Price paid: $ 399.99
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Sound — 9
I play metal... if you're buying this my guess would be that you play metal as well, but you never know. The stock pickups were far from spectacular. They sounded weak and buzzed quite a bit for me. They couldn't seem to really lots of gain and volume. So if you're a little bit more experienced player you're definitely going to want to change them. I put a Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the bridge position of my Explorer. Now it has a really killer metal tone. Some of you may prefer active to passive, but whichever you choose your guitar will sound great. I drop tune to C# (or Db, witch ever you want to call it) and the sound doesn't muddy up or get out of control with the new pickups. The Mahogany body and Rosewood fret board give this axe a really full bodied tone. The cleans are quite stunning as well as the crunch. This guitar has lost of natural low end, which I like, and it makes for a really big sound. The Duncan's really helped balance out the highs, mids, and lows. The variety for this guitar, with what I have done to it, is really great. it's definitely focused more on metal, but you can get some nice bluesy tones from the neck pickup and nice crunch, metal, or clean sounds. I use a Line 6 120 watt and it really has a nice range of sound settings. So depending on your amp/pedals and your pickups you can make this thing do whatever you want.
Overall Impression — 9
The Epiphone Goth Explorer is definetly a metal guitar. So naturally it's made to be "metallized". It has great metal tone, but it's not restricted to only metal. I play lots of different styles just for fun and with the right pedals and whatnot I can get about whatever sound I'm looking for. I've been playing for 6 years so I've owned and played quite a few guitars. Out of the box this is not the most spectacular guitar you'll ever play, but with some work and customization to your personal styles and tastes this can be one of the better guitars you'll own. If this guitar were stolen I'd definetly be upset. I really love this guitar and I'd really consider buying a second one. I might buy a different guitar just for something new, but this is one really worth buying. I compared this guitar to a few other explorers, but Gibson and Epiphone are really the only ones Who make the Vintage looking explorers. All the others like ESP have a more "futuristic" look to there guitars, which I still like-i was just in the mood for the original. I kind of wish I had bought the one with the tremolo, but it's not hard to go and buy one and get it installed. there's nothing I hate about the Explorer, but I love the way it feels and hangs. it's great. Remember thought that when buying a new guitar you should always research it and find out how it will suit you and what you'll need to add or take from it to make it better. I'm sure I can realate to all guitarists when I say that anything you buy is never good enough and you always feel like you need to build on or buy something better. I love that this guitar comes simple and has lost of room for improvement. I love adding to guitars to make them mine and this is the perfect guitar to do that.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is, again, a very solid guitar. Live playing will not be an issue for most people as long as they have strap locks. The biggest problem with this guitar is where the strap knobs are located. The top one would be much better off on the back of the guitar, but it's just not. So either change it or deal with it. Strap locks will solve most of your strap problems though. It will fall off the strap very often playing Live if you don't have them. So beware!!! The Explorer dives a bit, but it's just another thing that isn't worth getting worked up about. As long as you're actually playing it and not just standing there letting it hang it's not going anywhere. The finish does come off with excessive playing like I mentioned before, but it's something to care less about in my opinion. You're the only person that will be able to tell the difference when some spots are flat and some are glossy. I wouldn't worry about not having a backup while playing shows with this. Unless you break a string or something it's gonna be fine. Just don't drop it off the stage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The set-up when I first received the goth Explorer was ok. I ordered mine from sweetwater.com which does a pretty great job of giving you the best basic setup right out of the box. The only thing that you'll really need to worry about ordering from them is setting your own action up. I use "worry" very loosely because it's not something you should really worry about. It's not hard at all to mess with the bridge a little bit until you find your perfect level for the strings. I have mine set as low as I could get them without any dead notes and minimal fret buzz. The pickups were set up just fine when I got them, again because of Sweetwater's pre-shipping setup. I ended up changing them anyway, but for the record the originals were set fine. There aren't really any huge flaws with this guitar. It's really pretty solid. The one thing that's most noticeable is the thing that when you are on one pickup that is turned all the way down and the other is all the way up you can still hear a faint sound coming from it. Not a huge problem though, it's just something I learned to deal with. It seems to be kind of common with these as I've read of this happening before. The finish isn't the most durable part of the guitar. It wears pretty easily, but it just goes from flat to glossy on parts that are constantly touched by you. Again, not a big deal. The black chrome hardware is very solid. There's not really any more I can say about the hardware except that it's very good. The pickup selector is fine-not very noisy when changing pickups-nothing to really complain about there. Basically everything on this guitar is very solid and well made. I think that any guitarist would be extremely happy with what the goth Explorer has to offer at such a reasonable price.
Features — 7
I purchased my Explorer in December 2007. It is a Korean made model. it's your basic 22 fret guitar with no fret markers except a pearl roman numeral 12 (XII) inlay on the 12th fret. The goth Explorer has a fat 1958 style neck, very comfortable. The whole guitar is solid Mahogany I believe with a Rosewood fret board. It has a cool black satin finish that gives it a really cool metal look. I prefer the flat black satin to a glossy finish-just personal preference. My guitar is the model with the hard-tail bridge and tune-o-matic. The stock pickups are just plain old Epiphone passives... nothing too exciting there. There's a 3 way selector Switch, 2 volumes, and 1 tone knob. The tuners are Grover, which are really great. Mine just came with basic 9 gauge strings and an alan wrench.