Epiphone Masterbilt Guitars! MIJ Guitars!
An Epiphone Masterbuilt guitar is Epiphone’s opportunity to shows off what it can do.
While you may know Epiphone as Gibson’s budget brand aimed at new and cash-strapped players, there’s much more to the guitar maker.
You can’t blame this budget brand with the long, rich history for wanting to strut its stuff sometimes.
Although technically spelled “Masterbilt” -- without the “u” -- you can be forgiven for expecting the “u” to be there.
There’s no reason to leave it out, is there?
Actually, the name Masterbilt goes back to Epiphone’s beginnings.
You see, before Gibson bought Epiphone and eventually turned it into their lower-end brand, Epiphone was an independent company.
Used as early as 1931, the Masterbilt name graced models like the Masterbilt Deluxe, among many others.
Every currently available Epiphone Masterbilt guitar has some throwbacks to these early days, including the scrolled peghead from the 1939 Broadway and the stick-pin headstock from the 1940 Zenith.
Even the Epiphone logo is a version identified with the company’s early day.
Today, the Epiphone Masterbuilt series has 14 models in four styles.
DR models are dreadnoughts, EF models are small-bodied finger-style instruments, AJ models are jumbos and EN models are classicals.
And these aren’t budget-priced instruments. These are high quality guitars with solid spruce or cedar tops, rosewood, mahogany or maple bodies and mahogany necks.
Designed by engineers at Gibson’s headquarters in Nashville and made in China, these instruments are a great example of American design combined with Asian production efficiency.
Take, for example, the competitively priced Masterbuilt EF-500RA Acoustic Guitar with solid rosewood back and sides. It features a ‘50s V-shaped neck with a wide 1-¾-inch rosewood fretboard for easier playing fingerstyle.
And just to prove its something special, Epiphone puts gold hardware on it.
While not intended as a budget instrument, you’d have trouble finding a less expensive model of this quality from any other maker.
Although we would like the option to order one of these without the distracting pickguard, we can’t find much else to complain about. We give this model high marks because of its reasonable price, solid wood top and the simple elegance that proves you’re a good player who doesn’t need to show off with a flashy guitar.
No matter how you spell it, an Epiphone Masterbuilt guitar -- sorry, Masterbilt -- combines quality American design and careful Asian construction into a well-priced, beautiful and exceptional well-regarded guitar.
If you buy an Epiphone Masterbilt today, you could be playing it for decades. We can’t see any reason why you’d give one of these up.
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