Price paid: $ 756
Purchased from: Piens Deinze
Sound — 9
I play almost everything except Metal, Trash R&R, you know, the heavy stuff, and I have to say: "Gosh, what a sound". You can really play all kinds of music with this guitar. The neck pickup gives you the warm, smooth and polished sound you need for Jazz and other soft genres, while the bridge pickup gives you enough punch to play a nasty R&R solo la Ron Wood. I run this guitar through a Boss ME-50 and as amp I use or a Vox AD-50VT or a Fender Bluesville Deluxe. The guitar gives much output, a bit too much IMHO, much more as my Strat or tele, and the sustain is incredible.
Overall Impression — 9
For the genres I play, you can't find a better guitar in this price range. I agree, a Gretsch is way much better, but you pay 5 to 10 times as much for these. I play the guitar now for about 8 years, and the Wildkat can be placed next to my Fender USA Strat, Rickenbacker 360 and Gibson Firebird. If it was stolen, I would replace it directly, no doubt about it. The thing that's really cool about this guitar is also the thing I sometimes don't like. The controls. The master volume is a blessing if you won't harm your pickup settings, but due to the fact you only have one master tone knob, the sounds you can generate are limited, you can't play both pickups out against eachother, which is a pity.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is near "Bullet-Proof", you can't dent the finish at all, and it is really solid for an archtop. After 7 years, the only thing I had to tighten on this guitar was 1 screw holding the nameplate on the headstock. The strapbuttons are bigger than those on a Fender, so it's nearly impossible to drop this guitar due to "strap failure." I can use it without backup on a gig, but I always take a second guitar with me, because you'll never know.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I bought it, the people of Piens (the music shop) already set it up and intonated the thing, so I have no idea how the factory set up was. You can't properly adjust the pickups, because they are mounted directly on the maple top, but you can adjust the single magnets, it was done well, maybe a little to close to the strings, but that's a matter of taste. The guitar is made very properly, no finish flaws, bad quality hardware nor construction, and most important. It gives no noise, nothing, probably it comes because the whole interior of the guitar was painted in shielding paint.
Features — 9
24.75" scale length, 1.68" nut width, 22 medium semi-flat frets on a set in maple neck with rosewood fretboard sporting pearloid dot inlays (Gibson dimensions, same neck as a LP, SG), big headstock with 3+3 Gotoh tuners sporting the "E" of Epiphone. thinline/archtop rosewood body with a laminated maple top. Binding around the neck and the front of the body. Solid Turquoise finish (PU I think), one "venetian" cutaway. Two chrome passive P90 "dogear" singlecoil pickups, Bigsby tailpiece, sporting the E instead of Bigsby and Epiphone under the roller bar. Tune-O-Matic bridge. 1 Master Volume, located on the lower horn, 2 Volume pot's, one for each coil and a Master Tone, all three located at the lower F-hole and a 3-way switch on the upper horn. No pickguard. Normally no extra's, but I received for J50 additional costs a Epiphone HSC, a leather strap and a 3m cable.