Price paid: £ 500
Purchased from: PMT
Sound — 8
Straight off the bat, this guitar has EMG 81/85's. That'll give you a decent idea of how this guitar sounds straight away, but that isn't to say its a bad guitar tonally. Far from it. I use a Peavey 6505+ primarily, but I've also used this guitar with a Mesa Dual Rectifier. Straight away, this guitar sounds great for metal and hard rock. Its quite a dark sounding guitar with all of that mahogany, pairing that with the very bright and cutting tone of the EMG's makes the two complement each other near perfectly. I play a fairly wide variety of different kinds of metal, mostly from the 80's and 90's ranging from thrash, glam, death, to progressive. This guitar is the most prominent in the lower midrange, which is great for a crunchy rhythm tone and fluid, singing leads. It has a fairly compressed, hi-fi sound with clarity in the bottom end, making this guitar suitable for low tunings and modern high gain sounds. This guitar has LOTS of sustain due to the sheer volume of wood that rests in your hands when you play it as well. As with the nature that comes with such a dark-sounding guitar, the EMG 85 lacks clarity, its simply too dark for my personal tastes, and that's saying something as I'm a huge fan of darker-sounding guitars. It would've been much better if an EMG 60 was used instead, the 85 is simply too HOT and too dark as a neck pickup in this guitar. There isn't really much else to say about this guitar that hasn't already been said for any of the other half a million EMG-laidened guitars with a mahogany bodies and necks that are made by almost every brand that does rock-orientated music. The guitar is very quiet as is the nature with EMG's, but they also aren't very versatile for anything outside of hard rock. Unless you have an amp with an enormous amount of headroom, you're not going to get a super clean sound out of the guitar. I'm sure one can get a super clean sound out of this guitar, but with my amps, I simply can't.
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar is overall a really good match for my style of playing, but a bit more versatility would have been nice. Having a free case would've been nice, but that is an optional extra on the Epiphone website. If it was stolen or lost, I probably wouldn't bother getting another one though. This is a great guitar no doubt about it, but it would probably have been a wiser decision to get a used LTD EC-1000 on Ebay or something. The things I really love about the guitar are the sound and the playability. It has a utterly crushing tone and the super low action coupled with the fast neck, make this guitar great for shred and modern metal styles. The upper fret access not being fantastic is a bit of a shame though. This guitar isn't perfect, but it sounds, looks, plays and feels like a guitar that is worth twice as much. Its not perfect of course, but given how much abuse I have given this damn thing, I'm quite impressed. Its overall a very good guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar probably would withstand live playing, but there are a few complaints. I have beaten this guitar to absolute shit admittedly. Its been used and abused by yours truly. The selector switch is a little on the loose side (although this may have been my own fault) and the jack did need re-soldering a couple of times, but that was also my fault as I broke the connections when trying to remove oxidation from the jack. The guitar has several chips and dings in it that I inflicted myself accidentally over the years, the sweat from my palm has caused the ridge saddles to corrode from having a very heavy palm muting technique and also due to having disgustingly acidic sweat I've probably restrung this guitar dozens and dozens of times because of this problem. Which brings me onto the problem with the nut slots on the E and A strings being worn out and now the strings sit too deeply in the slots. This is forgivable because the problem wasn't there when I first got the guitar and since then, the guitar has been restrung almost countless times, the nut wearing out was inevitable. The guitar does hold tune very well though; the Grovers do a great job, they're tight and keep the guitar in tune for weeks on end. Oh and I also almost forgot to mention that the satin on the back of the neck had worn off to a gloss finish after so many thousands of hours of play, I've re-satined the back of the neck since then. The fretwires are also badly worn after so many thousands of hours playing the damn thing. I am going to be generous with points here because I have abused this guitar to complete and utter f--k and everything still works for all intent of purpose. I've had this guitar for 4 years and I'm quite surprised at how this guitar has held up after what its been through.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar was set up brilliantly from the factory. Low action, minimal fret buzz and well- set intonation. The neck was super smooth and the profile is super-thin, almost Ibanez Wizard neck thin, but slightly more rounded. The pickups were adjusted fine, but the 85 was a bit too loud, so I lowered it slightly. There was one cosmetic flaw with the guitar; there was a small chip in the binding behind the 11th fret, but it doesn't affect playability. The frets were a bit oxidized from sitting in the shop for a couple of years. Everything else seemed fine though. Another small complaint design-wise is that the upper fret access on this guitar is not that great, but if you do have large hands (like myself) it won't be a problem.
Features — 9
This guy that I have hanging on my wall is an Epiphone Futura Custom EX. Its part of the Prophecy series that Epiphone did a few years ago, though now it seems to be discontinued now they're just making the revamped Les Paul models (the new ones do look great). The Prophecy series was designed as a way to steal away a few LTD customers (the vast majority are rich 15 year old kids with Metallica T-shirts). But this guitar is a bit more affordable and it has very similar specs to something like a 400 series LTD. - Made in China 2008 (eew) - 24 Jumbo Frets with a 14" radius dark rosewood fingerboard (its a very smooth fingerboard, ebony-like in look and feel), 24.75" scale. - 2-pc Mahogany body and 2 pc Mahogany neck (set neck with a satin finish) with a quilt maple veneer top (very pretty top), a black cherry finish and 1-ply binding around the neck and headstock. - Futura body style. This style was the shape of the original Explorer prototype. The difference being against a regular Explorer being that the upper section is elongated and the lower portion is narrowed. - Locking TOM bridge and tailpiece, which is a nice addition. - 3-way selector, 2 volumes, 1 tone. The knobs are inlayed with mother-of-pearl. - EMG 81/85 active pickups. - Grover 16:1 machine heads with a graphite nut. For the money, this guitar is fantastically featured and overall look great. The Futura body shape looks really ugly in the pictures, but in person, it looks really good. Nothing else came with the guitar however; I had to buy a case separably and there were no tools to speak of. If not for that, this guitar would be a 10/10 because before these guitars came around, a guitar with those sorts of specs for that amount of money simply did not exist. This guitar was awesome value for money.