Occasionally a guitar comes along that challenges your ideals and makes you reconsider what it is you are looking for in an instrument. So many players have just become accustomed to a certain style of guitar that they really know no other.
There are plenty of acoustic guitar players who play amplified, but never consider using an archtop electric guitar. And for the same notion, there are numerous archtop players that are stuck in their ways and would rarely consider an acoustic guitar. This is where the Epiphone Masterbilt archtop range is going to challenge the ideals of plenty of players and enable them to find something new in their playing.
THE F-HOLE ACOUSTIC
This was the second Masterbilt guitar I got to road test this month, but it was certainly the first one I wanted to talk about. It’s not often that you see an acoustic guitar with F-holes on the top. They are more akin to the guitars of the 1920s and 1930s and are not very prevalent today. But, the Century series from Epiphone Masterbilt is taking you back with the Masterbilt Century Deluxe Classic. It sits halfway between a modern archtop electric and a vintage acoustic guitar and has all the tonal characteristics of neither – in a way. What makes me say this is in hearing it, acoustically and amplified. This is quite a unique instrument and one that will certainly add a new flavour to your sound and sit very differently in the mix to where you may have expected. Acoustically, it doesn’t have the volume and projection of a modern flat top acoustic guitar, nor does it try to. It offers a very mellow sound that is very much a product of the timber used as well as the physical design. And, this is how it sounds with the supplied Cleartone long life strings; you could easily get an even darker sound from it with a quick string change if you so wanted.
PLAY IT LOUD
Of course, this is a guitar designed to be played on-stage. When you plug the Century Deluxe Classic in, it really jumps out. The vintage tone is brought to life with the on-board preamp and produces a sound that is almost like taking a step back in time. It offers a vintage warmth paired up with a modern clarity that would see this guitar work equally well in an acoustic or electric ensemble. And what more would you expect from a solid spruce archtop, with the warmth of a jumbo body and the floating tailpiece to ensure the top can freely resonate through the F-holes. Take all that, and add a beautiful, vintage stain look that is embellished with flame maple back and sides and you have an instrument that looks as interesting as it sounds.
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Hits and Misses
Big, warm, vintage tone
Beautiful finishing all over
Really cuts through the mix