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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

"Made in China" Epiphones: Any experiences...

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by E5RSY, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. tvas22

    tvas22 TDPRI Member

    Aug 28, 2016
    I have a recent casino coupe. The factory set up was awful, and the pickups were terrible (IMO, some people love them... but they are super hot and dark).

    Fret work was great, and the basics were sound. It wasn’t hard to set up well at all. I have put a b7 on it, new tuners, new nut, new bridge, new pick ups. I also knocked back the gloss on the finish and sanded off the awful black goop in the f holes. Basically, I found the actual guitar part of it fine - but swapped out everything that could be swapped out. Then again, I am a tinkerer and I bought it specifically to tinker so I’ve been happy with it overall.

    Attached Files:

    Doctorx33 likes this.
  2. reactor99

    reactor99 TDPRI Member

    Jan 1, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    My 2014 es-339 pro looks great, sounds very good, and plays well after I raised the action a bit to eliminate a little buzz. The nut was a problem so it has a tusq xl now. Not saying it's a Gibson, but IMO it's a good product for the money.
  3. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 21, 2016
    Rhode Island
    What model are you considering OP?

    I have a 2011 Epi 56 Standard Pro Goldtop with EpiPhone Pro P90 pickups. I believe it would be considered there MIC top of the line at the time.

    It's rewired 50's style with Bourns pots and PIO caps and has a roller bridge and Gibson tuners and a black Tusq nut.

    It's a real quality item, killer actually with the mods. I'd like to find another......she plays and sounds magnificent. When I go out to play she always makes the trip. I've paired her up with a Heritage H150 goldtop....a stellar pair indeed!

  4. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2017
    York PA
    ^^^ all of them were modded ..looking back should of kept everyone of them..i get only EE serial number QingDao factory ones
  5. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2016
    Played an Epiphone Riviera with 3xP90's for a couple of years. A very good-looking guitar with decent pups, but it always fell out of tune and the neck was brutally heavy causing it to try and dive to the floor if you weren't paying attention. Over-all, it wasn't a bad instrument, but I sold it for the reasons mentioned.

    I also was one of the fools who purchased the Epiphone Electar amplifier when it was first released. I had high hopes by the video clips and the slew of positive reviews, but the reality was a different story. Again, just like the guitar, they nailed the looks factor down to every detail. I was very impressed unboxing, but again it suffered from cheap internals. The wire gauge was so thin it leaked voltage everywhere and created a terrible combination of hum and hiss at idle. I had it re-worked (relocated the grounds, re-routed the heater wires, etc.) and the hum was gone, but some hiss remained. Oddly, when plugged into an extension cabinet the hiss was gone and sounded pretty good....but I had spent far too much money at that point to be happy.

    I guess my point is that Epiphones look great, but there is cheapness to the production below the skin that seems to plague them. If one wanted to gut it and upgrade they could make a good platform, but then they would be throwing more money at it instead of just buying a better unit off the shelf from another producer.
  6. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    The current MIC Epiphones are beyond reproach IMO. Very well made and finished, and great guitars for the price, as are many other Chinese guitars from other makers, the CV Squiers being but one other example, another being Eastman guitars, both their acoustics, and their archtops.
    TequilaCaster and bftfender like this.
  7. stantheman

    stantheman Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 10, 2003
    White Mountains
    ES-295 Premium here!!! In Matte Brown with Cream P-90's and Cream Pickguard with Gold Floral, traditional Cream Key Tuners, all Hardware is Gold. Strung with 13-52 Flatwounds tuned down a full step to D. The P-90's are Gibson USA. The Tone is out of this world. Got Her off EBay with the Hard Shell Case for I think $650...may have been less I forget.
    I actually searched for a decent Gibson ES-175 but the price seems to have been set by Mr. Ming-Ya.
    Everything from the 1950's was like 4K and higher and P-90's were always the goal.
    The Premium Series is China's Best People in my opinion.
    Would I trade it for an Eastman?...Any Eastman???
    No way this one's mine.

    Remember the Epiphone Elitists Broadways that were so top shelf Gibson couldn't get any takers for the L-5 Studio? These Chinese Premiums are approaching the Japanese Elitists - and that's no bull.

    bftfender likes this.
  8. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    I've had four MIC Epiphones to date and all have been very good sounding and playing guitars. I would call the two I contrasted to a good friends Gibson versions of the same guitar 90% as good as it's Gibson counter part. Given their cost being roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the Gibson I'd call them a great value.

    The first is a late 2009 '56 Gold Top w/P90s I still have. Even after having sworn off LPs long ago I like it's neck profile and it only weighs 8lbs. Although I plan to replace the bridge and bridge studs with Faber hardware it's one of the best playing guitars I own even bone stock. Compared to a Gibson equivalent the ProBucker P90s are a little less gritty but I tend to like them more anyway so I don't plan to swap them right now and quite possibly not at all. This one is a "keeper".

    The second was a 2014 ES339 which also compared so favorably to my buddies Gibson ES339. He even offered me $100 more than I paid for it if I would sell it to him. It was a terrific playing guitar although I admit that had I kept it I may have replaced the pickups with Seth Lovers or Bill Lawrence L90s eventually. I tend not to be a fan of anyone's stock humbuckers period and I often played the 339 with the neck or bridge pickup coil tapped for a bit more clarity.

    The ES339 ended up being traded to another very good friend in exchange for his nearly new Epi Lucille. It wasn't that I wanted the Lucille more it was that my friend wanted the smaller ES339 more and I couldn't say no to someone who'd been as good to me as he has. So we swapped guitars and I ended up with the Lucille which was an incredibly beautiful guitar and very well finished but I did not love the pickups or it's 9lb weight coupled with that full size body.

    So.....just by chance a local player had a full size Casino of roughly the same vintage with a hardshell case he was willing to swap for my Lucille and we made it happen. The Casino may be the only guitar I own that I enjoy as much as my Teles and it's also bone stock. Well made, lightweight, and a great playing guitar without a single flaw. I agree with those who would prefer lower output pickups and I may swap the stock pickups eventually but they sound fine as is so it's not a priority.

    There was also an inexpensive single cut LP Jr. w/P90s my buddy gitold ended up with and though it needed a fret end filing otherwise it was a kick ass little guitar in all respects. Nice sounding pickups and a neck profile very similar to my Gold Top. Can't beat 'em for around $100 retail.

    So that's really five MIC Epiphones in all and two that I still have. The '56 Gold Top and the Casino. I don't feel there wasn't a bad one in the bunch so in my own experience MIC Epiphones rate as one of the better values out there provided in most cases the buyer sticks with those more at the top of the line in each body type. Used they are a screaming bargain when kept in top shelf condition. JMHO
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  9. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Meister

    Jan 30, 2018
    I bought a Chinese Epi Les Paul Standard goldtop last year.

    Body and neck are really nicely finished and look good. I replaced the tuners for locking ones, but the Schallers on there were fine.

    Pickups were a bit muddy so put in some SD59s. Only issue I have a is a crackly selector switch, which is easily fixed.

    It now plays better than most Gibson ones I’ve tried from the last few years. No complaints here.

    Top 2 pics are how it looks now, the bottom one is how it looked when it first arrived.

    LP1.jpg LP2.jpg LP3.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  10. Southpole

    Southpole Tele-Holic

    Apr 10, 2014
    I read that Gibson now owns the factory in China that makes the Epiphones. Bound to help!
  11. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Meister

    Aug 20, 2017
    Federal Way, Washington
    A few years back I had a Chinese made Epi Dot deluxe, and after a GOOD cleaning of the fretboard, new strings, and a good setup, it was a wonderful guitar for the price, ($299.00 iirc). Very well built in my opinion, but right out of the box, the fretboard felt SLIGHTLY gritty, and the stain on the fingerboard would rub off on my fingertips. But after cleaning, and a good setup, it was a great guitar. and looked great with the flame maple veneer on the top. It was my #1 for about 2 years, until I got my Tele!
  12. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Meister

    Jan 30, 2018
    I had the stain issues too - it took a good few cleaning cycles (each time I changes strings) to stop it leaving marks on my fingers.
  13. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Mar 11, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    I have a lot of Epiphones.

    Epiphone Les Paul Standard Cherry Burst
    Epiphone Dot Studio Worn Cherry with Bigsby
    Epiphone Casino Traditional Sun Burst
    Epiphone SG Studio Cherry
    Epiphone Sheraton II Natural
    Epiphone WildKat Natural Chrome
    Epiphone Les Paul Junior Traditional Sun Burst
    Epiphone Les Paul Special P90 Worn Cherry
    Epiphone ES-335 Pro Traditional Sunburst
    Epiphone Les Paul Florentine Pro Iced Tea Burst
    Epiphone G- 400 1966 SG Pro

    I have no issues with or complaints about any of them. Every one is a fine guitar in it's own right.
  14. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Meister

    May 3, 2018
    Northern Virginia
    Almost forgot... Here's a video tour of the Epiphone factory in Quingdao (which is the 5th and 6th digits of a serial number being 15 or 16). It's in Japanese, but what the plant manager has to say is in English and, of course, there's lots to look at:

  15. fatcat

    fatcat Friend of Leo's

    Jul 6, 2010
    Very Deep South
    I have a Dot and a 339. They are really good feeling and playing guitars. Especially the 339.

    I swapped out the electronics and put in some Seymour Duncan pickups and they became great guitars.

    Just look at my profile picture.
    Mincer likes this.
  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    I've had experience of flipping and repairing and playing quite a few MIK and MIC Epiphones in several solid body models (Special LP, Special Junior LP, 100, G-400, Custom LP) across production years 1996-2014.
    Earliest MIK were 'variable', later ones magical
    Earliest MIC were 'variable', later ones are getting to that magical point
    Indonesian-built seem to be skipping the 'variable' stage.

    The trend is a factory starts out young, inexperienced, and willing to be the low cost builder for a Brand Owner. The factory gets more experience, hires or trains a better workforce, makes factory improvements in capital expenditures and quality controls, sees their costs go up, and demand more price from the Brand Owner. The Brand Owner always thinks this is too much. Brand Owner moves to a lower cost and inexperienced factory to start the cycle all over.

    General things to do:
    -Swap tone caps to 0.033uF to get a little more sparkle/presence
    -Adjust pickup heights for best tone
    -If still too muddy, then a series cap on the muddy pickup (use the 0.047uF one you just replaced)
    -Check the frets and don't be afraid of leveling them.

    2015+ models have been getting much better sounding pickups, it's either magnets or more likely better controlled winding.

    I have a Special Junior LP (modded) and an SG G-400 (stock) that get the bulk of my play time over the Gibson models.

    backporchmusic likes this.
  17. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

    Nov 28, 2006

    I guess? I don't play stuff like that. I'm sure that is accurate to the amps/effects they are using.
  18. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Feb 15, 2014
    I have a Epi LP, no complaints, well, after I replaced everything but the bridge and tailpiece. How do you tell where it was made? I got it used, and never asked.
  19. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 8, 2014
    I bought one of the Epi Moderne re-issues the just released this past fall. It was unplayable out of the box. High action, poor intonation, neck needed adjusting, crappy nut, etc.

    I have several cheap foreign guitars and they were all the same thing, but I expected better from a name brand. I posted a thread here whining about it and everyone said that sort of thing is normal. When I took it in to have a setup and so on my guitar guy said every new guitar they sell has some sort of issue and has to be setup before selling, it's normal.

    I had them put a bone nut on it, and even a level and crown because there were some high frets and I like low action. Plays like a dream now. The pickups sound good, tuners are good, finish work is good. I might put different pots in it because I like low torque pots.
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