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Epiphone quality.


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Folks,

 

I am a classic example of a horse's *** who stopped playing cheap guitars after my Telestar (when I was11).

 

I avoided Epiphone like the plague (and all Asian copies), but my new Epi's are dumbfounding me.

 

Is this new Epiphone quality due to new Chinese plant, or have they been making great guitars all along (and I was too Hardheaded to notice?).

 

I've come across some crappy Epi's and Gibsons in the past!

 

Did have a cool Epi Cornet one but I did'nt consider it frontliner[confused] !

 

Legs

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I remember in the early 80's that guys with epiphones were often made fun of.

But they have always made fairly good quality guitars.

 

However with the new Epi/Gibby plants in China I believe the quality has gotten better.

I have a luthier here in town who has been in business since 1978. He builds, restores, and repairs guitars, mandolins, banjos and amps. He is also an excellent musician.

 

He has told me a number of times that the quality of workmanship that comes out of China is, and has always been better than any other Asian country. Including Korea.

 

Now I know a lot of folks say that the Korean models are the best. But he has worked on thousands of Korean Guitars for over 30 years, and thousands of Chinese Guitars for over 30 years, and he says it's not even close.

The overall quality of the Korean stuff is poorly made in his opinion.

 

And I again have to say I agree. I have owned Korean and Chinese guitars myself. China wins for me most of the time. That's not to say there are not great guitars from Korea. My 97 LP (blue one in avatar) is Korean. It's well made. But my 06 G400 seems to have been built a little better. Less flaws. Better quality parts.

Each model is different however, and I think you need to look at each guitar on an individual basis rather than praising or condemning a whole country.

 

I know many of you are going to be telling me I'm wrong. So go ahead.

But it won't change my mind.

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Well I have a MIC 2008 LP Standard Ebony and I've looked it over almost with a microscope and damned if I can find anything low quality or any sign of poor craftsmanship. It sounds great, stays in tune and a couple of pro musician friends have had nice things to say about it after playing it. I'm pretty new to all this but I'm very satisfied with my guitar and wouldn't hesitate to buy another if something happened to this one.

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I guess it depends on how you look at it and possibly which guitars you look at. For instance, the low-end stuff like the Specials and say, the G-310 are using better pickups and woods than when they were made in Korea. So the quality there has improved greatly.

 

Then, I have 1986 Korean Epiphone S-500 strat. The neck is to die for. Seriously. It compares to the old-school Kramer/ESP & Charvel/Jackson necks. You'd be hard pressed to find a neck like this on any modern Epiphone or Chinese guitar at all. But the body (ply) and routing (messy) are just terrible. I know its probably not really a fair comparison because they dont make the model anymore. But its an example of both the best and worst of the Korean guitars all rolled into one.

 

If I was a pro musician, I would probably stay away from most Epiphones just from a durability standpoint. As a gigging musician, I dont gig my Epi basses anymore because they just cant hang. As much as I love them, I've had too many problems with them to consider them reliable in the electronics department. One of them is even a $1000 bass, and I still have had too many problems with the electronics to ever consider taking it without a backup. But this is just my opinion. I'm sure others will have their own opinions and experiences much different than mine.

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I have been playing a 1958 Tele since that guitar was about 10 years old so I am pretty set in my ways. But I have also never stopped loving the el cheapo U.S. - made Silvertones, Kays and Harmonys as well as anyting MIJ with Gold Foil pickups.

 

My take on Epis - the hollow and semi-hollow body guitars give alot of bang for the bucks and with a few mods can be great guitars. The solid body guitars, however, while still a good value, do not fare as well when compared to something like an Agile or an Edwards.

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Having had the chance to compare two "identical" guitars myself the last few weeks' date=' I couldn't find a difference

in Quality with my first MiC Ultra II to my new MiK Ultra II

 

I changed them just for the better look

 

Peter[/quote']

 

 

Peter, I didn't know you had switched guitars. Did you switch from the black to another color?

Or just another black one that looks better?

 

My own Ultra 2 is a fine guitar. I can't find a flaw anywhere on the guitar.

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I think I've got a pretty representative selection from both factories:

 

The Ultra, Firebird VII, Korina Flying V and Lucille are all MIK. Both Prophecy's and the Riviera P93 are MIC. I really don't see any outstanding differences in any of them that could be used as an indicator of which location produced a superior instrument. Whether I consider one of them to be just a flat-out better guitar has nothing to do with which factory produced it.

 

I think it's like anything having to do with guitars ... there are gonna be some rotten apples in any bunch. Each guitar has to be played and judged on its own merits regardless of where it comes from.

 

Jim

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Thanks Epiphone Boners,

 

I'm glad that I've bought these 2. Maybe UPS will fall off the truck and bring me my SG.

 

If nothing else they're making me play again and the prettiest woman I know told me I was awesome yesterday (fooled her!).

I've needed something to care about. Thanks Epiphone!

 

Legs [biggrin]

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My only experience with a Chinese Epi. wasn't so good..........(my '56 Gold Top)

The guitar its self is solid, the neck is good, and the p'ups are passable.

BUT

The fretboard is made of such poor quality rosewood that is looks like zebrawood.......big yellow stripes throughout.

The input socket had to be replaced almost immediately.

The neck p'up wasn't even screwed into the body.

The 3-way switch broke internally after less than 50 hrs. play-time.(probably 20 p'up changes)

The neck had to be adjusted on each of the 1st 2 days I had the guitar, it was so bad that I was afraid to adjust it all out in 1 attempt.

 

I'd have sent it back immediately on opening the box EXCEPT it was ficticiously hailed as "discontinued" and sold as an "extremely limited run" when I ordered it.

 

I realize that it was one of the very early Chinese Epis, and that quality has probably improved greatly, but the "Cheppis" i've tried out at my local GC just haven't impressed me.

I'd like to see some of the "thinner finish" that's been quoted, the ones i've seen look like they're encased in acrylic.(to a rediculous point on the Natural finish models)

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I can't compare my Korean Epiphone with a Chinese model, but I can compare it with a similar Kalamazoo Gibson model.

 

The fit and finish of my 2001 MIK Casino is every bit as good as the 1970 MIK (Kalamazoo) GIbson ES-330.

 

The Gibson does have a nitro finish, real MOP inlays, nylon saddles and slightly higher neck access.

 

I can't compare the electronics because the previous owner changed the switch and pots to USA sized ones, the tuners to Grovers and the pickups to Duncans.

 

But the body and neck of the Epi and Gibson are both first-rate.

 

I think many of the budget Asian guitars built today are as good as the first quality guitars were in the 60s. The technology of automated guitar making has improved greatly.

 

Even my lowly bottom-feeder LTD was made well.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ?

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I really believe it is on a guitar by guitar basis. I have owned all kinds of Gibsons, Epi's etc and all companies produce both gems and junk.

 

A couple of recent major improvements, the new finish process on my Les Paul tribute is really nice. The finish is so thin, that in 2 spots it looks like there is a flaw, it is actually the slight raised grain (yep thin enough to see this), and since it is poly, it is still very strong. Also the change to switch craft jacks and alpha full sized pots, Gibson voiced pick-ups, tone pros locking bridges and tail pieces etc hardware is getting better all of the time.

 

Not so good on some models, is the hiding of inferior woods with veneers, terrible neck construction of many pieces of wood. This is not present on all models. Much of this is due to the reduced availability of quality tone woods, along with cost reductions and margin grabbing.

 

You really have to see and play what you are buying....however this goes for many more expensive brands as well.

 

Overall technology has improved mass built guitar building, at the cost of some craftsmanship, reducing the prices.

 

And thats my 2 cents

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I think many of the budget Asian guitars built today are as good as the first quality guitars were in the 60s. The technology of automated guitar making has improved greatly.

 

 

 

Totally true. There were a lot of crappy guitars made in the 60's that we remember fondly only because they're old.

Every played an old Gretsch? They're really not that great.

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Stig,

 

This Epi experience is making me rethink a lot of things. I had a Beautiful Les Paul Standard that I used to trigger an ARP

Synthesyser with.

 

Beautiful but typical 70's piece of crap playability wise..... ah! the good old days!

Legs

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Stig' date='

 

This Epi experience is making me rethink a lot of things. I had a Beautiful Les Paul Standard that I used to trigger an ARP

Synthesyser with.

 

Beautiful but typical 70's piece of crap playability wise..... ah! the good old days!

Legs[/quote']

 

With a few exceptions like the L5S, the 1970s were Gibson's dark days. What is scary is the electric stuff was leaps and bounds ahead of the acoustic guitars which had degenerated into overbuilt square shoulder dreads that had become so standardized you could not tell one from the other if blindfolded.

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With a few exceptions like the L5S' date=' the 1970s were Gibson's dark days. What is scary is the electric stuff was leaps and bounds ahead of the acoustic guitars which had degenerated into overbuilt square shoulder dreads that had become so standardized you could not tell one from the other if blindfolded.

[/quote']

 

I have a '71 Deluxe goltop. It's great. But they did make a lot of crap in that era.

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The only "Chinese" guitar I own (at present), is my Riviera P-93LE! If that one is any indication,

of overall quality coming out of China, then there is NO reason, to worry. It's an outstanding guitar,

regardless of "price point"...IMHO. May never make the top collector's guitar list...but, who cares?

I play my guitars, they're never "investments," to make money. IF they do happen to become

"iconic"...great! But, I seriously doubt it.

 

I recently "test drove" some other "Chinese" Epi's!

(Inspired by "Texan," Lennon Casino, "Natural" Sheraton, "Worn" Wilshire, with mini-humbuckers, and a Dot)

They were ALL wonderfully made, and sounded great! Amazing, on the IBJL Casino. While the Sheraton no

longer has the 5-piece neck, the Korean one's did...it's still looked and felt great! I like the more accurate body

contours, of the Chinese Sheraton, too. But, that's just me.

 

"Bang, for the buck," Epi's are pretty hard to beat!

 

CB

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Epiphone has always made quality instruments. Les Paul worked for Epiphone, and his favorite guitar was an Epiphone Log. In fact, he had his arm permanently set after his accident to play his Log. Epiphone may not be the highest priced, but many times you are paying for the name. I play a '77 Epiphone Scroll SC-450, and I dare say it plays better than a Les Paul or SG.

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Epiphone has always made quality instruments. Les Paul worked for Epiphone' date=' and his favorite guitar was an Epiphone Log. In fact, he had his arm permanently set after his accident to play his Log. Epiphone may not be the highest priced, but many times you are paying for the name. I play a '77 Epiphone Scroll SC-450, and I dare say it plays better than a Les Paul or SG.[/quote']

Les Paul's "Log" could only be considered an Epiphone because of the body that was attached to it. It was a 4x4 with pickups attached to a Gibson neck. The Epiphone body was only added when audience members wanted something more traditional.

 

I played a few Worn Wilshires a few days ago, and they are very well built guitars - from Indonesia. I also played a few other Epiphones from different factories and countries, and they were all very nice.

 

The low-end models don't interest me, and I feel like those may be the lower-quality guitars. The bolt-on neck Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Special II, specifically.

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Guitars from Asia?

 

I remember when a few friends of mine came back from Viet Nam with Asian-made instruments back in the late 60's and early 70's. They were "toys" almost, not very impressive, usually some kind of "strat-like" design.

 

Fast forward to 2010...I own an Epiphone LP 1960 Tribute (China) and an Agile AL3100 LP Flame/Floyd Rose (Korea). Both of these instruments are of superior quality and workmanship IMHO. I think the Epi has better pups (Gibson '57 Classic) and to my ears they have a slightly "richer" bottom end than the Alnico V's in the Agile, but the Agile doesn't sound "bad" by any means.

 

Pups and electronics can be changed and upgraded, but what's in the wood and the finish is pretty much forever, so when I get a new instrument I always take it outside where the light is better and give the best visual inspection that I can.

 

Both the Agile and the Epi are of typical LP construction: non-chambered mahogany bodies with a thick maple cap, mahogany necks. The Agile has an ebony fretboard which I absolutely love.

 

Point is I can't find find anything so far that would say one is better than the other. Of course, I'm no expert and certainly not a luthier. Just my own findings and opinions.

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  • 1 month later...

I have yet to come across an Epiphone Les Paul, DOT, or SG400 that didn't amaze me with how awesome it is.

 

Sometimes you come across them in the store and they feel like crap..... but that's just because they're not set up.

 

Factor in that everyone likes their guitars set up differently and it's easy to see why people always say "Epiphones are crap......."

 

And the whole MIK vs. MIC thing is a big joke as far as I'm concerned.

 

I have Epis from both makes and they're both amazingly excellent guitars.

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Epiphone makes a great guitar. In just the past few years, I could see the differences in improvements from 2007 to 2010. They're definitely more consistent in their quality. I'm reading the Les Paul Biography book that traces his life and history of the Les Paul - from Kalamazoo to Nashville. There are interviews in there from employees, musicians, music stores. It's very interesting, especially the parts about the manufacturing process where certain stores would contract with Gibson to make special "reissues" of various years. There was no consistency in quality. They used whatever wood was available and even whatever happened to be in stock. Pick ups were mismatched. Colors were way off. Certain stores had leverage, so they could hand pick the guitars they wanted. So where am I going?

 

I bought a Gibson Std. Trad Plus in January. It's beautiful, plays nice, sounds awesome. And it does sound and feel different from the Epi Std. LP I had. It's very heavy too, even with being weight relieved. After reading this book, I'm convinced it is weight relieved, not because they want to enhance tone. But because the wood available now is too heavy. It had a small blem on the lower horn too where it was scuffed a bit. Wasn't bad, but I got another $100 knocked off the price for it. Got it home and buffed it out. I figured for $1,800 it was worth it to finally own a real Gibson. Would I buy another Gibson? It depends.

 

The quality of Epiphones I find to be on par with Gibson in how they are built. At least the ones I've owned. It doesn't matter if it's Asian hands or American hands making them. They're both mass produced, at least the USA Gibsons are. There will be "goofs" in both. Gibson even maded "goof covers", i.e., pick up rings to go around pick ups to hide flaws in some P90 equipped guitars. The real differences are in the materials and parts. Who knows what Mahogany means any more? Even back in the 70's there were different woods used that were called "mahagony". Both companies use what is available and in abundance at the time and call it mahagony. Maybe Gibson gets a better "mahagony" and Epi gets a cheaper "mahagony" It's all just wood.

 

Both are good and fill different wants.

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