Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Guitar Center Van Nuys
Sound — 7
I play blues primarily, and of course this kind of guitar is perfect for that. It gets played through a '70 Super Reverb, a '65 Vibrolux and a Blues Junior. I travel a lot (I am in the movie business and I do a lot of location films) so I bought this to take on the road. I also have a '68 Strat, and recently acquired a '69 ES335 that cost too much to travel with. Don't kid yourself that the Epiphone is as good as the Gibson, but for the money, it's a tremendous deal, with the electronics upgraded.
Overall Impression — 8
I play blues, and this guitar is an ideal instrument for it. I've been playing off and on since around 1971. I own the two guitars listed above and a 20th anniversary Les Paul Custom (1974) that I bought new. Besides the old Fender amps, we have a Vox AC-30 and a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier head run into a 1979 Marshall cab with original Celestion speakers. I must admit that I was influenced by seeing John Lee Hooker, who my wife used to know, playing his old Sheraton. I really think that, for the money I have invested in it, it is a great guitar. Sure, it doesn't quite have the magic sound of my old ES335, but it cost a fraction as much, and I can get a really nice range of blues sounds out of it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Of course, a semi-solid body guitar is going to be a little more fragile than a solid body, but as this type of guitar goes, it is quite solid (maybe more so than my ES, which of course is 40 years old now.) By the way, the case that came with this one appears to be as strong as the ones with my Gibsons. I use a lockable strap, and the strap buttons seem fine on this guitar. I've had no problems with the tuning heads, bridge etc.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
This guitar has a natural finish, and it is really a beautiful instrument. People who see it always like it. As I mentioned, I had Eric set it up as soon as I got it, and it was 15 years old already, so I can't comment on the factory setup. I just want to add that Epiphone seems to have decided to favor the quality of the woodwork over that of the electronics, which in my opinion is a good choice, as you can upgrade the pickups, pots, etc, but you can't change the wood.
Features — 6
My Sheraton is a 1993 Samick guitar. The Samick company is a very high quality Korean stringed instrument manufacturer and is considered by many to have made the best Sheraton II's. You can tell Samick Sheratons because the first thing in the serial number is an S. The next two numbers are the year of manufacture. I do think these are a little better, and they don't seem to cost much more (I spent $400 on mine a few years ago) so you might look around and try to find one. The rap on Epiphones is that the woodwork is a lot better than the electronics, and this was certainly true in my case. I bought a pair of Seymour Duncan '59 pickups, and had the entire electronics replaced by Eric Chaz of Eric's Guitars. I ended up with about $700 invested in it, and it is a very good guitar for the money. I rated this as a 6 in this category only because I believe you do have to replace the pickups to get the most out of it- even with that done, the price is extremely reasonable.