It only makes sense to me to mod the Epiphone, the least expensive and most likely to depreciate of the three. So I order some Mean 90s for it.

 

This is when I learned where at least some of the difference is. While the ProBucker pickups are a thing of sonic beauty, the rest of the electronics were absolute, cheap-***, pot metal crap. I wanted 250Ks to go with the 90s anyway ... so not too much $ later everything is wonderful again.

 

If I hadn't set out to mod the Epiphone, I might never have experienced the taste of that little bit of throw-up in the back of my throat. I still love it though, and it sounds awesome with the 90s in it.

 

The 339 is quite simply wonderful ... I haven't opened it up and I don't intend to. It also has ProBuckers and it sounds just fine like it is. For me, a semi-hollow a side-line. If it was my main interest, I might want a Gibson, but I haven't even played a Gibson 339 to know the difference.

 

As well as my Epiphones play and sound, they do NOT compare directly with my Gibsons UNLESS I add the qualifier, "For the money".

 

Thing is, if these things weren't available I wouldn't have as many guitars. There is no way in Hades that I could justify the cost of multiple multi-thousand dollar guitars.

 

BTW, after much SxS playing of every make/model imaginable, I recently purchased a Yamaha A3M acoustic. I love it too :)

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This is when I learned where at least some of the difference is. While the ProBucker pickups are a thing of sonic beauty, the rest of the electronics were absolute, cheap-***, pot metal crap.

 

As well as my Epiphones play and sound, they do NOT compare directly with my Gibsons UNLESS I add the qualifier, "For the money".

I think pretty much every one of us here is of the same mind, Bob.

 

The Epi guitars are very good guitars 'for the money' and they would benefit greatly from having their innards upgraded.

 

P.

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I think pretty much every one of us here is of the same mind, Bob.

 

The Epi guitars are very good guitars 'for the money' and they would benefit greatly from having their innards upgraded.

 

P.

I was deeply surprised checking out some Epiphone LPs with Gibson pickups stock. I finally went with a 1960 Tribute featuring '57 Classic/'57 Classic Plus, both four-lead wired and with serial/parallel push/pull option.

 

Unless there appear the weak notes of them both which are different ones, I am unable to sonically discern the Epi Tribute from my Gibson 2012 LP Standard with the Dual Burstbuckers Pro if I recorded them both in the serial setting and have my son perform playback operations for a blind listening test. In contrary, when comparing the Epi Tribute to my Gibson 2013 LP Traditional, the latter is way ahead in tone buildup and sustain. Don't know if it's more the massive body or the chunky late 50s neck, but it also shows no dull notes at all.

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I think pretty much every one of us here is of the same mind, Bob.

 

The Epi guitars are very good guitars 'for the money' and they would benefit greatly from having their innards upgraded.

 

P.

 

perhaps some noteworthy exceptions do exist tho.

 

after all this debate, I go and pull my Elitist Country Gent out of the closet, I don't think I've played this one for over a month, maybe more.

what a freaking great guitar this is.... the electronics for me, are rock solid. but yes,, the "for the money" is usually the thing.

 

I also have a Broadway, if I was to buy a Gibson in the same ilk, I'd have to mortgage the house to find the funds.

 

the scale of economy is in the imports favor in a lot of cases... *hey was that a punn?*

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...perhaps some noteworthy exceptions do exist tho...

I wouldn't doubt it for a second.

I have hardly any experience of the Epi semi and archtop guitars and wouldn't be surprised to find these to be excellent instruments.

 

And I must say I never considered the electrics of my Epi LP to be lacking. But, in truth, when it was played back-to-back against my first Gibson LP "of the modern age" it was not up to the mark.

By an odd coincidence I was playing my old Epi just two days ago. I had sold it to a friend who, as it happens, I was visiting and gave it a blast just for old times' sakes. It still comes across as a very good guitar.

 

P.

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Actually I'm not so sure about the "for the money."

 

I'd personally prefer considering "mass produced" vs. "hand finished" in stuff like this.

 

I find it interesting too that HenryJ suggested there are enough neck differences among Gibsons due to the handwork, that one should if possible try several.

 

As for Epis... I'm convinced they're correct in stating the upgrades of pups/electrical stuff.

 

OTOH, the Epi is a mass produced guitar; we're in situation where a setup often makes the difference between "a guitar" and "an excellent guitar." The difference with a Gibbie would be "a fine guitar." The plastic vs. lacquer finish is another factor - but then, a lotta brands other than Epi do that too.

 

Besides, what's "excellent?" Appearance or playability and a sound that works?

 

As for an archtop or other guitar, and other questions of setup such as strings higher on one side of the fretboard than the other, I always figured it was either a twisted neck or a poor setup of the adjustable bridge. I think archtops especially can be bumped with their floating bridge to get a bit outa shape.

 

Also when it comes to frets sticking out, I've seen so much of this on all sorts of guitars when they come into my area of the country that it's ridiculous, and it seems about every brand is affected by this area being relatively high and dry - and perhaps anybody's real wood fingerboards shrinking a bit. That seems to be the case mostly with rosewood fbs and on a number of brands. I've also seen at the miles-away guitar store where stuff reeeeally needs a setup when it comes off the truck. A bit of seasoning to the climate and the most basic of setups, voila.

 

When I've purchased guitars over $500 I've played them - and usually with a phone call and request to have a specific model strung with "my strings" before I drove to the store. I expect an instrument that helps me play regardless of pricetag and I have several rather nice $500-1,000 instruments that fit the bill.

 

m

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Actually I'm not so sure about the "for the money."

 

As for Epis... I'm convinced they're correct in stating the upgrades of pups/electrical stuff.

 

OTOH, the Epi is a mass produced guitar; we're in situation where a setup often makes the difference between "a guitar" and "an excellent guitar." The difference with a Gibbie would be "a fine guitar." The plastic vs. lacquer finish is another factor - but then, a lotta brands other than Epi do that too.

 

Well at least in the case of the Elitists, those were not mass produced. (this is probably common knowledge). These all came out of Japan, and the attention to detail was pretty impressive. The electronics and most of the hardware were either USA made, or came stock with what the USA Gibsons came with, bone nuts, and other appointments the Korean imports lacked. (a build standard that it seems Epi/Gibson carried on with on some models well after the elitist were out of production -- like the Broadway's for example, have USA made electronics)

 

The pickups that are in my CA Country Gent (which was later renamed the Country Deluxe) are 52SR, 50ST Which I gather to be sort of an Alnico based PAF formula. As with most Epi's you tend to think "the pups are the first things I will need to change" but not in this case. They're good. (here's a review back from 06 http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/epiphone-elitist-country-deluxe/12559)

 

But alas, as zigzag mentions, the majority are disco'd, I'm not up on current production runs but I think the Casino is still being produced, a shame really, they were all very nice guitars. I got mine in 02, and this is one of the guitars that would only be considered to be sold in the most dire situations. it's a keeper for sure.

 

Of course you can still find Elitist on the bay, and they're usually pretty good buys, but if you start looking at the archtop variants, they still seem to hold some what of their value.

 

Pippy... IMO with the Arcthops in particular is where the "for the money" comes in to the equation. For about a grand, you can have a very nice jazz box, (Broadway) that sounds great, plays great. If you want an L5, you best bring your check book, it's 10X the price. I have both an Broadway and an Emperor Regent (very similar except for the electronics) and I picked up a Swingster this past spring. very pleased with all of them, for what I use them for anyway, they are great.... as good as a USA made L5 -- no,, but is the L5 10X better? I don't know, L5Larry would be the best one to answer that, and he'd probably say "yes of course you dummy"... I've never played one.. I have no idea..

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[quote name='pippy' timestamp='1380230726' post=ms as the PRS members you mention; "look down a bit...(on Epi

 

Lastly, James - and certainly not wanting to start a bunfight - you mention your experience with a good, but muddy-sounding, Epi Dot.

Do you have any lengthy experience of a similar Gibson with which you could draw a comparison?

 

P.

 

No fight, sir! Ive owned and played many Gibsons and have never really had any probs wih muddy pickups or quality. LOVED MY EPI DOT TOO!

What spawned this whole question is i noticed how often fender forum guys openly spontaneously praise MIM gear where on this forum no open love is iffered unless somebody brings up a question about epi/gibby quality. Some have misunderstood my observation. It is only that here is rarely any spontaneous praise for epi here as opposed to fender and MIM

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Sorry!

 

I've been away for a while and noticed I've missed quite a few bits which raise a few interesting points on this subject.

...Besides, what's "excellent?" Appearance or playability and a sound that works?...

Good question. IMO my preference for my Squier Tele over my old '62 Custom Tele re-issue is all down to playability. The Squire is as comfy as an old pair of jeans. The R-I sounded a tad better but nothing a bit of amp-dialling couldn't cure.

The R-I was finished in a stunning, pretty and nicely subtle 3-tone 'burst with bound edges front and back. The Squier is Butterscotch with a maple 'board/neck which looks 50 years too new for the rest of the guitar.

 

Pippy... IMO with the Arcthops in particular is where the "for the money" comes in to the equation. For about a grand, you can have a very nice jazz box, (Broadway) that sounds great, plays great. If you want an L5, you best bring your check book, it's 10X the price. I have both an Broadway and an Emperor Regent (very similar except for the electronics) and I picked up a Swingster this past spring. very pleased with all of them, for what I use them for anyway, they are great.... as good as a USA made L5 -- no,, but is the L5 10X better? I don't know, L5Larry would be the best one to answer that, and he'd probably say "yes of course you dummy"... I've never played one.. I have no idea..

Yes. I have only relatively recently come around to the idea that I would benefit from having a full-blown arch-top jazz-box and the Emperor Regent looks very appealling, I must say.

And (perhaps like yourself) I strongly suspect the nuances of the L-5 over a similar but lower-grade model would be totally lost on me, novice as I am/would be if I ever get such an instrument.

 

 

...What spawned this whole question is i noticed how often fender forum guys openly spontaneously praise MIM gear where on this forum no open love is iffered unless somebody brings up a question about epi/gibby quality. Some have misunderstood my observation. It is only that here is rarely any spontaneous praise for epi here as opposed to fender and MIM

Just a small thought which had not occurred to me before, James, but consider this;

The MIM Fenders, MIJ Fenders and MIA Fenders all have one, very important, thing in common. They are all Fenders. The Epiphone range of guitars, good as they may are, are not Gibsons.

Perhaps this is why the non-American Fender guitars are, nevertheless, made feel to be a part of the Fender Forum Family whereas Epi owners are given a warmer welcome from the Epi-lounge than their cousins over in Gibson-Land?

 

Just a thought.

 

P.

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Yes. I have only relatively recently come around to the idea that I would benefit from having a full-blown arch-top jazz-box and the Emperor Regent looks very appealling, I must say. And (perhaps like yourself) I strongly suspect the nuances of the L-5 over a similar but lower-grade model would be totally lost on me, novice as I am/would be if I ever get such an instrument.

 

The regent is out of production unfortunately, and it's a damn shame too, nice guitars. You can of course find them on Ebay where they show up from time to time. The Broadway would be your second option. They are a bit more sonically versatile with the dual humbuckers, the guitar, and still in production. beyond the electronics, it is just about identical to the Regent.

 

You could also check out some similar config to the Regent that Ibanez offers. About the same price break too. Eastman would be another one in the ball park.

 

/Ray

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I don't look down on Epiphone at all.

considering the quality and quality control of my 2 newest Gibson, I might be better off just buying Epis.

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I haven't seen them either Searcy. I think Epiphones can be good... but like with any company it varies from guitar to guitar.

 

Here's the wennie, When I got my Epiphone Texan a few years ago (new) I walked around the huge Sam Ash store's acoustic department playing every guitar I could get my hands on. They had some really nice Gibson's, Martin's, Taylor's etc... The best playing/sounding ones was a Gibson J200 and a very nice Martin D45, the rest of the high(er) priced units where good but no where near those two.

I only had $500 (US) to spend so I started looking at the one's in that price range. They had about a 1/2 dozen Epiphone Masterbuilt's, the highest price one was over my budget but I wanted to see how it compared to the one's I could buy. Quite frankly the Masterbuilts didn't sound or feel very good at all, there where 2 that I liked one being the John Lennon Black Epiphone and the Paul MaCartny Texan. They both had real solid wood and sounded/played great, if the Lennon Black hadn't of had a crack in it I would have gotten that one but I went with the Texan. It's grown into a very nice sounding guitar, I have played it a lot as it's the only working acoustic I have so its now in need of a fret-job but it still play's well. Sound wise it's mellowed some-what over the last 6 month's or so and has developed that upper-midrange tone you get from a Mahogany body. The neck isn't perfect, that may become an issue in 10-20 years or so but I do keep it in 50/50 environment and away from to much sun-light at out-door show's.

Wish I'd had money to get that J200 instead of the Texan but if I'd had extra I may very well have bought both of them. The old Epiphones are good instrument's just not quite the quality craftsmanship as a Gibson, I think that still holds true today but like Riptide said you can find dud's in anything that's got a lot of "Hand's on" production. I've gotten lots of time on Gibsons and they are better than most any brand out there but I wouldn't trade my Epiphone Texan for anything less then a vintage Martin D28 or D45 or a nice Gibson Rosewood J200 or Songwriter, I like it that much!

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wanna' get flogged?

 

mention a Korean Guild, or heaven forbid DeArmond by Guild on the "Lets Talk Guild" forum.

 

it's a masochists dream come true !

 

from my short ventures over there I can say that even the most afflicted "Gibson snobs" are truly open minded compared to the Guildies.......

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Yes there is snobbery abounding in the musical instrument world... [biggrin]

 

The mention of Guild being a case in point...last year I impulsively 'clasped' a not cheap MIC Guild acoustic which has become a

 

treasured 'go to' for it's sheer quality of tone and build...

 

Other posts have covered the issues regarding Epi vs non-USA Fenders etc

 

One important aspect IMO is that Epi Dots and similar 'archtops' require more woodworking expertise than 'plank' instruments... [biggrin]

 

Therefore a budget priced archtop may, just possibly cut corners in other areas like wiring and P/U's

 

People remember the issue of purchase price...an Epi can be 1/3 or even 1/4 of the price of a 'similar shape' Gibson...

 

Perhaps this fuddles the mind of some peeps expecting perfection from their high gloss varnished beauty... <_<

 

Interesting to compare the 'one brand' Fender vs the Gibson/Epiphone dual nomenclature :blink:

 

IMO both brands satisfy (often the same people) customers to a high degree with interestingly different products

 

Don't know much about PRS...but they seem well regarded and endorsed...with a budget range for those so inclined...

 

Rock On...!!(at whatever price point you prefer)... [thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Interesting to compare the 'one brand' Fender vs the Gibson/Epiphone dual nomenclature....

Carrying this thought a little further on;

 

How well regarded are Squier guitars over in the Fender Forum? Are, say, the Squier Affinity series of instruments also given 'unanimous respect' from the Fender 'proper' owning members?

 

:-k

 

P.

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