Price paid: € 333
Purchased from: Thomann.de
Sound — 9
The guitar sounds very good to me. My style is pretty basic. I like extreme metal genres: doom, black, pagan, folk. I also have a fondness for Crust Punk and regular 70s - 90s Punk. The amp I use is a Roland Cube 40XL and it's a good combo. I can certainly achieve the sound I want with what I have now. The sounds I can get are all great to me. Probably to an experienced guitarist of many years it may sound lacking but the music I like isn't really "pretty nice" music. It's rough and raw and so I'm happy with the sounds. However this doesn't mean the cleans suck. They don't. The sound is clear when you want it, muddy when to want it. To me it is great but like I said my style is raw and basic. I only rank this as a 9 because I'll sooner or later swap the pickups for something hotter.
Overall Impression — 9
Again the style of music I like is raw and rough metal and punk. I love this guitar because of that. The Explorer body is great and I feel very comfortable with it. I really like explorers and this one is probably my favourite of all the Explorer type guitars out there. The weight distribution is good and I feel good to stand with it for an hour without discomfort. No neck dive really. It feels like apart of me when I play and it's not awkward. Even when I play sitting I feel good with it (despite its fat a-s)! The only things I'd change about this guitar would be the pickups and the strap buttons. With some EMGs or some Seymour Duncans I'd feel that this guitar would be complete! I've been playing on/off since 2009 and more consistently since late 2011. I had an Ibanez GIO which I sold to get this and it was a great decision. This one feels more like a genuine guitar to me. If I lost it somehow then I would certainly buy it again. All these features and for a low price! Before buying it I compared it to the Ibanez RGA32. That guitar also has great features you'd think you'd only see on a higher priced instrument.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I don't play live but it's on my "to-do list". I would have no fears of playing this live though. I regularly play solidly for 30 minutes at a time as if I was playing live (sort of fantasizing) and I feel just fine about playing it. If I was playing a real gig then I would still want a backup but I'd feel that way about any guitar. Always have a plan B!!! The bridge, stoptail and tuners are all well-made. I trust them to withstand many years. The tuners on my guitar are Grover tuners but the Epiphone website now says that they are just die-cast so maybe they changed the stock tuners. Lucky me for the Grovers then. I changed the strap button because they didn't inspire confidence in me. I swapped them for basic strap locks and that worked fine. The finish is nice and smooth and importantly easy to clean and this includes the neck and fretboard. All you need is a clean sock or something. No stains, colour deviations, scratches, etc. Even where I regularly rub against it the finish has not faded.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The factory set up was fine. I lowered the action a bit but this is a subjective thing and not the factory's fault. I could comfortably play it after opening the box and tuning it anyway. The pickups were also set up fine. I inspected the guitar very closely before playing. There were no flaws of any kind. The electronics worked fine, the tuners held strong, the bridge was solid. Essentially I got exactly what I expected. I can't think of a reason not to give this a 10/10 here. The people in the Korean factory must know what they are doing.
Features — 8
- Made in South Korea in 2011 - 22 jumbo(?) frets - 24.75" scale - "SlimTaper D" profile set-in neck - mahogany body/neck and rosewood fingerboard - Solid top Explorer body with a matte black finish & black pickguard - TOM bridge with stopbar tailpiece - passive electronics; 2 volume & 1 tone knob & 3 way selector - 2 classic Alnico humbuckers - Standard Grover tuners (but the Epiphone website now says "die-cast") - only accessory was a guitar cable and an allen key For the price these are good features I think especially the fact that it's all mahogany, has Grover tuners, a set-in neck, a TOM bridge, and is made in Korea. The only negative feature here may be the humbuckers. They are not bad but eventually you'll want to upgrade. Oh and I changed the strings to D'Addario .11-.54 but I do that to every guitar I've owned. The stock strings were fine.