Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 9
My Riv is a 2014, made in China It has a 22 fret neck with rosewood fretboard and parallelogram inlays, 24 3/4 inch scale. Body is a maple laminate 335 style double cutaway with a maple soundblock (semi hollow), neck is mahogany, and it's wearing the sexiest transparent wine red finish! It's equipped with a Bigsby B-70 vibrato (in gold), a Wilkenson roller bridge (user upgrade, it came with a standard gold Tuneomatic style bridge), and Kluson style tuners (also gold). The true piece de resistance with this axe, though, is the three P-90 pickups...neck and bridge are routed through a three way switch into individual volumes, while the middle is controlled by its volume control alone...all feed into a master tone. This setup gives the ability to blend the middle pickup into the three options given with the bridge and neck, or I can just use any individually...all electronics are passive.
Sound — 10
The three P-90s produce a ballsy vintage tone, hotter than a Stratocaster but not as thick as a humbucker equipped guitar. The mids and bottom end are pronounced, while the highs are crystal clear and warm. P-90s are renowned for their gritty, fat and slightly wonky tone compared to, well, just about anything...they sound truly unique! Blending the middle pickup in with either neck or bridge gives a supercharged Gibson-esque version of the Strat #2 and 4 position sounds, while also eliminating the 60 cycle hum that comes with any single coil. My favorite tone is gained using the bridge pickup at full volume with the mid pickup blended in at around 7...this gives me a super warm, but still biting lead tone that also serves as a thick and meaty yet bell like rhythm sound. The neck pickup gives me a smooth, thick and sexy jazz tone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
My guitar was set up well off the rack, it played excellent and the neck was damned near perfect...which of course I completely redid when I added the Wilkenson roller bridge! The medium jumbo frets are all leveled nicely, with no sharp edges or buzzing. The pickups are permanently affixed to the top of the guitar (no adjustment), but their height is set with shims under the mid and bridge pickups, keeping their height even. The top is flawless with a tight, even grain pattern, as is the back. All hardware is mounted perfectly, and the finish is absolutely gorgeous! The body is bound top and bottom with single ply cream binding, as is the neck (no headstock binding). The binding and mother of pearl fretboard inlays are neatly done, and there is a stylized Art Deco vase inlay on the headstock, along with the Epiphone logo in mother of pearl...very nice touch! The pickguard looks a bit like an amoeba, with a metal "E" (looks nice) and cutouts for the three dogear P-90s...a bit odd looking but still functional. The only problem I had with it was the output jack...it had a tendency to loosen with use, and if you don't catch it in time can fall into the cavity, making it difficult to fish out and reattach. I fixed this issue by tightening the nut down and using a tiny drop of Super Glue...it hasn't loosened since!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had this beautiful axe since March 2014 and have used it regularly. I haven't had a single catastrophic failure, every part if it is still in factory mint condition. All components are of a good quality, and the body and neck are simply to die for. I wouldn't want to drop it out a window or anything, but for a semi hollow body guitar it feels solid, and I'd bet it could take a fairly substantial shot without causing damage. It's solidly built, excellent performing instrument, and I'd have no issue going out on a major tour with it...any takers? lol!
Overall Impression — 9
I play pretty much everything ranging from old school slowhand bluesy rock to singer songwriter type stuff to various levels of metal madness, and have been at it for 40 plus years with no plans on quitting any time soon. I've been able to get many different voices out of this glorious axe, but not everything for obvious reasons. While this guitar doesn't speak metal-ese convincingly, it can pull off everything from smokey jazz and sultry Chi-town blues, to smokin' rockabilly and killer hard rock badassness! It's my number one, my favorite sweet playing axe!