I’m sure we are all aware of the impact that the Epiphone brand has acquired, with regards to the volume production of far eastern budget based guitars – Yet few will be familiar with models like this used Epiphone Elite 63 ES335 that is made in Japan – Going back to the 70’s and 80’s then a Jap built Epi was par for the course, but as production costs began to rise, then the move to Korean and Chinese production followed, resulting in lower prices for today’s buyers – Early Jap models from the 70’s and 80’s are fairly sought after, especially the replica models – The Elite series is effectively a ‘superior’ model than the regular Chinese built models – Maybe unfair to say it is a poor man’s Gibson, but certainly at £1199, this used 335, sits in the middle of the Gibson and regular Epiphone price range – In no particular order, then I’ve listed a few key bullet points below :-
- Used model from 2002 and built in the Terada facility, in Japan – T200296 serial number
- Includes a deluxe and original 335 case along with the Epiphone Elite factory tag
- Whole guitar weighs a very credible 8lbs and 12oz
- Gibson ES335 style ingredients including a one piece mahogany neck, along with a lam maple body
- Spec’d with USA Gibson pick-ups – wax potted
- Genuine abalone + mother of pearl inlays
- Bone top nut
- Hand rubbed finish
- Vintage style tune o matic bridge assembly, with wire retainer, mounted on vintage/traditional posts – Made in Japan markings on the bridge + tailpiece, so assume built by Gotoh
- Grover machine heads, with hexagonal nuts + kidney buttons
- Epiphone Elite decal on the rear of the headstock
- Mahogany neck with a C neck profile – measures .821″ around the top nut end and .900 around the 12th fret – More of a wide/slim feel to the neck shape – Not pointy headstock slim, but not as chunky as a 50’s Gibson neck profile
- Re-strung and set-up with 10-46 gauge strings and a sensible slick action
Condition wise and no real issues to mention regarding the gloss finish – Certainly no nicks, dings or dints that are of any consequence – Any blemish is minimal – Yet equally it is not in an ‘as new/showroom condition’ – Some signs of oxidization to the hardware – No fret wear – For a guitar that is now around 18 years old, it has either been well cared for and/or played sparingly
Tonal character – Easy to say it sounds like a 335, yet some 335’s are dark and mysterious and others are far more crisp ‘n’ clear – This 335 has a clean and clear character that is more Larry Carlton and less Clapton/Cream, so less depth in the mid range – As such this makes it ideal for those Carlton/Steely Dan fusion licks – Also makes it ideal for those big overdriven sounds that many indie bands favour, as it allows chords to be clear and audible, yet still loaded with energy – As I mentioned earlier, it would be unfair to say such a guitar is only a poor mans Gibson, as that it is not the case – As we all know, not all Gibson’s are equal and many models over the years don’t cut the mustard – In my opinion, in the same way that select made in Japan Ibanez and Yamaha models have acquired a well deserved reputation, then the same should apply to this Elite Epi 335 – It offers a good all round performance for £1199
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.