Price paid: £ 140
Purchased from: Reverb
Sound — 9
I play this guitar through a Line 6 Spider III 15 (yes, I know they're crap) and use it on all four channels, but mainly the "Metal" channel, it copes with heavy, distorted sounds pretty well, I have played, Metallica, Maiden, Scars On Broadway, Trivium, Megadeth and more and it has handled them pretty well, much better than my last guitar which was a Jim Deacon PRS 24 Copy. I have also played some Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs using this guitar and it handles the softer more acoustic stuff well as well so a good all-rounder really. I don't really use any effects so I can't comment on that, if I put the amp on insane I get some background buzz when I'm not playing but it is not very noticeable and it certainly shouldn't be enough to put you off the guitar. Depending on what strings you're using you can get a huge range of tones from it, when I used my Bright D'Addarios I get a bright sound that's perfect for the acoustic stuff whereas with my Ernie Ball Skinny Top/ Heavy Bottom strings I get a full, beefy sound out of it which is perfect for metal. Overall this a good all-rounder with it's feet firmly in Metal so if you're a metaller you may want to consider this, if you're more genre specific I'd consider something that can give you more precise tones for your genre. If you play acoustic chords I would stay away from this as the E string seems to slightly overpower any other sound you get out of it meaning chords are not defined but more a conglomeration of notes.
Overall Impression — 9
I play all sorts on this guitar and it goes through so many tones and sounds fairly well, it is good for the metaller and for someone who uses mild distortion but for completely clean tones definitely go for something else, maybe something that has a single coil pickup as well, if you want a quiet guitar go for something else and if you want a brilliant guitar go for something else. This guitar is a very good guitar, especially for the price you pick it up for but it does not compare to Dean or Gibson in terms of sound and quality but you do pay a lot more for those guitars than you do for this so if you're looking for a low price but mid-range guitar go for it as you will be hard pushed to get something better for this price range. I've been playing the best part of six months so I'm yet to move on to more complex stuff on this guitar, I play it through a Line 6 Spider III 15 which should be replaced for a Peavey Vypyr soon. The only thing I wish I'd asked was "Do you give refunds?" to the store because another store near me had a huge sale and Dean Dime-O-Flage guitars were going for the same price so I was gutted when I saw them, if it were stolen/lost I'd buy a Dime-O-Flage from the other store! But really, I'd buy this again. I like the fact that it has a smaller body than other Epiphones as it feels more comfortable in my hands. My favourite feature has to be the KillPot, it's very discreet but allows me to play Buckethead and RATM tunes, the thing I hate most would be the fact that it can be a pain to restring and the fret buzz you get with beefier strings! I only really compared it to the Explorer GT but this felt better in my hands and it fitted in my current gig bag! I wish it had locking tuners so that it would keep tune better with heavy trem use but aside from that it's perfect for your new or amateur guitarist, although if you're in a band and you play regularly, get something better!
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar would probably withstand live playing pretty well and the hardware seems solid and durable, the strap buttons are firm and I've not had the strap slip off yet, I probably wouldn't use it as my first choice on a gig but I would definitely make it my backup as it is dependable just not quite good enough to make your main guitar. The finish is fairly good but seems as though it may show mild signs of wear if played extensively.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was extremely well set up, fairly low action but no fret buzz and really easy to play and shred on. The bridge pickup is slightly higher than the other one to give you that sharp, treble sound whereas you get a warmer, bassier tone out of the other pickup so they are good for their purposes of Treble and Rhythm respectively. I could find no flaws with the guitar aside from the fact that the store had used strings with HUGE ball ends that I struggled to remove to replace the strings. But on thicker strings (e.g. 10-52) you will get slight fret buzz on the Bottom E and A strings.
Features — 9
This is a new GT model from Epiphone and it is absolutely mindblowing, especially for the price range, now when I went to pick this up I expected your average low range Epiphone, the result however was the complete opposite. This is a 2009 model (Made In Indonesia) and has been released at the same time as the Explorer GT, the main differences being in the shape of the body and the fact that the Explorer GT has a Stop Tail whereas the Special II has a Tremolo arm. The body is Mahogany and the neck is Hard Maple making this guitar not only light, but durable as well. The guitar comes in a Worn Black colour and it has a worn finish giving it that "Vintage" look. The guitar has a bolt-on, Slim Taper neck that is adjustable by using the truss rod. The Special II has a Rosewood Fretboard with Parallelogram Inlays and 22 medium-jumbo frets. The pickups used are two humbuckers: USA Designed 650R and 700T, these are high-out pickups meaning you always get a good sound out of it whether you're playing lead or rhythm. You get a 3 way pickup selector and volume and tone controls, but here comes the innovative, very well done bit; the tone pot has a killswitch built in and as soon as you push or tap it down it kills the output, ideal if you want to play Rage Against The Machine stuff. The design is a "GT Single Cutaway" and it has a Tune-O-Matic Bridge (according to Spec). It has your average tuners, they are listed as "Premium 14:1 Covered" in the Spec. The price I paid was just for the guitar as a single unit, no accessories.