Friday, February 1, 2013

Epiphone Tom Delonge Signature ES-333 Guitar Review


Before we get started here, I have to say that I am not a Tom Delonge fan, and will not be going into details for fear of inciting the wrath of the Blink-182 frontman’s fans. But, his Epiphone signature model ES-333 guitar seemed like a pretty sweet axe, and it is kind of different than the other models in the Gibson/Epiphone line-up, so I thought it would be fun to take one for a test drive.

This semi-hollowbody archtop guitar is built to Delonge’s specifications by the fine folks in Epiphone’s Chinese factories. The laminated maple body has a mahogany center block, and it is sprayed with a poly coat of brown with a cream-colored racing stripe down the center. A matching cream single binding is set around the edges of the top and the back. On paper this all sounds a little lame, but in person it looks very nice. When looking over the one I played, the finish was very smooth with no imperfections, but seemed a bit on the thick side.

The ES-333 neck is made of solid mahogany and it is natural colored, with a clear matte finish on the back and on the headstock; you will find that it is set to the body at the 17th fret, The rosewood fretboard is bound, and has the classic dot marker inlays. The fretboard has 22 medium-jumbo frets sunk into it, is 1 11/16-inches wide at the nut, and it has a 12-inch radius. It is not a very husky neck, and it feels like a slim 60’s profile to me.

The hardware is not too surprising. This Epi gets a 3-ply BWB pickguard and chrome metalwork. The tuners are sealed diecast 16:1 Grovers and at the other end is an Epiphone LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar. Wait a second – what is LockTone? This is a slight redesign of the classic Gibson set-up that includes little springy clamps to fit around the posts so that everything does not fall apart during string changes. When everything is assembled the appearance is the same as before. I have seen lots of Excel charts that show that sustain is actually increased with these parts, but it seemed about the same to me.

And lastly there is the electronics package. I have not seen a Gibson with this simple of a set-up in awhile. There is a single Gibson USA Dirtyfingers humbucker pickup located at the bridge and a single volume control with a 1-inch 500k pot an d a heavy-duty output jack. That’s it.

This makes for a very loud guitar, and it does have a very even sustain. The ES-333 has a good clean tone, and it overdrives nicely. But those are the only two tones I can get out of it. I know and believe that tone is all in the fingers, but I am obviously not good enough to coax anything else out of this guitar – it is punk rock all the way. It is sort of like those MusicMan Benji Madden Silhouette guitars, I guess.

The quality is so-so. It came out of the box with a poor set-up, and it took a good bit of truss rod tweeking and the intonation needed to be completely reset. The frets are not perfectly level, but in all honesty it is a LOT better than almost all of the new Gibson Les Pauls I have seen coming out of their US factories. After messing with all of that, it played nicely with no buzzing despite a reasonably low action.

The Epiphone Tom Delonge Signature ES-333 does not ship with a case, but then again what kind of case could you expect for a guitar with these features and a street price of $499 (MSRP $832)? It also comes with Epiphone’s limited lifetime warranty and Gibson’s 24/7 customer service. Anyway, if you are a guitarist that loves Delonge, Blink-182 or Angels & Airwaves, picking up one of these will be a no-brainer at this price point.


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