Price paid: £ 245
Purchased from: Andertons, Guildford
Features — 8
Bought new, Dec 2015. 19 medium frets on a 24.75" scale. Solid top (Epiphone may call the back/sides "Select" but this is marketing speak for laminate). Sonitone preamp/pickup (but no tuner), the volume and single tone control for which are hidden just inside the sound. Only issue with this is that the battery is right inside, so changing it involves slackening the strings right down. As I'm a home player, this was more of a nice to have, so I'm not bothered but some might find it an issue. Grover "vintage button" machine heads look great and are Grovers, so enough said.
The Vintage Sunburst is of a good quality for this price range (if a little over shiny), and is continued across the back and neck, which is a nice detail. The neck is "SlimTaper" D shape and therefore plays more like an electric which is exactly what I was after. Does not come with strap or case.
Sound — 8
Unplugged it's a good, bluesy steel string sound: a nice midpoint between the smaller parlour shape and something more like a dread. The shape is larger than most parlour guitars: the lower bout is broader, providing some extra volume and low-end, so it will more than hold its own in a jam setting. However, playing while sitting/slouched on the sofa is still very comfortable, which is the whole point for me. I've plugged it into a bass amp only briefly to check the electrics, but the sound was certainly satisfactory to my ears: perhaps a little on the muddy side but nothing that couldn't be tweaked with a bit of additional EQ somewhere along the line, and certainly fine at this price.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I've had the guitar for 6 months now and really enjoy playing it, both strumming and picking. The action was a little off (too low at the nut, too high at the bridge), but not unexpected for a new guitar at this level. When I got home and took it out of the box the "E" logo on the scratch-plate was coming unstuck but I prefer the look without, and can easily glue it back on at a later date. This should definitely not be viewed as a reflection on the rest of the guitar's construction, however, which is excellent - the interior in particular is superb and far better quality than I'd expect at this price point.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I'm definitely happy with my choice of guitar: everything still feels solid after 6 months and I've no doubt it will last for years to come. The lower bout strap button is also the jack plug, and neither button has come loose in the time I've had it. As mentioned above, I don't play guitar in public but would have every confidence this model would be great in a gig or jam setting. The machine heads hold their tuning well and look great to boot. As mentioned the finish is a bit on the shiny side, but has lasted well this far - no scratches or dings as yet.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm more a strumming, picking type - blues and rock with nothing fancy, but friends who play more lead also enjoyed playing it. I've been playing over 10 years, although only for fun at home as guitar isn't my main instrument. I wanted something comfortable to play while seated/hanging out, ideally with a solid top and under £275. Tried a lot of guitars (mainly Epiphone, Sigma and Fender), and found the EL-00 to give the best trade-off between a smaller, more comfortable shape whilst maintaining enough of a bluesy, steel string acoustic sound. Some of the parlour/travel models I tried played well, but were generally more boxy sounding by comparison and/or just felt too small in the hand. The dreadnoughts I tried didn't fit my criteria for comfy sofa playing!
For: Great sound, comfy shape, plays well, classic look and solid construction.
Neutral: Preamp has no onboard tuner; needed a setup.
Against: Ease of access to the battery.
Overall, good value - a great guitar, I'd buy again in a heartbeat.