I love a bargain
Most of my life I've played borrowed or cheap acoustics. The best acoustic I ever owned was a Takamine and that was stolen about 6 months after I bought it. My current acoustic was getting a little road worn, so I was needing a new acoustic for gigging and recording. I wanted to buy a GOOD acoustic guitar. I checked out the usual suspects (Taylors and Martins). In doing so, I concluded that, as much as I liked the grand auditorium body style visually, sonically what I was looking for was a dreadnought. I also needed a cutaway for upper fret access. I also felt that guitars in the price range I was looking at ($1300 to $2000) lacked certain features that I considered essential. And, to be honest, I was not that impressed by some of the models I checked out. Somewhere along the line I stumbled upon the Epiphone Masterbilt series. I researched it and what I learned seemed impressive enough, so I took it to the next step and checked out a few at a nearby "instrument center". Because this store does not take good care of their display guitars (ironically), a decent evaluation was not possible, but it was easy to tell this was a very well made instrument. With help from my Sweetwater Sales Engineer Ben Porter I was able to purchase one of these. In my mind, this guitar is an incredible buy. Real, solid tone woods top to bottom. Rosewood fingerboard and bridge (not synthetic material). Real bone nut and saddle. Kerfing. I got the vintage sunburst finish, which I think is gorgeous and to me is a nice fit with the vintage Masterbilt aesthetic. The electronics were a bit of a problem, but the folks at Sweetwater took care of me in superb fashion. The eSonic2 system sounds great, and the tonal options available by mixing and EQ-ing the two pickups offer lots of fun potential. One thing, the neck is not for the faint of heart; it's pretty beefy. I have big hands, so I can manage it, but I would have preferred something a little smaller. However, the bottom of the neck has a nice smooth flatness to it that feels right after adjusting to it. The guitar has been "Plek'ed" ( frets dressed using an automated system) and you can really feel it. It feels perfect, I guess because it is. The finish is not perfect, particularly around the neck joint. But the way I feel about it is I'm getting a lot of guitar for the money, so if the finish is not museum quality, but everything else is great, I'm OK with that. The unamplified sound is very smooth, balanced, and clean - no harsh overtones. Your choice of pick can greatly affect the sound; a Fender medium yields brighter highs, while a thicker pick will yield a slightly but noticeably smoother, darker tone. Overall, this guitar looks, feels, and sounds like a much more expensive guitar. I would not hesitate to put it up against a Taylor or Martin costing 3 times as much. Oh, and as always, Sweetwater service cannot be beat!!!