For the last several decades, the venerable Epiphone brand has been primarily associated with budget acoustic and electric imports. As a member of the Gibson family, Epiphone has the ability to produce inexpensive, legal copies of Gibson classics—including the Les Paul, ES-335, J-45, and J-200—as well as repros of its own ’50s and ’60s champs, such as the Casino thinline electric and Texan flat-top. Having recently introduced the excellent Elitist series (reviewed Jan. ’03, when known as the “Elite” series)—a premium, made-in-Japan line of acoustics and electrics—Epiphone has taken aggressive steps to fill the huge price gap between its own starter models and pricier, made-in-U.S.A. Gibsons. In another bold move, Epiphone has revived its Masterbilt mark, this time applying it to a series of Chinese-built acoustics. The Masterbilt steel-string range includes three basic styles—a small-body concert model, as well as square- and slope-shoulder dreadnoughts—all rendered in a variety of solid tonewoods. To get a feel for the extensive Masterbilt line, we reviewed four representative instruments: the EF-500M, EF-500RA, AJ-500RE, and DR-500P. Exploring Common Ground Though these test instruments are very different animals, they share many attributes. For example, each model has a solid Sitka spruce top, hand-scalloped Sitka spruce braces, mahogany kerfing, a 25w"-scale rosewood fretboard, and a rosewood bridge. Players looking for vintage tone and vibe will dig the old-school dovetail neck joint and hide-glue construction. All four flat-tops feature 20-fret necks that join the body at the 14th fret and are adorned with carefully cut, cleanly set fretboard inlays. With its asymmetrical “offset notch” tip, tapered sides, bell-shaped trussrod cover, and mother-of-pearl scripted logo and stickpin inlay, the headstock references classic Epiphone models from the 1930s. Masterbilts also feature open-back Sta-Tite tuners—a recent addition to the Grover line that look retro, but offer high-end performance, thanks to their 18:1 gear ratio.
Nick Beggs and The Mute Gods Release Music Video For New Single (WATCH)
Ernie Ball Music Man Announces 30th Anniversary StingRay5 Bass
Dr. No Unveils the Troy Van Leeuwen Octavia
This Week in Free Stuff: Producer Competition Pack & Ableton Beat Tools
How Glitch-Hop/Dubstep Producer Mr. Bill Masters His Music
This Week in Free Stuff: Vocal, Neurostep and SFX Samples
EMIKO - The Musical Traveler on Her New Release “Simple Love”
UVI UVS-3200 Captures the Analog Sound of the Vintage Semi-Modular Korg PS-3200
Pyramind Launches a Global Music Mentorship Network
Les Paul or Lucille? Check Out This Solidbody vs. Semihollow Guitar Comparison
James Hetfield Tells Why He’s Against Fixing the Bass on ‘…And Justice for All’
Kurt Cobain’s Vintage Late-Fifties Hagstrom Deluxe Is on eBay
Within the Ruins Premiere New Song, "Objective Reality"
Suicide Silence Premiere New Song and Music Video, "Dying in a Red Room"
List: 9 Rockers That Have Broken Bones Onstage
Watch George Harrison, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan Jam in 1987
Dr. No Effects Releases the Turd Fuzz Pedal
Upgrade Your Original Guitar or Buy a New Ax? What You Need to Know
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470