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Mike H

Did Epiphone cheap out on the electronics in the Century Archtops?

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I absolutely love the Century Zenith Archtop I got a month or so ago. It's insanely easy playing, it sounds like nothing I've heard before, and it's damn pretty! It's hard to put it down.

 

That said, the electronics are probably the worst I've ever heard in an acoustic/electric guitar. Either the Shadow Nanoflex HD undersaddle pickup is a piece of cr*p or it just doesn't play well with the eSonic HD preamp (preamps are easy, so I'm leaning toward the pickup as the weak link). Either way, it's hard to believe that Epiphone let this beast out of the door the way it is (I'm assuming they're all like this).

 

It's important to note that this is the second unit I've had in the past month with the same problem, leading me to believe that this is 'normal'. The first was sent back to the dealer with other issues, also related to the electronics - flaky volume control, uneven output across the strings, and very low output level. After waiting three weeks with no ETA for replacement parts from Gibson/Epiphone, the dealer agreed to replace the guitar with a new unit (actually, he offered to replace it immediately but, since I had the original PLEK'd, I was willing to wait for that one to be repaired. After three weeks, he offered to PLEK the replacement, so we're good on that point).

 

The replacement is in much better shape, electronics-wise, but the output level is still very low. I can deal with that. The piezo quack, on the other hand, is the most hideous I've ever heard! It's shrill, trebly, and, dare I say, painful! Even with the tone control turned all the way down, the string noise from incidental sliding overwhelms everything else. And it hurts my ears! It's simply not usable without a pedal to squelch the incessant screech, and, even then, is nothing to get excited about.

 

I'm not inclined to pay upwards of 30% of the price of the guitar for upgraded electronics, but I'm not sure what other option I have. Can anyone recommend a suitable replacement for the Nanoflex pickup and/or the eSonic preamp? Perhaps a microphonic pickup of some sort? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

As I said, I love this guitar, so I'm not letting it go. I just want it to sound more like it does in the promotional videos Epiphone shamelessly put on YouTube.

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I've had mine almost a year and just plugged it into an amp for the first time (other than to test it) yesterday. I was impressed how close the amplified sound was to the purely acoustic sound, and that I could easily warm it up with either the sound hole tone control or the amp's. I was playing clean through a class A amp with the tone controls relatively flat, and just a touch of reverb.

 

Red 333

Edited by Red 333

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I have to turn my amp’s treble down and the bass up, but then my Olympic sounds great. I leave the amp’s midrange in the center. Guess that’s why amp’s have treble and bass controls...to compensate for things such as this. Note: I put the guitar’s controls all in the center, relying on my amp for the adjustments. With the amp adjustments, I’m happy. FYI, I also use a gain pedal (LTMF’s pedal, I think it’s called. It only cost $40 at Sam Ash.). With the gain pedal, the guitar’s pickup being potentially underpowered goes away. Imported Epi’s seem to always have a bit underpowered pickups. A gain pedal resolves that.

 

Just my experience. Mine’s a great instrument.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

Edited by QuestionMark

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