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Epi Emperor - Joe Pass Value


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Today I was out buying another amp, a Bugera Vintage 22, and I noticed an Epi Joe Pass near the back of the store. It's used. Natural with the typical poly finish. Aging was apparent on the bindings. There were a number of minor dings that indicated less than adequate care in handling and playing the guitar. Only a couple managed to break through the poly finish. the one that concerns me ost is a crack in the finish on the back of the body about 1.5 inches below the beck/body joint. The crack is a half moon shape with the points aiming toward the lower bout. If I read it right it appears that the guitar fell and hit either the headstock or the neck (no visible evidence on either of those parts) and the stress showed up on the body. Still, the guitar was solid. The neck was much like a baseball bat and that's something coming from me as I prefer a medium to slightly large neck. the headstock had a nicely done pattern similar to the Sheraton and the truss rod cover was engraved with the Gibson name. Neck was nice and straight. The gold hardware was already fading with extremely light bubbling/peel. the tag noted that it was strung with some light jazz strings (12-52) but they most certainly felt like 10s.


When played without being plugged in it wasn't very loud and it was extremely bright. When plugged in it was a very well balanced tone and very warm sounding. The electronics do need some attention as there was an incessant and annoying crackle which made me think of either a loose wire or a grounding/shorting wire. Of course a visual inspection did not reveal the cause.


In all, despite it's many flaws it remains quite an impressive guitar in appearance, sound and playability. If nothing else, it appears to have good bones so no major or even minor structural repairs are required and all repairs are either electronic or cosmetic.


The price tag says $450. There may be some room to negotiate but previous experience says not to expect any more than a 10% discount which would realistically get the price down to $400. Is it worth that much or would I do better looking elsewhere?

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It sounds like it COULD be a good deal. Does the price include a case? Or perhaps a gig bag? If so it sounds pretty reasonable, especially for a store. Occasionally a private seller on eBay or craigslist will let one go for less, but there may or may not be issues, and if you know and like the folks at the store, buying from them will help keep them in business.


If the serial number starts with S or R, even better, as those are the premium Korean factories that made the Joe Pass model.


If it were me, I'd point out the finish cracks to the dealer (reminding them that poly finishes aren't easy to touch up) and see if they'll come down a bit, or at least sweeten the deal with a case or gigbag, or at least several packages of strings, strap, or other accessories. $450-$500 sounds about right for a used JP in good condition. If the store won't budge on the price or throw in some more goodies, it might be worth waiting for another one at a similar price in better condition.

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Hi Twanger


I bought my 1997 Samick built JP it was in very good condition just the usual dodgy switch and a chip in the nut which I planned on changing anyway.




Guitars are expensive here in Sweden but I bought mine for $450 with a case. It now has new pups and electrics and looks like this




I still think it was money well spent.....

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FWIW, to give you some idea, I paid about $370 + shipping for mine (used). It had no damage at all, but did require a good cleaning, but it came with the epi hardshell case. It is a 1997 Samick. I recollect that I did end up replacing the bridge with a better one though. It greatly improved the intonation and sound quality.


I have a number of other guitars here, but I must admit, I play the Pass all the time. It sits next to a Gretsch Country Classic, some Fenders and a couple of Sheratons, and I always grab the Pass. A lot of that has to do with what I play and how I play it I guess.


For me - it is one of the best values on the planet. I would buy another without hesitation should I need to replace it.

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Overall, as long as it's in reasonably good shape and comes with a hardshell case,

even if the case is not original..it's still a reasonably good deal. That's what I paid

for mine on E-Bay, and even with the shipping being extra and conversion to

Cdn dollars (14%) at the time, it is still worth it. I completely rewired mine with

GFS vintage 59s and new pots, switch, GFS tom bridge and kluson style tuners.


Hard to find an archtop that plays that well or sounds as good for any less.

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Thanks everyone!


Interesting that everyone mentioned the case because I asked about a case and there isn't one that comes with it. :-s


I think without the case and the damage I'll just pass on it until a better one presents itself.


Thanks again everyone!

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