The Gibson ES-175 is a special instrument for me because my guitar teacher had one from the 50s when I was 10 years old, and it was one of the first electric guitars I ever got to play. Epiphone offers two takes on the ES-175, with this being the ultra-deluxe version made to a high degree of accuracy and featuring upgraded pickups. Let’s take a closer look.
PREMIUM, DUDE. PREMIUM. DUDE.
The ES-175 Premium is made with a laminated Maple top and body finished in a vintage-inspired ‘aged’ laquer which captures the look of a guitar that’s been around for five or six decades. Epiphone hasn’t gone for the actual aging/relicing treatment here, so don’t panic if that’s not your style. The neck is made of solid Mahogany with Gibson’s comfortable SlimTaper neck profile. The fretboard is Rosewood with parallelogram inlays made of nicely shimmering mother of pearl, echoed by the mother of pearl Epiphone logo and ‘crown’ inlay. The body and fingerboard are bound and the floating pickguard is three-ply black-white-black.
The pickups are a fine upgrade indeed; a pair of genuine Gibson USA ’57 Classic humbuckers. Designed in the spirit of original 50s PAFs, these pickups are voiced a little more on the modern side while still retaining their traditional charm. They’re wax-potted to eliminate microphonic feedback (which is especially a concern with hollowbody guitars like this one). The controls are standard volume and tone pots with a three-way pickup selector switch. The bridge is a Tune-O-Matic model on a floating Rosewood base, and the tailpiece is a gorgeous traditional ‘Zig-Zag’ model. A hard case is not included but the 940-EEMCS model case is perfect, and well worth the investment to protect this beautiful guitar.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
The ’57 Classics are the perfect choice for this guitar. They sound a little bit smoother than traditional PAFs without veering too far away from the overall tonality you expect. The neck pickup can be smooth, full-bodied and jazzy when played through a clean sound, but if you turn up the drive and dig in with the pick you’ll get an articulate, juicy attack and nice sustain. The bridge pickup sounds a little more robust than the twangier-than-you-initially-realise original PAF sound. It allows for some commanding clean tones and grainy, rich and driven blues tones. This is a very flexible guitar that can do anything from sparkly-clean jazz to dirty rockabilly, indie and even grungey tones. The intonation and tuning stability is exceptional.
There’s sometimes a weird stigma about Epiphone, as though it’s exclusively Gibson’s beginner brand. That’s far from the truth. Sure, they’re generally more affordable, but there’s a difference between ‘budget’ and ‘beginner.’ This guitar comes in at the higher end of Epiphone’s price scale, but is still a huge bargain for what you get and how well it’s executed. It’s a worthy addition to any guitarists’ collection, not just those who aren’t looking to spend Gibson-level coin.
Hits and Misses
Beautiful range of tones.
Some players might prefer a glossy finish.
Finish: Vintage-Inspired, “aged” Lacquer
Top Material: Laminated Maple
Body Material: Laminated Maple
Neck Material: Solid Mahogany
Fingerboard Material: Rosewood with parallelogram inlays
Bridge: Floating Rosewood Base with “Tune-o-Matic” Bridge; Pinned
Neck Pickup: Gibson USA ’57 Classic Humbucker
Bridge Pickup: Gibson USA ’57 Classic Humbucker