Price paid: $ 168
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 9
Sound is really awesome for my taste. The alnico humbuckers provide a clear and powerful tone. But what more impressed me is the sustain of this guitar - with Drive on, it can sustain ANY note for good 10 seconds or so (even the higher notes!) and a power cord can long for 15 or more seconds. I found it very easy to pinch harmonics and tapping too. In clean mode the sound of the neck humbucker is VERY pleasant, while the bridge one is VERY irritating (I hate ANY humbucker bridge pickup clean sound), and after to step the stompbox the guitar goes crazy. She goes easily from heavy and full metal rhythm to nice screaming lead. Being a weekend guitarist all these features are great for me, as it makes me look like to play better than I really do! LoL! What I mean is that is easy to extract impressive tones from this guitar. I didn't notice any scratch sound when using the pickup switch or the tone/volume controls. I rarely use the controls anyway, and normally they stay at the max. The amp I use is a Vox VT-15 with "valve reactor" feature and several integrated effects. I don't have any pedal at the moment, and the Drive I get is from the Vox saturation combined with its amp modeling feature. I won't give details about that as it is not a review for the amp.
Overall Impression — 8
I play mainly Indie pop and rock, and this guitar suits OK some of my sound. I don't think that I could have it as my only guitar, as I like to have options, so I have two other guitars (and there is one more on the way). I think that this axe is perfect for the heavy licks and rhythms. I play for about 30 years, but I have quit playing for a while during this time. I am not a pro neither consider myself a great guitarist. I think I am below the average, but can extract OK tones from my axes. I am very glad with this acquisition to my guitar collection. After to read so many bad things about Epiphone guitar, I didn't have too much expectations when I bought it (and I just bought it because it was VERY cheap and I could sell it with a good profit to someone if I didn't like it). However I got very surprised and happy that THIS Epiphone became better than I supposed. If it was stolen, I surely would buy another one SINCE I could get the same bargain I got with this one; otherwise maybe I would try a Gibson.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I am sure that I could use it in a gig without any fear, but I sincerely doubt I will do that. I have a duo band with my wife, and we just play and record at our home studio - we never gig. I have no idea if this guitar is made for last. I have heard people saying that Epis can last forever and others saying that it is a guitar for 2-3 years. My opinion is that it is a matter of how you care of your stuff. I normally am very careful with my stuff, and I think that you should be double careful with musical instruments as they are naturally delicate things. Knowing myself, I am absolutely sure that MY G-400 will last for decades, but I cannot speak for people that treats a guitar as it would be a trail bike. Anyway, the wood seems good and strong and the hardware seems honest for me, so I cannot see it giving me problems.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar came more or less well set -- intonation was almost perfect and there was not any fret buzz. The strings were higher than I would like, but I could lower them a little by just lowering the bridge. I would like that it could get still more low, but then it started to buzz so I think that I will need a luthier for that, as surely it will need some truss rod adjustments. Curiously it traveled from Arkansas (USA) to Sao Paulo (Brazil) without to get too much out of tune. I just had to adjust it a little and it was ready to rock. About finishing, as mentioned before it has a sober satin finish that is very pleasant to the eye, and I carefully inspect the guitar after to unpack it and couldn't find any flaw. I confess that I got a little disappointed after to figure out that Epiphones are better than people uses to say out there! LoL!
Features — 8
I bought this one in eBay after to win an auction and it suppose to be a 'refurbished' model. First, some facts. When I decided to come back to guitar world 6 months ago after almost 10 years in limbo, the first thing I needed - no doubt - was a guitar! I remember that the very first brand that came to my mind was Epiphone, however after some research I got very disappointed with so many reports of owners that had issues with neck cracking and broken headstocks. Seems that this is a recurrent issue that keep happening on and on through the years and that wasn't solved by the factory yet, what makes to buy an Epiphone such a lottery - if you are a lucky guy your guitar may last intact forever, but if not sooner or later you will find yourself at a luthier doorstep to fix your broken guitar headstock. Not that it be a big deal (a broken headstock is not as bad as it look like and surely can be fixed), but the truth is that no one feels good buying a guitar knowing about this fact, and it is specially scary to imagine the headstock popping off in the middle of a gig. For this reason, in the time I was after a new guitar I totally gave up about an Epi; specially because I live in a small town and the nearest luthier is about a hundred miles away from me. Then I ended buying a Shelter Les Paul (and I should let you know that I totally regret about that, because I would have to make too many upgrades in the guitar to make it decent). OK, then why in the heck I have bought an Epi now, even knowing about all the headstock issues? Well, did I mention that my guitar is a 'refurbished' model? Sure I did. And shouldn't be a refurbished Ep still worse than a brand new Epi? Hummm... Actually not! A refurbished Epi means to be a guitar that was returned to the factory due to a serious issue - most probably a cracked neck and/or a broken headstock - and THIS is the magic on get a refurbished model. I trully believe that guys at Epiphone don't want to look like asses twice, and therefore they will do a very well done homework when refurbishing a guitar. It will be double checked and VERY well fixed before to be put on sale again; what means that a refurbished model suppose to be better than a brand new one. Remember: they don't want that a refurbished guitar gets back AGAIN to their shop! Also, they do not simply fix what is broken. They give it a whole check, verify all the electric, replace scratched or damaged pickguard, knobs, tuners and pickups, rebuff the painting, re-string, setup it again, anyway, they just leave it like new. The only difference between a new model and a refurbished model is that the refurbished one will have engraved the "USED" word in the back of the headstock and a stick with a new serial number specific for the restored units. Why they do not simply restock it as a brand new guitar after all this good work? I sincerelly don't know. Anyways, if you don't mind to have a guitar that you KNOW that was refurbished, you probably will be the owner of a better and stronger instrument than a regular stock one, and will pay only a fraction of its regular sale price. It really sounds like a bargain for me! I think that it is very important to mention that in my country (Brazil), because all the import taxes and plus a big number of stupid players that believes that an Epiphone is a tranny Gibson the price of a brand new G-400 in a music store floats around USD 1,000. Yeah, I know that it is crazy but this is the way it is here. At the end it costed me USD 400 including the guitar, the overseas shipping and customs taxes. Not bad -- less than the half if I would pick it in a local store. The guitar is a SG model, an exact copy of Gibson SG. The G-400 suppose to be the top model of Epiphone SG family being the only with a set-in neck (310 and Special dudes has bolt-on necks). The color of this axe seats anywhere between brown and dark cherry and the surface has a very classy satin finish. It is not dull neither glossy, just satin. I never had a guitar with such finishing before and I really liked it. I think they call it "worn cherry". It has a couple of alnico classic humbucker Epi pickups with black frames and a nice pickguard in ply style (black-white-black). Finally, two volume and two tone controls, a steady and smooth switch and a well attached cable plug. A very interesting details is that the strap buttons have a small rounded piece of felt in the bottom, instead to be screwed directly to the wood. I don't know the purpose of it, but it is nice. The scale is made of rosewood with mother-of-pearl block inlays and the frets came very well polished. The back of the neck has the same color as the body and the front of headstock is black, everything in the same satin finish. Tuning machines are Grover and have a very smooth and precise action. In the back of the headstock, as mentioned before, there is the "USED" word engraved and a small plate with a mysterious number.