Richie Faulkner Is Using the Same Unaltered Epiphones That You Could Buy: What Does That Tell Us About Affordable Brands Today?

During his recent chat with Ultimate Guitar, Judas Priest axeman Richie Faulkner revealed that the Epiphone guitars that he’s using live are exactly the same as those that you could originally get in a guitar store. This means that they’ve not been, in any way, altered or modded, at least according to his words. These were, however, the limited edition run and were a bit more expensive than usual. You can find them used today but they’re getting a bit pricy on the used market.

The talk came up when Faulkner was asked about his blue Gibson Flying V which can be seen in some of the videos of his new supergroup Elegant Weapons. When he was pressed whether this was a prototype for a commercially available model, Faulkner said:

“Yeah, it’s a prototype for a signature model that I’ve been working on with Gibson for quite a while now. The only reason it’s been quite a while is we wanted to do it and we decided to do it before the pandemic.”


“I think I got the first prototype probably before the pandemic, then obviously, the pandemic hit, and it was imperative, really, to take it out on the road and put it through its paces.”

“There’s no point in having a signature guitar that hasn’t been on the road. So we went back out on the road in 2021 and it did great. We made some changes throughout the last year or so and now it’s finally ready.”

“That’s the guitar that was on the record. It was the only guitar that’s on the record. It ticked all the boxes sonically, it felt great, it sounded great, and it has become a very good friend of mine over the last couple of years, so that should be out soon.”

Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest Demos The Gibson New Flying V

When asked about the release date, Faulkner said:

“There’s been some dates thrown around. I think it’s gonna be sometime this year. I don’t think it has been nailed to an exact date. I think we’re gonna be filming some promo material soon.

“So it’s going to be soon. But I wouldn’t like to say exactly, in case we’ll get it wrong, but it should be sometime soon this year.”

Obviously, he was then asked whether there’ll be an Epiphone version of it to which he replied:

“This will be a Gibson but we are looking at an Epiphone as well. It’s important to me to get the guitar in as many hands as possible, and obviously, the Epiphone makes it a bit more accessible. But the initial one will be a Gibson, and then we’ll see where we’ll go from there. But as I said, the Epiphone is being considered.”

Richie Faulkner on His Gibson & Epiphone Flying Vs

A few years ago, Faulkner did his limited edition run with Epiphone with that gorgeous Flying V model. When reminded of it, Faulkner revealed that the Epiphones that he’s using today for live shows are exactly the same as the ones that were available in this run. He also added:

“People would ask me, what differences, what modifications I make to my Epiphones compared to the ones that you can buy off the shelf. And I tell them there’s no point in having a signature guitar if it’s different to the one you can buy off the shelf. That’s the whole point of having a signature guitar.

Faulkner continued:

“So point being, they’re exactly the same as the ones you can buy from the store. And I use them live, and they’re fantastic guitars. So, point being, Epiphone really upped their game, over the last however many years, and it just enabled me to put those guitars into more hands, more people would buy them and it would be able to reach more people that would like them.

Epiphone Richie Faulkner Flying V Demo/Review || Judas Priest!!

As Faulkner also pointed out, over the last “however many years,” which we could say that it’s well over a decade now, Epiphone began making more than just super-cheap alternatives to Gibson.

So what are some takeaways that we can get from this? Well, there are two main points to consider here.

Firstly, even the cheapest Epiphones today are much better than what the cheapest guitars were like a few decades ago. And, in recent years, the buyers have also changed their collective opinion and are more open to purchasing these instruments.

Another famous player to have used cheap Epiphones is Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister although he swapped the pickups and electronics. Still, even with the cost of that included, his guitars ended up being much cheaper than the usual Gibson stuff.

Gibson Les Paul vs Epiphone Les Paul - Is it Worth The Money?

Secondly, you should also bear in mind that Epiphones have also expanded to more expensive instruments that are still cheaper than Gibson. That was exactly the case with Faulkner’s signature Flying V which was around $1,000 when it came out and is now way past the $1,500 mark on the used marked if you even manage to find one. Therefore, the famous cost-friendly brand may not be as cost-friendly tomorrow.

The problem that we could be seeing here is that this could come as an excuse for Gibson to start pumping out incredibly expensive guitars and just leaving their “low-priced” stuff that’s between $1,000 and $2,000 to Epiphone. These are, of course, just speculations and we’re yet to see what the future holds for the brand.

Photo: S. Bollmann (Judas Priest With Full Force 2018 05)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.