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A Tale of 2 Epi's - Dot Upgrade Showdown (MIK v MIC)


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Well after 12 years of sloppy playing, I finally wore out the frets on my Epi Sheraton. A re-fret seemed like overkill on a “budget” guitar, so I began the quest for a new one. I stalked ebay and the local music stores for another Sheraton, but a used Dot Deluxe VS that had been manufactured in the Saein, Korea factory in July, 2004 eventually caught my eye. I then looked at several more recent (Chinese) versions of this guitar, but the Korean Dot seemed to have a similar feel to the Sheraton – more so than the others. The necks on the Chinese versions felt like baseball bats by comparison, and I also liked the color on the Korean one – a beautiful tobacco sunburst that had a little more red in it than the others. I decided to go for it, and walked out the door for $300, case included.


I’ve made some upgrades over the last couple of months (GFS vintage ’59 pickups, graphite nut, fret job) and was about ready to do some more (chrome Gotoh hardware, Seymour Duncan ‘59’s) when I came across a Chinese Dot Deluxe with a price I just couldn’t pass up. I didn’t need another Dot, but the price was so low that I knew I could make a buck on it, and in the meantime I thought it would be interesting to compare it to my Korean version. I acquired the new guitar, and set out to finish my remaining upgrades 1-at-a-time, while trying to objectively measure the change in tone and playability. The final step of the comparison would be the GFS vs Duncan pickups.


Comparison specs:



-MIK 8 lbs, 9 oz

-MIC 7 obs, 15 oz


Neck depth (measured @ 7th fret)

-MIK 13/16"

-MIC 15/16"


Initial Observations:


-Overall fit & finish is similar (finish, binding, pickup cavities, f-holes)

-End of neck (by neck pickup) is very rough on MIC guitar

-Grain is more even and consistent on the MIK guitar

-As with the other MIC guitars I demoed, the neck feels HUGE on this one (full 1/8" thicker than MIK)

-MIC guitar balances much better, in addition to being lighter; MIK guitar feels neck-heavy



****Up next - Nut, hardware impact on tone; GFS vs stock pickups

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By the way - new to this forum and I can't for the life of me figure out how to add pictures. Simple copy & paste, click and drag don't seem to work. Dumb question, I'm sure..... but I'd appreciate knowing the "secret". Thanks

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Well I put the stock pickups back in the Korean Dot and restrung both guitars. The difference between the 2 guitars at this point were wood/construction, and hardware. Again, the MIK Dot has all Gotoh hardware and a graphite nut from StewMac. I played both guitars side-by-side through my 2 amps - Peavey Classic 30 w/ Groove Tubes and a Fender Blues Deville 410 w/ JJ Tesla tubes. The MIK guitar had noticably more punch and sustain...could be the difference in wood (it is much heavier than the other one) but I suspect that the aluminum tailpiece, Nashville bridge and graphite nut improve the tone as well. One very cool thing about all the newer Dots is that the pickups are wired with modular clips. This makes swapping pickups a 5 minute job, even for a complete novice. Both guitars also came equipped with 500K pots and reasonably nice jacks and switches. Not quite Switchcraft, but pretty good. I then switched the pickups from one guitar to the other and the sound was the same. Definitely no difference in pickups. The Korean guitar again had noticeably more ring, sustain and balls. I realize a difference in wood can greatly affect tone, but the difference in tone between these 2 guitars is substantial. $50 for an upgraded bridge / tailpiece and nut of your choice (bone, tusq, graphite, slipstone) seems well worth it to me.


Next I installed my set of GFS Vintage '59 pickups to the MIC guitar. Played side-by-side with the MIK, the GFS pickups sound very bright, clear and articulate. The MIK guitar (stock Alnico '57's) sounds boomy by comparison - very strong bass, but mids and treble are lacking compared to the GFS pickups. However, the stock pickups drive both amps better than the GFS pickups - they deliver more punch and cause the amp to break up more quickly than the '59's. The GFS pickups to my ear are thin sounding by comparison. Not bad....they just don't drive the amp. You need some real volume to get that warm, overdriven PAF tone.


Then I swapped pickups and found the results about the same. The GFS pickups sound better in the MIK guitar, but they still lack the punch I'm looking for in a humbucker. However, that's obviously personal preference. I have a couple of single coil guitars and would choose to play one of those if I'm looking for a clean and sparkly tone. I have the Dot for a fat, vintage, overdriven blues tone. I think the GFS '59 pickups would also work great for jazz work. I could roll off the tone a bit and get a very respectable jazz tone.


My next step is to A/B/C compare a set of Seymour Duncan '59 PAF's with the GFS and stock pickups.....

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