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mgrasso

Masterbilt AJ-45ME - VSS

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I purchased an AJ-220S last December. It is a very nice guitar. It plays well, and the sound—considering the price is very good. I recently gave the AJ-220S to my granddaughter, who out-grew her 3/4 scale guitar. I replaced it with a AJ-45ME last month. I have to say that the matte finish takes adjusting to—especially since my previous two guitars, purchased in 1964 and 1972 were a Martin D18 and Martin D28—both very traditional gloss finished guitars. What got me over the finish issue was the playability and sound of the AJ-45ME. I played it at my local GC, along side of Martins, Gibson, and other Epiphone Masterbilts. Even with semi-dead strings, it sounded great. Definitely not like any of the Gibson J-45, J-35, or J-15 models I tried, but very good in its own unique voice—and very different and much better than an AJ-220S—which I also played that day for comparison.

 

As to how the features of the AJ-45ME don't exactly match those of the Gibson J-45, I don't think Epiphone was trying to copy the Gibson J-45—that would not make good business sense. Instead, I think the AJ-45ME is inspired by the J-45, and in that regard, in my opinion, it succeeds beautifully. This guitar is a real winner, and there is a reason Epiphone has used a matte finish—it enhances the tone. I agree with other comments in this forum, that the quality of tone woods used in a guitar at this price is probably inferior to that used in a high-end instrument, so helping enhance the tone in any way is a good thing.

 

Bottom line, I couldn't find anything new that could match the AJ-45ME for playabilty or tone at its price. I'm sure with a lot of effort and considerable luck, one could search-out and find a superior used instrument for about this price. I didn't have the time or inclination to do so.

 

You've got yourself a fine guitar there Epidano - I've been singing the praises of the AJ-45ME for the last 6 months or so since I got mine, and the tone just goes on improving too. One day - one day they will all see [thumbup]

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Echoing Guitar Lights review.

 

The matte finish on these masterbilts are a deal breaker... and they certainly don't sound any better to my ears than Epiphone's other offerings i.e. the "IB" Texan.

 

I am however, completely satisfied with the EJ-200SCE. IMO a fantastic guitar at any price point.

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Echoing Guitar Lights review.

 

The matte finish on these masterbilts are a deal breaker... and they certainly don't sound any better to my ears than Epiphone's other offerings i.e. the "IB" Texan.

 

I am however, completely satisfied with the EJ-200SCE. IMO a fantastic guitar at any price point.

 

I have a Texan and to my ears they are no where near as good (sound wise or build quality) as the AJ-45ME. There is an old saying "never judge a book by its cover" and it seems that lots of people are doing just that regarding the AJ-45. It is a great guitar. I also have an AJ-500ME and that is up for sale as I write because that and the Texan just don't get played. Reason: they're not as good as the AJ-45. My opinion of course.

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I have a Texan and to my ears they are no where near as good (sound wise or build quality) as the AJ-45ME. There is an old saying "never judge a book by its cover" and it seems that lots of people are doing just that regarding the AJ-45. It is a great guitar. I also have an AJ-500ME and that is up for sale as I write because that and the Texan just don't get played. Reason: they're not as good as the AJ-45. My opinion of course.

As I've said before I came very close to pulling the trigger on an AJ-45ME, I ummed and aahd for a long time, one day "yes I will", the next "no I won't" ( a bit like you and the J-15 [wink] ) until it became a moot point due to my financial situation. Yes, the big sticking point was the matte finish, to take your book metaphor a little further, a gloss finish would be a hardback book and the matte is a paperback, they both look fine new but over 5 or 10 years one of them will have aged gracefully and the other is probably going to be pretty tatty.

 

As a disclaimer for my somewhat uninformed opinion, I've still yet to see one in the flesh as, to my knowledge at least, not one guitar shop in this country has had one in stock since they were first released more than half a year ago. Make of that what you will. I shall be in the UK in January (where I keep an AJ-220S, which I'm looking forward to playing again) and I'm hoping to get into Birmingham to finally check out the AJ-45ME.

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I'm new to the forums, but this thread definitely influenced my process when purchasing a guitar. I bought an AJ-45 ME and brought it home for about three weeks and it's a fantastic guitar. In the end, I returned it and bought the J-45 I really wanted and for which I was trying to find an affordable substitute. I grew up listening to dad's '57 Southern Jumbo and I found a J-45 that gives me a sound that, on a very fundamental level, is what a guitar "should" sound like to me. It's not logical or rational, but it feels right on a very fundamental level. I wish it wasn't so because the J-45 is bloody expensive, but I can't stop playing it, so I am happy.

 

That said, when I go into the shop to buy strings or just for an excuse to check out guitars, I often pick up and play my returned AJ-45 ME. My relatively uncultured and uneducated opinion is that it isn't a substitute and shouldn't be seen as such, but it's a great vintage-sounding guitar in its own right. If I could somehow justify it, I'd keep both. Full marks to Epiphone for making a fantastic and affordable series of instruments with the Masterbilt lineup.

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I'm new to the forums, but this thread definitely influenced my process when purchasing a guitar. I bought an AJ-45 ME and brought it home for about three weeks and it's a fantastic guitar. In the end, I returned it and bought the J-45 I really wanted and for which I was trying to find an affordable substitute. I grew up listening to dad's '57 Southern Jumbo and I found a J-45 that gives me a sound that, on a very fundamental level, is what a guitar "should" sound like to me. It's not logical or rational, but it feels right on a very fundamental level. I wish it wasn't so because the J-45 is bloody expensive, but I can't stop playing it, so I am happy.

 

That said, when I go into the shop to buy strings or just for an excuse to check out guitars, I often pick up and play my returned AJ-45 ME. My relatively uncultured and uneducated opinion is that it isn't a substitute and shouldn't be seen as such, but it's a great vintage-sounding guitar in its own right. If I could somehow justify it, I'd keep both. Full marks to Epiphone for making a fantastic and affordable series of instruments with the Masterbilt lineup.

 

Welcome jdto - I have had the AJ45 ME for about 6 months or more and would never part with it - It has that guitar sound I have in my head. I intend to get a J45 asap - if I can stop my self wondering whether or not to get the J15. But I must say your post makes the J45 the favorite - well today it does !!

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Yesterday I put down a deposit on an aj45. I'm going in this week to have a play and then to buy it. I've tried one already and can't wait to get my hands on one of these and take it home

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Yesterday I put down a deposit on an aj45. I'm going in this week to have a play and then to buy it. I've tried one already and can't wait to get my hands on one of these and take it home

 

Well you can see from above posts I'm a big fan of the AJ-45ME. I have noticed that some retailers have put up the price and others are selling them off at a least £100 less in the UK. Hope you get a good price but whatever you will enjoy it.

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Well you can see from above posts I'm a big fan of the AJ-45ME. I have noticed that some retailers have put up the price and others are selling them off at a least £100 less in the UK. Hope you get a good price but whatever you will enjoy it.

I was back on the fence again last week looking at one on a German site for €537, looked again on Monday and they're between 640 and 650 everywhere! So now I have tiptoed back down off the fence.

 

UPDATE:

Just jumped over that fence and ordered one from Amazon UK for €522 including shipping. Should be here by the weekend- so we'll see if I have to eat my words after everything I've said about the finish on this guitar. [biggrin]

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I was back on the fence again last week looking at one on a German site for €537, looked again on Monday and they're between 640 and 650 everywhere! So now I have tiptoed back down off the fence.

 

UPDATE:

Just jumped over that fence and ordered one from Amazon UK for €522 including shipping. Should be here by the weekend- so we'll see if I have to eat my words after everything I've said about the finish on this guitar. [biggrin]

 

Just took a peek - 350 quid it's a gift [thumbup] Just don't look at it while you're playing it :rolleyes:

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Well you can see from above posts I'm a big fan of the AJ-45ME. I have noticed that some retailers have put up the price and others are selling them off at a least £100 less in the UK. Hope you get a good price but whatever you will enjoy it.

 

I got mine for £349 from Dawson's. I've always wanted a masterbilt but never thought it would be possible because of the price, but this was too good to turn down. I've heard great things about these guitars, can't wait to try mine out. Fingers crossed it'll be a good one and I'll take her home. I'll keep you all posted

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Thanks guys for the encouragement and helpful advice, even if I didn't get to see it until after I'd taken the plunge.

 

I've had a hankering for a short scale slope shoulder for a while now and last week I decided I could just about afford it if I kept to a limit of under €600. I may well come to regret the outlay in February when I'm back here looking for a job but hell, at least I'll have my guitar.

 

Just about every investigative search brought me back to the Epiphone. There are a couple of Recording Kings available here, RAJ-112 and RAJ-116, but both longer scale and laminate b&s, a Cort Earth round shoulder about the same price as the Epi but again longer scale and laminates, the Blueridge BG40 fits the bill scale wise but seemed overpriced for a laminate guitar and its all solid big brother the BG140 is way over my budget, so the Masterbuilt it is.

 

I had actually checked a few of the U.K. Stores but all the ones who definitely ship abroad were asking £480 for the aj45me and everywhere that had it for £350 were, at best, a bit vague about international shipping. Amazon uk was my absolute last lifeline (interestingly, the best price on German Amazon is €639) so when I saw it for that price I ordered immediately before I had a chance to change my mind. Now I'm just playing the waiting game.

 

@lengle1981: looks like we'll both be getting to know our aj45me's at the same time, best of luck and much enjoyment with yours.

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@lengle1981: looks like we'll both be getting to know our aj45me's at the same time, best of luck and much enjoyment with yours.

 

Major congrats to both of you! That's one all-solid-wood Masterbilt I don't have and wish I did. It's got everything -- sloped, short-scale, the perfect burst, electronics... a real beauty of a guitar. [drool]

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Thanks guys for the encouragement and helpful advice, even if I didn't get to see it until after I'd taken the plunge.

 

I've had a hankering for a short scale slope shoulder for a while now and last week I decided I could just about afford it if I kept to a limit of under €600. I may well come to regret the outlay in February when I'm back here looking for a job but hell, at least I'll have my guitar.

 

Just about every investigative search brought me back to the Epiphone. There are a couple of Recording Kings available here, RAJ-112 and RAJ-116, but both longer scale and laminate b&s, a Cort Earth round shoulder about the same price as the Epi but again longer scale and laminates, the Blueridge BG40 fits the bill scale wise but seemed overpriced for a laminate guitar and its all solid big brother the BG140 is way over my budget, so the Masterbuilt it is.

 

I had actually checked a few of the U.K. Stores but all the ones who definitely ship abroad were asking £480 for the aj45me and everywhere that had it for £350 were, at best, a bit vague about international shipping. Amazon uk was my absolute last lifeline (interestingly, the best price on German Amazon is €639) so when I saw it for that price I ordered immediately before I had a chance to change my mind. Now I'm just playing the waiting game.

 

@lengle1981: looks like we'll both be getting to know our aj45me's at the same time, best of luck and much enjoyment with yours.

 

Picked mine up today, what an absolute steal this guitar is for the price. I noticed today that the prices at Dawson's have gone back up, gutted that I missed out on the Gary Clark casino at £399 but the masterbilt will more than help me forget that, this is a beautiful instrument. Only issue for me is that my partner said I have to now put it away until Xmas, Gotta set a good example for the kids who have to wait until Xmas, needless to say I'm gutted I have to wait.

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Picked mine up today, what an absolute steal this guitar is for the price. I noticed today that the prices at Dawson's have gone back up, gutted that I missed out on the Gary Clark casino at £399 but the masterbilt will more than help me forget that, this is a beautiful instrument. Only issue for me is that my partner said I have to now put it away until Xmas, Gotta set a good example for the kids who have to wait until Xmas, needless to say I'm gutted I have to wait.

 

Oh well! only 21 sleeps before the big day [rolleyes]

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I agree with the comment by GuitarLight that Epiphone makes a huge mistake if it cuts corners with the Masterbuilt line. What I'm looking for is the pride of the Epiphone past in a guitar that may be made in China but can stand against most mid-range guitars. I have an EF-500MVS and love it in terms of build and sound and looks EXCEPT for the FLAT FLAT FLAT looking top finish. The sides and back are fine... satin with just a little sheen, as satin should be. But the top has no sheen AT ALL and that seems to be what this new AJ-45ME has as well. Could they really not add a gloss or even a medium satin sheen to the top to give it a little life?

 

I almost sent my EF-500 back when I saw it. I was SO disappointed in the look. But the sound was so great I kept it and it's sort of like an ugly child that you love but ....

 

They do have ONE model that is a gloss... so why not the AJ-45? if they are trying to "re-create" the look of a vintage Gibson... why not give it a gloss and let it dull out in its own time. I would buy the 45 if it was gloss.

 

Epiphone are you listening?

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I agree with the comment by GuitarLight that Epiphone makes a huge mistake if it cuts corners with the Masterbuilt line. What I'm looking for is the pride of the Epiphone past in a guitar that may be made in China but can stand against most mid-range guitars. I have an EF-500MVS and love it in terms of build and sound and looks EXCEPT for the FLAT FLAT FLAT looking top finish. The sides and back are fine... satin with just a little sheen, as satin should be. But the top has no sheen AT ALL and that seems to be what this new AJ-45ME has as well. Could they really not add a gloss or even a medium satin sheen to the top to give it a little life?

 

I almost sent my EF-500 back when I saw it. I was SO disappointed in the look. But the sound was so great I kept it and it's sort of like an ugly child that you love but ....

 

They do have ONE model that is a gloss... so why not the AJ-45? if they are trying to "re-create" the look of a vintage Gibson... why not give it a gloss and let it dull out in its own time. I would buy the 45 if it was gloss.

 

Epiphone are you listening?

I doubt very much that Epiphone cares what you or I think. The AJ-45's seem to be selling well and getting almost universal good reviews.

 

For what it's worth I was one of the most vocal critics of the satin finish (without ever having seen it) until last week when I swallowed my pride and bought one because there isn't another short scale slope shoulder to touch the AJ-45 in its price range. I've had it for 6 days now and, you know, I don't think I'd even thought about the finish for the last 3 days until I saw this post. I had 3 visitors early in the week who all commented (unprompted) on my "beautiful" new guitar standing next to the gloss finished DR500-mce and only one of them saw fit to mention the finish and, after running her fingertips across it she pronounced it "classy".

My only concern now is, like its owner, it probably won't age well, but only time will tell.

 

It's too good a guitar to miss out on just because it's not shiny. Besides you'll be playing it so much you won't be looking at the front.

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I almost sent my EF-500 back when I saw it. I was SO disappointed in the look.

 

Not me. To the point of getting three of them. It's an acquired taste. [biggrin]

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I doubt very much that Epiphone cares what you or I think. The AJ-45's seem to be selling well and getting almost universal good reviews.

 

For what it's worth I was one of the most vocal critics of the satin finish (without ever having seen it) until last week when I swallowed my pride and bought one because there isn't another short scale slope shoulder to touch the AJ-45 in its price range. I've had it for 6 days now and, you know, I don't think I'd even thought about the finish for the last 3 days until I saw this post. I had 3 visitors early in the week who all commented (unprompted) on my "beautiful" new guitar standing next to the gloss finished DR500-mce and only one of them saw fit to mention the finish and, after running her fingertips across it she pronounced it "classy".

My only concern now is, like its owner, it probably won't age well, but only time will tell.

 

It's too good a guitar to miss out on just because it's not shiny. Besides you'll be playing it so much you won't be looking at the front.

 

Why does "after running her fingers over it" give me a mental picture of long fingers with red nail varnish???

What! I'll get my coat!!!

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Why does "after running her fingers over it" give me a mental picture of long fingers with red nail varnish???

What! I'll get my coat!!!

 

B) me too...

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