Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Sound — 9
I play some punk, grunge, a little metal, and I'm learning some classic rock, so I do use a lot of distortion. Being played through my $50 DigiTech Grunge pedal and my $20 (used) Peavey Backstage amp, it sounds awesome for such cheap, low-quality equipment. The clarity of the cleans never ceases to surprise me. On clean, the neck is perfect for blues, and when it's distorted, think Guns N' Roses. I use the bridge pickup for a more modern sound. It distorts nicely, and the cleans have a nice bright rock n' roll tone. Like I said, since it has two volume and two tone knobs, you can create a variety of different sounds. I'd give it a 9.5 if I could. The only thing I don't like about it was that it had/has really crappy intonation, which I'll get to in a second.
Overall Impression — 8
Like I said before, I play some heavier stuff, and some classic rock. Not much blues or softer stuff, but this guitar can really be made to suit most styles. Play around with the controls, like I said, and you can have any sound you want. It's a darn versatile guitar. Of course, aesthetically, the SG body and ebony finish screams goth/hardcore punk, but there are red and Vintage white finishes available too. After having played several electric guitars, (Fenders, Squiers, Epiphones, a Gibson or two), I think this guitar compares well once you overcome the technical issues. If it were lost or stolen, I think I'd buy a Greg Bennett, mainly because of price, and since it's a relatively unknown brand, the quality for the price is amazing. Still, it's a nice guitar. If Epiphone were on the scale that Greg Bennett is, the G-310 would probably be a lot cheaper, but still. As far as large brands go, I might get a Fender Fat Strat, just because I like the single coil sound as well as the sound of a humbucker, so having both (Fat Strats have an HSS configuration, if you didn't already know that) would be nice.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Oookay, more bad news. From what I've heard, Epiphone wiring is fragile on almost all of their guitars. After having this guitar for about nine months, I decided to follow the advice of a guitar-genius friend and lower the pickups. The bridge pickup was fine, but something snapped loose internally on the neck pickup, which almost completely muted it. I don't have the slightest understanding of the internal wiring on a guitar, but I took it to my local music shop, and they fixed it for $10. It was just a matter of soldering something back on... I think if you know how to install pickups by yourself then you should be able to fix whatever happened on your own. The guy said it had something to do with a "volume pot." As for the strap buttons, one of them is one of the screws in the back of the bolt-on neck, so if it came loose, I would be in deep sh*t. However, I kind of doubt that will EVER happen, so that's probably not even worth mentioning. It takes some effort to get a strap on that particular button, but the other one is fine. I guess they're okay. Would I gig with it without a backup? Hmm... I wouldn't worry about it any more than I'd worry about a PRS or a Jackson or something. It doesn't have any overtly obvious flaws that would make it more unstable on stage than any other guitar. Of course, I've never jumped around my bedroom and shook it around and stuff, so I don't know if it could survive a Metallica concert. As for the finish? I've bumped the headstock into the side of my desk more times than I can count and the finish has yet to blemish or wear at all. I'm not worried about it at all. I'd say, replace the tuners if you're a serious guitarist, and definitely make sure the wiring is built to your taste before you go doing anything crazy with it. If you like a particular set of pickups, you could replace them, but I like the stock pickups just fine. It seems like you can get a lot of different sounds out of them.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Okay... here comes the bad news... the factory set-up was miserable. The action was okay for me, but I'm not too picky about it. However, I had and still have issues with the intonation. For those who don't know, that means that when I play a note on the first fret, the tone isn't exactly a half-step away from the open note. In my case, it was higher. Now, I'm no expert on guitar set-ups, as this is my first electric guitar, so I haven't played with the Tune-O-Matic bridge heights, but I adjusted the individual saddles, bringing most of them as far away from the neck as possible, which should lower the strings just slightly, but that didn't quite fix it. The third string is the worst for me, which makes all the power chords that I play sound horrible unless I tune the string flat a little, at which point whenever I play it open, it sounds miserable. Most of you are probably planning to get a professional set-up, or are going to do it on your own, but for those of you who aren't, prepare to be disappointed. Fortunately, and I suppose this is because it was mailed by FedEx from Sweetwater, when the guitar arrived at my doorstep, it was completely unblemished, and since I ordered the guitar and the hard case in the same order, the awesome handlers at Sweetwater put the guitar in the case for extra protection. I highly recommend Sweetwater for guitar equipment purchases, but for those of you who have a decent music store locally, go out and actually try playing a couple guitars before you buy one. If you're from a small town like me and that's not an option, go Sweetwater. The intonation was the only issue though, as far as the setup goes. Oh, and the pickups were really close to the strings, but that was an easy fix. No worries there. A ten year-old could do it.
Features — 8
Since I bought it new, I'd guess it was made in 2009, in Indonesia. (Ick) It has 22 frets and a rosewood fretboard with dot inlays. The maple neck is pretty fat as compared to other electrics that I've played. Solid alder body, which is cool. It's an SG, as you may have guessed already, I got mine with an Ebony finish, (red, and a kind of gross off-white color are options too). It has a Tune-O-Matic bridge, but it's an Epiphone, so you probably guessed that too. Two stock passive open coil humbuckers. No brand name or anything, but they're okay anyway for the price of the guitar. Two tone, two volume, and a three-way selector switch, so you can get a lot of different sounds if you play with the controls. The stock tuners are okay. They'll stay in tune if you're just playing chords, but expect to have majorly retune if you try any intense bending stuff. I'd suggest replacing them with some Grovers or something. It came with a short right-angle/straight cable, but that's all. An Epiphone hard case for SGs costs $70 USD seperately, which sucks... but I guess you could always get a gig bag for cheap.