People have told me over and over again that it isn't worth paying for the set up on my Epiphone AJ 200, that I should just buy a new guitar, but I still don't understand why.

My problem is that the action is horrible, and the thing doesn't stay in tune. Other than that I really like the sound of the guitar, the slim neck, the look, etc. I really just want to have a decent acoustic at home I can noodle away on without having to set up my crazy electric-amp-attenuator-3cable set up every time (I live in an apartment so I have to keep it down).

To top it all off I met some random dude a few years ago who showed me how to refret my guitar myself. So I have a nice set of really durable steel frets on there now. Unfortunately I don't have the proper tools to level the frets, and frankly I just don't want to get into it. But that's definitely also giving me trouble, especially when I tried to do the set up myself.

My reasoning is that I can pay around $250 (I'm estimating, in Canadian dollars) to get the thing set up, get the frets leveled, and even buy new machine heads for it to help it stay in tune. That's instead of paying $500 min is what I'm guessing I would want to spend on a new one.

Thoughts anyone? Why wouldn't I want to upgrade my current guitar and save myself $250? Or should I just do that?
OK first, (and I'm just guessing here), the tuning machines likely don't have to be replaced. On 3 + 3 systems, more often than not, there is a screw in the middle of the knob, which is for the purpose of adjusting the gears lash out of the tuners. That's is normally all you need to do , not replace the tuners..

Is your tuner dead on accurate. Sometimes slightly out of tune guitar play themselves out of tune. While those dead on in tune, play themselves into tune.

Although, if Pete Townshend is one of your favorite guitarists, be prepared to tweak the tuning between songs.

There are other reasons why the guitar doesn't want to hold tune. Sometimes it's a simple as refining your restringing technique. Sometimes even simpler, restring more often.

You can level the frets with a flat block of plate glass, along with some sticky back automotive sandpaper. (Take the relief out of the neck first, and double check that the neck is dead straight).

Here's a great setup guide: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

As far as what you should do, I can't help you with that. I have a bunch of mid line guitars. That keeps my interest up, and distributes the wear across the collection.

A new guitar might inspire you, but the AJ-200 is allegedly a great sounding low priced axe. I see your dilemma. Personally, I'd do this best I could, spending as little money as possible to get the AJ into playing shape, while I started trying to save up for another guitar. Then you's have two, one to beat on, and one to play on Saturday night.

Why don't you get back to us on this?
I think it will depend on neck angle. If the setup just requires tweaking the neck relief and levelling the frets, it could well be worth doing if you like the guitar. OTOH, if the guitar geometry has deteriorated - gone banana shaped - the simple action tweaking might not be enough to get it low enough to be easily playable. The cost of fixing that situation, even if it is feasible, would not be worth it. I often see used guitars in hock shops that are in this state, and IMO, they aren't worth $10.

Just had a look at the pic. Funny name, since it looks more like a Gibson SJ than a J-200.
Quote by Tony Done
....[ ]...Just had a look at the pic. Funny name, since it looks more like a Gibson SJ than a J-200.
It's a slope shoulder dreadnought homage, isn't it?
The neck isn't as bad as I made it sound, it's just bad right now because I set it up wrong after trying to fix it too many times.

I should probably restring it more often, but I did that recently and there's still problems. As for doing work on it myself, I'm about fed up with that and ready to just pay for it.

I think based on your feedback I'm going to get it checked out, see how much it costs to get it back into a playable state with the frets leveled by a pro and probably throw some better tuners on there. The ones on there now are really junk, you can just tell. I've tried adjusting the screws before and that didn't help. Even lubed them too.

Is there a decent set of tunes you could recommend that wouldn't be too expensive? I was looking at Grovers what do you guys think? Something with a high gear ratio would be nice, so I can dial it in perfectly. It's kind of strange, my Gibson Traditional has awesome looking machine heads but the gear ratio seems to be crap, like really low. My acoustic machine heads, as cheap as they, seem to have a much better ratio. I'd be willing to drop... let's $70 (Canadian) max on tuners?
Epiphone is now having its acoustics built, (by all accounts) by Samick in Indonesia.

The EJ-200-SCE has 18:1 Grovers on it, a solid top, stereo electronic and a bunch more. $400.00 USD (I'm not sure if Musician's Friend will ship Epi to Canada or not).

Epiphone's "AJ-220-SCE", is the latest model of your guitar, again a solid top.

Given the frame of mind you're in, my best advice is to go ahead and replace it. It seems you've have good karma with the brand, hence the reason for my two recommendations.

Make your 200 a side project to be completed, time indeterminate....
Captain, thanks for the recommendation. I'm not sure how old it is though, is it possible that mine was built somewhere else? The serial number says: AJ-220-SCE NA, I bought it about 7 years ago. Still not worth paying to upgrade it?
Here's the brand new equivalent model: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/epiphone-aj-220sce-acoustic-electric-guitar/423940000015000?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=CjwKEAjwxruuBRC9lLGslqjs-HISJAAkq21sUMbSpsGiLL6b5D6VJHWkCzk0c2xrwJLFE2ejLsneAhoCyAzw_wcB&kwid=productads-plaid^57301888867-sku^423940000015000@ADL4MF-adType^PLA-device^c-adid^53736456387

Here's how to decode the serial number: http://epiphonewiki.com/index.php/Epiphone_Serial_Number_Decoding

I really believe if you keep over-thinking this, sooner or later, you're bound to outsmart yourself .

If you want to get into a bunch of BS as to whether the top has "opened up". Or if a poly finished guitar is capable of "opening up". Or perhaps whether the top on your guitar is "old growth lumber".

I don't have the situation of your financials at my fingertips, no do I want them. If the guitar is 7 years old, cost about $300.00, that would mean it cost you all of about $1.20 a month to enjoy.

Personally, I wouldn't go through this, "weeping and gnashing of teeth", over a $300.00 guitar.

Hindsight being 20/20, I would have fretted the guitar up to about the 7th fret, blocked it level with the flattest piece of maple I could find at Home Depot and been done with it.

If the new Epis are anything like your old one, we shouldn't need to have this conversation again until 2022. (Which is not to say I'm not enjoying this one).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 15, 2015,
Haha, fair enough. I've gone and overdone it.

I'll figure it out and let you know the happy outcome, either way. I must say I like the finish on that new model, nice classic look. The store I would buy it from also does free set ups, so that's a bonus on top of everything else I guess.
There you go... Surely you must have a birthday coming up during the next year (*), which easily justifies the purchase...

(*) (Between now, and August 16, 2016)
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 16, 2015,