Epiphone compared to SE?

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by bigcountry, May 19, 2019.

  1. bigcountry

    bigcountry New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2019
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    9
    I currently own one guitar; an Epi Les Paul Custom Silverburst. It’s a nice playing guitar, but there’s just something about the SE series (Custom 24) just attracts me like flies to light.

    Has anyone done a direct comparison of the Epiphones to the SEs? If so, what was the take-away/what did you choose?
     
  2. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,631
    Likes Received:
    14,495
    I realize I’m not answering your question, and I ask for forgiveness, but have you considered including an S2? I know it’s a bit more $, but that would be my choice (over an SE, and I have and like both).
     
    pauloqs, dogrocketp, andy474x and 2 others like this.
  3. Great Gazoo

    Great Gazoo New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2019
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    534
    I can directly compare a Epi Les Paul Studio with a PRS SE Custom 24, but let me provide a few caveats and limitations:

    • I am very new to guitar playing (like ~ a month, seriously). So I cannot purport to have pushed either instrument to their limits!
    • An acquaintance let me borrow (and I've since bought) a rebuilt Epi Les Paul Studio that had the neck repaired from a break: this guy rebuilds broken guitars as a hobby (there are sites where folks like this document their project progress). Anyway, I think he did a great job: the guitar holds tune reasonably well (note bullet #1) though not as well as the PRS.
    • What that guitar did do was convince me, within a week, that I was really "digging" playing and thus wanted something new - my own - and the result is the Sweetwater Trampas Green PRS SE 24 you see in the avatar. I went ahead and bought the Epi (guy almost gave it away) and it is my "downstairs" guitar that I play (acoustically) when I'm waiting for coffee to boil; taking a break from reading or laundry or whatever, whilst the PRS is the "ok, I'm going to practice now" weapon of choice.
    So with that somewhat lengthy but necessary background and with due disclaimer regarding my ability to even tender a learned judgment (sort of like my general chemistry students telling me in student evaluations that I teach like I'm teaching a graduate course - and how many graduate courses have you taken, exactly? - but I digress) I will say:

    • The PRS just feels like a finer instrument. I don't know whether it was the neck carve or the birds (!) or whatever, but playing the PRS was and has been just a "wow" moment. That being said, having played more on the PRS now makes the Epi feel better too if that makes sense, but the PRS retains a more refined feel.
    • I wish I could give you a careful analysis of the pickups and "tone," but my playing is still mostly acoustic or with a Katana 50 amp on the clean channel. Presumably, however, others will be able to provide some feedback there. There is volume loss with the PRS when one uses the coil-split (or tap?). Otoh, the fellow from whom I am taking lessons seemed impressed with the range of sound the SE was able to provide with the tone and split.
    Wish I could tell you more - I hesitated even writing this given the limitations of perspective I can offer - but the bottom line is that I have just immensely enjoyed the PRS (and have a well developed case of PRS Mesmerism Syndrome) and I thought that perhaps a newbie's point of view might be of interest. I just don't think one could be disappointed with an SE Custom 24.
     
  4. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2018
    Messages:
    1,264
    Likes Received:
    2,015
    I have several Epi, and several SE. While the Epi are great guitars for the most part, and maybe better price wise, I find that the SE are usually a step above, especially the feel, and particularly the fretwork, and are worth the extra money. The fret ends on SE are typically much smoother than any other comparable brand. Also, the pups in the SE are comparable, if not better than any Epi pup, and I’ll include the US made pups in many Epi.

    I really like the G made Classic 57s in my Epi Tribute plus, great sounding pups for classic and hard rock. Just last week I got out that Epi and compared it to my SE Cu 24. The SE was clearly a better instrument in feel/fit/finish and sound. Since I started collecting PRS, I hardly play any of my other electric guitars, including F types, G types, Ibanez, and Taylor. I really don’t like the flat D shaped necks on the Epi, compared to the much more comfortable Wide/Fat and Wide/Thin necks on the SE.

    The only Epi that I might choose over a SE, is my Elitist Casino, which is kinda unique, without a really comparable SE model to compete against.
     
    MuddyDitch, bodia and Great Gazoo like this.
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    198
    .

    I own several of both Epi and SE ... One major thing to note, the 24 fret SE models have the neck pickups moved back toward the bridge -- which changes the tonal output quite a bit.
    You can switch between neck and bridge on your guitar and get an idea. It's less of that move but directionally similar, for two of the switch positions. 22 fret SEs will be more like your Epi LP while the 24 fret SEs will sound more like an SG. Other than that there are more similarities than differences.


    .
     
    shimmilou likes this.
  6. Casi1

    Casi1 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2017
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    2,092
    I can totally relate to this! My second SE is actually my “downstairs” guitar. It lays against my “downstairs” amp but I mostly play it acoustically when I am down there. What’s weird is that it inspires me to play... I might not play it but it makes me want to practice. After starting with a PRS guitar, I have learned that the PRS will just make you a better player by inspiring you to pick up the guitar that you like the best (whether it’s PRS, Gibson, Fender, etc, at that moment) and play it. My first two guitars EVER were Gibson LP Studios.... they were beautiful but too heavy, neck too thin/narrow, tuning issues, etc. I wasn’t inspired to start taking guitar lessons until a PRS S2 Custom 24 followed me home.

    I accidentally took a winter long break from practicing guitar only to get inspired by $800 Les Paul last week. Now I am right back to playing my Rosewood McCarty, Rosewood Custom 24, and that Les Paul. I can appreciate the differences in the instruments SO much better now. I can also ‘magically’ play songs that I was struggling with prior to my winter break. It’s an unexplained phenomena.

    Which is better: the SE or the Epiphone? Depends on how the guitars feel to you. Also depends on which SE you choose (early versions vs current versions, neck shape, etc). I recommend getting the SE (or S2) then deciding what to do about the Epi. Both guitars may end up living together in perfect harmony.
     
    shimmilou likes this.
  7. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2018
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    2,048
    Actually, the neck Pick-up is positioned the same as the Custom 22 for example. The neck is slightly longer meaning that the nut is further away and, to keep the same 25" scale, the bridge and Bridge pick-up are closer to the neck. Next time you get to look at both a Custom 22 and 24, you will see that the 'neck' PU isn't pushed closer to the bridge, which would also make the 23rd and 24th fret less accessible but that the bridge and bridge PU are pulled closer to the neck because of the longer neck.

    Tonally, its the same effect of moving the neck PU closer to the bridge but its the bridge and bridge PU that are pulled closer to the neck.

    As for comparing an SE and an Epiphone, it really depends on the models and what you actually want, prefer etc. They are very different instruments - even if they share the same basic double humbucker style (compared to a 3 SC Strat type). Its like saying which is better - a Les Paul or Custom 24 or even a PRS 594 and a PRS Custom 24. One has a fixed bridge, 22 frets, thicker body, shorter scale length, independent tone and volume controls etc and the other has a trem bridge, 24 frets, thinner body, longer scale length and master control/volume. Pick-ups are different too - not all humbuckers are the same. Both may have a mahogany body/neck with Maple cap and rosewood fingerboard but necks are different with LP's often a bit more 'chunky'.

    Best bet is to try out the Custom 24 and see if that feels and/or sounds better to you, whether or not you need a trem or prefer independent tone/volume pots. The right answer is to own both as they are different enough to offer enough of a variation. If you find that you end up not using one, then you can consider selling it but once you get to use a guitar with your own rig, get through the honeymoon phase, you will actually know the answer as to which guitar is 'best' for you which may or may not be best for someone else or the most popular choice amongst other Forum users. I could tell you the Custom 24 is better because it has more frets, trem bridge, some parts that are no different from the US made CE's or just that I prefer the Cu24 for playability, comfort etc but you may prefer your Epiphone because its closest to a Gibson LP with the same type of fixed bridge, shorter scale length etc - its something you will have to decide. Its not quite as different as asking should you buy a Les Paul or a Strat but its almost that bad...
     
  8. RevBillyG

    RevBillyG New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2017
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    173
    Truth be told, doesn't really matter the name on the headstock, probably made by the same people.

    Caveat, I don't own either. I would look at used S2 PRS & Gibson Les Paul/SG Studio, Specials, & Juniors. Gets you an American made guitar for about the same money.

    They may not look as fancy, but they'll be true quality builds.

    I do own a Les Paul LPJ & an S2 PRS. Both bought used under $700US
     
    #8 RevBillyG, May 19, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
    GuitarJammin likes this.
  9. BMiller

    BMiller New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2015
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    448
    It's not right to compare an Epi LP to an SE CU24. I've owned many MIK Epi LPs and a handful of SEs (CE24 included). They are both meant to be less expensive models of their US counterparts while maintaining the basic tone and feel. Both really do justice to their higher up US made brethren. The Epi will typically need a setup out of the box......SEs not so much. Not a big deal if you buy from Sweetwater or a good shop as they will take care of you.

    Pickups and wood quality will be about the same on both. Same with construction technique, electronics, and hardware. Nothing wrong with that. What makes the difference is how it feels in your hands. I think that PRS has better quality control over their imports compared to Gibson/Epiphone.....but part of that comes down to the individual retailer as well.

    First, I would suggest playing some SE CU24s. See if you can find some with different stock pickups.

    Second, as was suggested, check out the S2 line. For just a bit more than a new SE, you can grab a used S2.

    Third, if you are patient and keep squirreling away you money, you can find some great Core guitars. Go on the hunt for an older used CE24.....90's to mid 2000s. You can find some awesome tops with hardshell case for very reasonable prices. Killer guitars with Core bodies and all American hardware and pickups. Or if you want to stick with the LP tones, used McCartys are an excellent bang for the buck as well. Instead of buying a new SE, if you saved up a bit more, you could buy a sweet Core model that will most likely never drop in value.

    Epi does make some sweet guitars in markets/areas that PRS doesn't venture into. As was mentioned, the Casino or other semi and full hollow body styles.

    Good luck on the hunt!
     
  10. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

    Joined:
    May 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,480
    Likes Received:
    2,160
    Just last week at the local GC I tried a few Gibsons, and ran my hands over a few Epiphones, and then of course some PRS guitars, SE and S2.

    The Gibsons were crap, there's no other way to say it. Disclaimer, I only played the $1500 and down models, trying to be comparable to SE/S2 prices, but they were pretty bad. I think I played a couple of the LP satin doublecuts with P90's (which I really was hoping to like), a couple of very basic gloss finish LP's, and one a little nicer yet - don't ask me what models, I can't keep up with their catalog. All of them had sharp fret ends except one that had binding and the "nibs," which make the fret ends irrelevant. All of them sounded like wet noodles on a plank except one, but due to the aforementioned fret ends, I had no interest in playing it very long, also one of the volume pots was sticking way up (and it wasn't a push/pull). The one with binding had cherry stain all over the binding, and a real hack job where it was pieced together around the headstock angle. I know tone is subjective, but when you strummed them acoustically compared to an SE, or especially an S2, it was just a night and day difference between a dead, plinky, very thin sound on the Gibsons, and a much fuller and more sustaining sound on the PRS guitars. I'm not talking subjective stuff here, I'm talking physics. The Epi's I approached were more of the same tonally, although in general their QC may actually have been better than the Gibsons, except for still having sharp fret ends. I only strummed a couple acoustically, but I didn't hear anything I liked.

    The SE's I tried were all noticeably higher quality. The neck shape on the SE Custom 24's was definitely a little thicker front to back than the W/T profile on the Korea/WMI guitars I've played, more of a D shape with flatter sides and rounder back, rather than a flatter back on the old ones, but comfortable. They sounded as good as any I remember playing. The SE Tremonti I tried was pretty fat sounding for a maple neck guitar, I was impressed. And then there was an S2 Standard 22 that just rang like a bell, no surprise there.

    I agree with 11top, go for an S2 if you really want to treat yourself. The Standard models are the real deal, satin or gloss variety. The SE's look great and sound good, but you'll get past the fancy top soon enough. The S2 Standards ring a lot like core guitars.

    I like where you're at with this, and that guitar in your avatar looks INSANE!!!
     
    shimmilou, Great Gazoo and grausch like this.
  11. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    1,644
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    My experience with epi is that they’re very consistent in being average and ‘okay’. You don’t get serious lemons but you hardly find peaches.

    My experience with SE is they can vary a lot. My Bernie is a magic of a peach guitar for that price. The tone has some of that quality of Gibson Custom Shop LP’s, feels full of class and flawless. My ZM though, easily goes out of tune and feels average. Both were from the Korean era though.

    It’s a very small sample size admittedly.
     
    shimmilou and Boogie like this.
  12. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2013
    Messages:
    2,193
    Likes Received:
    1,831
    I think, if you want a guitar you can keep, a used S2 custom 24 is the way to go. I have a 24 fretter at each level. While the SE actually has the prettiest top, it also has the least resonance by far. The S2 custom is the one that impressed me the most right out of the box. Used, they can be had for the price of a new Se, and you won’t have to “trade up” to a better guitar later unless you want a different flavor. They’re keepers for gigging.
     
    #12 dogrocketp, May 20, 2019
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
    shimmilou likes this.
  13. LedZeppelin

    LedZeppelin New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    7
    It’s been a while since I owned an SE (Bernie a few years back). After I added some after market pickups, it was better than not only any epiphone, but also any Gibson that was not made in the Custom Shop IMHO. If they are still made the way they were four or five years ago, they are fantastic guitars.
     
    shimmilou and Tim S like this.
  14. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2018
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    2,048
    I can understand why the S2 line often gets overlooked and why some seem more interested in the SE line - the CE line being too much out of their Price range. I can see why the S2 has people questioning whether its worth the extra cost for something that seems like a step down in terms of specs/looks etc and maybe even looks 'cheaper' aesthetically.

    The SE's are, at least the 'Custom' range, designed to resemble the 'Core' line of PRS - have that stunning Maple top (even if its just a veneer on SE's) and, at a quick glance or to some non-PRS fans easily mistaken for the much more expensive models. The S2 - especially the standards - look 'cheap' with their plastic pick guard, dot inlays and plain mahogany body - like a Les Paul Junior compared to a Les Paul Standard or Custom. The S2 line has basically the same Hardware as an SE too so it looks like a step down and the only difference is US labour and locking tuners, looks like you are paying more for a lower spec, cheaper looking guitar just because its made in US compared to Korea/Indonesia. Even more of you want the S2 'custom' models that doesn't look as 'figured' as the SE veneers.

    Wood is wood right? Mahogany is the same, Maple (whether it has an extra veneer layer or not) is Maple so an SE is the 'same' as a 'Core'. The Pick-ups don't care where they were wound so an 'S' pick-up is the same as a Core - even the bridges look the same as a core - just without so much brass even if they are moulded.

    Granted the PU's and Bridge maybe the same but Wood is not. Even if its the same 'genus', whether its smaller planks glued together or a single piece body and or neck, its not necessarily the same. PRS take the time to 'cure' their wood, dry it in the best way to turn the resin into crystal in controlled rooms - whether its wood for an S2, a CE, a Core or even a Private Stock, its all 'cured' in the same controlled manner. Obviously some of the PS woods are unique but any Mahogany or Maple that is in PS was cured exactly the same way as any Mahogany or Maple used in S2's. Its cured to make the guitar stable as well as resonant - and, as far as I am aware, S2's have a one-piece Mahogany body. SE's are multi-piece Mahogany - not that if they are glued well, they still function well but may not resonate as well because they are not cured as well and may have different Mahogany pieces with different density and resonant frequencies that stop the guitar from 'ringing'.

    If you are not a believer in 'tone wood', that may not matter to you - the 'important' bits are the bridge, nut/frets, PU's and strings. Therefore an SE looks 'better' thanks to its 'veneer' and must sound and play the same because it has the 'same' important bits (maybe not the Nut but that's only for open strings) but when you try an S2, you will hear and feel a difference because the woods are cured properly.

    The SE's are excellent for the money and compete well in that price point - along with all the other Indonesian, Korean and Chinese made imports. As good as they are, I am yet to find someone that prefers an SE equivalent (not talking about Signature series) to an S2 - at least not in terms of playability or tonal qualities, aesthetically I can understand.

    Each to their own of course and I have seen the same discussion about Epiphone Les Pauls compared to a Gibson Studio - the amount of people that prefer to buy Epiphone because, apart from the headstock, they get all the trimmings, inc a Maple cap that a Gibson Standard/Custom get and the Studios look dull and cheap in comparison. I know a decent Epiphone Les Paul can cost less than an SE Custom 24 but you are also paying more for the SE to be checked and set-up by PRS. At least it leaves the factory in a ready to play state - no guarantee that the store it arrives in though and/or anyone that has picked it up off the wall to try it out doesn't mess with it - but at least it was checked and set-up properly.

    Regardless, it should still come down to the OP to actually get out to a music store and try out the SE (or S2) range for themselves. The Custom 24 isn't a 24 fret Les Paul and shouldn't be compared directly to one. Of all the PRS guitars, the one that I believe has the most 'PRS' tone, the most PRS Voicing is the Custom 24 - perhaps because the Custom 24 was PRS's launch model, the guitar that wasn't meant to be PRS's Les Paul but something that could carve out its own Sound - something that LP, tele or Strat owners could buy to have something different to their current tones. As such, its not trying to sound like a Les Paul - its trying (and succeeding) in sounding like a PRS.
     
    shimmilou and Tim S like this.
  15. Victek

    Victek New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2013
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    95
    I own guitars from both companies that are quite nice. A single cut Les Paul is quite different from a double cut Custom 24 though. Epiphone makes a guitar called the DC Pro which is closer to the Custom 24 SE and is in about the same price range.
     
    shimmilou likes this.
  16. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    17,209
    Likes Received:
    22,019
    This was my experience as well. In 2012 I went to GC with the intention of buying a LP (G or Epi) for less than $2k. I played every Gibby/Epi they had in my price range, and walked out with a Bernie that I played for 10 minutes, but never plugged it in.
     
    shimmilou likes this.
  17. Acnestes

    Acnestes "If I can do it, it's not art." - Red Green

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2019
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    96
    I have several Epi's, but for the purpose of comparison, I have a 2010 Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute, made in China but w/Gibson US electronics and hardware that cost $750 new, Next to that, I have a 2018 Custom 24 SE, made in Indonesia, $800 new (though I got it imperceptibly used), Both have faded cherry burst finishes.
    Quality: virtually identical
    Playability: virtually identical, though I personally like the feel of the Epi, "slim-fast" neck better than the "wide-thin" PRS. That's just a matter of taste, though.
    Tone: both excellent, but different - the Epi has '57 Classics with a bit more output than the PRS, but mainly the Epi sounds a little "thicker", the PRS has it's own tone, though. "Higher", somehow. I put a John Mann brass vibrato in it which added about $225 but greatly improved the tone. The stock vibrato was noticably "zingy". I added a Deusenberg LesTrem II to the Epi, BTW, which requires no mods.
    The PRS has a beautiful flame veneer (but, hey, it's just a veneer!) which is actually why it jumped into my arms, whereas the Epi has a plain maple top,
    I like 'em both about the same. Both will give you 90% of The Real Thing at 25% of the price. So, dollar for dollar, take your pick.
     
    shimmilou and bodia like this.
  18. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    1,644
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    In the end these SE and Epi’s are great guitars for the price.

    Great for banging on uninhibited, going wild expressing your musical mind, gouge the frets out as much as you want. Great for carrying into the gig battleground. So hardy and durable.

    They may never be as inherently woody in tone as higher end stuff, but fitted out with any good decent pickups that do not miss much in translation, the tone is going to wow 95% of listeners in a gig or even on a record. Epi stock pickups are like old bats though, they probably detect only 70% of what’s going on with the strings, and probably intentionally so to avoid cannibalizing the lower end Gibsons (branding and product segregation).

    That’s what I love about SE and Epi. Fearless good quality battleaxes!
     
    bodia, Acnestes and shimmilou like this.
  19. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2018
    Messages:
    1,264
    Likes Received:
    2,015
    Good call on the DC Pro. I thought about getting one when they came out, but already have the Tak Matsumoto DC Outfit with the US Burstbucker pups and Ebony fretboard, a terrific guitar. The Burstbuckers are very PAF like, super sweet pups.

    The Tak is similar to the DC Pro, the Pro having ProBuckers (also sweet pups) and Pau Ferro fret board. I have another Epi with ProBuckers to compare, and while the ProBuckers are great pups, I like the BurstBuckers better. I think the ProBuckers are the foreign made version of the Burstbuckers, and they do sound very close.

    As awesome as the Tak is, as most Epi are, I still prefer the SE Cu 24. And this is coming from a long time Epi fan. :)
     
    bodia likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice