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  • Epi Elitists: Believe the hype?

    That cheap gibson vs expensive epi thread got me thinking: Are those Epiphone Elitists really as good as everyone keeps saying?

    Now some of you may not have picked up on this, but there seems to be a few small circles of guitarists who seem to have a brand name bias- whether it be for or against an expensive (quality/overpriced) brand such as Gibson, or a cheaper (great value/crappy) brand such as Epiphone.
    Some people would love to think that a cheap(er) Epiphone LP would be better than a Gibson, and vice versa, but all bias aside (if thats possible), are these guitars really that good? Im more aiming this question at people who have owned one, but Im interested in what anyone has to say.
    Gear:
    Cort m200 (with SD 59/JB combo)
    Ampeg Dan Armstrong
    Gibson Firebird Studio
    Gibson Explorer x2 (natural/white)
    Gibson LP studio
    Squier Tele Custom II
    Godin LG EMG
    Hello Kitty Strat
    Edwards LPC
    Jackson COW 6
    Jim Root Strat
    ESP Eclipse I DBSB
    Billy Corgan Strat
    50s Tribute Goldtop HB
    Squier Mini Strat
    Fender Cabronita Tele

  • #2
    Yes, believe the hype. They're excellent guitars.
    Gear:
    Breedlove Atlas AD/20SR+
    Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Standard
    PRS SE Singlecut Trem
    Fender Mustang 1
    Bad Monkey

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    • #3
      I take each guitar individually. If one Epi Eliteist sounds better then a one Gibson Les Paul, then it does. I don't group all Gibsons or all Epi's into two separate categories.
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      • #4
        The ones I've played have been decent instruments.

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        • #5
          Just look at the specs of Elitists

          Bookmatched maple top ( No veneers at all)
          Bookmatched mahogany back
          One-piece mahogany neck set at the 16th fret
          Long Neck Tennon
          Gibson USA Alnico Pickups
          Bone Nut
          Grover Tuners
          Gibson Hardware
          Correct 17 degree Headstock angle
          Hardshell case

          Excellent Japanese Construction. In some regards the Epi Elitist are truer to Gibson spec than some Gibsons.

          I have had the chance to play two elitist ( a Standard and a custom), and they felt and played much better than the Gibsons in the same price range. Given that you can still occasionally find these for under a grand, they are a remarkable deal.

          look at the maple top on this elitist ( Well its an Domestic Epi Japan, but they were same thing except the domestic had a Gibson Headstock for the Japanese Market)

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          • #6
            I've owned two Elitiest's over the years and was very impressed with both. Excellent quality of constuction, great necks and better pickups than the standard fair found on a regular Epi.

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            • #7
              I have an Elite Broadway...which is a huge jazz box. The top is solid spruce that has the grain lines so close together that it's almost impossible to count them. If each line is supposed to be a year...than this piece of wood has to have come from a tree that was at least 200 years old and grew someplace that was slow and uniform like the top of a mountain crowded among other trees. The flame that makes up the back and sides is very 3-D and if you look at it closely, you can see every individual cell of the wood. It looks like a fine undulating cloth up close. I think it was a fantastic buy for $1,400 which is what I paid used. I didn't like the pickups much and swapped them for Burstbuckers. I ended up using the Epiphone pickups in a solid body instead and they sounded way better there. I also should mention that the 3-way switch crapped out after a year and I had to replace it....but other than that I love the guitar.

              I'd love to snag an Epiphone Elite Byrdland for the smaller size but they don't seem to show up on Ebay a lot and when they do they tend to be expensive.
              "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

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              • #8
                I have an Elite Broadway...which is a huge jazz box. The top is solid spruce that has the grain lines so close together that it's almost impossible to count them. If each line is supposed to be a year...than this piece of wood has to have come from a tree that was at least 200 years old and grew someplace that was slow and uniform like the top of a mountain crowded among other trees. The flame that makes up the back and sides is very 3-D and if you look at it closely, you can see every individual cell of the wood. It looks like a fine undulating cloth up close. I think it was a fantastic buy for $1,400 which is what I paid used. I didn't like the pickups much and swapped them for Burstbuckers. I ended up using the Epiphone pickups in a solid body instead and they sounded way better there. I also should mention that the 3-way switch crapped out after a year and I had to replace it....but other than that I love the guitar.

                I'd love to snag an Epiphone Elite Byrdland for the smaller size but they don't seem to show up on Ebay a lot and when they do they tend to be expensive.


                There are a couple Elitist Byrdlands on gbase right now.
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                • #9
                  I've never played an elitist but the elitist is a direct decedent from the standard Orville model.

                  Pluses are non chambered bodies, and long neck tenons on the epi/orville. Minuses (in my opinion) are multi piece bodies, and poly finish. I know the orvilles use japanese pickups and electronics but someone posted above that the elitist uses american pickups so bonus if that's true.

                  I have an orville by gibson...the model slightly higher than the standard orville/elitist....difference being nitro and US electronics. I have compared it to a few factory Gibson standards traditionals and classics and it was EASILY as good...and IMO better. So the Elitist will get you close for sure.

                  As someone mentioned though it really is about playing them and seeing what you think. Having said that I would trust an orville/elitist sight unseen...I wouldn't a factory USA.

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                  • #10
                    I take each guitar individually. If one Epi Eliteist sounds better then a one Gibson Les Paul, then it does. I don't group all Gibsons or all Epi's into two separate categories.


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                    • #11
                      I think it's a bunch of hype. Considering regular Epis play and sound just about as good as Gibsons.... I don't see how an Elitist can be that big of a deal.

                      I've played a couple of Elitists and they were great....... but didn't strike me as being way better than regular Epis or Gibsons.

                      As an owner of both Gibsons and Epiphones (non-Elitist) I have come to realize that there's a lot of hype over quality differences.

                      They're all great guitars. Just get the one you like and plug it into a good amp and you'll rock.
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                      - John Lennon
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                      • #12
                        I've never played an elitist but the elitist is a direct decedent from the standard Orville model.

                        Pluses are non chambered bodies, and long neck tenons on the epi/orville. Minuses (in my opinion) are multi piece bodies, and poly finish. I know the orvilles use japanese pickups and electronics but someone posted above that the elitist uses american pickups so bonus if that's true.

                        I have an orville by gibson...the model slightly higher than the standard orville/elitist....difference being nitro and US electronics. I have compared it to a few factory Gibson standards traditionals and classics and it was EASILY as good...and IMO better. So the Elitist will get you close for sure.

                        As someone mentioned though it really is about playing them and seeing what you think. Having said that I would trust an orville/elitist sight unseen...I wouldn't a factory USA.


                        Actually the Elitist have USA electronics. They also have 2 piece backs, which I'm sure most Gibsons are 2 pc as well.

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                        • #13
                          I think it's a bunch of hype. Considering regular Epis play and sound just about as good as Gibsons.... I don't see how an Elitist can be that big of a deal.

                          I've played a couple of Elitists and they were great....... but didn't strike me as being way better than regular Epis or Gibsons.

                          As an owner of both Gibsons and Epiphones (non-Elitist) I have come to realize that there's a lot of hype over quality differences.

                          They're all great guitars. Just get the one you like and plug it into a good amp and you'll rock.


                          Coop, I think its more about the build quality and solidarity with the elitists that give them the edge. On paper the specs of the elitist are undoubtedly better than than the standard epi fair, you can't really argue that. Plus they weren't priced much higher than regular epis. So in essence they can't be any worse, only equal or better. I don't own an elitist, but the ones I have played have felt more substantial than the regular epis I own.

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                          • #14
                            I like my Elitist SG better than any of the four Gibsons I have owned - and not just better for the money.
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                            • #15
                              all i know is that the masterbuilt acoustics are amazing, all solid rosewood and spruce/cedar, sounded so good when i played it. it was only 300 bucks at a local shop too,.
                              HCAF's resident meathead.

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