Price paid: $ 440
Purchased from: Marshall Music
Features — 9
A stunningly balanced and good looking classical steel string guitar. The Rosewood fingerboard is stunning to the touch and the amount of play is brilliant for players ranging from beginners right through to pros. The Shadow Performer Tuner preamp is the clearest I've heard in a long time, and coupled with the Nano-Flex low-impendance pickup just adds to its constant clarity when used with the Phase button. Battery in the preamp isn't the standard 9v used in most, so warning to stocking up on the 2032 flat batteries when you do find them.
Sound — 9
The joy of the Shadow Performer Tuner preamp is endless. From a harsh and heavy feedback folk song, beyond to the more intricate and clarity craving acoustic solos, one button push is all it takes with the Phase function. The deep richness and fullness of every note you strike is resounding and when even cover the slightest of mistakes, edging you to push your playing further and further to the limit! I've played mine both through full sound desks and even through my small little bass practice amp with bare difference in the end sound quality delivered, other than the heavy tones from the bass amp hahaha.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Action on the fingerboard is at a comfortable setting for any beginner to start on. It's also just right for quick and precise movement from pro players as well. Machine heads are 14:1 ratio sealed die-cast. Stunning quality and just what you'd expect from the holding company being Gibson. The bridge is a work of art being solid rosewood on a reverse-belly. The body pickup has never given the slightest hint of disturbance. The controls on the preamp, although being very plainly marked, are sturdy and yet highly sensitive. All the wood used is well finished off without a single lack of pure quality being compromised on.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Although the guitar feels delicate and gentle in the hands, don't be fooled with just how good the build quality is! I've used mine on many a stage already without a second glance at the conditions its been in. Obviously though, keep it away from water :p As with any guitar at all though, keeping everything well cleaned and nourished at all times, plays a large part in the durability of it. The bottom end strap button is highly confusing at first, considering that it doubles as your line jack, but the end result is a very comfortable sitting strap in the end.
Overall Impression — 9
With me playing a lot of gospel type music, there's a constant stream of fast and slow playing on this guitar. It has disappointed in either case. I also have occasion of playing very precise and intricate soloing, and the clarity of the guitar stuns throughout the entire gig. And then of course there's the long insomnia filled evenings when I end up sitting at the edge of the bed and gently play randomly for the wife to pass out again. Either way however, the AJ has yet to fail to deliver on what I throw at it on an acoustic level of playing. I love this guitar from beginning to end and I'm sold on the Epiphone AJ series for the rest of my life after this experience!