2007 Epiphone AJ-200SCE Slope Dread Guitar

I usually skip over newer guitars that are just in for setups, but considering this model is still in production ($300), it seemed like a good excuse to do a mini-review. I have a few customers who own this and similar Epis and they're just-dandy guitars after a good setup. I think the electronics are a "bit much" and sound only halfway decent, but the acoustic tone isn't bad at all. I still think it's a much better deal to buy a straight acoustic and drop a two-sensor K&K unit (~$70) in rather than bother with as-supplied, muddy-sounding, battery-powered, undersaddle pickups.

The funny thing about modern Epiphone "slope dread" guitars is that... they don't sound at all like "slope dread" guitars. The body shapes may be similar but the bracing is nowhere near as nice as a "real" J-45 or J-50 and almost all of the ones I've handled have had a pretty plain-Jane "Chinese dreadnought" sound with perhaps a slight mids boost. It's not bad: just not nuanced.

The upside is that these "handle" more or less like a Gibson, with a shallow C-shaped neck and shorter scale length. Ironically, the truss rod cover at the headstock is just for "vintage show" as the truss has access only through the soundhole.

The top is solid spruce (and already has a hairline crack near the waist) while the back and sides are all laminate mahogany. I won't knock this at all: my favorite "show" instruments have mostly been solid tops over laminate backs. You get a bit more stability from the stuff if it's at least sort-of decent laminate material.

Typical import features abound including the "stacked" headstock joint...

Don't be fooled! You don't need this stuff on the guitar. It's like having "water wings" on when what you really need is a decent mixer or box outside the guit.