Price paid: € 500
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 10
This is where the awesomeness kicks in. I play mostly metal and hard rock, and this guitar fits me like a glove. It feels fast, aggressive, and dangerous, and the EMG's give it that extra punch and compression, which makes it perfect for playing metal. The pickups are super silent, and sound awesome through my Line 6 Spider IV 75. The 85 is perfect for warm and fat clean tones, so it's perfect for mids ands lows, and the 81, which is a high gain pickup, sounds just as awesome as the 85, but with more saturated highs, so it's perfect for soloing (if you're willing to do that using this guitar).
Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly metal, and this guitar is obviously a perfect match. I have been playing it for about 4, almost 5 months, and it is still as awesome as the day I took it out of the box. Other than this guitar, I own a Squier Stratocaster, which was my first guitar. If someone stole it, I would first beat the sh*t out of him, and if I couldn't find the guy, I would definitely buy a new one. I simply love the way it is balanced, and how it feels dangerous and fast when playing. Oh, by the way, it is a bit neck-heavy, and it weighs about 5 kg. If I could change something, I would put a EMG 60 in the neck position instead of the 85.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar will definitely withstand a live gig. I still have a backup guitar, but I could play it without the need for a backup. The hardware looks like it is going to last. Except for the paint in the bridge saddles. The strap buttons are solid, and after almost 5 months of playing they never got loose. However, some of the black paint is starting to chip off, because of the locking strap buttons. The finish looks like it will last forever, and is shiny as hell. It attracts a lot of scratches, dust, and fingerprints, but if you get a cloth and a bunch of carnauba wax you can polish it all off.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The factory setup was a bit high, but still playable. The pickups were perfectly adjusted, so there is no need to move them up and down. However, they messed up with the frets. Most of the frets didn't even touh the fretboard in the sides, in a way that the high E string would get stuck under the fret wire. Because of their terrible job, I had to spend another 120 in a luthier to refret the guitar. Also, the volume knob was a little crooked, but I managed to fix it. Other than that, it's perfectly fine. The paint is flawless, the neck was perfectly straight, the hardware was perfect too, but now about 4 months after I got it, some of the paint in the bridge saddles is starting to come off, because I use a lot of palm muting.
Features — 10
My guitar was made in China, in 2011. It has a mahogany body with a super high gloss black finish, and a mahogany set-neck, with a 22 fret rosewood fretboard (it's really dark, almost like ebony). It also features a Tune-O-Matic bridge, with a stopbar, and non-locking Grover tuners (all black hardware). The pickups are both active EMG's. A 81 in the bridge position, and 85 in the neck position, with a 3 way switch, master tone and master volume controls. The guitar came in with Epiphone's own brand strap locks, two hex keys, a manual/care guide, and a sticker.