So, I've decided to go this ^^^^^ way, pretty much, and for some of the reasons you've mentioned. There perhaps will be some sighs of disappointment out there, but I am going to try living for a little while with . . . . . wait for it . . . . an EART 335.Go with the Epi. Buy or rent. The sound won't be the same, but you'll see what you'd be getting into.
I've had a 335 and a 345, both Gibsons. Pretty, if you're into bling, but I didn't like 'em:
- Just too big. Teles and Strats are more compact. I don't like wearing a Cadillac.
- Too many knobs. Some people disconnect two and rewire them as a two-knob instrument. I'm too lazy.
- No single-coil sparkle, twang, or growl. Not enough expression. At least not the expression I shoot for.
- Too balanced-sounding. The low and high strings sound much more like each other than they do with a Tele or a Strat. With a Tele or Strat, playing the same riff or chords on different strings sounds different, which I like.
It was disappointing, because so many artists I love play or played 'em — B.B., Weir, Luther Alison, Elvin Bishop.
I know, I know. It can't even dream of being a Gibson guitar. But for a little under $400, I will use this to see whether the general layout of controls, the body size, the humbucking sound are for me. Why the EART? I looked around for reviews and videos until I found people who convinced me they weren't on the EART payroll. It's amazing how many people appear to be. They use the same phrases and even do their spiels pretty much as if they were reading a script from EART. And I suspect they are. But you can find some people who speak our language convincingly, and several have said the neck on the EART 335 is a thing of wonder - - for the money.
Now, I suspect I'll go ahead and play some real Gibsons despite having the EART. If I really don't care for the general feel of the 335 knockoff, I'll give it to a local school. I've done this with other mothballed instruments.
The "real" reviews are identifiable because the writers/hosts talk about what they had to do to get the best setup out of the EART, and what things were underwhelming in the build quality.
Anyway, I'll find out starting this Friday, when my EART is scheduled to arrive. Hopefully, UPS will not have turned it into imported kindling.