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Guitar of the week #49 - Epiphone ES-175 Premium

Epiphone ES-175 Premium

Some fancy digs here. Is it worth the asking price?

This guitar is not cheap. Some would say, "Well, it's cheap compared to a Gibson ES-175!" I don't agree with that either. When you see the price tag of the Epiphone, you'll understand what I mean.

Now before continuing, the Epiphone Casino, Epiphone Sheraton II, Epiphone Riviera and of course the Epiphone Dot are all far less in asking price compared to the ES-175.

So what makes the ES-175 Premium by Epiphone worth so much?

It basically comes down to electronics, the finish and the fact it's an ES-175.

The pickups are Gibson USA '57 Classic models, the finish is "aged" lacquer (meaning fake-aged and not true aging,) and then there's the ES-175 thing. It's the same style of guitar Joe Pass, Scotty Moore and Wes Montgomery played. And yeah, that means model name alone inflates the price.

Make no mistake, however, this is a fancy dan guitar. This is an Epiphone model where "premium" truly means upscale, from the "zig-zag" trapeze tailpiece to the parallelogram inlays to the deluxe tuners and so on. You truly do get an upscale instrument for what you pay for it.

Another reason Epiphone can price the guitar high is because Gibson and Epiphone basically own a big chunk of the electric hollow body niche market. What I mean by that is when you're shopping for a hollow body, there are basically only 3 names. Gibson, Epiphone and Gretsch. Yes, there are others. But the go-to brands are those three.

On the Gretsch side of things, a similar (and cheaper) option would be the G5422TDC Electromatic. But as you will notice, the guitar has an upper mid-tier price tag. When you get into hollow body territory, prices start going up and that's just the way it is. These guitars are more difficult to build and don't sell as well as solid-body guitars do.

Is the Epiphone ES-175 Premium worth its asking price?

I have to give conditional answers on this one.

For an import hollow body, no, it's not worth it. Epiphone has other hollow body models that are almost half the price.

For the fact it is an ES-175, yes it is worth it solely for the reason it's the only model of its kind at the price it's selling for that's built like an ES-175 is supposed to be built.

I have to explain that one a bit further.

There are some guitar players out there who have been seeking out an ES-175 all their lives but have never been able to find one they could afford. These players believe the ES-175 has that sound that only an ES-175 can make (which is probably the reason the Premium has Gibson USA pickups in it.)

In the end, guys who know hollow body electrics know what the ES-175 is and what it can do. The Epiphone Premium model, even with its high price tag, does deliver the goods.

Published 2016 Mar 16

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