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Korean or Chinese Casino


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I am looking to buy a Casino but I have heard that all new ones are coming from Japan instead of Korea...apart from the Elitist and USA ones.


If this is true, is it worth buying a Chinese made Casino? I have heard that they are not as good as the Korean made ones.


Also, is it worth trying to get an Elitist? They are very expensive and hard to come by in the UK.


Thanks very much

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Any new Casino you buy now will be made in China, unless the store stocked an incredible amount of Casinos before they left Korea an still has them left over.


An Elitist costs twice as much as a standard Casino (Elitists are made in Japan), but from what I've heard, it's worth the extra money.

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Probably the thing to do is to go and try out a Chinese-made Casino and see if it 'fits your bill'. The boys at QingDao have been producing some pretty good product these days and those that purchased the Casino seem to have nothing but good to say about it. Epiphone seems to do a better job on their P-90 guitars; I guess it's easier to engineer a good P-90 replica (less materials + more quality?) than it is to produce a really sweet humbucker.


In my opinion, an Elitist is always 'worth it' but that's not to say that a regular Epi won't be adequate to your needs.

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Thanks for your replies, really appreciated.


So would it be worth trying to hunt down a Korean made one? I have played a Chinese one and admittedly, it was very nice, though I had nothing to compare it to.


There are a couple of Elitists on ebay in the US, but I am not sure about trusting the supplier. Hqas anyone had anything from Dallas Used Guitar? They ship over to the UK.


Once again, thanks for your help

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Funny that, I just bought one made in Korea (U) from our major Epi dealer here in Australia. The two Casinos that I looked at before buying this one had "EE" serial numbers and were faulty. One had a loose output socket, the other had a crooked neck (couldn't believe it!). Obviously that isn't a common experience based on all the positive comments about the guitars coming out of Qingdao.


My Korean Casino is absolutely beautiful and I guess my experience hilights the need to hand pick your guitar where you can.



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I've never tried a MIC Casino, but I absolutely love my MIK (Peerless) Casino.


I do know enough to know that in ANY factory in ANY country, some of the instruments coming off the line will be better than the factory standard -- and some will be dogs.


If you are fussy (and there is nothing wrong with that), try it before you buy it.


Insights and incites by Notes

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I've only played a few Casinos... one being mine, Korean, one being the display in Guitar Center, Chinese, and the other two being the displays at the Great House of Guitars (one with Bigsby).


Three out of four were Korean, the fourth was Chinese. Maybe it was just me, but the Koreans all felt better than the Chinese.

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So it seems like the Korean model is the best bet. I have ordered a new Casino from a store over here in the UK and they said it will be in stock by the end of the month. They also said that it will be a Korean model, not Chinese. Though I am thinking it is gonna be the latter as they aren't making them in Korea anymore.....


Does anyone know of any stores in the UK that have MIK Casino's in stock??



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What these guys say here. Just play as many as you can and find one you like. I had three. All MIK. The best one of the bunch was a red 90s from the Peerless plant. It was put together as well as any Gibson, and I do have Gibsons to compare it to. The early re-issue casinos I have seen from the 90s had the flat dull plastic inlays no swirl to them. I got it as a clearance really cheap but new and it had a real woody tone to it.


Being a huge Beatle fan I then bought a burst and natural and didn't want to own 3 so I got rid of the red one. The burst and the natural both came out of the same factory but the burst has a slim neck and stronger pickups and a few cosmetic flaws nothing major. The natural one is cosmetic perfect but has weaker pickups and a fatter neck.


The early Chinese ones I looked at were just bad and sounded bad. The naturals I saw at GC all had no grain figuring in the top and a really yellowish tint to the finish. The ones out now look and sound really good from the few I have picked up. I would say from what I have seen lately that the China plants have it figured out now so just go and play as many as possible and pick the one you that you don't like but love. I don't see too much diference between the MIKs now and the MICs. They will all have subtle differences to them like mine I mentioned, just avoid the early production Chinese ones, but you will be able to tell by looking and playing them what you like.


As far as the Elitist ones I have played a burst and a Revolution Casino at a store I go to who knows me I brought my MIK burst to AB them and there was just not that much tone difference. The Elitist was flawless in its finish and felt really good but tone wise to mine almost the same. Just not enough of a difference to trade in mine and get the Elitist over my MIK.


If a casino is going to be your main guitar then check out the Elitist version. I like my casions and have them being a Beatle fan but my main guitars I gig with are SGs and 335s. I prefer the humbuckers and the solid bodys and or blocks in them.


Hope this helps in your decision.

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I don't think you'll have any trouble with a Chinese Casino... every factory will have bad days. Gibson QingDao has been open for over two years now' date=' I'm sure they've fixed any issues they were having.[/quote']


Some of the Chinese Casino's I've seen lately have true, one-piece necks. I may be wrong, but I don't think any of the Korean models had them. The Koreans were (and are) making fine guitars, but I would suspect a good Chinese model with a one-piece neck might have some sonic advantages. But really, differences can be found in any two similar guitars regardless of minor contruction methods and differences in materials, which is why you need to compare side by side.


That said, you can't expect either the Chinese or Korean versions to come close to an Elitist if you can get one.


Red 333

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I've only played a few Casinos... one being mine' date=' Korean, one being the display in Guitar Center, Chinese, and the other two being the displays at the Great House of Guitars (one with Bigsby).


Three out of four were Korean, the fourth was Chinese. Maybe it was just me, but the Koreans all felt better than the Chinese.[/quote']


You know of that mythical place known as the Great House of Guitars?

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It's like Disney World, but sixty degrees colder in the winter.


Believe it or not, proximity to HOG was important when I was choosing colleges.


The first time I went, I was in awe... especially after they handed me $2000 worth of guitars and pointed towards the amp room.

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<...> I had three. All MIK. The best one of the bunch was a red 90s from the Peerless plant. It was put together as well as any Gibson' date=' and I do have Gibsons to compare it to.<...>[/quote']


I have a '70 Gibson ES-330 made in Kalamazoo and a '01 Casino made in the Peerless Plant in Korea. They are for all practical purposes the same guitar.


The build quality of the Casino is equal to the Gibson, but there are differences.

* The Gibson has real pearl inlays in the fretboard while the Epi has "pearloid".

* The neck at the nut on the Epi is a little bit wider than the Gibson (probably metric/English measurements).

* The Gibson has a Nitro finish and the Epi has Poly

* Gibson has a one piece neck/headstock, Epi has 1 piece neck and 3 piece headstock

* Gibson 3 ply body and I've been told the Epi is 5 ply (I can't tell).


But the differences are definitely minor.


The build of the MIK Casino is as far as I can tell as good as the MIK (Kalamazoo) Gibson.


Most people have probably seen these pictures, but I'll post them again for comparison:





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Thanks for all of your help and comments, I have learned quite a lot!!!


I have ordered a Casino this morning and it should be here soon. The store can't really tell me for sure if it will be MIK or MIC, but after reading these comments, it seems like the China factory has been making them well for a while now. I'll post some pics when it arrives....

Also, does anyone know if they ship with an Epiphone hard case as standard? Some dealers seem to offer them and others don't.....


Thanks once again.

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  • 1 year later...



did you receive your casino in the meanwhile? Is it a Korean or a Chinese-Model.


I just ordered a Casino and it seems I have to wait a few weeks/months because the stores in Germany seems empty at this time.




my name is Michael, I live in Germany and my first Epiphone was a LP Special II. I look forward getting my new Casino, sometime in the future.

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I've owned all three--MIC, MIK, and MIJ Elitist. I kept the Elitist, and it's my favorite of all my electrics, including teles and strats. MIK would be my second choice--it was hard to give it up in order to get the Elitist (wish I could have kept both). The Elistist just sounds a little better, acoustically and a little cleaner plugged in. They may be improving the MICs now, but the one I had was not up to the same quality as the MIK--I returned it within the 30 day return period. The Elitist is really worth the difference, though.


Notes_Norton--I always like seeing pics of your Casino and ES-330.



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  • 8 months later...



I have owned both a MIC and MIK Casinos and here is what I've noticed between the two:-


Good Points


The MIC (2009) appeard to be 'finished' to a higher standard - no paint runs, fret markers all in line with each other, absolutely stunning binding, hardware fitted to an exceptional standard.


The MIK (2001 Peerless) is made from scratch to a much higher quality, the unplugged acoustic sound is sensational, the wood quality is much greater and overall it's a better guitar, you can really tell that the manufacturing processes and luthery skills at Peerless was top notch.



Bad Points


The MIC has lower quality electronics and hardware, I shouldn't have to suffer with slipping tuners, a poorly cut nut and crackly pots from a brand new guitar.


The MIK has paint runs in the f-holes and on the headstock, and the fret markers on the binding are slighty off-line



Anyway, here are the guitars!













Overall I'd be pretty happy owning either guitar if I had to choose just one as a professional luthier can fix any issues that you might have. The MIK is currently having a bone nut, Bigsby and full set up/service to make it to my own specs.

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I owned this MIC Casino for a few months earlier this year:




As you can see, it was certainly a nice looking guitar. I would agree Fantana's comments above - the finish on these instruments is very good indeed.


However, after a few weeks of playing it, I just fell out of love with it (which is very unusual for me - I tend to like guitars or not like them, rather than having a "honeymoon" period with new guitars.) There were issues with the hardware (the tuners were terrible), the bridge wasn't great - but the P90s were wonderful. But it wasn't the hardware that put me off the guitar (the hardware would have been an easy fix) - it was the neck. Huge and hulking, like a '59 Les Paul on steroids.


I owned a Korean Casino in the mid-1990s, and remembered it having a nice, slender neck. In hindsight, I should have listened to the advice of some people here who basically said: "Buy a used Korean if you can't find/afford an Elitist."


But in hindsight, the experience showed me that buying guitars online is sometimes a crap-shoot. I tried a MIC Casino in my local Guitar Center some time before buying the one I ended up with. That was a really nice instrument, but it had an unusual feature - although it was a standard natural-finish MIC Casino, it had an 'Epiphone Custom Shop" sticker on the back of the headstock. I have since heard rumors that these guitars were few and far between, and were basically made using left-over necks from the run of Bigsby-equipped special editions sold a few years ago. That would figure, as the guitar I tried that day had an 2006 serial number, even though it was on sale in a busy Guitar Center in January 2009. Which seems incongruous.


That was the Casino I should have bought! Unfortunately, it had a few dings and scratches. It was during the period that Casinos sold for $699, and I felt the Guitar Center salesman should have been prepared to knock a few bucks off the price, on account of the slight damage. He wasn't, so I walked out and thought, "well, these new MIC Casinos are pretty sweet guitars." A few weeks later AMS had a sale, Casino + hardshell case for $669, so I found myself entering my credit card details into their secure checkout quicker than I thought I could type.


When the new Casino arrived, I perhaps knew (in my heart of hearts) that it just wasn't as good as the one I had played in Guitar Center that day. I disliked the huge neck, but I figured "Well, I'll be mainly using this for playing rhythm guitar, I'll get to like it." Basically, I think I tried to talk myself into liking this fantastic looking (and tonally quite pleasing) guitar. I should have returned it under the 45 day return policy, for the cost of nothing more than the UPS shipping...but I didn't. Idiot. [biggrin] Instead, I went with the "It's a Casino, it's beautiful, and the more I play it the more I'll like it" approach.


By September this year it was sitting forlornly on its stand in the corner of music room, with a layer of dust on it. One week, I had a day off work in the middle of the week, so I cleaned it up, put it back in its case with all of the case candy, and drove to a local music store I like a lot. I figured that I bought it on impulse so I'd dispose of it on impulse too.


And after a happy couple of hours playing various guitars, the owner kindly gave me a very good deal against this:




...a St Blues Mississippi Bluesmaster...which is most definitely not collecting dust (in fact, it was last gigged this past weekend...)


I'd still consider another Casino in the future (although that's certainly not a priority right now, at all).


But next time I will certainly follow the old adage of "try before you buy." That way, I don't think it actually matters whether you buy Made in China, Made in Korea, or Made on Pluto. But you can be sure that you're bringing home a guitar you have actually played and like.

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