#1
Well....

After the huge amount of threads written to compare the two brands I thought I would spend a fair amount of time at my local store today to have a good crack and writing a comparison of the two guitars, I decided to take two of the guitars that are never ever asked about for a few reasons:

1 - They are closer in value than the average Epiphone/Gibson.
2 - They dont make a million different versions ranging from £800-5000.
3 - I like them and its probably the only Gibson I would consider buying.
4- I thought it would be fun to be able to compare a stock epiphone and stock Gibson explorer.

So your all probably wondering what guitar I compared right?

Well I took from the shelf the following...




Gibson Explorer.

Made in America blah blah blah

Vs.

Epiphone Explorer

Made in the woods in China blah blah


Well lets get down to business...

Cosmetics.

Well they were both finish it the Ebony finish, with gloss on the body and the back of the neck. They were both pretty similar to look at, the Gibson has slightly nicer fretboard wood, though I reckon with a bit of oil the Epiphones would have looked as nice. The MOP name on the Gibson was certainly nicer than the fake stuff they use for the Epi's but from anything further than a few feet you wouldnt be able to tell the differece. The one thing that let the Epi down is the crappy Gold looking hardware, which isnt as classy as the Silver on the Gibson. Not only that but its inevitable that the Gold will flake off and look pretty crappy after a few years.

But if you arent a guitar expert, from a few meters, feet whatever, you wouldnt be able to tell the difference if you removed the brand name from the headstock.

1 - 1

Playability.

Well they both had a very similar neck profile, but the Gibson was in need of either a bit of TLC or it was a bit of a naff one, I was pretty disappointed with the overal way the frets were good, but not perfect, the nut also felt a little bit rough and was uncomfortable when playing open chords nearer the neck. Ironically due to the way they are mass produced the Epiphones neck was nicer and although the frets were slightly larger than the Gibsons, it played smoother and nicer, the nut was better cut ( despite being a worse quality material, plastic I guess ) meaning it felt nicer to play open chords. Setup was about equal on both, though the Gibson had a lower action and the bridge saddles were smoother unlike the Epiphones bridge which was a bit sharp if you hit it by accident. Otherwise, I wouldnt pay the extra money for the slightly nicer bridge on the Gibson, pretty disappointing. So this one goes to the Epiphone.

1 - 2

Sound

Flat out the Gibson wins this. They were great for good old rock tones all the way to metal, nice and responsive to the volume control to get those nicer clean tones, with a thick biting gain tones, I would add that the quality wood allowed much nicer clarity and sustain, though the pups are very hot so with extreme gain, they got a bit muddy but were otherwise pretty tasty for stock pups. The Epiphones were the opposite, they guitar felt a bt dead, tonally flat and acoustically dull. The pups, generic mid output things, they did a great bluesy sort of crunch, but anything more than classic rock they muddied up and remained bland the whole time, though if you play sludge metal.... Great. In reality, they were good starter pups, but I would replace them asap to be honest...

2 - 2

Longevity?

Well, there is no doubt that the Gibson would last you a long long time. its solidly built and although not perfect, it would defo require a little bit of work to get it perfect, it would certainly last you as long as you kept it if you looked after it, the hardware felt solid, the finish was consistent and thick ( good or bad depending on your point of view ). The epiphone though, was pretty solidly built, the only issue I would have with it is the cheap gold flakey shit they coat the hardware in being the only thing I wouldnt expect to last very long. Otherwise... Its built to last and the finish is bloody tough. I would gig one...

So its a draw for this round...

3 - 3

Cost, worth it?

Gibson - £899 ( best price )
Epiphone - £322 ( best price )

Really, you do get better wood and pickups in the Gibson, simple fact, though the minor inconsistencies make it vital that you try every guitar you can before you pick the one you buy. The epiphone is bloody solid and despite the cheap hardware, they are still a good guitar and with a few upgrades is a great guitar for life. I personally didnt at any point fell the Gibson was worth almost 3 times the price of the Epi, especially considering the one I played did need fret work doing to it. Despite this, the fact that the Gibson will hold value, age well and genuinely will last you forever no matter what you do it means that the Gibson is worth the money, but the epiphone is a great alternative and if your on a budget after something to mod, take an epiphone and dont feel bad about it.

So yeah, the point goes to the Gibson, but only just.

4 - 3


Opinions?

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
2016 SE Holcolmb
#2
Huh, you must've gotten an awesome Epi or shitty Gibson. I tried both Explorers out one time and thought the Gibson blew the Epi out of the water. Or maybe I got an awesome Gibson or a shitty Epi.
#3
I would agree with your analysis. The Gibson's a hugely more expensive but only somewhat better in quality, and they're also very hit or miss. My luthier swears he'd buy an Epiphone semi-hollow before a Gibson 335 because the difference is slight and with the Gibson you could wind up spending a lot of money and getting one that's not so good. It really comes down to whether you're willing to pay through the nose for an incremental improvement.
#4
I've played Epi's that I thought were better than Gibsons, so I'm with you on this one. Some are gonna be better than others, but honestly I don't see any differences between epi and Gibson that justify the price increase. I have a Gibson, and nowadays rarely play it.
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And so it goes
#5
Interesting. I'd like to see how the two compared if you didn't know which one was Epiphone or Gibson (double-blind study). It seems that people tend to be biased either for or against Gibsons (especially as of late), so removing the name from the equation might produce more accurate results. And repeating the test with randomly selected guitars to remove shitty quality control as a factor. On the other hand, the stores you test at may not appreciate experimental design as much as I do.
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try the sexolydian scale.
#7
All I know is that when I play the Gibson it gets a nice Robben Ford chirp while the Epiphones always sound too buzzy.
#8
Quote by jwd724
Interesting. I'd like to see how the two compared if you didn't know which one was Epiphone or Gibson (double-blind study). It seems that people tend to be biased either for or against Gibsons (especially as of late), so removing the name from the equation might produce more accurate results. And repeating the test with randomly selected guitars to remove shitty quality control as a factor. On the other hand, the stores you test at may not appreciate experimental design as much as I do.


lol double blinde study, (so the guitar doesn't know who is playing it!)
#9
Alot of the Gibson magic works in the mind imo.

Anytime I try one, it feels like it plays amazing because I want it to.
Guitars:
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'97 Fender Cali Series Strat
?? Samick Bass
'01 Fernandes Dragonfly Elite
#10
i've played both and agree that the gibson didn't seem to be worth 3x the price. on the other hand i've played many epi's over the years that just didn't compare very well to a gibby.some models seem to be better than others. i'm more of a fender guy but obviously the same sort of comparisons are done in that camp as well. i think that the more expensive guitars offer qualities that are less tangible (ie it's hard to put them in words that get the point across to everyone). having said that you can find cheapies that just have that "it" quality to them. guess that's why spending the time playing a bunch of guitars will get you the best result. i tend to shop with my ears over my eyes.
#11
You are giving some points in the comparison pretty easily.
Both get a point for longevity after you've been playing the guitars in a store? Really?
Reviewing the playability of a guitar doesn't make any sense to me either since playability is the matter of personal taste. E.g. I love the neck of the '72 Custom and Deluxe Teles while other people find them overly thick and bulky.
#12
Last time I played an Epi Explorer, the sound was unbelievably shit. Muddy pups are one thing, a construction that accentuates low frequencies is another, but the combination of both is just hilariously bad. The guitar played okay though, so I'm not one to complain.
#13
I played an epiphone explorer once and didnt rate it. It was a dog.
Didnt get on with the shape in general cause im not hetfield.
I'm sure theres good ones out there though like anything else..
#14
well see both epiphones and gibsons vary wildly. a sg-100 or whatever and the V series, or a signature, custom, sheraton etc are WAY WAY different.

in the same way, a studio and a 3000 gibson are WAY WAY different. in general, i would nto consider play a gibson studio, and i have an epiphone. the only gibson studio i ever like was last weekend and it was a les paul with p90s and neck binding and played better than the rest.

but its hard to do a comparison like this.

in general:

- per price, you get more with epiphone

- per price, you get more value and resale out of a gibson

- comparing similar models in the product lines, gibsons are always better (ie- a midrange gibson is always better than a midrange epiphone)

- a high end epiphone is better or comparable to the lower end gibsons

- a quality, higher end epiphone with upgrades has potential to be a far better guitar than a gibson for equal money

- as a standard, epiphone almost always uses cheaper parts. not bad, but they are

- epiphone ALWAYS uses cheaper pickups unless its a signature guitar
#15
Quote by al112987
All I know is that when I play the Gibson it gets a nice Robben Ford chirp while the Epiphones always sound too buzzy.


you come straight from TGP?

Quote by sprin001
lol double blinde study, (so the guitar doesn't know who is playing it!)


hehe

though i guess you could argue that double blind would mean that whoever handed you the guitar also didn't know if it were the epi or the gibbo so that they didn't subconsciously give you some hints as to which was which.

not entirely sure how you could have a double blind, though, or even a single blind... even if i close my eyes i'm probably gonna know what the guitar is.

going back to the original point of the thread- i haven't tried any explorers, but based on the gibsons and epis I have tried (haven't tried any custom shop gibbies, I'm just talking about standard USA ones; likewise, I'm not talking about Japanese-made Epis, I mean the bog standard MIC ones you'd buy in your local music shop):

The gibsons are better in terms of the wood, type of finish (nitro generally versus thick poly), pickups, electronics, hardware etc.

However:

The QC on the cheaper gibsons can be all over the place. I've tried ones where there seemed to have barely even been a fretjob done, and where the finish was barely existent (the faded ones).

This hasn't really been the case with the epis I've tried.

Basically, the way I see it, if you're willing to put a bit of money/time in the gibson (and try a bunch first so you don't get a lemon), you'll have a much better guitar than the epi equivalent. Pay a luthier to do a decent fret job and maybe fix the finishing issues, and you're gonna have a very nice guitar.

Conversely (on the ones I've tried, anyway) the Epis are better out of the box, but there are only so many upgrades you can do, you can't really upgrade the wood or anything like that.

Personally I'd just get an MIJ Tokai, best of both worlds (quality but it doesn't feel like you're paying a massive premium to have "G" on the headstock). Though admittedly Tokai prices have gone up a lot recently.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
HI !!

I 18 years old, from South Africa and recently purchased my Epiphone Les Paul Custom.... When I walked into the store i saw that they were on a stand in the middle of the store. Not even noticing the headstock I said to my father this is the one (he is not as clued up on guitars as I am). After I chose the one I wanted my father asked the guy in the store about the two we had seen earlier and he said they are Gibson Les Paul Customs.... The epi cost me 6000 Rand brand new... The Gibson 33 000 Rand... I know its is Gibson V Epiphone but honestly , is a 27 000 Rand difference justifiable ??
#18
^ it is if it's 27,000 Rand better...

Quote by TheQuailman
Nothing like a pair of high output ceramic humbuckers for some Robben Ford.


corksniffing br00talz

i should add, in addition to my previous post, that at the prices gibson go for in europe you shouldn't have to do those things to it to get a nice guitar... just if you're willing to you can have a nice guitar for a not-too-bad price.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at May 18, 2011,
#19
Quote by Spud Spudly
My luthier swears he'd buy an Epiphone semi-hollow before a Gibson 335 because the difference is slight and with the Gibson you could wind up spending a lot of money and getting one that's not so good.

Yeah, well, unless they make a ES-335 Studio, I think a lot of people agree with that statement. When a Dot costs $400US and the cheapest ES-335 cost $2000US with very little in between, Gibson must know it's alienating the mid-range players who love semi-hollow tone (like me).
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.


Fender MIM Stratocaster
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#20
Quote by kangaxxter
Yeah, well, unless they make a ES-335 Studio, I think a lot of people agree with that statement. When a Dot costs $400US and the cheapest ES-335 cost $2000US with very little in between, Gibson must know it's alienating the mid-range players who love semi-hollow tone (like me).

Well, people like you have something called "alternatives".

Ibanez, Höfner and many others produce very well priced semi-hollow guitars.
#21
i dont get why you would pay 2k + for a guitar with a laminate top though laminates suck.

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
2016 SE Holcolmb
#22
Quote by jwd724
Interesting. I'd like to see how the two compared if you didn't know which one was Epiphone or Gibson (double-blind study). It seems that people tend to be biased either for or against Gibsons (especially as of late), so removing the name from the equation might produce more accurate results.

that has its flaws though, because of how different gibsons and epiphones feel to simply hold - i think it's the biggest difference of all that there is between them. the difference in tone is insignificant in comparison imo.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.