Although Epiphone is well-known as a cheaper alternative to Gibson, the brand goes a long way back to the time when they were making stuff that has nothing to do with Gibson. This is why, in honor of the brand’s 150th anniversary, they decided to launch new models of their classic series — Sheraton, Wilshire, Crestwood Custom, and Zephyr DeLuxe Regent.
As you might notice, these new limited-edition releases are not the Gibson copies you might expect from Epiphone. Sure, the Sheraton might look like a 335 but that’s a whole other guitar model. Here’s some of the stuff that we currently know about these celebratory new releases of their classic old models.
The old semi-hollow Epiphone model, the 150th anniversary Sheraton comes with a layered maple body and a maple centerblock which, as the press release explains, does wonders “for feedback resistance.”
With this comes a one-piece mahogany neck with an Indian laurel fingerboard, 22 frets, and mother-of-pearl block inlays. And there’s also a headstock with proper binding, the usual logo, as well as a “tree of life” inlay.
What’s worth noting is that the instrument comes with US-made electronics and pickups. These are Gibson Mini Humbuckers that are working hand-in-hand with CTS pots, Orange Drop capacitors, and a Switchcraft 3-way selector.
The new Wilshire brings back some of the classic traits of the model that was initially released in 1959. The asymmetrical double-cutaway guitar has a mahogany body and a mahogany D-profile SlimTaper neck that’s coupled with its Indian laurel fretboard and the usual 22 frets. The body finish is the so-called “Pacific Blue.”
There’s also the gorgeous 6-in-line headstock with its “Batwing” design, along with six-on-a-plate inline tuners and metal buttons.
Once again, we have a guitar with Gibson’s Mini Humbuckers, as well as other US-made electronics components.
Bearing the same body design as the Wilshire, the Crestwood Custom is also a throwback to the old model of the same name launched in 1959. Apart from the same features, including body and neck materials and electronics, there’s also Epiphone Tremotone vibrato tailpiece. It works on a mostly similar principle as the old Bigsby vibrato bridge and tailpiece.
The most noticeable difference is its California Coral finish which is yet another throwback to the original model from back in the day. Another noticeable difference compared to the Wilshire is the oval inlay design.
Epiphone Zephyr DeLuxe Regent
This guitar takes us even further back. These archtop hollow-body guitars were originally made between 1948 and 1957, back when Epiphone was still Gibson’s major competitor.
As the press release explains, they’re bringing back the features of “the highly collectible vintage originals,” that can reach over $5,000 on the used market, but there are also a few more modern updates to make them more attractive to the current demands.
The body comes with a multi-layer pressed maple arched top and is accompanied by a 5-piece neck made out of mahogany and maple. On top of the neck sits an ebony fretboard. Its unique “cloud” fingerboard inlays also work really well with the historic logo on the headstock, headstock binding, and the “tree of life” inlay on there as well.
As for electronics, Epiphone put their own NY Mini Humbuckers in there, as well as other usual accompanying components. There’s the 4-knob control layout along with a 3-way pickup selector switch.
On top of all this, Epiphone adds Aged Antique Natural for those extra vintage-inspired vibes.
What About the Prices?
Although limited-edition historic models, Epiphone still keeps things within more reasonable limits. Sure, they’re more expensive than your average Epis. However, they’re not as nearly as expensive as flagship Gibsons.
So here are the prices per model:
- 150th Anniversary Wilshire Pacific Blue — $899
- 150th Anniversary Crestwood Custom California Coral — $999
- 150th Anniversary Sheraton Cherry — $1,299
- 150th Anniversary Zephyr DeLuxe Regent Aged Antique Natural — $1,299
For more details, make sure to visit Epiphone website here.
Is Epiphone Stepping Up and Outperforming Gibson?
A lot has been going on with Gibson and their subsidiary brands lately. It’s not much of a surprise as the company has been announcing that they’ll be doing a lot for Epiphone and Kramer. We got some serious new releases with Dave Mustaine’s Epi and Kramer models.
And the Megadeth mastermind and frontman even praised these more affordable guitars, saying how there’s hardly any noticeable difference. Asked about whether one can tell a difference between his Epiphones and Gibsons, he replied:
“No, you can’t. During this last headlining tour that Megadeth did, I used them.“
“During the set, the techs will hand guitars to me when I need them. It’s quick and no fluff because we need to get on with it. And so, I was getting ready to run up on stage; I grabbed my guitar and was off.“
“And after the fact, my tech said to me, ‘Hey, what did you think about the Kramer?’ And I’d looked at him, and I said, ‘Huh? What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I handed you the Kramer when you went out there tonight…’ and I said, ‘Really? Get the fuck out of here.’”
Asked about this further, he said:
“I couldn’t tell. It was a real heat-of-the-moment scenario, so I couldn’t even tell you what color it was. I never looked at the headstock or body beyond noticing where the wings ended. If I had looked at the bottom of the wings and seen if they were rounded or pointed, I would have been able to tell it was an Epiphone, Kramer, or whatever.“
“But I didn’t even really do that. And the thing is, the guitar has my neck shape. That’s all that needs to be said about it. If you’re a guitar player and you’ve ever held my guitar, you know what I’m talking about.”