Epi Masterbilt DR-500 MCE. Esonic or Fishman?? Difference.

Discussion in 'Epiphone Guitars' started by Steven Smith, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. Steven Smith

    Steven Smith New Member

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    Hi all.
    Brand new member from UK and this is my first ever post. I have noticed this subject has been discussed once before a while ago but it didn’t provide any real answers.
    Had been waiting a month for my Epi Masterbilt DR-500 MCE to arrive.
    Finally came yesterday. Opened it up and instead of having the Esonic shadow hardware, it has a different Fishman tuner on it. It has fishman pre-amp electronics and not the shadow nanameg/nanoflex one. Also didn’t have the 2 lead socket outputs, nor the shadow pickup at the bottom of neck by the hole either. So I sent it back thinking it was a manufacturing defect. So today another replacement arrived and it's exactly the same. I've sent that one back too. It seems this is how they are now being built.
    Hardly any info online about this change/update. All websites still showing it for sale still has the old original 2 pickup Esonic nanameg/nanoflex electrics on their website pictures. They said they will be changing this. Apparently Epiphone are making them this way from now on, using the updated Fishman set up that comes from some Gibson models.
    The acoustic guitar itself is exactly the same, hasn't changed. It's just the electrics/pickups/preamp that has changed.
    I phones a few shops here in UK and they have confirmed that their new stock has the updated Fishman setup.
    Don't know what to do now.
    Not sure how much difference it'll make. Is it better or worse?.

    Can anyone answer if.......
    Do the new guitars still have 2 pickups or just 1?
    Why Epiphone have changed from Esonic to Fishman.
    Is this now less guitar for the same money?
    Do you, or, do you know someone with any kind of knowledge whatsoever on this subject?
    Thank you
    Stevo.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
  2. RR-Ramblers

    RR-Ramblers Active Member

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    I've got a 2018 Epiphone ESJ-200 with the esonic shadow electronics with the nano-mag pickup at the end of the neck in the sound hole and the nano-flex under the saddle.

    I'm thinking they went to the Fishman over the Shadow because of all the problems and complaints on the Shadow gear. I'm not sold on it, no treble or bass controls just a blending of the two pickups. Haven't used the two output jacks though wishing I had for a show I played at in September.

    If you go to the Epiphone site
    https://www.epiphone.com/
    they give the specs on the guitars available, not seeing the one you mentioned right away. Looks like only one output jack, but two pickups/saddle & soundhole, don't quote me on that.

    I'm thinking they upgraded a lot of the components, I replaced the nut and saddle with tusq, both were plastic and it played like crap through the Shadow; dead high E string when amplified.

    Took me a while to bond with this guitar but only after I worked on it. Now she's decent and worth keeping.
     
  3. Mr.Moto

    Mr.Moto New Member

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    Hi Steve,
    For what it’s worth, here is what I think, but can’t confirm exact dates.
    Sometime after May 2019 and before October 2019, Epiphone switched over to the Fishman preamp and eliminated the dual pickups and outputs. The last one I bought made in October has the newer style eSonic 2 preamp and dual pickups.
    This guitar is no longer listed on Epiphone’s website of Masterbilt guitars. This leads me to believe that 2019 was the last run of these guitars, and were streamlined (cost effective) to finish the run.
    This is just my opinion from what I know. I own three of these, and for me, there isn’t anything better for my style of playing. It offered the best quality guitar for the money compared to the hundreds I have tried.
    I haven’t played the one with the Fishman yet, when I do, I will tell you if I notice any other differences.
    Hope this helps.
    Bob
     
  4. Wessa

    Wessa New Member

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    Mr. Moto,
    Just came across this post. I am curious if you have tried the Fishman yet and if you have an opinion on it compared to the ESonic. Long story short, I have been fawning over the dr500mce for years. Although it seems like they supply little info online, I saw that they changed from the dual pickup to the single Fishman. Since I could no longer find the guitar on the epiphone site (nor on sweetwater), I assumed it was being discontinued. Last week, I saw that a musician's friend was selling it for $499 (down from usual $699), so I happily bought it. Based on the description, the guitar I thought I was getting was the Fishman. However, I received the guitar today and it has the ESonic system. I am not sure how I feel about this. I have heard that many people had issues with the ESonic. I am thinking about causing a fuss with the company to try and get the "correct" guitar. Is it worth it? Or should I just be happy with the ESonic. This is my guitar for the next 10 years+, so I would be worried about issues with the pickup. I would mostly be buying the guitar for the acoustic properties, and if I do gig I would probably not use both pickups simultaneously.
     
  5. Mr.Moto

    Mr.Moto New Member

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    Wesson,
    Sorry I just saw your post. For some reason, I don’t seem to get a notice when someone responds to a post .
    Anyway, I hope you see this.
    I would guess you got the eSonic HD preamp with yours or was it the older eSonic 2?
    Either way that guitar was one of the last runs from Indonesia. If you get the Fishman preamp, which is also a good system, then you will have a guitar made in China. It will not be Plek’d. It should be very similar to the DR400MCE which is also made in China. The are a few differences between the two, but both sound and play very nice for my needs.
    If you got one with the eSonic 2, or the eSonic HD, it was probably new old stock.
    I would prefer either of those, but that is just my opinion.
    Bob
     
  6. BobbyMac

    BobbyMac Member

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    When I purchased my vintage sunburst DR-500MCE in January 2021 from Musiciansfriend, it came with the Esonic 2 HD electronics package, though the online description said it was Fishman equipped. Not a big deal to me. I was bummed, however, that the fretboard was pau ferro and not rosewood as stated in the online specs. The guitar looks and plays so well that I kept it anyway and am glad I did. The quality/value ratio of this guitar is off the charts.
     
    John Burrows likes this.
  7. John Burrows

    John Burrows New Member

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    I agree if I were one of the big US guitar makers I’d be worried sick over these amazing Asian imports. I played guitar for over 50 years and the Eppy guitars in the $500 range rock right over my Martin and Taylor. In fact I am now selling my Taylor as I never play it. You should know that I only play plugged in on stage....
     
  8. jbo

    jbo New Member

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    Purchased my Epi 500 from Sweetwater in 6/20 before any sales with Fishman pu and clearly stamped " Made in Indonesia"... Love it!
    Have had a '59 Gibson J45 since 1988 to compare and although the sound is similar, it's deeper due to the larger body, I think...
    Tried a Martin with dual pu, but didn't like it... so this Epi suits me fine....
    But I question the idea that if it has a Fishman pu, it's China made? Whatever the case, mine is a terrific guitar, especially for the $$... Too bad they're discontinued!!
     
  9. Congo Guy

    Congo Guy New Member

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    I have my Epiphone DR 500MCE made in Indonesia and it has opened up really well the past years. I had it set up from my luthier friend in Hong Kong and it plays so very easily and well compared to my Taylor 614-CE which I sold it off because it's too tinny sound. The sad part is recently using it in my church settings, the e-sonic pickup either the nano mag or the bridge pickup, it finally is giving up on me. As I'm playing at the end of the set, there have been static noise sound coming out from my guitar. We all tried changing the DI box, different high end cables, restarting the IEMs...but to no avail. There still is some static white noise coming from my esonic PU. Even my other luthier tried to fix it prior to another church service. So I'm planning to change the PU to either Fishman or LR Baggs. What do you guys think or suggest?
     

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