Price paid: $ 600
Sound — 10
As I said, the look of the guitar is why I picked it up, but the sound is why I bought it. It's kind of dull when it's in the Rhythm section, and the "warm" tone is sort of boring and didn't really do anything for me. In the middle position the sound didn't change dramatically, and was still quite average. When I flicked the Switch over into the "Treble" position I was blown away. The guitar gives great low end, literally SCREAMING mid-range and the highs are great too. This is definitely a guitar for both solos and rhythm parts. I fell in love with it because I finally found that sound that had been in my head for ages. I just had to buy the Alleykat as soon as possible, especially since they were no longer being made and you can't ask your local shop to get them in stock unless they already have one.
Overall Impression — 10
I play rock music, I listen to a lot of punk Rock and Ska (Rancid, Green Day, Sex Pistols, Clash etc) but I like beat music and other stuff too (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Misfits, Billy Talent) and this guitar fits the bill like a glove. You can play anything from Chuck Berry to Rancid and you can get loads of different playing styles (except for heavy metal and that type of S**T) I'm the lead singer, and rhythm guitarist in a band, and I've been playing for around 3 years. I own a Fender USA Stratocaster, an Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor, an Ibanez Artcore, a Landola 12-stringer and a Yamaha acoustic. I also own a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal, a Boss ME-50 pedal and a Fender FM212R Amp. This amp is blown so it doesn't sound too good but the guitar still does a superb job, when I play at the club in a different amp it's absolutely incredible. If the guitar got stolen I'd definitely try to get another one or something very similar, because it's such a great guitar, especially at this price! I love everything about this guitar, but I just don't get Gibson/Epiphone's obsession about putting the selector Switch right in the way of the strumming hand, it seems so stupid. I think my favourite part about the guitar is the sound, the master volume knob, and the way it looks in general. I have been happy with my gear for 2 years, but I saw this and suddenly I got that feeling of wanting more stuff, so I bought it, and now I'm happy again. I just wish it came with a proper case, instead of just on it's own. I've ordered a hardcase though, a guitar like this you've got to keep safe!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built like a tank, it could probably survive just about anything that you'd do to a guitar you respected. Live it will do whatever you want, and it doesn't give out a lot of feedback as some archtop guitars do, although naturally, as any guitar will when you leave it and the amp is turned up it will start eventually. Because of the Master volume knob the guitar is incredibly practical and I would gladly use it without a backup at a show (although different songs require different guitars so I use several usually). Apart from the bridge pickup everything on the guitar is solid and it's staying there, even if you throw it around while you play, or if you jump around and stuff.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action of the guitar was great, and is really comfortable to play, and the scooped back of the set neck makes upper access to the frets really easy. The pickups weren't adjusted that well, I had to tighten them because the bridge pickup was rattling because it wasn't tightened properly. This was a 2 second fix though, all I needed was the right screwdriver and it stopped straight away. The way the nut was cut is a bit sloppy, it does a fair job, but it has a few scrapes in between the strings, although this doesn't do anything to playability or sound. As I said the guitar had a couple of dings, but nothing seriously wrong with the finish from the factory's point of view. The only serious problem I had was the selector Switch which I removed.
Features — 10
The Alleykat is a single-cutaway, set-neck archtop guitar, which is near identical to the Epiphone Wildkat. The Alleykat however does not have the bigsby tremolo, and features an Epiphone '57 Humbucker in the bridge position, and a "Mini Humbucker" in the neck position. The Wildkat is still being made, while the production of the Alleykat has been discontinued. The Transluscent Black finish of the guitar combined with the chrome hardware is what made me pick it up in the first place, it's such a beautiful shade of black/grey/blue and the way you can see the grain of wood in a subtle way is incredible. I was in a guitar shop with my bandmate while he was trying a Telecaster and I just had to try the Alleykat. It had a different feel than I was used to (I learned to play guitar on a Fender USA Stratocaster, and later on bought an Ibanez Artcore as well) because the Alleykat has a 50's sort of feel to it, much like a Les Paul. The body is quite slim though, which unfortunately means it won't fit in a Standard Epiphone hardcase, although a case isn't hard to get. The Stopbar tailpiece is a big chunk of chrome that looks great, especially together with the chrome pickups, silver knobs and the original Epiphone silver logo on the headstock. The rosewood fingerboard on the maple neck together with the block inlays, and the white line going around the finish and inside of the F-holes give the guitar a great look. The back of the guitar is as nice as the front, with a flawless black finish that goes all the way up the neck and the back of the headstock. The Grover tuners do a good job staying in tune, and the extra "master volume" knob just under the neck is incredibly practical on stage. The only problem I had was with the "Rhythm Treble" 3-way selector, which is placed where I strum (I have my guitar slung very low, which makes me strum in a sideways-downward pattern that makes the Switch impractical). So I just opened the back and put the Switch inside the guitar and put black duct-tape over the hole, after taping the rattling part to the inside, which works brilliantly, because I only use the one setting anyway. The finish had 2 dings when I bought the guitar (I bought it new, but I'm guessing these happened when it was on the wall in the shop) One was just under the Tone knob on the bottom of the guitar, and one was on the 16th fret, although both are tiny, and can't be seen unless you really get in close. Therefore I'm still giving it a full 10/10.