It's all about rich, full tone at an affordable price with the Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500R Acoustic Guitar. Expert luthiery to rival Epiphone's classic 1930s guitars is evident in precision back, fret... Read More
It's all about rich, full tone at an affordable price with the Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500R Acoustic Guitar. Expert luthiery to rival Epiphone's classic 1930s guitars is evident in precision back, fretboard, and multi-ply top and headstock binding. A light acoustic guitar with great volume, projection, and natural warmth made crisp and punchy by solid rosewood back and sides. Gold hardware, stickpin inlay, and offset notch headstock add visual elegance to the Epiphone AJ-500R.
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Reviewed by 1 customer
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Comments about Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500R Advanced Jumbo Acoustic Guitar:
I own an AJ500RE--the acoustic-electric version of this guitar--that I found used here two years ago and bought unseen online. It was rated in Condition 3 ("instrument or product that's seen normal wear and tear, including incidental scratches, chips, dings, dents or other imperfections"). It was listed at $450, marked down from $699. I expected to receive a used, serviceable guitar and while I actually preferred a non-electric AJ500R I couldn't pass it up at the price. I couldn't believe it when I received a new guitar, with the price tags and plastic overlay still in place on the pick guard. I spent ten minutes locating the flaw--a 2" surface blemish on the lower bottom bout. I handed it to a couple of friends--a gigging local musician and a respected music teacher--and asked them to find the flaw that knocked $250 off the price. The pro player finally found it by studying it sideways in bright light, and the guitar teacher couldn't find the damage at all. I've owned around a dozen guitars over the years--acoustic, acoustic-electric, semi-hollow electric and classical--and I had reached the point in my playing where inexpensive instruments (under $500 used) was frustrating and unrewarding: My fingers work fine but I couldn't coax out the sound I wanted. I played Gibsons, Taylors and Martins belonging to friends but since there's no way I could spend $2500-plus on a git-fiddle I figured I was out of luck. I hadn't bought a guitar since before the Chinese invasion and was blown away by the Epiphone. The company is now owned by Gibson and Epiphone's top-of-the-line Masterbilt series clearly shows that influence. The Jumbo box, Rosewood body and spruce top suit my playing style (and my body) perfectly. The hardware is excellent and though other owners report problems with the Esonic II pups (magnetic at the neck and piezo at the bridge) I like 'em quite well...played through a Roland AC90 acoustic amp, with a little tweaking the acoustic sound shines through. The bottom line? Ten or 12 years ago you couldn't touch a guitar this sweet for under $1500 (or ANY solid wood guitar). Sure, comparing it side-by-side with a Guild, vintage Washburn or Gibson it sounds a a little muddy, but never strident or screechy. A $5000 guitar is obviously a better choice for miked studio recording, but onstage there's minimal if any audible improvement. The Guild, Gibson and Washburn I mentioned are superior, but then again I compared it with Taylors, Martins and a Tacoma costing much more and I preferred the Epiphone. Even if you're a beginner I still recommend this guitar; you'll be insprired, since the sound quality makes you sound better than your technique allows and you won't be looking for an upgrade after six months. The jumbo rosewood body is resonant, deep and loud, and the spruce top sings clearly in the uper registers. The AJ500R and AJ500RE are suitable for live performance, and since I don't freak out at playing it outdoors, around camp fires or handing it over to another player, it's more enjoyable to play and share. I didn't shed a tear the first time it picked up a mark from a zipper or belt buckle. Other players I know store their premium guitars inside hard cases in rooms with controlled temperature and humidity, and have cheapo's for informal gigging. That makes no sense to me, if I own something I like I USE it at every opportunity (though I wouldn't take it whitewater rafting). In any case, here you have a git-fiddle that's 90 percent as good as a megabuck Gibson, Taylor etc. at one-fifth the price. It gets played and enjoyed much more than the virtuoso guitars and you won't feel nervous passing it around or loaning it out. The workmanship, detail and craftsmanship show; it's not mass-produced (take a look at them hand-fitted shaved internal braces, purfling and rosette). If you like Jumbo Dreadnought sound and rosewood/spruce resonance, look no further. There are better guitars out there, but at this level you get a diminishing return on your investment by spending more. The Epi is much better out of the box than many imports but could still benefit from some minor tweaks--if you want to fine-tune the sound feel free to try new tuning machines, nut, saddle, strings etc. I personally prefer medium-heavy high-tension strings and for me they're easier to play (I started guitar playing classical and though I use a pick on occasion I'm more of a finger-picker). Anyhow, unless I win the lottery this guitar will have a major place in my arsenal for years to come. After I got turned on to Epiphone I replaced my Ibanez semi-hollow electric with an Epi Sheraton II. I'll replace the pups with '57 Gibson classic humbuckers when I have $200 to spare, but at $600 the off-the-shelf Sheraton is (I believe) the finest Gibson ES-335 clone on the market. Examine the two alongside each other and the contruction quality is nearly indistinguishable. With the $2400 bucks you have left over you can customize the Epi to be your dream axe. I also briefly owned an Epi Dot Deluxe, a decent enough Gibson clone, but for just a few more dollars the Sheraton II (or the Joe Pass) is a much better choice, IMHO. So there it is...for under 500 bucks I have my first performance-quality guitar. To me it's easily worth twice the price.
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