Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine




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.


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.