Price paid: € 632
Purchased from: Emperion guitars
Features: Just to make one thing clear I don't have the guitar anymore. I immediately returned it but wanted to write this review to inform other people about these guitars even though I think people have already read reviews in other forums.
This was a 2010 model with the pre-order batch they advertised. It was made in an unidentified factory in China. They claimed in the beginning it was made in Japan then people found a factory in China that was making them and then we found out they were most probably made in South Korea.
The guitar was advertised as having 24 frets jumbo frets on an ebony fretboard and 7 strings. The scale was 25 1/2 inches on a maple neck with a reversed headstock and an alder body. The finish was white and it was a V shaped guitar with a Gotoh tune-o-matic style bridge with the strings going through the body. It had a graphite nut. It was a set neck guitar with a long tenon glued neck and sculpted joint for better access on the higher frets. It had two humbuckers and I upgraded to the Bareknuckle Warpig set (that is why it was more expensive). It had a volume and tone knob as well as a three way selector for the pickups. The tuners were Wilkinson-Gotoh and the guitar was supposed to come with locking pin-straps for the delay in producing and delivering (more on that further down). They also offered a free hardshell Emperion case with the pre-order as well as free shipping. Also in their site they wrote that if you were not happy with the product you could return it for free within 7 days and could also return it for a refund during 30 days.
All of the above features were the ones advertised. I will discuss the fit and finish later but I give this guitar 3 in the features department for the following reasons:
- The shape of the V was different. They increased the size of the body in order not to loose sustain (bs somebody messed up the CNC input measurements) and while the guitar was not bad looking the body met the neck in the 19th fret rather than the 21st as it was advertised. Also other models had basswood instead of the mahogany as a body wood.
- It came with the stock pickups, some crappy Chinese pickups, instead of the 200 Euros Bareknuckle set I ordered.
- The nut was not graphite but a white plastic one.
- The bridge didn't seem like a Gotoh bridge but I didn't search it more so maybe it was. // 3
Sound: This guitar was meant to play only metal and nothing else. Well since I received the guitar with the wrong pickups I didn't expect much. But what I didn't expect was so much fail coming out from a Mesa Boogie triple rec. These are the worst pickups I have ever tried in a guitar. The sound was horrible for any kind of music style.
The guitar itself was quite resonant with a quite strong Acoustic sound so maybe if it had the correct pickups it would have sounded a lot better. Don't forget that in electric guitars pickups and especially the hotter ones are a big part of the guitars sound. So... // 1
Action, Fit & Finish: Here starts the good part. And by good I mean the bad part.
First thing I notice when opening the well packed package (seriously the packaging was very good) is that one corner of the case is mismatched. To elaborate the upper part of the corner was sticking out leaving a small gap for humidity and other kinds of crap to enter more easily. I open the huge case and manage to pry the guitar out of the case with difficulty. The increased body size made the angle of the wings so wide that the guitar would not be able to move in the huge case. That one was not actually bad. First thing I see is the horrible paint job. The tips of the V looked like they were banged up, the headstock had spots with no paint at the edges and there were areas were the paint was transparent. Not to mentioned a chip under the nut that was repaired very badly with white paint (like painting over it with tippex correction fluid). The fretboard seemed nice up until I noticed a crack or smalled knot that was clumsily filled with sealer at the 24th fret, that went up to the 22nd fret. One of the intonation screws were a bit stripped and you could see the copper below. The nut was glued very amateurish (the plastic nut not a graphite nut), the pickups were moving back and forth due to a very soft foam piece put below. The routing of the pickups was awful. They were too big and the edges were rough. The electronics cavity was routed very badly and it one screw was on the air. In the cavity there were wood shavings and paint. The electronics didn't have any apparent shielding and the paint in the cavity was terrible. This was the same when I removed the pickups to check the models. Half painted pickup cavities (nobody looks in there right? :( ).
When playing unplugged the body was resonant and the guitar seemed to be built very sturdily. Since I didn't keep it for long I will never know how well built it was. The fretboard was quite smooth but the extra size body made it almost impossible to reach the lower strings after the 19th fret. The neck profile was quite nice and the painted neck was not so much of a trouble. What was troubling though was that even with the added mass of the bigger body the guitar was very neck heavy. When I put on the guitar it immediately dived to the ground. I know that V guitars are usually somewhat neck heavy but that was ridiculous. The frets were probably brass since they were yellow and seemed to be used or stored in inappropriate conditions for a long time. There were imperfections in the shaping at the edges that made them a bit uncomfortable while sliding. As I said before they put the wrong pickups which were very poor quality. Also the strap pin locks didn't include the locks. To me they didn't seem like locking strap buttons just very small strap buttons. There were no more details specified by Emperion but I didn't bother to search it more.
I have never seen such a flawed guitar even when checking b-stock items. 50 euros Chinese made guitars had better attention to detail than this one. So for all of the above it takes... // 2
Reliability & Durability: This section I can' complete for sure since I had the guitar for one day. The basic build seemed quite strong and the abscess of a Floyd made it easy to rely in playing live. However the strange strap buttons and the crappy finish don't make it very reliable. I would say... // 4
Overall Impression: This whole purchase actually was a very bad experience for me that taught me several things. Don't buy anything without reading several reviews about a product and if it is possible play the instrument first. This guitar was pre-ordered in September and the shipping time was supposed to be in February to March. I received the guitar in June. I was following the whole situation through another forum where other more experienced members were warning us about the impending doom. The first worrying signs came from photographs sent by Emperion to people that had ordered guitars and it was obvious they were flawed. To make a long story short I inspected the guitar thoroughly for over two hours, played for 20-30 minutes, repacked it and sent them an email requesting them to arrange a pickup and a refund. In the beginning they accepted, but after several people where not satisfied and requested a refund I received an email saying it was not possible to have a refund and they offered to change the pickups and the nut and give a set of pickups they were promoting for free (Horizon pickups) I declined and insisted on the refund and after a lot of negotiation I received the refund in two parts with the second part paid in the end of July. I was polite and tried not to be aggressive since they were replying to my emails and seemed to be honest.
There were a lot of things that went until it reached that point. Everything seemed to be going fine in the beginning, they said the delay was due to the fact that they received a lot of orders and they were waiting for quality woods. Then they moved to bigger headquarters. Then the first photographs of the production models were released that were not very encouraging, then the models started shipping and most of them were as bad some b-stock items they advertised. Then came a statement that all of these was the fault of one partner that promised some things and then actually scammed them by creating instruments with inferior specs (LFR instead of ORF, different bodywoods, different sizes and details, inferior quality woods and finish). Still they sent the guitars they refused to sent refunds and gave some very stupid replies to people for some very horrid flaws. Some customers were compensated with pickups and some with partial refunds, some are still waiting for refunds. Others did chargebacks from their credit cards to take back their money.
I don't think these guys are scammers but the sure things from a business point of view they handled the situation horribly. Thy took on too many orders and were blinded by the fact that their company would blow up really quickly. And instead of becoming the Rondo of Europe, finally people were calling them the Devries of Europe. Their PR handling of matters was not the best to say the least and their customer support is flimsy. If this company gets it's act together and manages to produce the products they advertised then they could do some good business in Europe. I don't know if there is anyone left to trust their name brand but maybe they will make it. I would advise you to wait for their new products to come out and to read at least 20 reviews of really satisfied customers. Their guitars have potential but for now they are a big NO! Luckily I only lost the fees from the two Paypal refunds. Unluckily I lost a lot of my peace and quiet and was stressed for idiotic things.
From my overall experience I would give them 0 but since I can't... // 1