Features — 9
This guitar was made in Korea in 2004. Has a mahogany fingerboard with 22 thin frets. Has the typical tune-o-matic bridge with non-locking Grover tuners. Rocking some pretty crunchy dual passive Alnico V humbuckers. Mahogany SG-style body with an ebony paint job, has nice transparent pick guard that blends great with the body. 3-way pickup switch, two tone control knobs and two volume control knobs. Extremely lightweight body, so much so that it's top-heavy. Has the top strap peg behind the body, very convenient. One of my sexiest guitars.
Sound — 8
Those dual Alnico V humbuckers create a really full, dark sound, when combined with the mahogany body. The neck pickup is nice and thumpy, and the bridge pickup is awesome for some nice lead tones. The tone knobs massively affect the tone. Intonation was a bit of an issue to do (which will dock some fit and finish) but, when I finally got it completed, sounded great up and down the neck. Unfortunately, the nut is a bit off, making the notes on the low frets can tend to be a tad sharp, but isn't particularly noticeable unless playing with a band with really long notes on the first fret. I use it for Drop C - Drop A#, and it works excellent. I use it through a Fender Mustang III, and I highly anticipate getting to hear it through a tube amp. As far as distortion and overdrive go, this guitar is a beast. As far as cleans go, the pickups are a little bassy and crunchy, a lot different than the cleans on other SG's I have played, but not horrible by a long shot.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
As I bought this guitar from a friend, I have only a faint idea of how a Epiphone designed this guitar to be set up. I do all my own adjustments, intonation, truss rod adjustments, you name it. However, the pickups are in good spots: all the way to the neck and all the way to the bridge. They make a great variety of tones (although all are a little dark). The nut, as I mentioned before, is improperly fitted, at least a bit, as my low frets come out sharp. But not noticeable to the untrained ear. The tone knobs come off occasionally, but go back on in (literally) a snap. The intonation was hard to adjust, as the saddles were loose, but still possible. The bridge is beginning to rust a bit as well. But for what I paid, still a hell of a bargain.
Reliability & Durability — 8
After having this guitar for a year, I haven't put a scratch on it, using only a gig bag for transportation. However, the wood is a little soft, and has a few dents and imprints on it from hard objects like keys. The strap pegs are a little shaky for my taste, especially since the headstock tends to wander to the ground, but I've never dropped it because of them. I have never experienced any electronic issues, tuning issues, etc. As far as I can tell so far, this is a durable guitar, by all standards.
Overall Impression — 8
I am a hardcore metalhead, and this guitar works perfectly for that. It works well in insane drop tunings, and has great string action (the way I have set it up). This is my only metal guitar, along with my Ibanez Gio, with an HSH pickup configuration. Compared to the Ibanez, this thing gets nastier on the grindy tones, but the Ibanez blows it out of the water, when it comes to cleans. However a little bit less than sufficient on cleans, it is nonetheless an excellent guitar. If anyone can get one for under $300, I would HIGHLY recommend you do so, if you ever use distortion. With the awesome batman type appearance and the awesome metal crunch, I would definitely replace it with another if it was stolen.