Sunday, January 24, 2016

Epiphone E212T Sheraton Union Jack Electric Guitar Review


Today we are looking at another great guitar value, and a pretty fun to play instrument – my Epiphone Sheraton that is painted up like the Union Jack.

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 China last year, and it was finished by the factory in a gaudy Union Jack paint scheme over Alpine White. It has a laminated maple body and top with a mahogany center block (making it semi-hollowbody), and it is churched-up with single-ply white body binding.

The neck is mahogany,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 1960s profile SlimTaper C with a 1.68-inch wide nut.

The headstock is pretty darned big, 3-ply bound, and it has the traditional Epiphone vine of life inlay. Grover tuners are mounted to that headstock, and they are gold-plated, as is the LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge. There is no pickguard...

The electronics package includes a pair of Gibson USA mini humbuckers that are wired through two volume knobs, two tone knobs, and a 3-way selector switch. Did you expect anything different? I didn’t think so…

It is a lot heavier than expected, coming in at 8 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 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 this Epiphone Sheraton 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 $1349.00 and a street price of around 900 bucks, which includes Epiphone’s lifetime limited warranty, Gibson’s 24/7/360 customer service, and a really nice hard case. Or if you are really cheap, secondhand instruments can be had for around $600. Such a deal!


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