A Great Deal
I bought this made in Indonesia Epiphone some two months ago now and have held off writing a review until I could really get the feel of it. Cutting directly to chase, I am truly amazed that any guitar I could buy at this price could be of such a high caliber.
I have 44 years experience playing, over 40 of those professionally.
I have played every style from light lounge jazz, to gutbucket blues, to grinding punk rock, to polite traditional folk, country and bluegrass.
I have owned at one time or another dozens of acoustic (both steel string and nylon), Fenders, Gibsons, Ibanez, Taylor, Cordoba, and several other brands.
The Epi EJ 200 stands apart as the single finest acoustic in its price range I have ever owned.
On opening the shipping container I was struck by its beautiful appearance. The sunburst was applied perfectly, there was no globbing or streaking in the finish anywhere, there are no stray glue marks, the guitar looked as perfect as any high end guitar I have ever owned.
Pulling it out of its box I was struck by the sheer heft of the instrument. I was expecting a fairly flimsy and light instrument, but this felt truly solid.
The familiar mustache bridge looked great as did the crown inlays up and down the neck and headstock.
Honestly it seemed that the only aesthetic flaw for me was the cheesy fake J200 pickguard, but 10 minutes with my wife's hair dryer and it was gone leaving a thoroughly gorgeous glassy and uniform finish.
I can't speak directly to Epiphone's factory set up, but what I got from Sweetwater was a truly perfect set up. I have made no adjustments to what came out of the box except for the pickguard removal and swapping over for a set of .013 strings. The factory .012 set is just too light for me.
Now I won't lie and say that the tone of the guitar is better than many other guitars I own, or have owned, but it certainly is the best I've heard for any guitar at this price point I have owned. It's got a great even balance across all 6 strings with a sweet high end and a good healthy low end growl.
I use it for strumming, flatpicking, Travis picking as well as bare fingerpicking. It took a couple of days to build up a bit heavier callouses on my right hand, but now it's just fine.
The action is low enough for easy fretting, and just high enough for slide work (bottleneck or brass) as well.
The electronics are very good. In fact I prefer the electronics on the Epi to the factory installed Fishman gear on the Gibson J200 by far. They are very well balanced with a heaping helping of low end tone and none of the tinniness I hear in so many other acoustic/electrics.
Just for fun I enjoy running the dual outputs through two separate amps, each with different tone and effects settings to enjoy a truly wild stereo effect.
I originally bought this guitar for a lot of outdoor and rustic gigging I do in fairly intense and unpredictable weather that I don't care to subject my finer instruments to. I have no doubt the Epiphone is up to the task.
In fact this has become my go to sofa guitar as well.
The bottom line? Not only is this the very finest Epiphone acoustic I haver played, it easily matches and outplays several other guitars costing quite a bit more.
I will say however that the Epiphone case I bought with the guitar is just so-so. It's not very well constructed and the latches only barely match up for easy closure. Maybe I ought to have sent it back, but I would recommend spending a few extra dollars for a well built TKL case instead.
Thanks to Sweetwater and Jim Cooper for a nice deal on a very nice guitar.