EPIPHONE GOTH SG G 400 GUITAR
Recommend this product?
In an effort to capitalize on the success of the Gothic line of Gibson guitars, Epiphone, a subsidiary of Gibson, has also released a more affordable Goth line of guitars. The guitar that I shall be reviewing here today is the Epiphone Goth G-400 or Epiphone Goth SG as it is sometimes called.
Like the more expensive Gibson Gothic SG, the body and neck of the Epiphone Goth G-400 is made of solid Mahogany. However, the Epiphone version appears be made of a lighter, and softer wood. In a side by side comparison of the Gibson SG Special, (upon which the Gibson Gothic SG and Epiphone Goth G-400 are based) the Epiphone Goth G-400 is definitely lighter in weight because of this difference in the density of the wood being used. I must give my cousin a plug here, as he owns the Epiphone Goth G-400 and the Gibson SG Special that I compared to each other in order to get the information I needed to write this review.
As most of you reading this review probably already know, the density of the wood used in making a guitar has a clear impact on the overall sound and tonal characteristics of any guitar, even when the wood is from the same species of wood. Gibson guitars are made in the U.S.A. Gibson will only use the choicest pieces of Mahogany, and that usually means Brazilian Mahogany, but some pieces can also come from Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, and even Africa.
The Mahogany used in making the Epiphone version of the Goth SG comes from the East and Far East, and in many cases that means India, as well as some other regions where there are suitable rainforests to grow Mahogany. However, some less choice pieces of Mahogany may also come from South America, Central America, and Africa as well. A lighter, less dense piece of wood will result in an emphasis on the low end, and thus potentially a richer fuller tone. In a side by side comparison, the Goth SG was fuller sounding than the comparable Gibson.
This can be a good or a bad thing, depending of course on what type of sound you are looking to get. For instance, if you are in a power trio and want a thicker sounding guitar, so as to fill in the spaces, a guitar like this Epiphone will certainly do the trick. The same could be said if you need a darker, richer sound for your type of music. However, the sustain on a guitar with a less dense grain of wood can also have some unexpected blessings or potential curses. Sometimes a piece of Mahogany that is less dense has more room between its molecules, and the vibrations of the sound can resonate in these spaces like the pipes of a church organ. This is because of the miniature tubes of air that are trapped between the molecules of the grain of the wood. These small tubes are what once carried the sap and related nutrients to different parts of the tree, just the way your arteries carry blood laden with oxygen and related nutrients to different parts of your own body. The resulting sound can be amazing in some cases. However, if the wood is just a slight bit less dense, a bit more porous, and the spaces between the molecules are a bit larger, the vibrations of the strings do not as easily bridge the gap between the molecules, and the vibrations of the strings can get muffled and lost in the relative softness of the wood and the relative space, and the result is a guitar that has poor sustain, and a dull and muddy sound. As such, you must try out every guitar that you are considering for a purchase, in order to determine that the sound is suited to your needs.
Unfortunately, although Epiphone has definitely begun to take more pride in making a quality guitar, they do not get the choicest pieces of wood for their regular line of guitars, and thus there is more inconsistency from one Epiphone to another, even in the same make and model of guitar. The choicest pieces of wood go to both Gibson, and to the Epiphone Elitist Series of guitars (which by the way are very impressive). The best way to know if your electric guitar will sound good when it is plugged in is to try it without plugging it in first. If it sounds bad unplugged, it is not very likely that it is going to sound much better when it is amplified.
Enough of the lesson on guitar woods, lets get back to the Epiphone Goth SG. The guitar I was playing passed the unplugged sound test. It sounded very good both unplugged, as well as when it was amplified. The neck of the Epiphone Goth SG is made of Mahogany, and it has a Rosewood fingerboard (note: a Rosewood fingerboard will affect the sound by making it a bit warmer). Adorning the 22 fret neck are simple dot position markers on the side of the neck, but the only adornment on the fingerboard itself is a Roman numeral “XII” inlay, at you guessed it, the 12th fret. A Celtic Cross adorns the headstock of the guitar. Adding to the Goth appearance of the guitar is a Black Satin Chrome finish on all of the hardware of the guitar, including the Stopbar Tailpiece, Tune-o-matic Bridge, and tuning pegs. Like all of the guitars in the Epiphone Goth Series of guitars, the Epiphone Goth G-400 comes in a variety of colors, all of them being Satin Black. The satin finish makes this guitar have an unusually fast neck, and I was very pleased with both the feel and the craftsmanship on this particular guitar.
As regards the electronics of the Epiphone Goth G-400, it has two Volume and two Tone controls, one for each pickup, as well as a 3-way toggle switch. The electronics of any guitar are an area that is important for a potential buyer to scrutinize carefully, but even more so with regard to an Epiphone. There is great inconsistency from one Epiphone to another with regard to the quality of the wiring and related electronics, and the Epiphone Goth G-400 is no exception. It is very important to check the pots or controls to be sure that they are functioning smoothly, and with no noise, clicks, glitches, or dead spots, as these are indications of potential problems that will only get worse with routine use of the guitar. The Goth G-400 I was playing was fine in all respects, and was about one year old. It belongs to my cousin, who has had no problems with the electronics of this guitar. There are two open coil Epiphone Humbucking Pickups on this guitar, and their design is based on Gibson’s 1957 Classic Humbucker with Alnico V magnets. The combination of these pickups, plus the light weight Mahogany body, made this guitar sing with unusual sustain. Turning the Volume knob to 10 and the Tone knob to 0 on the neck pickup, and running it through a Fender Deluxe Reverb produced a sweet long sustain, with a slight beautiful controlled feedback that enhanced the high end incredibly. The bridge pickup was also excellent, but it had a tendency to feedback and scream a bit more than I would have liked. This is a function of both exposing the coil of the pickup, as well as to either inconsistent wax potting of the coil, or not waxing it at all. My cousin would not consent to my taking the pickup out and examining it, and there is no information regarding whether these pickup coils are waxed or not on the Epiphone Website. Whatever the case may be, this same pickup produced a very impressive and powerful crunch on power chords. By the way, I have a tendency to be a bit vicious at times with my bends and crunches when trying out a guitar, and this guitar maintained its tune and tonal integrity, despite the flogging I subjected it to.
The bottom line for me is that I really liked this guitar, and for the price it goes for new, I was very impressed. However, I must caution you to keep in mind that although this Epiphone Goth G-400 was really a fine guitar, there is much more inconsistency and less quality control in the Epiphone line of guitars than would be found in a Gibson. Please bear in mind that I am not putting Epiphone guitars down. I own an Epiphone G-400 SG guitar with a cherry finish, as well as a Gibson 1961 SG Reissue guitar, and I am not joking when I tell you that there are times when I prefer the sound and feel of my Epiphone on certain songs. What I am saying is this: You must be cautious and careful in purchasing any guitar, especially a lower priced model like an Epiphone. Try a few out before you decide. One will certainly seem better to you than another. If after comparing several, you find that you are pleased with one, then and only then, should you make a purchasing decision.
As usual, I must thank you for taking up your valuable time by reading my review. I hope it was helpful to you. But now, I must get back to my practicing.
Read all comments (2)