#1
As I was recently considering a new guitar, I came across a dude selling an Epiphone SG 400 on the local online sales website, in immaculate condition, for less than half the retail price of a new one. I have already combined with him a day to try it out and read all the reviews here on UG and other internet corners, and even talked with a friend who had one (that is, until he dropped it on stage and broke it's neck - tragic testimony of the neck dive issue I'm already aware of).

This guitar seems to be acclaimed for being a solid and quality instrument, but people seem to complain about the pickups not sounding the best and the wiring being cheap (nothing that couldn't be easily replaced). When it comes to neck feel, electronics, bridge, etc., it's incredibly alike the Epiphone LP standard, which I was looking after as well, but for half the price.

My concern is that would this guitar last. I'm looking for a guitar that isn't overly expensive but offers great value and would be a keeper. I know if I saved and got twice what I'd pay for this I'd get something even better, but by keep saving I'll end up stuck on a job with no time to practice and be wasting an opportunity to get a decent guitar right now. So far, I've seen these pros, cons and things I'd eventually want to replace if I bought it:

Pros:
Set neck mahogany construction;
Groover tuners which are acclaimed to be great at keeping the tuning;
Quality bridge and stopbar - and it doesn't have a floating bridge, which I find no use on my Strat;
This particular guitar seems to be in great condition and for a great price.
Bonus: I really like SG's looks, and considering it's an Ebony classic design SG, it's incredibly Tony Iommi's lookalike.

Cons:
Stock Alnico Classic pickups are considered usable yet muddy everywhere on the internet, meaning they'd eventually have to be replaced;
Epiphone claims the body to be solid mahogany, but people say it's not mahogany but a similar wood and with veneers on top;
Cheap wiring.

Replace list:
Strap locks (for obvious reasons);
A bone nut (unfortunately the guitar comes with a plastic one);
New wiring and (eventually) pickups.

Worth to mention I like to play mostly classic Rock (Led Zeppelin, KISS, Rainbow and such) and classic metal (Black Sabbath), as well as some clean songs, so I need a versatile guitar.
'07 Jackson Pro Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
Squier Strat SE
Marshall Valvestate VS15R practice amp
#2
Where are you located and what is your budget?

If you live in the US, go to Rondo Music. http://www.rondomusic.com/electricguitar.html

The guitars you'll find there will eat any Epiphone for the same price new.


That said, the Epiphone G-400's aren't bad guitars. The pickups that come in them (assuming you're talking about the alnico classics) are pretty muddy. But if you don't have a good amp yet then replacing pickups is a bit of a waste of time.

You may want to replace the switch and output jack soon on those guitars are well. They're better than what you got on the old Korean-made Epiphones, but they're still not great. Replace them with Switchcraft stuff when they break. Unless there actually is something wrong with them, I wouldn't really bother replacing the pots and caps. Replacement ones are not going to make the guitar sound any better.

If you REALLY want to make a meaningful improvement with those guitars, I'd take it to a tech to get the frets levelled and dressed. Every Epiphone I've ever played (and indeed, any other guitar in the same price range more or less) would benefit from having additional fretwork done. Which will allow you to lower the guitar's action and still not get any fret buzz, improving overall playability and intonation drastically. It isn't a particularly cheap thing to do, but it totally transforms the way the guitar plays.

But like I said, I'd seriously consider what Rondo Music sells first before buying the SG. Particularly if you live in the US.
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#3
Thanks a lot for your feedback, but unfortunately I'm from Europe so it would be quite an headache to import anything from the US (mainly a guitar that I can't try before buying).

I subscribe the output jack must be crappy indeed, because the very only fix and non-stock thing on the one I'm considering is a new jack - I'll keep in mind the switch wouldn't live much longer, either. About fret leveling and setup, the guy claims to have it professionally tuned not long ago, but ofc that's a matter of confirmation when I test it. Otherwise, I'd take it to a store of my trust to get it tuned and adjusted.
'07 Jackson Pro Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
Squier Strat SE
Marshall Valvestate VS15R practice amp