Tech Tip:The Epiphone "E" Series
Bashing, slashing, demonic electronic beasts
Some days I get so bored I just want to go out and destroy something. Year after year, it's the same old six-string story. Either pay a gazillion bucks or get stuck with some cheesy chump machine that plays like mud and sounds like a See 'n' Say. But all that ended this year when I hit the Epiphone booth at the NAMM show (I cadged a badge and sneaked in). And there before me was a large and lurid display of some truly demented-looking axes fit to put a serious hurt on any room full of slackers.
I don't know what got into those guys at Epiphone... must be some new blood. But this "E" Series is the most refreshing thing since pierced eyeballs. These aren't those junior-looking lightweights you typically find in this price range. They're real Gibson body styles - Les Paul, SG, Explorer, Firebird - sporting hot-wired, head-cutting electronics that leave all nonsense behind. And they LOOK FANTASTIC!
Epiphone excellence with malice aforethought
These axes are built with the quality control that has made Epiphone one of the greatest guitars - and greatest values - in electric guitar history. The necks, one and all, are built for speed. And they're tough enough to use for a weapon in times of extreme angst (don't laugh, a well-handled Les Paul once saved my life).
When I strap on a screamer, I don't mess around with niceties. I like to get right down to serious, painful, raucous, obnoxious NOISE making! And every one of these metal monsters took me all the way to where I wanted to go and well beyond, right down into the pits of pure adrenaline-pumping, hyperventilating, drooling madness. At the heart of their blasting sonic mastery are the E-Series humbucking pickups. I can't imagine what Epiphone did to get such nasty, gritty, gutsy, raunchy tones out of these things, but they're among the hottest pickups I ever ran a signal through.
The Demon's offset V body and vulture-beak hooked headstock combined with the chrome hardware give it a positively ghoulish stage presence. But the real treat came when I cranked my stack up to 11 and really let 'er rip. I felt like the Grim Reaper with this sonic scythe in my clutches. The 22-fret neck is so accessible and the select Indian rosewood fretboard so sumptuous, my fingers felt like they'd died and gone ... somewhere. My left ear is still on the fritz.
An Explorer body with the E-Series hooked headstock leaves no doubt the Beast is built for serious carnage. When I got this thing riled up, two hefty, howling humbuckers ripped the sonic envelope with a growling grind that just about took off my fingers. The string-through hard tail gives it fabulous sustain with maximum harmonic coloration and full-bodied feedback potential (I'm a sucker for feedback)
The sensual Slasher
For a guitar with such a brutal name, the Slasher was a real sweetheart to play. I hated to think about what I knew I would soon be doing to it. After all, what had this sweet innocent ever done to me? The select Indian rosewood fingerboard was a delight to caress, and the jumbo frets made for smooth bends and easy tapping. The modified Firebird body is compact and cool-looking with a kind of retro appeal. But when I cranked the "Smooth Tone" volume pot, the tonal scalpels emerged from those heavy humbuckers to slash my sanity.
The bad, baaaaad Basher
For the price, this is truly a pugilist of an instrument, with plenty of punch to knock the wind out of a wall of wild party animals. Building on the world-famous Les Paul body design, the Basher adds visual appeal with a Dovewing headstock, chrome hardware, and E-Series insignia between the humbuckers. The natural satin-finish neck felt great, especially when I got it lubed up with a good sheen of sweat.
Pound your Bully
With the menacing air of the classic SG special body style, this axe won't take no for an answer. When I strapped it on and pounded out a few power chords, it hit back ... HARD. The open-coil humbuckers produce a fat, crunchy tone that pushes every other sound in the room into the corners. The Bully looks great with the Dovewing headstock and E-Series insignia, and the maple neck felt solid and tight. I particularly enjoyed the high-end sustain on this model.
Put a hole in it
Definitely the weirdest in this stable of sicko dream guitars, the Pierced SG has a sonic signature to match its radical visual impact. I don't know what they used to knock a hole in this sucker, but it's a big one - a big bold "X." I certainly didn't have any fear of screwing it up when I played it - it's been disaster proofed. But it's geared toward creating tonal cataclysms of the first order.
If you've managed to claw your way a little higher up the food chain, the LP-Xtreme is a truly wicked Les Paul with unbelievably good looks. The crackle paint job, clear pickguard, and broad pearloid fingerboard inlays make a stunning package. The set maple neck and carved top produce great feel and resonance. And the pickups go a measure beyond your traditional Les Paul into the realm of the truly warped.
Features & Specs
|Demon, Beast &|
Basher & Bully