#1
In general, can it be said that older Epiphones were made with higher quality than newer Epiphones or vice versa?
#2
Most of the old MIK Epiphone guitars were worse than what Epi has been making in China over the last few years. That doesn’t mean good ones don’t exist, but don’t believe the vintage guitar dealers who claim that early 1990s Epiphone Les Pauls are comparable to the nice Fender and Charvel guitars that came from Japan in the 1980s.
#4
I own two MIK Epiphone Les Paul's (Standard and Custom) and two newer China made Epiphone Les Paul's (1960 Tribute, Ultra II) and a 1989 MIK Sheraton. My MIK Epiphone LP Custom is very good (and very heavy at 11.3 lbs.). It looks great and plays very well with low action. My MIK LP Standard is good but not as good as the newer ones made in the past few years at the Epiphone factory in China. Since the MIK ones were made in various factories in South Korea they were not always consistent and some were very good to excellent and some were not. The China made ones today seem to be pretty consistent from what I have experienced. I can't recommend any of the lesser modals like the JR's., Specials etc. I think the newer Epiphones are really nice value. I recently played a new Epiphone ES-335 and was blown away. It is much nicer than my MIK Sheraton but it may be a matter of taste.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#5
Quote by columbiar
In general, can it be said that older Epiphones were made with higher quality than newer Epiphones or vice versa?


Depends on what you define as "older."
Prior to Gibson's purchase of the Epiphone brand, Epiphone was actually a very strong competitor to Gibson and produced guitars that were often *better* than Gibsons. I have, for example, a 1939 Epiphone Emperor that was at least as good as, and probably better than, the gibson Super 400. Even after Gibson purchased Epiphone and Gibson took over production of of well-known Epiphone models, some folks preferred those guitars to similar Gibsons.

Gibson corporate culture, however, has never forgotten that Epiphone frequently put Gibson guitars on the trailer during those times, and it did not sit well. Thus Gibson was determined to make sure that Epiphone was a poor sister to Gibson as a brand.

They shifted Epiphone production to Japan, but Japanese production was actually very good. So they shifted Epiphone production to Korea, which wasn't all that good at first, but which began to come on pretty strong (and in fact there are *some* Epiphones produced in Korea and Japan that are very much sought after due to their quality).

Gibson then shifted production to China, and to its own dedicated plant in Qindao, where (I'm told) management at Gibson figured it could control quality. For a while, Epiphone quality dropped off, but the folks at Epiphone have a bad habit of pride in their work, apparently. Epiphone quality has been advancing again (and farming out some production to Samick-owned factories in Indonesia, etc., hasn't stopped that).

Gibson realizes that it needs to find relevancy among entry-level guitarists who do NOT have the tradition of hearing Gibson guitars in the sound track of their lives as did virtually every Baby Boomer over the years. Entry level guitarists have selected for quality over reputation, and the glut of under-$1000 Asian-sourced guitars have provided it.

Gibson has tried cheapening its guitars (the LPJ, SGJ, etc.) and competing in that bracket, but it found that not only were savvy buyers noticing the difference in quality, but they were ignoring the Gibson logo and buying what looked and felt good to them. Worse, most of the actual buyers of those guitars were folks who couldn't afford the higher-priced fare but wanted a Gibson logo. Thus the cheap guitars had the dual effect of cannibalizing sales of higher-end Gibson guitars and of damaging the image of Gibson as a higher-end quality "lifestyle" guitar. For 2015, Gibson made the corporate decision to move the company back to the high end. It largely abandoned the cheapo models and raised prices on its other guitars. Unfortunately, it also made some bone-headed decisions regarding what would identify those higher end guitars as "higher end", and sales of the 2015s have been dismal.

Nonetheless, Gibson is (for now) committed to allowing Epiphone to be the low-end standard bearer. In the process, Epiphone quality has been sneaking back up and there are some models here and there that make sense and address more modern buyers.
#6
No.
Bhaok

The following statement is true. The proceeding statement is false.
#7
100% correct. Amen. Pastor Dspellman's sermon was perfect. Thanks.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#8
dspellman laid it out pretty well...

My own view, I owned a Epiphone FT 130 that was eventually stolen in Austin, my favorite acoustic ever. Japanese made around 1975 or so. I bought it at a pawn shop in Houston about 1977. Zero fret and adjustable bridge, I got it to play like a good electric. Loved it. I've played quite a few Japanese models and almost always liked them, some of the Korean ones were good too, you have to be picky. Don't know a thing about the newer Chinese models.

If you find one of the 70's Japanese made models, do check it out, I've seen very few that weren't good guitars. The bolt on neck is usually comfortable to play, if it has the zero fret and adjustable bridge height, it can be set up to play really well. Look them over close for things like bridges tilted or sliding forward, warped necks, serious fret grooves...tuners were good, I never had to worry about mine, a drop of 3 in 1 oil once a year and carry on. With the bolt on neck you can also put a strap peg under the neck, it has a big wood block under there that will hold it nicely. I had to pass on one a few years ago for one reason only...no electronics...Still was very tempted...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#9
I've got a chinese LP 1959 standard (from 2009) - mahogany wood, gibson pups, set neck. It's fantastic. Sounds great. I have Gibson LP standards. They too are great. There's not that much between them really. The gibsons feel more comfortable to play. It's also easier to bbend notes. Sits in the hands better. can get the action really low. Yes they do sound better - the price of the Gibsons is about 3x that of my top of the range epi 1959.
Are they 3x better sound - no - maybe about 10% better sound. Not much in it.
I think the epi to get is the Trbiute Plus - set neck, gibson pups, mahogany.
Last edited by adetheheat at Oct 14, 2015,
#10
I agree about the EPI Tribute Plus. It has been my hands down favorite gig guitar for the past year or so. Everything about it is great. (I noticed a strange thing about some Epi Tributes sold on Ebay. The sellers are removing the Gibson 57 Classic pups and putting in cheaper pickups. Beware.)
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#11
Quote by adetheheat
I've got a chinese LP 1959 standard (from 2009) - mahogany wood, gibson pups, set neck. It's fantastic. Sounds great. I have Gibson LP standards. They too are great. There's not that much between them really. The gibsons feel more comfortable to play. It's also easier to bbend notes. Sits in the hands better. can get the action really low. Yes they do sound better - the price of the Gibsons is about 3x that of my top of the range epi 1959.
Are they 3x better sound - no - maybe about 10% better sound. Not much in it.
I think the epi to get is the Trbiute Plus - set neck, gibson pups, mahogany.


I think "easier to bend notes" and "can get the action really low" is completely dependent on the setup (and whether the frets are level on either the Gibson or the Epi). "Comfortable to play" and "sits in the hands better" are pretty subjective, difficult to quantify and probably tied to individual guitars rather than overall brands. "Sounds better" is yet another subjective evaluation, and with the same pickups installed on both brands of guitars would probably boil down to whether the player was able to detect what the logo was on the headstock before playing. It wouldn't be the first time that a guitar player has been accused of "listening with his eyes."

One forum, after a long series of arguments that reached no conclusions whatever, decided to simply designate and anoint Gibson as "40% better" than whatever lower end guitars they were liable to be compared to and leave it at that. It's become a joke that permeates all NGD posts ("40% content...").
#12
yes I agree - I did mean my comments about my Gibsons to be very subjective indeed. And all in all I meant although Gibsons are 3x the price they are not 3x better (again as if we could actually quantify what 3x better would actually mean).
#13
Epiphone have decent build quality. I have had a G-400 since '09 and it is a great guitar. The pickups were kinds week, but a bridge pickup change and it was my main gigging guitar for a little over a year. And I have and have owned many nice USA made guitars.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#14
I think it really depends on the specific model. I've played some Epiphones that I thought were garbage, then on the other hand, I have my 97's Slash Snakepit LP that was made in Korea, that I would throw up against almost any Gibson (new or old) and feel confident that it would hold its own.

The garbage ones I've played have been both old and newer. I think generally its their cheaper models that aren't that great and get the negative reviews. Any of their medium to higher priced models I've played, I've been generally happy or impressed with.
Guitars:
PRS Custom 24
Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute
85' MIJ Strat
97' Snakepit Les Paul
LP Traditional 1960 Zebra
MIJ Tele
MIA Strat

Amps:
Silver Jubilee 2525
Peavey Ultra 112
Jet City JCA50H
66' Bassman
Pink Paisley Princeton RV
74' Vibro Champ
Last edited by red.guitar at Oct 17, 2015,
#15
In my experience, the older epiphones were a lot less consistent, quality wise, as production was divided across numerous 3rd party manufacturers - certain manufacturers made some really great ones at certain times (the hollowbodies made by Peerless in the late 1990s were typically of excellent quality, for example), but even then, the hardware, electronics and pickups usually sucked.

Nowadays since they are mostly manufactured in a dedicated, Gibson-owned factory in China, the quality is a lot more consistent as they are able to actually have some level of quality control, and they also have better hardware and pickups - they still cheap out on the pots and caps, and the plastic nut - but that's really all that lets them down, imo. The build quality might not be as good as some of the better examples from when they were made in korea, but at least you know what you're getting.

Sometimes you can get a great deal on a used korean epiphone which might be worth upgrading, but definitely make sure you try before you buy.
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.
#16
Obviously most of what there is to say has already been said, but I want to back up a few things:
a) Modern Epis (when you go over about £250) are consistently pretty nice. Over about £300 you can easily find something that won't just gig, but can gig impressively. Frets aren't necessarily great but I've yet to find one north of the Standard models with serious issues.
b) Modern Epi electronics are still weak, as Blompcube said. Most of the pickups are okay, at least, though like Robbgnarly I never got along with those on my G-400; at this point I think most of their higher-end models have decent pups, though. More of an issue is wiring and the like. Lots of switch issues, lots of grounding issues. You could overhaul the whole electronics cavity for south of £50 though.
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