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Gibson/Epiphone


Lozz196

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There has to be a syndrome (I don't have a word for it, but let's refer to it as Bargainicious Bumm-a-kissious Syndrome), that a psychiatrist would point to as the owner's unstoppable belief that a less expensive of anything is better than the full priced equivalent thereof.

 

I'm sure you all love your Epiphones and Squiers and are firmly of the belief that they're a country mile better than those Gibsons and Fenders you could have splashed a bit more on, but I've seen enough photographs of these instruments with Gibson truss-rod covers and Fender decals (cough, put on by the previous owner(s), cough) to know that there's a degree of vexation with the current owners.  (See also hundreds of photos of single cut (Epiphone) Les Paul Juniors, conveniently cropped below the headstock.)

 

Not wishing to unload too much, but maybe I've been unlucky and just perhaps I was unfortunate in my formulative years to have chosen a dozen or so copies that were just so simply rubbish that they should have gone on a bonfire.  I'll admit to still owning one Epiphone that I bought new and blind for home recording - a Phantomatic guitar - that was just so awful that it underwent transplants of new machines, bridge and pickups; it's better (*subjective), but for the initial outlay plus the extras, I could probably have picked up a Gibson SG or a Les Paul CM.  I had an Epiphone Dot Studio (335 style thing) that was equally as bad and went through the same transplants - the worst thing being that even after throwing a long throw bridge on it, it still wouldn't intonate beyond the 7th fret as the bridge was in the wrong place.

 

In truth, things only got better when I started to splash decent money on instruments; while everything I've ever bought - cheap or old - has needed tweaking of some sort to get it to play like I want it, but from the perspective of individual factors (quality, build, playability, hardware etc.), I'd take the real thing over a facsimile seven days a week.

 

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On 23/08/2021 at 09:43, NancyJohnson said:

There has to be a syndrome (I don't have a word for it, but let's refer to it as Bargainicious Bumm-a-kissious Syndrome), that a psychiatrist would point to as the owner's unstoppable belief that a less expensive of anything is better than the full priced equivalent thereof.

 

I'm sure you all love your Epiphones and Squiers and are firmly of the belief that they're a country mile better than those Gibsons and Fenders you could have splashed a bit more on, but I've seen enough photographs of these instruments with Gibson truss-rod covers and Fender decals (cough, put on by the previous owner(s), cough) to know that there's a degree of vexation with the current owners.  (See also hundreds of photos of single cut (Epiphone) Les Paul Juniors, conveniently cropped below the headstock.)

 

Not wishing to unload too much, but maybe I've been unlucky and just perhaps I was unfortunate in my formulative years to have chosen a dozen or so copies that were just so simply rubbish that they should have gone on a bonfire.  I'll admit to still owning one Epiphone that I bought new and blind for home recording - a Phantomatic guitar - that was just so awful that it underwent transplants of new machines, bridge and pickups; it's better (*subjective), but for the initial outlay plus the extras, I could probably have picked up a Gibson SG or a Les Paul CM.  I had an Epiphone Dot Studio (335 style thing) that was equally as bad and went through the same transplants - the worst thing being that even after throwing a long throw bridge on it, it still wouldn't intonate beyond the 7th fret as the bridge was in the wrong place.

 

In truth, things only got better when I started to splash decent money on instruments; while everything I've ever bought - cheap or old - has needed tweaking of some sort to get it to play like I want it, but from the perspective of individual factors (quality, build, playability, hardware etc.), I'd take the real thing over a facsimile seven days a week.

 

 

In my opinion there has never been a more precarious time for mid/high priced instruments.  Overall quality at the bottom end of the price range has been steadily improving and the quality gap which the premium products used to command has never been narrower.  Keeping it focused on the Thunderbird, the current Epiphone Thunderbird Vintage Pro is more Thunderbird than the contemporary Gibson offering ever was.  What is that more than doubling of the price getting you?  A hard case (fair enough), Gibson on the TRC (which doesn't really carry that much cache in the bass world anyway as we're all well aware), two more layers in the neck laminate, a worse choice of colours, tired old TB+ pickups and arguably a worse bridge (in terms of functionality and operation).  I can't see any way the Gibson Thunderbird is the degrees of better than the current Epiphone Vintage Pro commensurate with the price premium it commands.  I'm not even sure if it is actually better.  Gibson should be scared by this.  Their premium products need to blow the cut price ones out of the water to justify the prices they're listed for and frankly speaking, I don't think they do.

 

I don't think facsimile is a fair word - Epiphones are genuine, sanctioned Gibson products in their own right.  If some other company started making Thunderbirds, I'd call them copies/facsimiles.

 

I find the pickups interesting on the NR Thunderbird Gibson have brought out recently, if those chrome covers (which I really hope aren't hiding TB+ pickups) aren't a tacit admission that Epiphone have been getting it right with regard to the Thunderbird of late then I don't know what is.

 

At time of writing, I am of the opinion that Gibson basses are not worth worth the price they are commanding - partly because I think they've gone stale and partly because of the excellent job Epiphone have been doing of late.  I have 2 Epiphones currently, both bought from new.  The Jack Casady, which I have felt the need to make no alterations/upgrades to, and an Embassy to which the only thing I've done to it is swap out the tuners - they were a bit crap admittedly.  In terms of quality, build and playability, I can't fault either of them.  Well put together, well finished, good fretwork, needed nothing more than very basic setup (action/intonation/relief) to play the way I like.  I don't expect any volume produced bass regardless of how much it cost to be tailored to me right off the bat so I don't think that counts.

 

Some people may have viewed me as a bit of a Gibson fanboi/apologist in the past but the je ne sais quoi allure of the brand was lost on me some time ago.  I still have a soft spot for the old Gibsons, but I'd want my head examined if I bought a Gibson Thunderbird new today.

Edited by neepheid
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Isn't Epiphone owned by Gibson? Or at least part of the same group of companies? 

The Gibson will always sell just because it's a Gibson. Maybe they can make more profit on a mass produced Epiphone than a had built Gibson so it makes better business to have a really good Epiphone and not spend on any R&D for the Gibson because improving it may not mean more sales.

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To those of a suspicious nature bear  in mind for me this isn’t one of those “I can’t afford the real thing so I’ll pretend to myself that the cheaper one is better”. I have both, I just prefer the cheaper one.

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8 hours ago, NancyJohnson said:

but I've seen enough photographs of these instruments with Gibson truss-rod covers and Fender decals (cough, put on by the previous owner(s), cough) to know that there's a degree of vexation with the current owners. 

Could be folks just got fed up answering  questions on their choice of gear.

 

"Why didn't you buy X,Y,Z ?"

"Could you not afford X,Y,Z ?"

"Oh, I thought you were playing .... but now I see it's only a ....."

 

A fairly large percentage listen with their eyes , Gibson TR or Fender decal nips that BS in the bud.

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I never said that the Gibson Thunderbird I tried back in 2012 was bad. I just didn't think it was worth the extra £700, after I'd tried the EPI Classic Pro. In fact the Gibson would be here now if the Epi hadn't been there at the time. IIRC I'm sure Epiphone stopped their Classic Pro run in 2015 at Gibson's request, because it was denting their sales? 

Edited by pst62
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14 hours ago, kodiakblair said:

Could be folks just got fed up answering  questions on their choice of gear.

 

"Why didn't you buy X,Y,Z ?"

"Could you not afford X,Y,Z ?"

"Oh, I thought you were playing .... but now I see it's only a ....."

 

A fairly large percentage listen with their eyes , Gibson TR or Fender decal nips that BS in the bud.

To be honest no one has ever commented on the fact that I was playing a Squier.  I used to take the real Fender as a backup and it was kept out of sight in it's case.

 

I must admit I check out the gear of any pub band I've seen just to see what they're playing.  The only judgement I make is that some people buy expensive and play rubbish, and some choose alternatives and sound great.

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I have to admit to being in the past a bit of a musical snob when it came to band gear. I saw a couple of poor bands using cheap gear and just thought once you have reached a certain level you should be using good gear. Since then I have seen a few very, very good bands and the bass player has been using Squire or Epiphone gear. I myself own a Squire five string bass and I just cannot find fault in it. It sounds the mutts.

I think now that you should not be like I was. It doesn't have to be Fender or Gibson.

I think there is another school of snobbery that has to have guitars that are in the ultra expensive band. do these guitars/basses sound £3000 better than a Fender or for that matter Squire? I myself used to have a Spector Euro. I could not for the life of me think how you could justify buying an American Spector when you could get the sound out of the Euro. Yes, people will argue the point but is there really THAT much of a difference?

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7 minutes ago, ubit said:

I have to admit to being in the past a bit of a musical snob when it came to band gear.

This may be more to do with age than snobbery. When I was in my teens cheap instruments were just nasty. 

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That’s a good point tegs, I’ve just spent the equivalent of 100 pints of beer on this Epi and it’s great. When I started out an instrument costing the equivalent of 100 pints of beer was not quite so great - my Kay EB-O copy in fact cost more than that, at £50 in 1980 prob equivalent to about 120 pints.

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17 hours ago, kodiakblair said:

Could be folks just got fed up answering  questions on their choice of gear.

 

"Why didn't you buy X,Y,Z ?"

"Could you not afford X,Y,Z ?"

"Oh, I thought you were playing .... but now I see it's only a ....."

 

A fairly large percentage listen with their eyes , Gibson TR or Fender decal nips that BS in the bud.

 

Last night took a Squier Jazz to rehearsal. Guitarist: "That looks great".

 

 

Edited by Stub Mandrel
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1 minute ago, Stub Mandrel said:

 

Last night took a Squier Jazz to rehearsal. Guitarist: "That looks great".

 

 

 

Other way round:

Last night guitarist took an Epiphone Les Paul Junior to rehearsal.  Bass player says: 'Why didn't you buy the Gibson?'

 

😂

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But I suppose I am a snob. I have Fender straps on my Squiers as well as my Fenders.

 

I would put the Squier Jaguar SS in the same class playability/finish wise as the Fenders, but I had to pimp the bridge pickup.

 

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1 minute ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

Other way round:

Last night guitarist took an Epiphone Les Paul Junior to rehearsal.  Bass player says: 'Why didn't you buy the Gibson?'

 

😂

A certain John Lennon of course used an Epiphone Caino - I wonder if Ringo, Paul and George asked him why he didn't buy the Gibson ES 330.

 

IMO using the less obvious choice actually carries a degree of kudos and taste.

 

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23 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

Other way round:

Last night guitarist took an Epiphone Les Paul Junior to rehearsal.  Bass player says: 'Why didn't you buy the Gibson?'

 

😂

 

It's a reasonable question.  Unfortunately for Gibson, there are several reasonable answers to it at the moment.

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On 18/08/2021 at 09:43, SteveXFR said:

When I bought my Thunderbird I went to the shop with the intention of buying a Gibson which was discounted to £1500. I tried it and liked it then just out of curiosity I tried the Epiphone Vintage Pro Thunderbird which was £499 and thought there really wasn't a grand worth of difference. I preferred the sound of the Epiphone as well so I went home with that and the shop dude was regretting mentioning how good the Epiphone was.

I've also seen recent photos of Alice Cooper's bassist playing the Epiphone for live shows.

 

I have a USA Thunderbird IV and the Epi thru-neck equivalent (Classic IV Pro) as a spare and tbh in the context of a live band and even in feel I struggle to tell the difference between the two!

 

Edited by DaytonaRik
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I don't think I could honestly say the Epi is better. The USA Thunderbird is finished a bit nicer. I just don't think there's £1000 of difference. If it was £300 difference I'd probably go for the USA version. 

Having said that, I would do unspeakable things to own a bicentennial Thunderbird. 

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Not all Epiphones are great.

 

I saw an Andertons video reviewing the Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker E1.

 

It was so cheap and sounded so good on the video, that I went to my local Guitar Guitar to check it out.

 

In reality it was a horrible little thing, which sounded tinny and was impossible to keep in tune.

 

In the end I bought a Yamaha Pacifica, from their used section, which played and sounded like a real guitar rather than a nasty little toy.

 

Just goes to show the power of advertising, when such a horrible toy guitar, can be made to sound half decent in the hands of professionals.

 

 

Edited by gjones
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9 hours ago, gjones said:

Just goes to show the power of advertising, when such a horrible toy guitar, can be made to sound half decent in the hands of professionals.

  You are so right!

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, gjones said:

Not all Epiphones are great.

 

I saw an Andertons video reviewing the Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker E1.

 

It was so cheap and sounded so good on the video, that I went to my local Guitar Guitar to check it out.

 

In reality it was a horrible little thing, which sounded tinny and was impossible to keep in tune.

 

In the end I bought a Yamaha Pacifica, from their used section, which played and sounded like a real guitar rather than a nasty little toy.

 

Just goes to show the power of advertising, when such a horrible toy guitar, can be made to sound half decent in the hands of professionals.

 

 

I think that video was very fair and was at pains to attempt to temper the viewer's expectations of what an £89 guitar can be realistically expected to be - much more than I was expecting, given that they're in the selling business.  They pointed out that the stock strings are the cheapest garbage and disclosed that they had restrung them for the video, they mentioned they were using amps and pedals which cost many times what the guitar did (which goes some way to explain how good it sounds in the video), they pointed out the limitations of the wraparound bridge/tailpiece, they pitched it almost exclusively at beginners and even discussed the financial of buying it to modify/upgrade and the ceiling you would hit of its basic construction and nature, they even said something like it was a 5/10 player (I think that's in the bit where they discuss the word "overwhelmed" and whether or not you can be underwhelmed or even simply whelmed).  That's just what I remember from one watch through.

 

Having watched the whole thing, I feel I'd be able to approach this guitar eyes open with a realistic expectation.  I don't see how you could have gone wrong, unless you skipped all the talky bits and just listened to the playing?

 

My point (in which I wrote far too much so no-one read it) was not that all cheap products are amazing these days - it was simply that today's cheapest instruments have never been closer to the mid/high range of the market.  What would you have got for a tenner in 1975?  Some Woolworths monstrosity that you didn't so much play as wrestle with?  What would forty quid have got you in 1990?  Not much, I'm guessing.  I've never played this E1 (and I wouldn't know where to start) but I'm willing to say that it'll be better than anything you could get for the equivalent money in times past.

 

Before I took up the bass, I owned an Epiphone Special II, early to mid nineties I think.  I don't remember much about it, apart from pretty awful tuners with a lot of play in them but I do remember it put me off playing guitar for life so I thank it for (eventually) pointing me in the direction of where I am today.

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Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks used to play pretty cheap Epiphones. I’m sure he was in a position to afford/play more expensive guitars but that’s what he used. May be down to a number of factors of course but for playing live you surely have to like the guitar you’ve chosen.

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52 minutes ago, neepheid said:

 

I think that video was very fair and was at pains to attempt to temper the viewer's expectations of what an £89 guitar can be realistically expected to be - much more than I was expecting, given that they're in the selling business.  They pointed out that the stock strings are the cheapest garbage and disclosed that they had restrung them for the video, they mentioned they were using amps and pedals which cost many times what the guitar did (which goes some way to explain how good it sounds in the video), they pointed out the limitations of the wraparound bridge/tailpiece, they pitched it almost exclusively at beginners and even discussed the financial of buying it to modify/upgrade and the ceiling you would hit of its basic construction and nature, they even said something like it was a 5/10 player (I think that's in the bit where they discuss the word "overwhelmed" and whether or not you can be underwhelmed or even simply whelmed).  That's just what I remember from one watch through.

 

Having watched the whole thing, I feel I'd be able to approach this guitar eyes open with a realistic expectation.  I don't see how you could have gone wrong, unless you skipped all the talky bits and just listened to the playing?

 

My point (in which I wrote far too much so no-one read it) was not that all cheap products are amazing these days - it was simply that today's cheapest instruments have never been closer to the mid/high range of the market.  What would you have got for a tenner in 1975?  Some Woolworths monstrosity that you didn't so much play as wrestle with?  What would forty quid have got you in 1990?  Not much, I'm guessing.  I've never played this E1 (and I wouldn't know where to start) but I'm willing to say that it'll be better than anything you could get for the equivalent money in times past.

 

Before I took up the bass, I owned an Epiphone Special II, early to mid nineties I think.  I don't remember much about it, apart from pretty awful tuners with a lot of play in them but I do remember it put me off playing guitar for life so I thank it for (eventually) pointing me in the direction of where I am today.

I was wanting to buy a plank for a friend to play slide on and assumed the Epiphone would be pretty rubbish but I was very surprised at how rubbish it actually was. I was also surprised at how good the Anderton guys could make it sound. And looking back at the video, I'm still amazed at how good they can make it sound.

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I'm exactly the same I was going to buy a Gibson Les Paul at 2 grand until I played the Epiphone Plus top pro I actually bought at £500 ish - It feels fab, sounds fab, plays brilliantly, actually has more features like a coil tap honestly can't fault it and I don't have to be too precious about it either even though actually I am because it's honestly a fab guitar

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4 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks used to play pretty cheap Epiphones. I’m sure he was in a position to afford/play more expensive guitars but that’s what he used. May be down to a number of factors of course but for playing live you surely have to like the guitar you’ve chosen.

 

Alice Cooper's bassist uses an Epiphone Vintage Pro Thunderbird live. I'm sure he's in a position to buy any bass he wants.

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