Pros: It's cheap, retailing at under $300.00
Cons: It's cheap, cheap, and cheap, and sounds terrible
The Epiphone FAT-210 is Epiphone's feeble attempt a creating a copy of the storied Fender Stratocaster. Why this division of the Gibson Guitar Company would want to stray into such unfamiliar territory is beyond me--you'd think that Epiphone, with its' growing reputation for building inexpensive but generally solid instruments would stick with the Gibson knockoffs. Not so--this attempt at a Stratocaster reproduction fails just as miserably as the Telecaster reproduction that I reviewed a few weeks ago.
The Epiphone FAT-210 has a laminated alder body, which is exactly why it retails for under $300.00. The bolt-on maple neck has a maple fingerboard, with dot inlays, and you can buy this instrument in a variety of finishes, which include ebony, red, vintage sunburst, and vintage white. It comes equipped with two single-coil pickups and one humbucker pickup at the neck, and the sound of the pickups can be combined with the blade switch. All of the hardware is chrome, and the guitar comes equipped with those small white tuners that are so difficult to turn.
If you saw the Epiphone FAT-210 from a distance, you might say "gee, look at that nice Stratocaster!"--the designers of this guitar have added all the proper appointments to make it look like the Stratocaster. When you pick it up, that's where the resemblence to the venerable Stratocaster ends.
Constructionwise, this guitar is built from cheap materials--even the finish on the model that I played looked cheap and almost "plastic". Although this guitar didn't have any rattles or buzzes, it had a "loose" feel that indicated to me that it would probably start falling apart when it was played repetitively.
The Epiphone FAT-210 played about as well as you would expect a $300.00 electric guitar to play. The maple fretboard was pretty quick, and I was pleasantly surprised with the factory setup. The thin neck was comfortable and easy to play, and the guitar was a little on the light side, probably because of the laminated alder body. Overall, I rate the playability as average, but nothing like the real thing.
I can best describe the sound of the Epiphone FAT-210 as annoying--I fiddled with the blade switch for over an hour and achieved every combination possible from the pickups, and all I got was the glassy, visceral Fender sound to an extreme. I'n not a big fan of the Fender sound--I like the Gibson "growl" instead--but this guitar sounded like a screeching banshee. The treble registers dominated to a fault, and I couldn't get any sound out of this guitar that could be vaguely described as mellow. Soundwise, this one's a lemon.
Should you buy the Epiphone FAT-210? That's up to you, but if I was set on a Stratocaster copy, I'd buy a Squier Stratocaster. At least it's manufactured by a division of Fender, the company that knows something about the Fender sound and design. It's obvious that Epiphone doesn't have a clue in this area, and the company should stick to what "brung it to the dance"--manufacturing guitars based upon Gibson designs and sounds.
Thank you for reading--I doubt if Epiphone will thank me very much.