AJ-500R review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (8 votes)
Epiphone: AJ-500R

Price paid: $ 599.99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 9
Oh my... This thing sounds beautiful with thick strings. The stock strings that come on this Acoustic (.012-.052) really bring out the great bottom end of the rosewood. I was very surprised about how an almost entirely rosewood guitar sounded. The sitka spruce adds beautiful highs to the sound that completely compliment the lows of the rosewood. The mahogany necks brings just a nice mellow medium to the overall tone, making this Acoustic sound just amazing. I have always heard good things about the tone of Epiphone Masterbilt acoustics and I could not be more impressed with the tone.

Overall Impression — 9
The past two Epiphones that I have purchased have been duds, with a weak neck joint being the epitome of the issues. This guitar is rock solid and sounds great. It doesn't have a huge price tag and you get good craftsmanship for a great price. Like I have said multiple times already, this guitar sounds great and is the main reason I enjoy this guitar so much. Minor changes I could make to this guitar, but it's still a great Acoustic and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar can take some damage. Definitely don't want to drop it on any sort of hard flooring though. It can withstand some punishment because rosewood is a pretty dense wood. Very minor tuning issues which is a great plus. Of course it goes out of tune if you just bend the crap out of a string, but that'll happen with practically every guitar. I do not play Acoustic live or have ever played this Acoustic live. I do not plan to either since I neglected to buy this guitar with the E-Sonic preamp.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Now here is when the points start to take some hits. This guitar has a very comfortable satin finish. The finish feels perfect in my opinion; however, it is very thin and is already starting to chip away slightly in a few areas on the guitar. Maybe it's one of those Nitrocellulose finishes and it's supposed to do that, but I haven't owned this thing for even a year so it seems a little suspicious. The binding towards the headstock is very patchy. Obviously an unskilled worker had done the binding. The frets are nice though. Crowned pretty well and there are no sharp edges. It's hard to reach the upper frets due to the lack of cutaway, but I'm not much of a lead guitarist so this guitar works perfectly with what I play. The action was pretty high and made some chords difficult to play. I fit the guitar with 10-52s which of course made chords easier to play, but highs aren't as mellow due to the lighter top strings. I'd suggest keeping 12s on this guitar to keep that amazing tone. The neck is very thin (Epiphone's slim D shaped neck) which I find somewhat inappropriate for an acoustic. I would have preferred a thicker neck for a better grip on chords.

Features — 8
-Sitka Spruce top -Rosewood Sides and Back -Mahogany Neck -Rosewood Fretboard -25.5" Scale Length -20 Frets -Natural Satin -Creme-ish Binding -Gold Grover Tuners This Acoustic is made of beautiful woods. It's appearance is astonishing and is definitely one of the more attractive guitars I've ever played. The Sitka Spruce has a very nice tan finish to it and is perfectly complimented by the mahogany color of the neck and the rosewood sides and back. I looooooooove satin so this guitar gets huge points for the finish alone. The only thing I wish it had was the E-Sonic Acoustic system but it's been working fine without it. Fewer batteries are a positive. There are a few points where the binding is kind of screwed up, but tone is more important to me than looks.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Spud Spudly
    Why put 10's on this thing when the 12's were sounding so nice? 12's for an acoustic are still pretty light as it is.
    What's the best thickness of strings you can get for an acoustic guitar? I'm thinking about buying this guitar!
    I own this guitar and it sounds great with both but the poly web elixer strings suck on my aj
    I've owned this guitar (in the discontinued vintage sunburst) for 5 years, and it is amazing. I had an LR Baggs M1 Active pickup installed, which is perfect for this. also, try a set of Thomastik-Infeld's "Plectrum" strings on this model. I use the 12's, and it is the most amazing acoustic sound on the planet.