Ltd. Ed. Brendon Small "Thunderhorse" Explorer Review

manufacturer: Epiphone date: 10/28/2015 category: Electric Guitars
Epiphone: Ltd. Ed. Brendon Small
Epiphone and Dethklok mastermind Brendon Small have collaborated to create the ultimate 6-string weapon packed with exclusive features only found on Epiphone.
 Features: 8
 Sound: 10
 Action, Fit & Finish: 6
 Reliability & Durability: 8
 Overall Impression: 8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
review (1) pictures (5) 8 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8
Ltd. Ed. Brendon Small "Thunderhorse" Explorer Reviewed by: anthonymarisc, on october 28, 2015
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: Date of manufacture 2013, China. The Epiphone Thunderhorse features a 24.75" scale neck consisting of 22 medium Jumbo Frets on a phenolic fretboard. The guitar's body and neck are both mahogany, the neck being glued-in/set. The finish is a gloss Silverburst on the classic Explorer profile. It has a Locktone Tune-O-Matic bridge with a stopbar tail-piece. The guitar uses Gibson BurstBucker pick-ups which are passive. The guitar uses two volume controls for each pick-up and a master tone control. Lastly, the guitar has Grover Mini-Rotomatics 14:1 Ratio tuners. My guitar was purchased from my local Guitar Center in 2015 and came included with a Dethklok gig bag, Dethklok stickers, and a set of D'Addario strings. Overall good value for the money. // 8

Sound: My preferred genres of music are mostly rock and metal. I play everything from Black Sabbath to Mastodon. As such, I was looking for a guitar that was well known for being used in applications in these particular genres and from video/written reviews and play testing in the store I concluded the Thunderhorse to be a worthy candidate to add to my arsenal of guitars.

I run the guitar through a Blackstar ID:Core 10 amplifier which is a well known practice amplifier that has tons of usable tones/channels and features. Running through the amp's clean channels you can hear the difference in the pick-ups fairly well. The neck pick-up is more articulate and punchy, where as the bridge pick-up tends to be more smooth yet sounds more full suitable when playing chords and power chords. The guitar also makes use of push-pull pots, when applied to the neck pick-up the sound becomes very twangy and almost like a Fender Stratocaster. Suitable for Hendrix tones, surf, etc. The bridge IMO is a little more bright sounding but ultimately retains the same sound profile as before. When switched to the Blackstar's Crunch & Overdrive channels the guitar has a very full resonant bite with tons of sustain. There is feedback when fingers are moving across the strings though this could be attributed to the amplifier not the guitar. On the dirty channels the guitar sounds as you would expect from something made to play metal. Blackstar's ISF knob makes it very easy to go from Metallica to Sabbath with the turn of a single knob and messing with pick-up configurations can allow you to get a wide range of tones suitable for American or British sounds. The guitar can do a very decent amount of unique sounds as well, standard things as you would expect harmonics/pinch harmonics, pushing on the neck for a slight tremolo effect, etc. There's enough variety with multiple pick-up combinations to allow you to dial in anything from "Misirlou" to even sludge metal sounds. The volume pot configurations are particularly useful, as you can be using one pick-up then roll the volume down on another and essentially have the pick-up selector function as a kill-switch.

Overall the guitar is very versatile in sound even though it lacks a trem. Which I won't knock points off for since I'm not a player that makes use of tremolo arms/whammys. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was manufactured in 2013, and I bought it in 2015 supposedly "new." The guitar was on a wall-hanger and showed obvious signs of wear. That being said the action felt amazing the first time I picked it up, low yet hardly any buzz and to date was the slickest feeling fretboard I've ever laid hands on. Although being phenolic, I was concerned as to how I was supposed to maintain this material as I've never had/played a guitar such a fretboard. Since the guitar was in stock for so long I can't comment on how the factory set-up was as it wasn't pristine when I purchased it. All the electronics where in working order and nothing was loose, the only flaws were the phenolic fretboard showing signs of wear underneath the high E string and the "Thunderhorse" text is slightly worn away on the truss rod cover which is not entirely flush with the headstock. Other than that the guitar plays extremely well, and once I took it home I cleaned it thoroughly and put some new strings on it. After tuning to pitch, I checked the 12th fret and concluded that the intonation was reasonably well for E standard. To this day I have never played a more comfortable electric guitar in my life, the explorer body style suits me well. I was disheartened to pay over $500 for a "new" guitar on clearance that had obvious signs of wear though. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I am bedroom guitarist so I can't really comment on playing live though I'd assume it could stand the rigors of gigging as long as you have a hard-case for the guitar instead of the signature gig bag that comes with it. I'm fairly confident the BurstBuckers, switches, and input jack are sturdy and will last awhile. I've had the guitar almost 3 months now and still have had no issues, it's used for multiple hours daily. I'm not super rough with my guitars to begin with, so I think all the electronics will stand for a great deal of time. The strap buttons are sturdy though I may invest in strap-locks in the future, I think it's a fine guitar and well made certainly usable as a back-up and even a main guitar, just personal preference I suppose. The finish seems like it will last and age well. I am very confident in the reliability and durability of this instrument. I've lightly bumped it a few times in the house much to my discontent yet the guitar still has no signs of damage. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall this guitar is suitable for my preferred genres of music as stated it can go from Hendrix to Mastodon within seconds of adjusting controls. Compared to previous guitars I've owned this one has been the most expensive yet at the same time the most quality instrument I've owned as well. It certainly beats my Squier Affinity as well as my Epiphone Worn SG G-400 in terms of feel and quality both of which I sold to acquire this guitar. If it were stolen I'd be devastated as this is signature model. If I had the option to replace it I would in a heartbeat. The looks of this guitar are as metal as it gets will still being classic. The Silverburst is amazing to stare at and when the guitar is cleaned it's almost like a piece of art. My favorite features of this guitar have to be the push-pull pots the variety in sounds is incomparable to any other electric I've owned/played. Overall the guitar as a whole is fantastic, I am only disappointed in the slight wear the guitar had when I purchased it. Epiphone chose me, not the other way around. I'm not endorsed by Epiphone yet for some strange reason I find myself gravitating toward their guitars. I've even heard the possibility of Epiphone releasing a Brent Hinds signature model. I compared the Thunderhorse to the previous guitars I had as well as Gibsons in store and this guitar bridged the gap for me between "low high-end" guitar and "high mid-range" guitar. I think the guitar is fine as is and nothing needs to be added the only thing I can think of is a tremolo arm but that would only get in the way. Overall if you can still find one I definitely recommend the purchase. // 8

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