Epiphone Wildkat Royale...any opinions?

jerryfan6

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,376
I went to church wife my family on Sunday, one of the two times a year I go, and I noticed that the guitar player in the band had a new guitar. Looked really killer. Got home, looked it up, and its an Epiphone Wildkat Royale, in Antique Natural(which looks more yellow/gold in person). Does anyone have any experience with these? I don't currently have any P90s, so this might actually fit a need(as well as looking really cool)!

 

Elantric

Member
Messages
10,070
Great "on paper" - and it might be a fine guitar for some
Myself - I could not bond with the too thin neck profile and non straight string pull at headstock "D" & "G" strings means dont touch the Bigsby

It can be cured by Big Bends nut sauce or replace the Nut with Graphtech Trem Nut + add a set of 3+3 Planet Waves locking tuners
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,401
I had a Wildkat in the natural finish, it was a good guitar. Sounded great, and the Bigsby was fun. The neck was just too thin for me, couldn't comfortably play it for long periods of time, that was my only issue with it. I liked it better than my 335 though, the Wildkat had a much more comfortable body size for me. I'd buy another one if I could get it with a fatter neck, that would make it work great for me.
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,799
The Wildkat is cool on paper but has some issues.
There's too much break angle over the bridge and the Bigsby can be temperamental. A roller bridge seems to help.
The P90s have those cheap brass/chrome plated covers that suck tone and they're an oddball size that makes finding replacements tough. The pickups also tend to be pretty hot, which also reduces treble.
The wiring scheme with the master volume also sucks tone.
As a result, they're the darkest sounding P90 guitar out there.
Nothing that can't be fixed with mods but that $400 guitar is now $600...

I like my 339 P90 Pro way better.
 

jerryfan6

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,376
I used to have an Alley Kat, the hard tail humbucker equipped cousin to the Wildkat.
For whatever reason, these things seem to work better on paper than in reality. Not sure why.
Good to know. I really don't need another guitar, but do have some P90 options that I've found interesting...Reverend 290, Epiphone 339 P90 Pro, etc. I had a Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute for a while, which was nice too.
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,799
Good to know. I really don't need another guitar, but do have some P90 options that I've found interesting...Reverend 290, Epiphone 339 P90 Pro, etc. I had a Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute for a while, which was nice too.
I've been through a bunch of P90 guitars myself. The Epi 339 Pro seems to be sticking the longest.
 
Messages
15,349
Had that exact same guitar. Upgraded tuners and bridge by previous owner. Sold it within a week, as I couldn't gig it. It was one of the worst neck divers I've ever played. Other than that, I dug it!
 

HTSMetal

Member
Messages
1,342
I had one in the wine red finish. Bigsby was great, stayed in tune with no issues. The deal-breaker for me was the stock wiring -- the stock P90's were lacking tremendously in high-end and muddied up terribly. I would have considered a pickup swap, but after doing some research online it isn't the pickups themselves that are the problem -- it's the ridiculous amount of low-quality wiring involved. Check out this PDF for more info:

http://www.award-session.com/pdfs/Epiphone WildKat Tone Mods.pdf
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,799
I had one in the wine red finish. Bigsby was great, stayed in tune with no issues. The deal-breaker for me was the stock wiring -- the stock P90's were lacking tremendously in high-end and muddied up terribly. I would have considered a pickup swap, but after doing some research online it isn't the pickups themselves that are the problem -- it's the ridiculous amount of low-quality wiring involved. Check out this PDF for more info:

http://www.award-session.com/pdfs/Epiphone WildKat Tone Mods.pdf
I rewired my Alley Kat and must have pulled 15 feet of wire out of it. Redid it as a regular Gibson setup, which helped but it was a lot of tedious work.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,104
Had this guitar, though in black. Was a lot of fun.

Neck was a bit thin for my tastes, but what a great bang for the buck!
 

Mikhael

Member
Messages
2,985
I have to say that I love the design; it's one of the few Epi originals. But getting one with the strings centered on the neck, the neck straight, no bad frets, the pickups centered under the strings, etc. is hard to do. Even if I intend to upgrade a bunch of the hardware, the neck and woodcuts have to be right!
 
Messages
6,894
I have a pearl white one with gold binding and I like it. Plays nicely, no issues with the action, frets, or string placement on mine. This guitar is a great deal for the price. Judging from some of the comments here, the quality control on these is pretty inconsistent, so do pay attention to the details when checking it out. Like any model they vary quite a bit in character from one to another. My standard advice for anybody who's buying a guitar new: try as many as you can, and get one that sings.

The Epiphone P90s sound meaty but a little dark and I do intend to rewire it eventually. Using crummy wire on a model that has so much wiring inside was a poor choice, probably a decision made at the Chinese factory rather than being part of the original design spec. There's a replacement harness for these available on Ebay. I think the wiring is more of a problem than the pickup covers but might change those out someday too. Am considering a magnet swap for the neck pickup; I think replacing one of the A5 mags with an A3 would thin it a bit. I usually like to put one A8 mag in P90 bridge pickups, but honestly this one is fairly beefy already.

Not using the Bigsby much myself. Might put a roller bridge on it if I were; GFS has inexpensive ones. Haven't noticed any problems at the nut on mine.

One thing nobody's mentioned about this axe that annoys me a little is neck dive. Not as bad as it is on SGs, but noticeable. I use a leather strap and friction holds it in place just fine, still the balance is less than perfect.

For the money, the Wildkat's a pretty good (and very pretty) way to add a P90 semihollow to your arsenal. It has the cool vintage look for sure.

 

karma1

Member
Messages
1,121
I'm glad to see this thread, and had been thinking of starting a similar one myself. I've had my eye on a pearl white Wildcat Royale like the one in the pic above and was interested to read some user comments. I really like the look and size of the guitar, but I've heard a little about some issues with it, especially about not staying in tune. As far as the comments about the neck being thin, is that referring to the width of the fingerboard or the thickness of the neck?

Also wondering if the P90's are noisy? I have an Epi ES-295 with P90's that are pretty noisy, especially for studio recording.
 

tartanphantom

Member
Messages
743
The Wildkat is cool on paper but has some issues.
There's too much break angle over the bridge and the Bigsby can be temperamental. A roller bridge seems to help.
The P90s have those cheap brass/chrome plated covers that suck tone and they're an oddball size that makes finding replacements tough. The pickups also tend to be pretty hot, which also reduces treble.
The wiring scheme with the master volume also sucks tone.
As a result, they're the darkest sounding P90 guitar out there.
Nothing that can't be fixed with mods but that $400 guitar is now $600...

I like my 339 P90 Pro way better.
Sproing absolutely nailed all the major issues with the Wildkat series.
 

Ian N

Member
Messages
233
I've been wanting a P90 semi-hollow and found a WildKat on sale that I just picked up today. I did some research and these are the mods I'm planning to do:

-Rewire the electronics Gretsch/50's-style (pickups->individual volumes->3-way switch->master vol->tone->output). That will remove a lot of wire, but if it's still too dark I may bite the bullet and rewire the whole thing with decent wire.
-Roller bridge.
-Graphtech nut.
-Bigsby mod: http://bricksbiggsfix.com/product/bts5712/ (This is basically the prettier version of one of the mods in the article someone else linked to above).

I'm hoping that brightens up the tone and reduces tuning issues to a manageable level. I've heard good and bad things said about the chrome P90 covers, will have to see how I like them stock. Lollar offers a rewinding service for WildKat/Casino pups, but it's expensive. :/

I love the way this guitar looks, and it's dirt cheap for a semi-hollow(ish) flame top with a bigsby.
 




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