ES-339 Pro review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 7.6 Good
  • Users' score: 8 (45 votes)
Epiphone: ES-339 Pro
4

Price paid: C$ 449

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Sound — 6
Well, I'll start by saying that I've never owned any hollow-body guitars previously, so if you haven't ever played around with one, the sound is very different right off the hop to most solid-bodies even with similar specs and hardware. Add in the fact that I've been primarily a Fender single-coil guy for much of my playing career which spans off-and-on for some 25 years. So it took a while to get used to and dial in to my tastes (and presets). It has a real bell like sound at times, and took me some playing around with to start getting sounds I enjoyed out of it. The setup out of the factory left a little to be desired (more on that later) and dialing in the action and pickup adjustments made a big difference. I still find the sound a little muddier than I'd like, but for blues and dirty blues playing I'm starting to enjoy it more and more. In single-coil modes, you'll find the hum is actually far worse than on a typical Fender Strat even with lesser quality pickups (Mexicans and Squiers), however it does provide a really broad range of sound options on this guitar. Versatility is definitely a strong point. Adding a little fuzz/gain/distortion works just fine as you'd expect from a double humbucker guitar. However, until getting the proper setup done I did come away pretty disappointed in it, lacking any kind of clean response and consistency. Today, I've learned what works for me and I like it much better - for the right type of use. I'd still like to give a shot at upgraded pickups to see how it would respond. Maybe later...

Overall Impression — 8
Again I have to point out that the guitar is absolutely stunning, and sometimes it's better to look good than feel good, as Billy Crystal says. For deeper, darker sounds, it's a real good fit. For the cleaner lighter more articulate sounds, I reach for my Strats. I play this guitar more for the fun and enjoyment of the very different sounds the hollow-body and twin hummers offer. I rarely switch either pickup to single coil any more, because quite frankly I find the sound a little disappointing. All in all, a very enjoyable and less-than-expensive way to have some 6-string fun.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't owned it long enough to rave about it, but it does seem to be put together pretty well. The body is solid (if a hollow-body can BE solid) and the neck seems to be well crafted. The electronics haven't given me any issues, and with the exception of the guitar sometimes falling out of tune a little easier than I'm used to with other guitars I've owned - especially when the strings are newer - it plays pretty darn well. I'd gig with it for sure, but I sure would use other guitars - not because of reliability issues, but because for my tastes and styles the Strats fit a lot better in many cases. For the money, it seems to be a lot of features packed into a reliably-crafted guitar.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Out of the factory, about what you'd expect from a less-than-expensive Epiphone model in terms of setup. While the neck was straight and felt very nice in fact, the action was too high for my tastes. The pickups were not mounted very well, one being a little wobbly, and the other on a pretty fierce angle for some reason. A trip back to Long and McQuade made a big difference, improving the action tremendously and the sound a healthy amount too. The guitar is plain beautiful really though, with a gorgeous blended Vintage burst, nice binding touches, and the inlays on the fretboard and headstock. Really a striking piece all around, and the reason I enjoy having it in my collection. The size is GREAT to me... Larger than a Les Paul, smaller than the 335's. In fact it seems to split the difference very nicely. While I don't find the guitar "fits me" the way I'm used to with my Strats, it's a nice guitar to hold and play, and I have no real issues with the tailpiece interfering with my right hand in any way. The standard strings I believe are 0.10's, and not of a real high quality. For some reason I initially got a lot of colour wear off the fretboard on my fingertips for the first couple weeks of playing, but it seems to have cooled off a little now. In comparison, I got next to none from a Deluxe Player's Strat with rosewood with a lot more time in. However, all in all, a beautiful looking guitar let down somewhat by less than ideal setup and some less than high-performance parts. For the money, about what you'd expect.

Features — 9
Brand new 2012 release Epiphone ES-339 Pro in Vintage Burst. 22 Fret, rosewood board, 12" radius, 24.75" neck glued-in. Mother of Pearl inlays, dual ProBucker humbucker pickups with coil tap option (accessed via push-pull volume controls for each). Semi hollow body with a laminated maple build. Off-white / cream binding on the body as well as the neck, and finally a "Tune-o-matic" bridge and LockTone tailpiece, nickel hardware. No case or bag was included, which to me was disappointing. However, the specs in general are pretty good on paper.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    CinderellaFan14
    COREYTAYLOR wrote: "Okay but its an Epiphone
    Epiphone makes some of the finest quality guitars in the world. That's why there's so famous: for their amazing quality at a cheaper price. So SHUTS IT!
    Ironmanhimself
    OK, so not to be the bearer of bad news, but it has classic pro pups in it, not probuckers. I had this verified by epiphone themselves. Only the les's get the probuckers. it's a wonderful guitar anyhow, and much to the denial of all you gear snobs out there extremely well made. why waste $$ to have an overpaid american make it when you get (seriously) 90% of the same guitar for about 1/10th of the price. upgrade it yourself, and play the hel* out of it. Great buy, great build, great guitar.
    clitheroekid100
    Nice guitar. Played a few in the shop this w/end. Excellent vibe. Felt nicer than the Epi LPs. Nice small comfy body. Look is superb as was the consistancy between models. I suspect the split coil is a gimmick but full fat worked really well. Also liked a Schecter Omen 6 which was totally different and very slick. Both 300. Both on my shopping list.
    Blackdogxx
    You 'suspect the split coil is a gimmick' ? It's a mod that has been done for decades for humbuckers and this ES339 Pro offers it in a $400 guitar. If you don't care to use it, then don't pull the volume control knob. Maybe your ear or musical tastes do not like what a coil tap delivers, but some of use use it and find it useful. Skip what you 'suspect' and stick to the facts.
    Blackdogxx
    I own a 2012 cherry red one and it arrived in like new condition (a return to a big box store and 20% off $400). Mine was China built and cosmetically perfect as well as good solid tuners (prefer lower ratio, but it's a $400 guitar!), pretty sounding pickups that lack some bass firmness (my pals are friends with Lindy Fralin in my town, so I am spoiled). But the setup was pretty good and only a few nut slots needed to be deepened, intonation fine adjusted, and the truss rod barely tweaked as well as the pickup heights and polepieces set. Intonation is normal stuff that a luthier is able to do with a strobe. With slot files, you can adjust nut slots yourself. I find the China built guitars from Epiphone to be very well rated, just like my Epi AJ220SCE cutaway dread A/E with Fishman at $300 new! Do not assume 'China' means they are the same as they were 10 or 6 years ago. The factory may have changed, the CNC machines may have been upgraded, the teams that build them may be getting more skilled. Play one and examine it and remember you are buying a $400 guitar versus many times that in a Gibson. And my music shop tells me they never get an Epi with a sheared off headstock, which Gibsons are famous for. I had a Gibson Midtown and sold it back on eBay the very next day... just nothing there to get excited about.
    nikh158
    Epiphone screws up so badly when they use polyurethane its not even funny. Ever noticed on Les Paul Ultra that the satin finish on the neck comes off? That's because they put Nitro over polyurethane so it never holds. Also Epiphone doesnt let their glossy finish cure so when you get your guitar, you have trouble sliding up and down the neck
    Have to say I agree wholeheartedly with this. I love my Ultra but after less than four years (no gigging, just noodling at home), the finish has worn off the neck, the jackplug cover`s snapped in two rendering it unplayable, and the pots don`t work properly. It`s been with an official dealer for 4 weeks now and they still haven`t got the parts.Bet that wouldn`t be the case if it was a`59 LP. I also recently bought an Epi dot, the ltd edition white one, and as you say, at first the neck felt like it was made of sandpaper. Seems OK now though
    BradTheBluefish
    Epiphone screws up so badly when they use polyurethane its not even funny. Ever noticed on Les Paul Ultra that the satin finish on the neck comes off? That's because they put Nitro over polyurethane so it never holds. Also Epiphone doesnt let their glossy finish cure so when you get your guitar, you have trouble sliding up and down the neck. I always thought it was like that for all guitars with a polyurethane or glossy finish, but that's not true. Try playing a Schecter C-1. So much better! I use to love Epiphone but they have really disappointed me. I'm an ESP/Schecter guy now. Schecter C-1 all the way!
    L2112Lif
    BradTheBluefish wrote: Epiphone screws up so badly when they use polyurethane its not even funny. Ever noticed on Les Paul Ultra that the satin finish on the neck comes off? That's because they put Nitro over polyurethane so it never holds . Also Epiphone doesnt let their glossy finish cure so when you get your guitar, you have trouble sliding up and down the neck . I always thought it was like that for all guitars with a polyurethane or glossy finish, but that's not true. Try playing a Schecter C-1. So much better! I use to love Epiphone but they have really disappointed me. I'm an ESP/Schecter guy now. Schecter C-1 all the way!
    Satin finishes diminish as your body oils get introduced to the finish; take a light grain of sandpaper to it and its good as new. I strip away all glossy finishes on guitars because its horrifically sticky no matter what brand. The LP Ultra-II is probably the shoddiest upper-range LP I've played, and thats because it has no block running the center of the chambered body. Jackplates can be replaced (The Ultra-III rectifies the problem of the II with a metal plate) Pots can get cleaned, etc. When it gets down to it, you've gotta play each guitar you're considering... Multiples of the same model, if possible. Its all down to personal taste, and I have pretty high respect for Epi guitars.
    rob904
    BradTheBluefish wrote: Epiphone screws up so badly when they use polyurethane its not even funny. Ever noticed on Les Paul Ultra that the satin finish on the neck comes off? That's because they put Nitro over polyurethane so it never holds. Also Epiphone doesnt let their glossy finish cure so when you get your guitar, you have trouble sliding up and down the neck. I always thought it was like that for all guitars with a polyurethane or glossy finish, but that's not true. Try playing a Schecter C-1. So much better! I use to love Epiphone but they have really disappointed me. I'm an ESP/Schecter guy now. Schecter C-1 all the way!
    Pretty sure Schecter teamed up with Louisville Slugger to design the necks of their guitars...that said I love my C-1 Classic