NGD: Epiphone SG Special

bgmacaw

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Messages
8,075
Here's a first impression review of the Epiphone SG Special I got for Christmas. I was finally able to sit down with it and play it for a couple of hours this afternoon. It was fresh out of the box since it was a gift so no "running the racks" to find the best one was involved.

Here's what it looks like.

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The Indonesian made SG Special, according to the Epiphone site, has a mahogany body and neck. The neck is bolt on with a 12" radius, a 1.68" nut width and a "SlimTaper D" profile. Pickups are Epiphone 650R (neck) and 700T (bridge). There's only master volume and tone. The tone pot has a "Killpot" toggle.

The "out of the box" setup was actually pretty good. The intonation on the B and G strings needed to be adjusted a tiny bit. The action was good, not buzzy low or overly high. I may adjust it upward slightly for slide playing but I'm not sure that will be needed yet.

The nut (yes, cheap plastic) did bind slightly on the G string but a few strokes of a nut file took care of that. It may need more attention when I up the string gauge to 11's. I have bone nut blanks on hand if the nut proves troublesome.

The fret work was quite good with no rough spots along the edges and no noticeable dead spots.

The tuners are cheap, but decent, and get the job done. Their weight fits in well with the neck. I've got some Grovers that I could replace them with but that might introduce neck dive with the added weight.

The glossy neck has a slick feel to it that might put off some but it isn't "gloppy" or sticky feeling like some poly gloss necks can feel.

The electronics are interesting. Epiphone has made an effort to improve their pots and such on lower end models and this is seen here with full size pots and what appears to be a pretty decent switch and jack. They at least seem better than ones I've seen on 2005 and earlier models. Here's the control cavity.

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The "Killpot" kill switch toggle allows you to intermittently cut off the output by pressing the tone pot. I don't really have much use for this feature myself but it might be useful for those who like a kill switch.

Now for the not-so-good part of the guitar, the pickups. The 650R and 700T are hot ceramic pickups weighing in at 12.8 and 16.6 respectively. This might be OK if the 700T didn't come off shrill/brittle and the 650R as kind of muddy. Plus, a nice clean sound isn't in their vocabulary. So, they're up for replacement at this point. I'm leaning toward a humbucker sized P90 (P94 style) or a PAF style HB. It just needs to be something with a lower output and a clean base sound that can dirty up good if need be.
 

slider

Member
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1,608
Congrats. I played one, unplugged, in a store, and was impressed with how it felt. Seems like with a little work it'll be a player. Stuff is getting better and better.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,075
A little update.

I replaced the stock pickups with GFS Gold Foils single coil in a humbucker shell. I had tried these out previously on my Squier Strat and didn't really like them there. They came off as kind of shrill and lacking character. I decided to give them another try in this SG. In this guitar, they do very well. They capture a good trashy tone and seem to mellow out a lot more than they did in the Strat.

The nut was a problem at first, especially on the unwound strings but I got that sorted out a while ago. I wish guitar manufacturers would give a little more attention to nuts. Someone who wasn't familiar with the problem would have probably thought that it had bad tuners or even a bad neck.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,075
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A tone pot with no capacitor? What manner of witchcraft is this?

It's tucked neatly underneath the kill switch assembly (the black part on top of the tone pot). It could probably be switched out but it would be a bit of a pain. It would probably be easier to switch out the whole pot.
 




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