Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe Acoustic Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler | (edited)
She's a smaller jumbo coupe...you don't know what I got...
While there are hundreds of options for acoustic guitar brands and styles (806 acoustic-electric guitars on Sweetwater alone, as of the writing of this article), but there are really three iconic brands out there that lead the pack in high-end sound- Gibson, Martin, and Taylor. Gibson and Martin hold the torch for longevity, with Gibson owning the space for Jumbo styles, Martin owning Dreadnoughts, and Taylor owning Auditoriums. While these are the instruments most players aspire to own, the low-to-mid four figure price tags keep them out of reach of many. While each brand has its own way of addressing lower price point instruments (series, etc), Gibson has Epiphone to fill the gap with overseas production in Gibson-owned factories and final setup in the US. Enter the Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe.
The Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe is an acoustic-electric guitar in a smaller Jumbo style with cutaway and active electronics. It ships with a limited lifetime warranty in a hardshell case.
What You Need to Know
The EJ format (both in Gibson and Epiphone guitars) is a smaller-sized version of the Jumbo-style body, bringing down the size without abandoning the iconic symmetry of the guitar made famous by Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan.
The Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe I reviewed was Wine Red with a solid spruce top and cutaway (other production colors include Vintage Natural and Vintage Sunburst) and Ovankol sides and back. The top is appointed with a tortoise-style pickguard and 5-ply black and white binding in keeping with the vintage stylings (the back binding is white). The 24.75 scale length, 12” radious Maple neck features a Walnut center and is formed in a rounded SlimTaper C-profile neck with a 20 fret Pau Ferro fingerboard, dot inlays, and a Jumbo Crown inlay on the 12th Fret and is capped by a 1.69” bone nut.
Hardware includes nickel Grover Mini-Rotomatic machine heads (18:1 turning ratio), a bone saddle, and a Shadow Performer Tuner HD preamp fed by the NanoFlex HD under-saddle pickup system. Controls for Master Volume, Treble, Mid (curiously, this was omitted from pre-launch materials), and Bass EQ, Phase, a low battery indicator, and a muteable chromatic tuner accessible on the upper bout of the instrument.
The guitar ships with a set of standard D’Addario Phospher 12s in a hardshell Epiphone Artist case.
Acoustically, the EJ-200 Coupe warm sound with a well-balanced, with enough low end present to meet the expectations of such a body style and crisp highs. It is NOT as boomy as its iconic Gibson inspiration, which makes it a bit less of a saw-hog than some of the aforementioned icons used it for, but the Epiphone guitar I review more than made up for that by being more expressive than the original when it comes to finger picking and softer work.
One challenge of evaluating acoustic guitars is most have some level of break-in period, so a reviewer can really speak to what happens over the period of the evaluation. Over the course of four weeks of hands-on time with the EL-200 Coupe, I experienced some opening up of the sound and softening in the way the frequencies balanced, suggesting the guitar will continue to evolve with extended ownership and playing.
The included Shadow electronics system does an admirable job of translating the acoustic sound with some hefty tone shaping capabilities without sacrificing the dynamics it captures. I found the character, warm with healthy jangle and a little boom at the bottom end, and compression to be true to the EJ-200 sound. Obviously, the sound is not as rich as the Expression system in my 814ce, but it is more than recording-worthy and worked great in amplified use at a local P&W tryout.
Tuning felt stable as brought it across various open tunings.
In keeping with the vintage stylings, the switch to dot markers from big block may leave people chasing vintage-accurate stylings a bit cold.
Much like a Martin or a Taylor, if you want the EJ sound, there’s only one place to get it. The Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe does an admirable job of bringing the spirit of the EJ-200 to life, albeit with a bit less of the strumming force than the original with a lot more nuance in the subtler playing style. Whether sawing wood or plucking strings, the Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe covers a lot of ground and is an expression of the continued value (both in sound and construction) available to players in the sub-$500 price range.
Buy Epiphone EJ-200 Coupe at Sweetwater (MSRP $832.00, Street $499.99)
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.
Edited by Chris Loeffler