Oh boy... another Epiphone blows me away. NGD

Discussion in 'Epiphone Guitars' started by DHart, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    As a lover of semi-hollow and hollow body guitars, I've long been a fan of the ES-339 series. My first was an Epiphone ES-339 Pro P90 in Cherry red. It was a great guitar in every respect, except I'm not a big fan of Gibson's bright Cherry Red. I do love Gibson's Wine Red, however, and have one of those: an ES-339 Studio.

    Anyway, sometime last year I sold the Epi ES-339 to acquire another guitar that I liked better. Thing is, I have wanted to replace it with another ES-339 that I would appreciate the finish on better.

    The other night, while surfing Reverb (DANGEROUS!), I spotted a winner. 2013 ES-339 Pro in Natural finish. I searched Guitar Center, Musicians Friend, Sweetwater, Sam Ash, eBay, and Reverb and could only find two of these guitars in the Natural finish - both used.

    I do have more guitars than I need, but have wanted one in Natural finish for a long time. Wish fulfilled. Seller was asking $395. I offered him a magic number: $339. He accepted. Deal was struck. It arrived today.

    I was very pleased to find that the guitar is in almost immaculate condition. With perfect set-up. I had planned, when buying it, to install a set of TV Jones Classic pickups that I happen to have sitting idle. (TVJ's version of Filter'trons.)

    However, on playing this guitar, which has AlNiCo Classic Pro humbucker pickups and the split-coil/single-coil feature, I was amazed at how wonderful the tone is - especially in the single-coil mode! Blown-away, actually. The tone is so good (even for the Tele-lover that I am) that now I'm seriously considering leaving the guitar just as is - kind of unusual, for me. :rofl:

    Anyway... this is the guitar, as it arrived.

    [​IMG]

    As it turns out, there really were a couple of things that I simply had to change - the black knobs and black switch tip. DONE:

    [​IMG]

    I really AM done buying guitars now! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  2. Shadow Explorer

    Shadow Explorer Well-Known Member

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    I like the changes you did, enjoy in good health!!!
     
  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    It does look much better with the gold knobs and white switch tip. Epi uses those on the natural finish Casino so it's puzzling why they wouldn't also use them on a natural finish ES339.

    Congrats on finding such a nice replacement for your previous 339. That finish does appear to be very rare on that model and yet it looks terrific. I believe the ES 339 and Casino are among the best EPi has to offer.

    Like you I ended up parting ways with my 339 by trading to a very good friend I simply couldn't refuse. I ended up with his Lucille which I parlayed into my Casino and now everyone is happy except me because I still want another ES339. LOL It's the only guitar with humbuckers I've truly enjoyed.
     
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  4. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    In trying to remove one of the black top-hat knobs, the pot stem pulled out of the pot. I know this has happened to others. DANG.

    Good thing I had a spare push-pull Epi pot in my parts bin. I was able to pull the broken pot through the f-hole and solder in the replacement pot, and then swiftly back in business with the new control knobs.

    These pots seem more trouble prone (noisy, or pulled stem) than standard rotary pots, so I'm thinking it's not a bad idea to have a replacement on hand, so as to be able to get back in business quickly when one of these pots goes south.
     
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  5. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    I'm reminded again today at how impressive Epiphone guitars can be. And, I'm so thankful to be able to buy an instrument like the Epi ES-339 Pro for such a steal of a price, as compared to a Gibson, which doesn't really offer a substantial benefit over the Epi, while selling at over 4x the price.

    I was skeptical of Epiphone/China for many years. Now, I'm TOTALLY over that erroneous bias.
     
  6. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    I'm kind of a square when it comes to color scheme, I liked the stock black plastic because it matches with the black mounting rings, but as I've discovered experimenting with the natural finish Casino, I wouldn't go for cream rings on natural. I'm in the process of blacking out the parts on my Casino now.
     
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  7. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    I agree on the black rings on a natural finish. I think the black rings set things off nicely, to my eyes. They are staying.

    But the black tophats just look cheap and cheesy to me, whereas the gold knobs and creme switch knob add an understated elegance to the guitar. Personal preference is all that is. :dude:
     
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  8. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    This week was Epi week around my place mostly working through the most ideal tonal setups and EQ for my '56 Gold Top and Casino. So I've been playing both quite a bit.....damn I love the Casino P90 chime.

    And then this ES339 thread comes up and the GAS starts all over again. I knew I should have stayed away from here. LOL

    I just hope I can find another that was as incredible as my first one. It was painful deciding to trade it because to do it I had to break my cardinal rule of never trading a great playing guitar but given the level of my friendship with whom I traded it to I didn't feel I could refuse when he asked.

    Guess my 2020 shopping list just acquired another addition. Just wish they made the humbucker version in wine red is all. Why only on the P90 version? I can never understand why companies do that.
     
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  9. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    I agree on wanting the Wine Red version. To get that, I had to buy a Gibson ES-339. Then I changed out the pickups and electronics for TV Jones TV-HT Hilo'trons. Great tones!

    [​IMG]

    And there is no Epi ES-339 Natural finish being made now, either.

    I had a Cherry Red Epi ES-339 P90 - excellent guitar, but Cherry Red is just not a look that I can appreciate. Nor is the Tobacco burst. Pelham Blue is pretty nice, though.
     
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  10. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    I realize how popular the Cherry Red is but it's never tripped my trigger nor does the Pelham Blue so I'm stuck with Ebony or Tobacco Burst.
     
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  11. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    Yes, Cherry red is very popular with a lot of folks. But not with me either.

    Go Gibson ES-339 Studio for Wine Red, or go Epiphone ES-339 in Tobacco Burst or Ebony. Or... scan the used market for one in Natural. There's one other Natural one on Reverb (after I bought mine). And over time, I'm sure that another will show up somewhere. The older ones have Rosewood boards too, which are darker than the new ones with Pau Ferro boards.
     
  12. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    For me spending that much more for a Gibson when the Epi is just as nice makes little sense. I good friend of mine has one and we've compared those along with our '56 Gold Tops. In each case the differences were minor. Not enough to justify spending 4x-5x more IMHO.

    In fact he actually like my 339 better and offered me $100 more than I paid for it if I'd sell it to him. LOL It really was an exceptional guitar I got from another buddy of mine for a bargain price. He didn't like it. :facepalm:

    In all likelihood I'll just go with another 'Burst. I'm old school and have and had plenty of 'burst models over the years and there always seems to be a good supply of them used as well.

    How it sounds and plays trumps all else anyway. Now that I've found my secret weapons to combat darker tonality I may find I like humbuckers more after all. LOL It's almost magical for my P90s so.......
     
  13. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    I had pretty much moved past PAF-style humbuckers due to them sounding somewhat muffled/dulled-down, as compared to single coils, but these Epiphone ProBuckers and Epiphone AlNiCo Classic Pros - when in split-coil mode, sound FAN-TAS-TIC! Yes, I am partial to the clean, crisp, detailed, articulate, and sparkly bright tone quality of good single coil pickups. P90s don't get that for me. But Fender-style single coils do. And so do TV Jones pickups. And Epi alnico magnet humbuckers, when split, do too.

    I have and have had a number of guitars with P90s in them. I tried hard to love them, but in the end, they never sounded that great to me. The Epiphone AlNiCo Classic Pro humbuckers in the ES-339, when split to single-coil, sound DRAMATICALLY better to me than any P90 I've heard (which includes Gibson P90s, Epiphone P90s, and PRS P90s).
     
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  14. Mr Grumpy

    Mr Grumpy New Member

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    To me, the Epi 339s are the best value Epiphone guitar and an area that they shine over Gibsons in bang for buck.
     
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  15. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like our tastes in pickups and basic voicing run along a similar track. I typically shoot for maximum clarity and a smooth sweet top end knowing full well I can always darken the tone but I can never brighten it beyond what those pickups can give me. And if it doesn't sound good clean it's not likely to sound any better after I add some dirt to it.

    I enjoyed that humbuckers in the ES339 when at least one or both were split so having that option when preferred is a huge reason I like that models along with it's smaller body size. The ES339 and the Casino are two clear winners in the Epi line as far as I'm concerned.

    As for the P90s I struggled a bit getting that same top end clarity too 'til I stumbled across a solution while experimenting with some things. One is that they like Fender amp type voicings and tone stacks better than others and the other solution is low capacitance cables that allow more highs to hit the amp to begin with. Really scooping the mids initially helps. Then I can add back in as much as I need for whatever I'm playing with pre-amp, amp, and/or pedal EQ. But admittedly they can be more touchy to all of this than any other single coil I play including G&L MFDs.

    With my Gold Top '56 I also added treble bleeds and am still experimenting with lower value caps so I'm retaining more subtle control of the roll off of the high end. I haven't needed to do this part with the Casino to achieve the same thing. It can get quite bright and chimey on it's own which I suspect a maple body and those dog ears contribute to.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  16. Bonzo21

    Bonzo21 Active Member

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    This is really interesting. I love the fatness of p90s while still having a bit of glass like a single coil (but I understand what you mean, it doesn't quite "get there" for that fender/gretsch sound). I haven't caught the chimey bright bug yet, which is weird because I play vox amps and am a huge Beatles fan ahaha. There's still time. Until my 339 I thought coil splits were useless, but I love that sound now...
     
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  17. Caddy

    Caddy Well-Known Member

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    Well, I sure like my natural ES-339 (HB's) that I bought new back in 2014. A pleasure to play (and hear). A lot of guitar for the price. I think that the semi-hollow and hollow-bodied guitars is where Epi really shines. BTW, on one of the f-holes on mine the black is a bit sloppy, but only from a close look. From a few feet away it is unnoticeable. I like the silver and black knobs on mine, matches the switch tip, pickup rings and pickguard.

    Only things I have done to it is a Gotoh bridge and Graphtech nut, then only because I already had them laying around. Oh, and I did put a set of 11's with a wound 3rd string as soon as I got the guitar and Epi case. Also use those strings on my 335, Jazzmaster, Jaguar and Mustang. Love wound third strings.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  18. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    For me, it's not quite so much getting the "chimney bright sparkle" (which I do love), as it is tearing away the dull, thuddy thick blanket that dumbs-down most humbuckers and quite a few P90s. Of course, it matters that "my tone" is clear, clean, detailed, and articulate. Achieving this with the vast majority of humbuckers and P90s is nearly impossible.
     
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  19. DHart

    DHart Active Member

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    Seems to me that Epiphone's strength really is in their semi-hollow and hollow body guitars.

    I did a little bit of clean up, with a razor blade, on the top edges of the f-holes, and now... they are crisp and clean. Hopefully, someday, people won't need to do that kind of thing on their Epiphones.
     
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  20. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    A great Epi full hollow for getting chime us the Swingster. They equipped it with series parallel push pulls in order to coax filtertron tones from a PAF type pickup. It's a very versatile guitar jazz type guitar.
     
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