Epiphone Elitist Sheraton Electric Guitar Reviews
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Epiphone Elitist Sheraton Electric Guitar

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Looks like an ES-335, but Not

Jan 8, 2007 (Updated Jan 12, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Very nice feature set and looks for the price

Cons:Not an good ES-335 type if that's what you want

The Bottom Line: It's a fine semi-solid with it's own voice, worth a look.


The Sheraton II has an interesting lineage, as it was, in fact, a Gibson made guitar in the 50's (after the company was sold to Gibson) and introduced at the same time as the ES-335. One of the primary differences was that it came with mini-humbuckers. It was not as popular as the ES, even though many jazz players often preferred the Epi version. The Sheraton was discontinued in 1970.

It was an important guitar. John Lee Hooker played one, as did Jeffrey Foskett, who contributed much of the guitar parts in the classic Beach Boy recordings (including the immortal "Good Vibrations). The guitar later revived Epiphone's fortunes when the group Oasis made it popular in the 90's.

It was later released in the late 80's as an import, but really changed form in the early 90's as a Korean import geared for popular consumption as the Sheraton II. Some players still consider the early 90's model as the best of that particular model line (not all time). It's now a 600.00 street price guitar, and often mistakenly described as a dressed up Dot (a cheaper 335 copy in the Epi line).

Which could be. At least in the current models, which have a less than elegant feel to them. However, my 1994 has little resemblence to the Dot, particularly in sound. The Sheraton II is an all maple guitar, and has a brighter tone, yet has many of the characteristics of the ES-335. Including that annoying noise the cord makes when you turn suddenly.

The pickups for my particular guitar, per Gibson customer service, are Epiphone's version of the 490 series, although I'm not sure. The rear pickup has some definite classic '57 tone, and I believe modern versions are classic '57's. Which could be true, the sound is a hair clearer and sharper.

I've talked with local guru's at local guitar stores, if I may digress a moment into upgrade talk. The consensus is that adding Gibson '57's will add output, but make the guitar edgy (you may like that though). To warm up the sound, either the alnico II version of the Burstbucker, the Duncan Seth Lover or '59 will fit the bill.

Whether of not it's really a Dot in disguise (I've played and owned a Dot, and don't think so), one thing is certain, it is more elegantly decorated. A quality that comes out even more on a natural finish version like mine. The inlay is abalone and pearl, and all the hardware is gold coated (and tarnishing of course).

It also looks right, due to the fact that Epiphone is able to copy the fine ES-335 lines to the exact specs. From any angle, it's a fine looking guitar.

One thing was I noticed is that the electronics are better than your average Epi. The tone and volume controls work well, and are needed on a bright sounding axe like this one.

Turn the tone down and put on a little gain and you have a very fine jazz guitar in the modern style. Crank it up a bit more, and it's an archetype fusion type.

Messing around with the controls on the guitar and amp bring out a lot of usable blues, jazz-blues and rock sounds. The only flaw is a less than powerful back pickup. You can get around that by raising it to the max, but this is basically a front pickup guitar.

It's got a good clean tone, but this one comes alive with some gain added (for solid state amps) thus making this a true candidate for mating with a tube amp. When the warmth of distortion is added, this guitar puts out a tone that is not only Gibson-like, but with a bite that really can't be classified. Sort of a harder, bluesier sustain. This guitar has it's own voice.

Modern versions have better necks and fretwork, and there is something to the knock that the frets work themselves out of the groove with age. However, that's not hard to correct, and if you can get an older one in good condition, I would recommend that.

The model is solidly a part of the Epiphone line, and an Elitist and John Lee Hooker model were added later, with a revival of the mini-humbucker configuration.

So, what we have is a guitar based on the ES-335 concept, but was designed to be different from the start. As such, those who want an ES-335 copy should look elsewhere. It won't sound like one, the wood is different. So definitely try before you buy.

However, if you want a semi-solid type of guitar at a good price, with a real history of it's own, and it's own voice, you probably can't do better than this classic. It's certainly a better blues and rock guitar than the ES-335 (those who disagree, please line up to the left), and it will have a distinctly different flavor.

But there's always going to be those who prefer to take a different path. Well, this is your chance.

Note: I've added a Gibson Burstbucker to the neck since writing this review and the results were dramatic. It now blows away the Epi Joe Pass model (which I like) as it combines that sweet tone with wonderful clarity. '57's are a better choice for a semi with a mohogany neck like the Epi Riviera.





Recommend this product? Yes

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