Price paid: $ 820.04
Purchased from: Bill Hyde
Sound — 9
Suits my style well. I've been playing a lot Fenders when jamming, playing, gigging etc (with few Gibsons and Epiphones here and there) but when I picked this one up in the shop it blew me away. For the price it is an incredible guitar. Warm rich tones with lots of range (with the three pickups). Sweet action and smooth handling. When clean it sounds warm and rich but with distortion this thing is a menace. I've never heard such a rich deep distorted boom from anything in this price range (or many pricier machines). This thing can play just about any style. Pickups are solid but as always could be replaced for something a little better. No hum or noise on this machine at all, and I have cranked it quite loud. Can't comment on how it sounds while gigging though cause I havn't been on stage since buying this guitar.
Overall Impression — 8
This is a great match for my more rock based songs. I've been playing off an on for 10 years. I also got a '95 Strat, an Epiphone SG, a bass or two and a Fender Deluxe 112watt amp. The build quality and playability is much better then my Japan made Strat or anything else I own. I've played the Gibson Custom to compare (although with 2 pickups) and considering there is a, wait for it, $6000 dollar difference in price (AUS dollar) I would have to say this guitar is worth a lot more then the price I paid. I would pay double the price I got it for and still be happy with it. Yeah I'd replace it although I'd probably get the two pickup version. I played quite a few epiphones and gibsons in various stores before getting this one. Even taking into consideration the price differences and that some weren't set up right this was still the best one on offer for the price without a doubt. Especially when the nearest equivalent was about 2 grand more (Gibson Les Paul Standard). What an amazing piece of machinery. I'm still bewildered that this thing only cost me $1079 ($1200 with the sweet molded case). Still adjusting to the whole 3 pickup look but I'm sure I'll get over it. Overall I'm leaving a couple of point room for any probs that crop up in the future, otherwise this thing would get a perfect score. All I can recommend with Epiphones is play as many as you can and take into consideration how they're setup. There really is a big difference between some models.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This thing will keep on going. I havn't had it long enough to determine how it will hold up gigging or over the long run though. I've heard that the gold fades a bit on the pickups but that's no big deal, all part of the charm of a Vintage guitar. I would and will depend on it for live play, will get strap locks just to make sure. Gig without a backup, well if I had to, this would certainly do the job. I'm giving it an 8 in this section simply because I haven't had it long enough to see what time does to this beast.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
This machine was setup in a manor that can only be described as impecable. The store must have a great specialist working there because it was perfect in everyway. No flaws, no dints, no nicks, no buzz, no probs. This machine is impressive for the cost (although I got it on sale down from $1400). They had a lot of Gibsons there as well and this particular model held up well next to them. I played some other epiphones in the store and was disappointed with the finish and quality of some of them, but this one was fantastic. It really was a step above most of the epiphones I've encountered.
Features — 9
Japan spec, new '05 or '06. Finish mahogany etc. This is the custom spec model. No point going over this part as it's already been covered by many of the reviewers on this site. I got a Gator hard-case that was designed for an SG and/or Les Paul. If you manage to find one of those they are molded for those guiatrs and I recommend them as a sweet investment, particularly if your gigging (it's light weight and strong).