Sunday, October 25, 2015

Epiphone PR-150 Acoustic Guitar Review

Hiya! There are some nice budget guitars out there, and as you add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the price the improvements in tone and playability are not commensurate with the amount spent. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a Santa Cruz acoustic or a Sadowsky bass, but there are some great values out there for short money, and I think one of them is the Epiphone PR-150.

Surely you know of Epiphone, they produce the entry-level Gibson brand instruments that get re-sold for almost nothing as soon as a guitarist can scrape up enough dosh for a real Gibson. Though much maligned, these imported guitars can be quite good.

The PR-150 is a square-shoulder dreadnought which can be loosely seen as Gibson’s answer to Martin’s D-series guitars. If I decoded the serial number correctly (which is tricky) the Epiphone version we are looking at here today was made in China in November of 2003. It has ok materials and parts so the labor costs must be almost non-existent. Human rights advocates be warned…

The woods are good, with a spruce top and a bound mahogany body and neck. Are these solid woods? I don’t know, but for this price I am suspecting probably not. The fretboard and bridge are made of real solid rosewood, which is amazing when you consider that Gibson is using all kind of bizarre stuff for Les Paul fretboards instead of rosewood. The body is sprayed in a clear finish (NA), but it is also available in Vintage Sunburst, which looks pretty nice.

Oh yes, and it has a big and kind of stupid-looking Epiphone “E” on the faux tortoise shell pickguard. Blerg.

The slim-taper profile neck is comfortable. It has a 1.68-inch wide nut and 20 frets with a 25 ½-inch scale. The bound rosewood fretboard has dot inlays and there is an adjustable trussrod at the headstock. On one end there are a set of cheap-o tuners, and on the other end there is a compensated synthetic bone bridge saddle. One welcome piece of hardware is two strap pins. Why do so many manufacturers only give you one?

I found this guitar second-hand at the local flea market, and picked it up in case a friend needs a cheap started guitar. It is in really nice shape and it appears to be well put together. The finish quality is good, and the frets are not sharp on the edges and are as good as the ones that you will find on a new Gibson Les Paul (which is not saying much, I guess). The tuners do not hold well, which is the weakest link here. In general the intonation is good and the neck can be adjusted for a low and fast action, though a little nut filing may be needed. Best of all, this guitar has a loud tone and a relatively balanced sound from string to string. Keep in mind that this is not an expensive guitar, and everything is relative…

I have saved the best for last, and that is the price. The Epiphone PR-150 has a list price of $249, and a street price of $139. If you look around you can find even better deals at Black Friday sales, and used ones are embarrassingly cheap. But if you buy a new one you get the Epiphone Limited Lifetime Warranty and Gibson 24/7/365 customer service. This is one of the best acoustic deals on the market right now. Trust me…


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