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Can you make a regular Epi "Elitist" in terms of quality?


The_Sentry

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I think this is a valid question in light of the circling rumors of the further cutoff of availability in terms of the Epiphone Elitists.

 

So....for those who cannot, or do not have access to the Elitists for whatever reason....can aftermarket/post-sale upgrades make a standard Epiphone "Elitist" in terms of tone and quality?

 

If so, what would have to be done to the guitar to get it to that point?

 

And if not (for example, wood), why can't said guitar compare with the Elitist models?

 

EDIT: Some examples:

 

1. New bridge

2. Bone nut

3. Fret leveling

4. New pickups....

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I think this is a valid question in light of the circling rumors of the further cutoff of availability in terms of the Epiphone Elitists.

 

So....for those who cannot' date=' or do not have access to the Elitists for whatever reason....can aftermarket/post-sale upgrades make a standard Epiphone "Elitist" in terms of tone and quality?

 

If so, what would have to be done to the guitar to get it to that point?

 

And if not (for example, wood), why can't said guitar compare with the Elitist models?

 

EDIT: Some examples:

 

1. New bridge

2. Bone nut

3. Fret leveling

4. New pickups....[/quote']

 

I think some mods like complete swapping out of electronics with American electronics would be the best start. A good setup by a luthier would be good. And, of course, a good hard shell case. I don't know if I would bother with the other mods like a bone nut. My MIK epiphones look pretty darned good. But I wouldn't want a MIK spruce top with the enormous lake of poly on the surface. Both of my Byrdlands are Elitists, and I probably wouldn't go with a non-Elitist Broadway or Emperor.

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What the heck - I am probably wrong but close so I will take a shot.

 

Yes and no. The obvious, such as swapping out electronics, would help. I don't know if Elitists have their frets drssed before shipping any more than any other product. The other items, such as binding (guitar bling), you can't match. Many Elitists have one piece necks and some are tapered more (more slender) than non-Elitists. So that won't be equal. The woods used will not be the same. With careful alterations you may come close to an Elitist but you wouldn't be able to recreate one.

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To expand on the topic a bit' date=' though. If the Elitist model is still available, I would get it. If it wasn't, I would next try the regular Elitist line, but this gives you many more options. Like making an SG or a Lucille or a black Sheraton into an Elitist-like guitar.[/quote']

 

Yeah. It sounds like everyone who can qualify to get one should....

 

<------sigh

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And if not (for example' date=' wood), why can't said guitar compare with the Elitist models?

[/quote']

 

The workmanship. As I posted in another thread I recently had the chance to evaluate one of each (a basic Epi Custom with an Elitist Custom) and the wood workmanship of the basic model was... well how do I put it nicely, CRAP compared to the Elitist. The binding, the neck-body joint, the fingerboard inlays... all were disappointing on the basic Custom. The Elitist was perfect. The frets perfectly dressed and clean with the neck binding which is perfectly consistent the full length of the fingerboard. The inlays are immaculate with no gap or filler at all. These are things that you can't upgrade and they were the most obvious deficiencies I discovered in the basic model.

 

If I had kept the basic model and upgraded the hardware (which was inferior as well) it would have been, as they say, putting frosting on a turd. To me the guitar starts and ends with the wood and the quality of the workmanship. These things HAVE to be there or it's a lost cause.

 

Curt

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No, sorry...It's like trying to make a Gibson, out of an Epiphone. You'll get close, but there's still going to be

that "difference." If you're looking for Elitist quality, bite the bullet and get one, while you still can.

It won't be a bad investment, and you'll be glad you did. Having said that, a good set-up, and upgrading the pickups and electronics, on the Chinese or Korean standard Epi's will certainly get you a great sounding and playing guitar. But, Elitist is Elitist, for a reason...as is Gibson! ;>)

 

CB

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Unfortunately in order to renovate this particular house you need to tear out the foundation... at which point it becomes more effort than it's worth. There's just no way to compensate for the Indonesian wood used in regular Epis compared to the genuine African mahogany and maple cap (depending on the model) that the Elitists use.

 

About the closest you'd get for a Les Paul would be to start with one of the old Samick models from the mid nineties, which at least had a nice slim neck, a basswood body with an alder cap and were a full two inches thick. Strip off the polyester finish and redo with lacquer or a thin polyurethane finish... then mill the frets, replace the pickups and electronics, install nickel hardware instead of the chrome stuff... and you've done too much work and you're still not going to make it to the finish line.

 

No, take heart in the fact that Elitists will be available for some time on eBay and it will be a while before the prices start to get ridiculous.

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I hope this isn't out of line here but my recently purchased ES 295 set up VERY nicely, as good as any guitar I have owned. It's tone is just over the top; I get compliments from musicians I admire and who know a good sounding guitar when they hear it. Aside fom me still getting used to a thicker body, it's playabiity offers nothing to wish for. I have a problem understanding how it can be imroved upon. I am a newbie to Epihone but I have been around the proverbial block. Cheers.

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Both of my Byrdlands are Elitists' date=' and I probably wouldn't go with a non-Elitist Broadway or Emperor.[/quote']

 

Jeffery, I beg to differ. Both of my Emp IIs are regular production from Samick.

Other than changing out the p_ups, switch, jack and pots/caps, they are very

well made and even though they have a poly finish, the sound is very sweet

for a 3 inch archtop. I also have a USED Broadway Elitist with a poly finish..very

nice sounding guitar..BUT it is NOT a Gibson L5. Whether the nitro finish makes

a difference, (some people think it does), however, I don't know how much difference it

would make on the Epiphones. I know that my Gibson made Triumph had a

nitro finish and didn't sound half bad, but my Takamine classic has poly and

it has wonderful tone, sustain and projection.

 

However, depending on the models, you find out there (used or new), you can

find some nice non-Elitist models, you just have to look around more and it's

a matter of luck as well.

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I hope this isn't out of line here but my recently purchased ES 295 set up VERY nicely' date=' as good as any guitar I have owned. It's tone is just over the top; I get compliments from musicians I admire and who know a good sounding guitar when they hear it. Aside fom me still getting used to a thicker body, it's playabiity offers nothing to wish for. I have a problem understanding how it can be imroved upon. I am a newbie to Epihone but I have been around the proverbial block. Cheers.[/quote']

 

I'm sort of in the same boat with one of my guitars.

 

My Les Paul custom (and I've already wanked about this so many times it's not funny anymore) has a modified bridge, burstbuker pro alcino V pickups, and a bone nut....but I'm still not happy with the tone of the thing. My used LP Standard Plus, stock, just blows that guitar out of the water. (Well, this might be exaggerating a little, but at the same time that stock, used Epi with only one mod keeps on delivering in ways the Custom hasn't.) I sent it to a new repair tech to get some "wolf tones" addressed, but at the same time?

 

I already ordered another bridge for it....(TonePros). I'm also going to "Hurry! Big Time Labor Day Blowout Sale at You-Know-Where" the big guitar store to get some locking tuners. A nice set will probably offer a very minor increase in sustain. The Grovers are OK, but after using Planet Waves lockers on the other guitar...I'm sold on those. Very easy to change strings, and they stay in tune longer.

 

 

But after this? This is about as far as I can go with this guitar. After this last major upgrade (which I'll probably do all at once sometime at the end of next week) I can't take the LP Custom any further. There's nothing else to replace...other than the guitar itself!

 

Hahahah

 

PS: Either way, I'm probably going to have some spare parts left over. I think I'm going to find a really cheap normal, right handed Special II and use the old Epi parts and surprise a friend for Xmas...

 

EDIT: Almost forgot....I do have some long-shaft linear Gibson pots in the toolbox...but I haven't installed 'em, and so far I haven't really felt the urge since a lot of these tone-tests are done with the guitar dry, aka not plugged in. Plus, I'm rather insistent that technically, 500K SHOULD be 500K. It shouldn't make a difference...even though it probably does. (The other reason? I'm left handed, so changing the pots would basically have to force me to reverse the controls, ie, turning the volume up and down would be the opposite of what it is right now....I can do it, but the annoyance factor is sort of kicking in here...)

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I've been lucky enough to own several top line guitars... les pauls, fenders etc. My Last 'big bucks' axe was a 1954 fender thin skin strat reissue that I bought and shipped from the USA. It looked cool but just wasn't right at the same time I owned a SRV sig strat again not a bad guitar but not amazing.

 

I've now sold up and got myself 60's mim strat which sounds and plays (imho) better than both and it cost me £275 a quarter of the price of the other two strats!!

 

I've also got myself a epi casino mik which is better sounding than the strat (punchier and more gibson like).

 

I would bet that all these guitar anoracks who bang on about 'nitro this' and 'thin skin that' wouldn't be able to tell the difference (with thier eyes closed) listening to a mik casino and an elitist casino... as long as it was played through a decent valve amp

 

mine rocks, who cares where it's made... if it sounds cool plays cool whats the difference.... nothing but price!

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I think this is a valid question in light of the circling rumors of the further cutoff of availability in terms of the Epiphone Elitists.

 

So....for those who cannot' date=' or do not have access to the Elitists for whatever reason....can aftermarket/post-sale upgrades make a standard Epiphone "Elitist" in terms of tone and quality?

 

If so, what would have to be done to the guitar to get it to that point?

 

And if not (for example, wood), why can't said guitar compare with the Elitist models?

 

EDIT: Some examples:

 

1. New bridge

2. Bone nut

3. Fret leveling

4. New pickups....[/quote']

 

Sorry..I'm a bit late coming in on this one. I have an SG - G400 with the Maestro trem...the guy who owned it before me gave it a full pro set up and fitted new electrics and a pair of Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers....its a really good player and it sounds great. So said I also have an SG '61 Elite (2002, so not 'ist)..there's something about these guitars which is hard to define...It really is as close as you can get to a 60's vintage instrument without spending thousands. There's no contest really.... Still there's nothing wrong with the cheaper Epi's...they are good guitars which can be much improved without major surgery.....Chris

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If you replace all the parts of an object' date=' is it still the original object ?[/quote']

 

Of course it is. I'm the proud owner of my great-great-great-great-great-granddaddy's axe, and I can honestly say that after thirteen heads and twentyfive handles it still cuts as good as new. They just don't make stuff like they used to.

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I did everything you listed in your post...

I took a stock sherry2 and changed everything that wasn't wood...

Seymour Duncan Seth Lover+ Mojo prewired assembly.

Grover C106 autolocking machines head,

New metallic and heavy Knobs, new pickguard...

new bridge...

 

I must say that my Sherry sounded very, very well as it was, as far as wood were concerned. It seemed to be "well born".Good unplugged sound, a lot of sustain.

 

But what I have know is a different guitar. Much better, absolutly.

I can use both pickups with the same amp setting and I will always have a rich, fat, complex tone.

I use my Fender Hotrod Deluxe slightly overdrived and it's fantastic.

 

Pots are now very responsive, and playing at 100% volume or 90 % is extremly different as far as tone is concerned.

You don't loose any tone quality at 90% or 80% anyway.

 

 

 

I paid 330 $ (211 €) for this upgrade (the pickups were second hand)

Total price of the guitar : 731 €

We pay 1200 € for an elitist here in Europe if we find it.

 

An elitist may be better, but not so much anyway. I'm now convinced and happy with my sound, that's the most important.

 

Of course, a blind test with both guitar would put a final point to this topic, even if it would always be a question of taste.

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