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Viktorija Arsic

The Gibson/Epiphone Combo

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Hey folks,

 

I'm curious about your reasoning for buying this specific Gibson/Epiphone Combo: "affordable" Gibson and "Comparable" Epiphone.

 

Let me explain:

  • Really wanting a Gibson (for the sake of the name, let's be honest!) and therefore purchasing the more "affordable" models like the Junior, Studio (now along with the Faded) or Tribute, the J 15, or Explorer Elite.
    I think of "affordable" as usually being around or less than $ 1,000. Although my personal philosophy and budget rules dictate that I absolutely refuse to buy a guitar that costs more than $ 2,000. It's simply unjustifiable to me.
  • Really wanting the comparable Gibson model (for example, the Standard or the Custom) but not being able to drop $3-5 K on a single instrument. So you go for the Epiphone Standard (Plustop) Pro or the Epiphone Custom.

I ask because this is exactly my experience and mindset so I wonder how many other people share it! It seems to me that quite a substantial number of guitarists have axe collections that reflect this.

 

My 2011 Gibson Les Paul Studio was the only Les Paul I could afford, aside from the fact that I truly wanted a Studio in particular (their Swirl models are also fantastic).

 

I already get that this Combo is essentially the entire reason brands like Epiphone exist: to let hard working musicians actually play excellent quality instruments without the bloated price tag or the ego to match. I realize that you can also buy used. But I'm talking about buying brand new here.

 

In my opinion, I think if you're considering an "affordable" Gibson anyway, Epiphone is the way to go. They offer tremendous value for the money and lots of people (myself included) can vouch that their quality is just as good-if not sometimes even better-than Gibson's. Especially since lately, Gibson's prices have steadily been climbing and even their once "affordable" models are now pushing a lot closer to $ 2, 000.

 

Basically, I want to know: why did you buy this Combo? What factors influenced your decision? And are you happy with it?

 

Thank you, I'm really excited to read what people have to say!

Edited by Viktorija Arsic

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I have owned and played many

Epi LPs. I played a lot and

owned some Gibson LPs.

I've never played an Epi I

thought was "comparable ".

 

That doesn't mean I don't

Like Epis. And that

certainly doesn't mean

Your premise is incorrect.

I just happen to think it is.

 

I loved my Epis when I couldn't

afford a Gibson. But now

that I can afford a Gibson, I

won't be buying any Epi LPs.

 

Now a Semi is what I believe IS

comparable. I have an Epi Dot that

I love! And a Wildkat.

  • Upvote 1

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I have had my Epiphone LP Plus Top Pro now for about four years and I LOVE it! When I bought it, I could have gotten a Gibson but, all the ones that I tried at my local Guitar Center were just awful! I used to own a 1978 blonde Les Paul Custom but honestly, I like my Epi better. For one thing, with the coil splitting pickups, it's a more versatile instrument and I love the sound of the Probuckers! They have a nice attack and each note gets nice and "squishy" as it rings. I think my only complaint is that I have to give the toggle switch a squirt of De Oxit from time to time as it occaisionally cuts out on the bridge pickup. For a quarter of the price of a comparable Les, I think it's a fantastic guitar! My advice is to buy the Epiphone and, with the extra money, get an $800 amp to go with it (like I did!).

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....I'm curious about your reasoning for buying this specific Gibson/Epiphone Combo: "affordable" Gibson and "Comparable" Epiphone.....

 

When I started getting back into guitar 6 or 7 years ago, no way I could afford a Gibson, and I didn't know enough and wasn't good enough to be spending that much for a guitar anyway. Epiphone was just all right with me. I think the cherry Dot was the only guitar I've bought new. The rest are used purchases. But the characteristics and makes of the guitars I've had has evolved over many years. Now I like and play a lot of jumbo 12-string. I started there with a $500 Takamine, which wasn't that bad. But once I realized "Hey, I can play this thing," I had to get me a Guild, which builds excellent 12-strings. Guild's jumbo F50R 6-string has got to be pretty hard to beat, too, but I haven't really taken a comprehensive survey.

 

So I took a side trip into Guild land, but I did finally come back to Gibson. I always wanted a J-45. Got one. Used under $2000. Wasn't thrilled with it. Sold it. That funded a gorgeous 2018 Gibson Songwriter 12-string. "Used," but indistinguishable from new (at about $1000 off the new price). I'll be keeping that one. msp_smile.gif..

.

 

song02.jpg

  • Upvote 1

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I prefer Epiphone's polyurethane finish, it is almost indestructible over Gibson's nitrocellulose that starts rapidly deteriorating in the high humidity here on the island. As a result of this I have sold 3 of my Gibson's so far this year.

 

My preference now is for higher end Epiphone's built with better materials. My all around favorite is a Blueshawk Deluxe. Followed by a 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Custom Shop 61 SG Special with unreal neck access. Then a very solid killer sounding 56 Les Paul Standard Pro that is a little bit difficult to play in the upper register with its fat C profile neck, but the tone is so worth it even though it weighs close to 10lbs.

 

Gibson's can usually be counted on to have straight necks, solid construction, good hardware and wood. I just wish they would use a more modern finish, Fender hasn't used Nitro since the 50's, except on custom orders.

 

3 out of 4 Epiphone's I purchased in the last year, as new online from reputable dealers, appeared to have never had their truss rod adjusted, completely backed off. But once I carefully adjusted them they were just fine, taking about a week of tweaking to get them settled down.

 

Epiphone Deluxe 18:1 Tuners work okay for a while but wear out very quickly and get sloppy. Higher end Epi's should at least have factory installed Grover's, Gotoh's or Wilkinson's.

 

I am very pleased with my Epiphone's, once I set them up correctly. I may have a new Blueshawk, Wildkat or 339 P-90 Pro in my near future. [thumbup]

Edited by mihcmac

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As you can see by my signature, I am mostly an Epiphone fan. I have 2 Epi LPs, but the rest are Archtops or acoustics (the 355 is kind of a fluke and will be the next to go)

 

My first guitar was an Epiphone in 1971. Although it sa a Matsumoku, non-spec reissue, the brand, logo and everything else just satisfied me.

 

Fast forward to the early 2000s, and I started collecting Korean Epis. Had the money for Gibson, but stayed with my brand.

 

Not a big fan of the MB Century Archtops. Felt too cheap in my hands. The new 100th anniversary John Lee Hooker will probably have me selling the 355 and picking up that. Even though from the initial videos, it looks plastic. Oh well. At least it is an original Epi design.

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I understand the situation, I really do. the truth of it is, Epiphone quality and over all fit/finish has vastly improved over the last 10 or so years. Better ingredients, better pizza,, errr.. guitars. I had a handful of epi's and now I'm down to 2, a Regent hollow body which I just can't part with, and a Sheraton Pro II. Fine guitars. play/sound very good.

 

I've got 6 gibson's, two LP Standards a few SGs, an ES135 and a SJ200. The only fair comparison I can make is to my son's Epi LP Std pro, it's a great guitar, set it up for him when he got it, and will pick it up if I'm hanging at his house in his home studio and I've used it at a few rehearsal sessions when I was doing some songs with his band.

 

It plays fine, and sounds pretty good, but it doesn't go one on one however (for me, my hands/ears) with my 2 LP standards. part of it may be that I've had these LPs for 20+ years and they are like an old comfortable T shirt. And again not to say his EPI LP isn't a great little axe, because it is. you just can't IMHO compare a mass produced import (no derogatory comments here, but it is what it is) no matter how clean the build was, to the USA counter part.

 

There IS a reason they are exponentially more expensive and it's really NOT just what's on the headstock. Some people may never feel/notice the difference, some may and don't care. It's really all a personal journey here. If you like what you're hearing, and playing, the go with what works for you. Doesn't really matter what others think. But if you're looking for opinions, this is mine.

 

Good luck in your journey!

Edited by kidblast
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Here's my story (and I'm sticking to it LOL). My first guitar was a Gibson (1961, an LG-0 that sold for $85 new, and I wish I still had it), 'cause my Dad said "If you're gonna play guitar, you need a Gibson". Fast forward decades after buying/selling several other guitars, here's my take:

 

I bought a Gibby LP Standard 11 years ago, Since then I've added Gretsch, Epi (several), Carvin, Fender, Guild, etc. Gibby's quality (from everything I've seen lately) has gone in the dumpster. Epi's, among others has increased tremendously. My two cents is that unless you're a pro and can actually tell the difference, you're paying $$ for the name, and only the name. Yeah, I know, components. Agree to some extent but, for example, my Epi Dot has SD humbuckers, a new harness, CTS pots & switches, and a Bigsby and other than the name on the headstock and a nitro finish, I've got a 335 for one half the cost of a comparable low end Gibby!!

 

FWIW, my Gibby gets very little playing time compared to my other guitars (acoustic and electric).

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my Epi Dot has SD humbuckers, a new harness, CTS pots & switches, and a Bigsby and other than the name on the headstock and a nitro finish, I've got a 335 for one half the cost of a comparable low end Gibby!!

 

it's one way to kill that cat that's for sure..

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My collection got started back when a LP Custom cost $325 and a ES-335 cost $350. That was around 1969. My family now consists of 37 guitars and 4 mandolins. I really don't like letting go of quality instruments. So ....

There are now several Gibson LPs, along with a couple of SGs, both P90 loaded, and a lot of Fenders.

To get more to the point, my last two guitars are Epiphone (LP Custom Pro, Sheraton II Pro), and their overall quality is equal to anything else that I have. That's why I have them.

But, I'm still not clear on what this "Custom" model is.

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My 2017 Tribute was a bargain and is totally amazing. The specs for the 2018 looks great too, so I'd advice anyone looking for an affordable LP to try one.

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My first electric was a Teisco Del Ray, that I was quite crazy about, then I saw a 63 Coronet hanging on the wall of my favorite music store and I was toast..

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I love excellent quality cheap guitars. I have 4.

 

I can afford the odd higher end guitar too. I have 4 of those as well.

These 8 guitars all work for their keep.

 

The main difference is that the cheapies usually need upgraded wiring and/or hardwear to be gig worthy/reliable.

 

In fact my (cheap) Korean PRS SE C24 is better than my USA CE24. Its not as pretty, but it plays better and sounds as good. Unusually it is all stock, with no mods whatsoever.

 

My Korean Squier Esprit (LP DC 'copy') is as good as my Gibson LP. Or at least the carcass is. I have upgraded wiring, hardwear and pickups in that.

 

I no longer have a Epi. I reluctantly sold my Casino Coupe due to its constant 'movement'. It wouldnt stay set up for more than a fortnight. It played well and sounded great though.

 

All my working guitars are equals. They are all different, but none are 'better' than the others. If I was compelled to sell my expensive guitars, I would still be able to do everything I do now just as well.

 

Epis are great.

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I think Epiphone is an excellent brand.

 

But when I think of SG’s and Les Pauls and J-45’s I think of those as Gibson.

 

 

A Gibson branded Wilshire would seem equally as wrong...

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I would agree with many people on this thread, Epi's quality these days is great. I picked up the Peter Frampton LP last week and it is a beautiful guitar, even though the signed COA ends up costing an addition $200 [biggrin]

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Geeeez, I love playing my SG's.. The P-90's with the enhanced resonance of the Lightening Bar on the G400 style combination is killer, although a bit rare. The standard G400 design is based on the 61 SG with the slim taper neck making every fret extremely accessible. There was a little dive with the most of the G400's I have owned, except the SG Custom LP version with 3 pickups. But on the others I just used an extra wide leather bass strap to compensate, which also makes light G400's feel like they are not even there.

 

Body.jpg

 

I picked up a 2008 G400 today for a very reasonable price, I just couldn't leave the store without it. The body construction is interesting, 3 laminated blocks of mahogany with a thin mahogany veneer on the top and back. Different from my Korea made G400 that had the photo etched wood grain top. Anyway really happy with my new one, plays excellent. I may have to put some Humbucker sized P-90's in it... Its hard for me to believe I got a guitar that plays like this and with a set neck for the money I paid...

 

Epiphone%20SG%20Standard%20Pro.jpg

 

This G400 new listed for 1/2 of what my 61 SG Specials originally sold for. I don't get it, not that different when you compare them. I guess you just have to pay more for the 61 reissue's Custom Shop sticker and the old style P-90's, Lightening Bar and Wilkinson tuners.. The basic G400 is a lot of guitar for the money...

Edited by mihcmac

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I have had my fair share of Epiphone acoustics and other entry-level guitars before I had the skill to play, the knowledge to appreciate, and the opportunity to test out for myself as a lefty, high-end guitars of various brands.

 

From there on, I never looked back, and my mind set has developed into something along the lines of it being better to save up for one great guitar than flush your money down the drain in smaller increments for a couple of cheap rip-offs you will never be content with and that are either very detrimental to your pocket or nigh-impossible to get rid off of again. Also, I will never ever play a guitar again that doesn't have a nitro finish and that it oftentimes makes more sense to buy used rather than brand new.

 

I know what I'll be buying.

 

UrOTUh7.jpg

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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There are exceptions to every rule, sometimes great playing guitars don't have to be expensive. The last of these LP Junior DC's were sold for about $90 in a close out sale by MF. I paid a fewl times that amount for this one used after it was out of production. The way it sounded and played made my GIbson's look sick. Not a well built guitar with a weird plywood body, but the maple neck was killer. The only problem has been the fret wear that caused me to slow down on the frequency of playing it over the last 20 years. This one has been rode hard and put away wet many times.

 

Resized to 47% (was 1938 x 696) - Click image to enlargeplSH6oW.jpg

In the 80's and 90's Jr's with P-90's, specially DC's, started making a come back. There were not many companies producing them coming out of the law suit era. It was difficult to find the Billy Joe style guitars that were affordable. In the early 90's on eBay original Gibson Junior DC's, from the 50's, started around $10,000 and up, but for a Les Paul TV DC the sky was the limit. I saw one bid for a '55 close at $35,000. These were ridiculously out of reach for me. The Epiphone Junior DC's appeared in the 90's and didn't really catch on until their production run was over. I acquired a few of them in the bidding wars with my cutoff around $200. Some of the Epi Junior DC's that were TV Yellow sold for over $500. Now the market has changed because several manufactures are building high quality Junior DC style guitars. The Epi's show up on eBay from time to time but are not bringing what they used too, but still more than what the DC's originally sold for.

Edited by mihcmac

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My first Gibson was an SG standard.

 

I was bored in GC one day and had never tried an SG, so I picked up the Epiphone SG400.

 

I really liked the neck shape and fret access, it felt perfect in my hand.

 

Then I pulled down the SG Faded.

 

It was even better, the satin finish meant I could blaze around the neck, but I didn't really like the thin fretwire as much, and I'm not big on the "bare bones" look. I don't like dot inlays, I want binding, and covered pickups.

 

I decided if I was gonna get one, I'd pony up and get the SG standard, so I saved, worked OT, and when I was ready I found an SG standard, used, in mint condition at my local GC for $999.

 

I ran out as soon as I had the money and took it home.

 

But there were some issues.

 

One, it didn't have the same neck profile as the faded or epiphone. I thought I would learn to love it, but I didn't.

 

Two, there was an electronics issue and it was really weak sounding with no top end. The whole point of an SG is to have a spikey mid and top end and growl. This one sounded like a jazz guitar! It was soft, fluffy and muted.

 

I popped the back and found a PCB, meaning what would normally be a $15 tone pot swap would be a $80 or so full replacement to see if it's a pot, and if not the pot I'd have to pony up for a pickup swap. GC wouldn't give me free service on it, or return, so I traded it in for a DBZ guitar.

 

I still want an SG and I'm now torn betwern an Epiphone SG400 Pro for the binding and a Gibson SG Special for the satin finish. Maybe a different year of standard might have a neck more to my liking? It just felt very wide compared to the epiphone. I like thick, narrow necks.

 

As far as les pauls go, I love and respect how beautiful the fit and finish on the Gibson is, but not enough to poney up the cash for one. I don't really like the bare-bones les pauls like the Studio, for me it would have to be a Standard or Traditional.

 

I have my epiphone black beauty 3 and it does the trick for me.

 

Unless I see a dramatic change in my income relative to cost of living, I don't see owning a Gibson Les Paul. I just think of all the other things I could buy with that $1500 difference to get a better finished guitar that essentially sounds the same.

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My first Gibson was an SG standard.

 

I was bored in GC one day and had never tried an SG, so I picked up the Epiphone SG400.

 

I really liked the neck shape and fret access, it felt perfect in my hand.

 

Then I pulled down the SG Faded.

 

It was even better, the satin finish meant I could blaze around the neck, but I didn't really like the thin fretwire as much, and I'm not big on the "bare bones" look. I don't like dot inlays, I want binding, and covered pickups.

 

I decided if I was gonna get one, I'd pony up and get the SG standard, so I saved, worked OT, and when I was ready I found an SG standard, used, in mint condition at my local GC for $999.

 

I ran out as soon as I had the money and took it home.

 

But there were some issues.

 

One, it didn't have the same neck profile as the faded or epiphone. I thought I would learn to love it, but I didn't.

 

Two, there was an electronics issue and it was really weak sounding with no top end. The whole point of an SG is to have a spikey mid and top end and growl. This one sounded like a jazz guitar! It was soft, fluffy and muted.

 

I popped the back and found a PCB, meaning what would normally be a $15 tone pot swap would be a $80 or so full replacement to see if it's a pot, and if not the pot I'd have to pony up for a pickup swap. GC wouldn't give me free service on it, or return, so I traded it in for a DBZ guitar.

 

I still want an SG and I'm now torn betwern an Epiphone SG400 Pro for the binding and a Gibson SG Special for the satin finish. Maybe a different year of standard might have a neck more to my liking? It just felt very wide compared to the epiphone. I like thick, narrow necks.

 

As far as les pauls go, I love and respect how beautiful the fit and finish on the Gibson is, but not enough to poney up the cash for one. I don't really like the bare-bones les pauls like the Studio, for me it would have to be a Standard or Traditional.

 

I have my epiphone black beauty 3 and it does the trick for me.

 

Unless I see a dramatic change in my income relative to cost of living, I don't see owning a Gibson Les Paul. I just think of all the other things I could buy with that $1500 difference to get a better finished guitar that essentially sounds the same.

 

I love my 2017 Tribute, bare bones and all. It was, like, $700 on sale.

 

But I see what you’re saying - I myself can't even fathom spending the amount of money a new Standard costs. Not even if I had the money.

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My first guitar was a Matsumoku EA-250 from the early 70's.But I loved the original designs from the 60's. When I started buying in the early 2000's, I almost every Korean Archtop I could. 1 or 2 still missing, but I have a good assortment.

 

 

 

 

bE98KJd.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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I think Epiphone makes a fine product but now that I have a Gibson budget I buy Gibson vs Epiphone. I still have and play several Epiphones but in general I prefer the prestige of a Gibson vs an Epi.

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