Price paid: $ 800
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I play mainly hard rock and blues, and in buying this guitar I was looking for a good hollow body guitar that could handle this. The pickups sing beautifully clean, and I only wish they were a bit brighter. I've heard about the Casino giving much unwanted feedback when put through distortion and gain, but I've never had any problems with it. It has a rich, full sound no matter what I put it through. The guitar can make a wide variety of tones, suitable for any style of music (except possibly heavy metal). Playing it through a Fender Frontman, a Vox AC-30, and an Egnater Tweaker, it sounds fantastic no matter what.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar works almost perfectly with the style of music I play (I still keep a Stratocaster handy) and I would rely on it for whatever. Other than this, I own a 1991 Fender Stratocaster, a Squier Jagmaster (used for fat, warm tones), and a Strat ripoff of unknown origin. I use this more than any of them, but keep the Strat at the ready. If this guitar was stolen, I would definitely buy it again, although I have my eye on a Gibson Non-Reverse Firebird Studio. I love everything about this guitar, and only wish that it was a little brighter toned. I love this guitar, and if anyone can get hold of one before the production is sold out, I recommend you do it!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar has withstood several performances and is a perfect workhorse. I use it in the studio, live, and at practices, it has replaced my other guitars almost completely. I am sure the hardware will last for ages and I will depend on it almost completely. When I gig with it, I do use a backup. Never because of failing electronics, only because it may not have the right sound for a certain song. The finish is flawless and I don't think it will wear off anytime soon, but it's such a beautiful guitar, that if it did, I don't think I would mind.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
From the factory, the action is low, too low. The strings buzz and hit the frets when I strum too hard, and I am having it set up this week. The pickups were set to perfect height to provide great, clean, loud tone. The trapeze tailpiece and tune-o-matic bridge work well in making the strings ring out clearly and increase sustain. Other than the low action, I have had no problems with the playability.
Features — 10
Now I know what you're thinking, $800 for a Casino? This is a 50th anniversary "1961" Epiphone Casino, number 190 in a production run of only 1,961. Most people reading this review will think I'm just giving it a fantastic rating because most people do. But everything I'm saying about this guitar is true. It was made in 2011, in a Chinese factory. It has 21 frets, and because the neck joins the body at the 16th fret, every fret up to the 18th is easy to reach. The headstock has the classic "T Shaped" Epiphone name plate. The neck is rosewood, and extremely comfortable to play. The double cutaway body is made of maple/birch, and being a completely hollow body, it is very light, which is good for a tiny person like me. It has a beautiful Royal Tan finish on the top, which is flawless, and the sides and back have a translucent mahogany finish. The body is identical in shape to a Gibson ES-335, so it is familiar and comfortable. It uses Gibson USA passive P-90 single coil pickups, which sing like they should. 2 volume knobs and 2 tone knobs, and a 3 way selector switch (as is common to most Gibson/Epiphone guitars). The Wilkinson Vintage-Style tuners are extremely accurate and make tuning very easy. The guitar also came with a short instrument cable, a signed certificate of authenticity, and a period-correct grey tolex case.