Sunday, July 6, 2014

2004 Epiphone Sheraton II Electric Guitar Review

Hi there!

Today we are looking at another great guitar value, and a pretty fun to play instrument – my 2004 Epiphone Sheraton II. What happened to the Sheraton I? I guess we will need to figure that out…

In the first half of the 20th century, Epiphone was one of Gibson’s biggest competitors, so Gibson did the smart thing – they bought Epiphone in 1957. Gibson kept the brand name and started re-working the product line-up. In 1958 they introduced the thinline semi-hollowbody Sheraton electric guitar.

The original Sheraton was a set-neck twin-pickup model that used the same body as the new Gibson ES models. The big differences were the “Frequensator” tailpiece, multi-ply body binding and lots of inlay work on the headstock and fretboard. The pickups on the originals were New York single-coils.

As time went on there were specification changes, of course. In 1961 mini-humbucker pickups were swapped in and Grover tuners were added, and in 1962 the Epiphone “Trem-o-tone” tailpiece became available.

In 1970 manufacturing was moved to Japan, and full-sized humbuckers became the new standard for the Sheraton. In 1986 the Sheraton II was launched, with a stop-bar tailpiece being the only real change. As time moved on, production moved to Korea, with minor spec changes here and there.

So, the guitar I have was made in Korea in 2004, and it is finished in a very pretty Vintage Sunburst. It has a laminated maple body and top with a mahogany center lock (making it semi-hollowbody), and it is churched-up with 5-ply body binding.

The neck is 5-ply maple and walnut (solid maple necks were used from 2008-on),and it has a normal 24.75-inch scale. The 12-inch radius fretboard is bound, and it has 22 medium-jumbo frets hammered into it, as well as v-block pearloid fret markers. The neck profile is a SlimTaper C with a 1.68-inch wide nut.

The headstock is pretty darned big, also 5-ply bounds, and it has the traditional Epiphone vine of life inlay. Grover tuners are mounted to that headstock, and they are gold-plated, as are the Tune-o-matic bridge and the stopbar tailpiece. The rest of the hardware roundup includes a faux tortoiseshell pickguard (with a big E on it) and gold bell knobs.

The electronics package is standard Gibson/Epiphone issue, and it includes Alnico Classic Humbucker pickups wired through two volume knobs, two tone knobs, and a 3-way selector switch. Did you expect anything different? I didn’t think so…

The past ten years have been kind to this Sheraton II. It obviously has been played a bit, but it has escaped heavy wear, and it just has a few light dings and no fret wear. The gold plated hardware has not fared as well, having worn through in spots, and it actually looks pretty poopy. When I hit the lotto I will have a solid gold bridge and tuners made for it. In the meantime, maybe I will track down some nickel parts for it and move on with my life.

It is a bit heavier than expected, coming in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, but it balances well on a strap so maybe that extra bulk prevents neck dive. It is a very easy playing guitar with a good action, and 10 years later the frets are better than anything that is coming out of Gibson’s Memphis factory. It has good sustain and can achieve a sweetly mellow jazz tone, or can get some bite going for rockabilly or early rock and roll.

I like the Epiphone Sheraton II a lot – it looks good, plays well and sounds good, enough so that I feel that it is just as good as a Gibson ES-whatever for a whole lot less money. How much less? These things have a list price a list price of $1042.00 and a street price of $599.99 for the Vintage Sunburst model, which includes Epiphone’s lifetime limited warranty and Gibson’s 24/7/360 customer service. Or if you are really cheap, secondhand instruments can be had for around $400. Such a deal!


1 comment:

  1. I have one of these also, that I purchased used from Guitar Center back in the mid-90's. It really is a very nice guitar, but like yours, the hardware is looking a little tired.

    Thanks for writing about it.