An instrument is much more than just a piece of gear for a passionate musician, it is a companion they share their journey with and a partner they turn to in their highs and lows. However, finding the ideal instrument from a plethora of online catalogues can be a difficult and time consuming task. So we have listed our pick of the 10 best Epiphone guitars based on performance, musicality, versatility, durability, uniqueness and value for money. You are certain to find something that is appropriate for your musical taste, skill level and budget.
The Epiphone brand is owned by the world famous musical instrument manufacturer Gibson Brands, Inc. Epiphone manufactures acoustic guitars, electric guitars, double basses, banjos, resonator guitars and other stringed instruments that command a considerable market share across the globe. It is a highly regarded brand, undeniably revered as one of the top American guitar manufacturers today. In their nearly 150 year history, Epiphone guitars have been used by world-class musicians like Alex Lifeson (Rush), Django Reinhardt, Trent Razor (Nine Inch Nails), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Nick Valensi (The Strokes), Noel Gallagher (Oasis), bluesmen like Gary Clark Jr and John Lee Hooker and jazz artists like Joe Pass. You will hear their instantly recognizable tones in countless hits and see these gorgeous guitars handled with absolute mastery by great musicians in innumerable live concerts and TV performances. Epiphone guitars are built on a promise to deliver style, playability and quality craftsmanship at an affordable price point for everyone from beginners to pros. The bulk of their acoustic, acoustic-electric and electric guitars are well below $1000 dollars and a big chunk of these are under $500.
Epiphone Guitars Highlights:
- Trusted & Established Brand with High Quality Craftsmanship
- Affordable versions of flagship Gibson models
- Iconic designs with unique shape and finish
- Easy to upgrade, great customer care
- A huge selection of archtop, acoustic and electric guitars
- Good value for money across categories
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#1 Slash “AFD” Les Paul Performance Pack, Appetite Amber
The Slash AFD Les Paul Performance Pack is an all-inclusive package for beginners and intermediate guitar players. This performance pack is a great starter kit for any music enthusiast who wants to learn and play the guitar. It saves you the trouble of searching and sourcing the different accessories individually because it includes a Les Paul Special II LTD guitar, Slash Snakepit 15 amplifier, a cord (1/4 inch cable to plug the guitar to the amp), a guitar strap, 3 really cool Slash Signature Dunlop Picks and a Slash signature design padded gig bag for storing and transporting your beautiful guitar. If all that didn’t seem like enough bang for your buck, each purchase also gives you access to eMedia’s award winning online guitar lessons to get you started on your guitar learning journey.
The Slash AFD Performance Pack features a Les Paul Special II LTD guitar in a gorgeous Appetite Amber finish. The guitar has a AAA flame Maple Veneer top and dark Cherry body with a single layer ivory binding. The rosewood fingerboard has 22 medium jumbo frets with dot inlays that offer good playability and a SlimTaper D profile neck which promises ease of use for beginners. The guitar is fitted with the versatile and powerful Ceramic Plus Zebra Coil humbuckers that are designed to sound like the late 50’s Les Paul Standards. The Slash “AFD” Les Paul also has a handy built-in Shadow E-Tuner fitted into the mounting ring of the bridge pickup.
The Slash Snakepit amp is a 15 watt open back amplifier with an 8 inch speaker and a channel selector to toggle between clean and distortion tones. It has master volume, gain and gain volume knobs and bass, mid and treble control. When combined with the tonal options on the guitar, you can dial in a huge variety of tones to cover rock, punk, blues, metal and more. This great sounding amp is perfect for practice sessions and loud enough if you want to jam with friends.
While this is priced slightly higher than other guitar combo packs in the beginner’s market, it also has an edge above the rest in terms of quality and looks. This is pretty much a no-brainer for any Slash or Guns ‘n’ Roses fan but it is equally enticing for others. All the components of this pack are well made but just the guitar, amp and free online lessons are well worth the money.
- All Inclusive Pack Designed for Beginners
- Very Affordable Guitar Bundle – Includes Custom Slash Designed Accessories
- Mahogany Body and Attractive Appetite Amber Finish
- Bundle includes 3 Slash Signature Dunlop Picks & Slash Snaekpit Amp
- Great for Beginners, Perfect for Slash and Guns ‘n’ Roses fans
#2 Epiphone DR 100 Acoustic Guitar, Ebony
The DR 100 is indubitably one of Epiphone’s best selling acoustic guitars and for all the right reasons. Though this is priced like an entry level acoustic, it has the quality and sound that can appease intermediate and advanced players as well.
With the classic dreadnought shape, dot inlays, premium tuners and vintage black pickguard, it delivers on both hardware and looks. The combination of Select Spruce (top) and mahogany (back and sides) is one of the most popular combinations of tone woods preferred by players today. The SlimTaper design neck profile, often common in higher-priced models, has an ease of use that helps maintain a good grip when playing fast and accessing the entire fretboard. The ambidextrous design makes it possible for left-handed players to use it after they restring the guitar.
The tone of the guitar is rich and warm with just enough grit to create a solid presence that players yearn for. The mahogany neck has a pau ferro fingerboard and 20 medium jumbo frets. The neck is slim and comfortable. It will help players avoid any pain or fatigue after long rehearsals and practice. These guitars arrive with good action and intonation and are ready to play right out of the box and it is available in three finishes – ebony, natural and vintage sunburst.
The Epiphone DR 100 is a class apart when compared to most guitars in its price range. I can totally imagine advanced players owning this guitar as a backup guitar to use while travelling and jamming. It has often been called a game changer by critics because it has become the guitar to beat for the rest of its competitors. Each Epiphone DR 100 comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty and access to Gibson Brands Customer Service. For a guitar under $200, this one offers everything you can ask for and then some!
- Suited for: Beginners, Students, Light Stage Use, Jamming
- Excellent value for money – A New Standard in its price point.
- Rich sound, good projection and very versatile guitar
- Study construction with quality craftsmanship – Built to last!
- Good for light stage use, practicing and jamming with friends
- Available in three different finish options: Ebony, Natural and Vintage Sunburst
#3 Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar, Ebony
The Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT is budget version of the classic Gibson Les Paul for people seeking the iconic look and classic tone at a fraction of the cost. This is a no frills guitar is a budget version of the budget version of Gibson Les Paul guitars that were issued in the 80s for studio session players as a cheaper option to the other Les Paul models.
The Epiphone Les Paul offers a maple veneer top and a mahogany body with an Indian laurel fingerboard. The mahogany neck has slim profile that is easy on the hands. It has the usual 22 medium jumbo frets but with dot inlays as opposed to trapezoids. The stock pickups are Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers that are designed and manufactured by Epiphone itself. The pickups interact well with distortion and offer warm clean tones. The tone, volume knobs and 3-way pickup toggle allows the guitar to produce a fairly versatile range of tones to suit different styles.
Despite the simplified aesthetic, this guitar looks refined and plays well for the price. The Grover tuners are sturdy and the LockTone bridge and stop bar tailpiece provide stable tuning. It comes equipped with .10-0.46 strings and the action and intonation out of the box are playable with minor adjustments required to accommodate individual preference. The quality of parts used and overall craftsmanship is on-par with what one would expect from the brand.
The Epiphone Les Paul is a quality offering of a budget guitar with all the essential details that manages to look classy and deliver on tone. The 2020 Epiphone catalogue features the Les Paul Studio in classic and new color finishes like Alpine White, Smokehouse Burst, Ebony and Wine Red. It is a good option for beginners or intermediate guitar players who want a utilitarian guitar at a very reasonable price.
- No-frills version of the Classic Gibson Les Paul Body
- Mahogany Body with Plain Maple Veneer Top
- Mahogany Neck with 1960’s SlimTaper™; D profile
- Good sustain, tone and playability for the price
- Ideal for Beginners and Students on a Tight Budget
- Available in four finish options: Wine Red, Alpine White, Smokehouse Burst, Ebony
#4 Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Faded Cherry
When you make a worthy representation of a Gibson Classic at a tenth of the price, you’ve got yourself a winner. This basic square shouldered dreadnought by Epiphone has a solid spruce top with a Mahogany body (back and sides). The acoustic tone of the instrument has a beautiful and balanced blend of brightness and warmth. The guitar is capable of projecting sound if you work it and the overall tone would be ideal for country, acoustic-pop and rock music. It works equally well for finger style players and songwriters. The sound is a bit on the mellow side, tender enough to validate why it is called the humming bird.
Once you plug in the Epiphone Hummingbird PRO, the incredulous performance of the electronics makes you forget that is an affordable version of the Gibson model. It comes equipped with a Fishman Sonicore Under Saddle Pickup and Fishman Sonitone Preamp with volume and tone control and a 1/4″ Endpin endpin for an output jack. The only thing missing is an inbuilt tuner but there a lot of clip-on tuners on the market that can easily remedy this issue. There is a lot of tone you can get out of this instrument and it can carry you through any stage performance with ease.
The guitar is shipped with .012″-.053″ Gibson Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings and a 9-volt battery included. The Grover Rotomatic 18:1 Tuning machines are sturdy and hold the tuning well despite rough use. The action may need to be set based on your preference but the adjustable TrussRod allows you to setup the guitar without any issues. The beautiful faded cherry sunburst finish allows for some of the grain to shine through and the tortoiseshell pickguard has exclusive hummingbird & flower graphics which lend a unique look to this guitar. It is lightweight and portable and doesn’t cause any discomfort even after playing it for hours.
The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a notch above the rest in its price range with no notable downsides. Though this guitar is ideal for intermediate players, the playability and versatile tone can easily accompany any musician in their journey from a beginner to pro.
- Iconic Hummingbird Body & Graphics
- Solid Spruce top with select Mahogany body
- Full featured Acoustic-Electric guitar
- Rich acoustic tone/resonance and equally good plugged in
- Stage ready guitar, ideal for Rock & Country music
#5 Epiphone DOT Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar, Cherry Red
The Gibson ES-335 took the rock and roll world by storm when it was launched in 1958 as the first of its kind guitar. You may know it as Lucille, the red archtop that B.B. King famously played. Since then the archtop has remained a favorite among many guitarists like Alvin Lee, Eric Johnson, Freddie King, Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton.
This all maple guitar resonates well and arrives with a low action and high playability out of the box. The solid center maple block under the pickups helps improve sustain and eliminate feedback. The neck might take a little getting used to if you are accustomed to playing on the modern slim neck electric guitars. This may seem like a large guitar at first glance but the slim body profile makes it as easy and comfortable to play as any other strat or Les Paul shaped guitars.
The Alnico Classic Humbuckers are responsible for this guitar’s vintage sound and create a mellow and round tone with a little more bite when you shift to the bridge pickup. The four top hat knobs control individual pickup tone and volume and the 3-way toggle switch allows for different pickup configurations. Though versatile and capable of holding their own in many other genres, the Epiphone DOTs remains a favorite among those who play blues and jazz. But don’t let that fool you, the DOT really shines when you crank up the amp and add some dirt to the signal as well. After all, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Tom DeLonge, both play an ES-335 style guitar.
The Epiphone DOT neither looks nor feels like an imitation of the Gibson ES-335 in any sense. It is a well-crafted instrument that looks elegant and plays wells while still demanding a reasonably humble price.
- Versatile Tone – Suitable for a variety of genres
- Popular guitar with a huge fan base
- High quality construction for the price
- Affordable alternative to Gibson flagship model
- Excellent choice for blues and jazz enthusiasts
#6 Epiphone SG Standard ‘61, Vintage Cherry
The Epiphone SG Standard ’61 is a throwback to the early models of the iconic 1961 Gibson SG and comes in a breathtaking Vintage Cherry finish with CTS electronics and renowned ProBucker pickups. These guitars have always stood out because of their belligerent looks that have grit and attitude in just the right amount. Through rock and roll history, they have enjoyed the company of some of music’s most famous bad boys like Frank Zappa, Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest), Robbie Krieger (The Doors) and Angus Young. Rumor has it that Pete Townshend (The Who) stopped using these because he found them too difficult to smash on stage after his live concerts!
The SG style electric guitar has a mahogany body with a black pickguard and nickel plated hardware. It has the legendary double cutaway that is the core styling statement of the instrument. The neck is made from Indian Laurel with 22 Medium Jumbo and trapezoid inlays. The four knobs correspond to volume and tone for the neck and bridge pickups alongside a 3-way toggle pickup selector and CTS electronics.
This is a guitar that rock and metal guitarists will thoroughly enjoy getting their hands on. The slim tapering of the neck and pau ferro fingerboard remains comfortable to navigate even and ridiculously high playing speeds. Even new guitarists will struggle to find something to complain about on this one. The LockTone ABR Tune-o-matic Bridge is unyielding and completed with a stop bar tailpiece that keeps the guitar tuning steady and reliable. Though it may not be as versatile as some of the other electric guitars featured in this list, this nasty looking bad boy will keep you coming back for more.
This guitar will continue to fulfill your needs as you grow and can hold its ground against guitars twice its price. It ships with stock .010 – .046 strings and the setup and intonation is great out of the box but may need adjustments to suit your style and preference. If you loved the tone of the Gibson SG series as it roared in the hands of guitar legends like Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page and Angus Young, the Epiphone SG ’61 is a great option to get close to it without having to break the bank.
- Inspired by the Original 1961 Gibson SG
- A Guitar that is synonymous with Rock Music
- High quality craftsmanship and construction materials
- Good for hard rock and metal, responds well to overdrive and distortion
- Unique and stunning Looks
- ProBucker Pickups are a BIG PLUS
#7 Epiphone EJ200SCE (Acoustic-Electric Guitar)
The Epiphone EJ200SCE was introduced as an updated and affordable version of the truly unforgettable Gibson SJ200 (King of the Flattops!) with some functional upgrades to the design and build. It has a cutaway jumbo body with a solid Spruce top and hard maple back and sides that lay the foundation of its dazzling tone and majestic projection.
The rosewood fingerboard is perfectly edge bound to a hard maple neck that houses 20 medium jumbo frets with faultless finish. This a single cutaway model, unlike the Gibson EJ200, which allows for comfortable and complete access to the entire fingerboard. The hardware is robust and extravagantly gold plated that looks great in contrast to headstock with the Epiphone crown motif.
The jumbo size means a massive and powerful low end and the overall tone of the guitar has a lot of depth and balance. This is a guitar that loves to be strummed; it waits for any chance it gets to enthrall you with its balanced tone and cradling warmth. It is loud, really loud. This guitar can easily be heard at a small venue or gathering without the need for any amplification. The Epiphone EJ-200SCE is a reliable guitar that sounds great unplugged and even better when plugged in. The stock electronics include Fishman Sonicore Under Saddle Pickup and Fishman Presys Preamp with Volume control, Phase and Contour switches. It also features a high-quality built-in tuner with LED display.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say the visual appeal of this guitar itself is sufficient to validate the price tag. As far as looks go, this luscious looking axe will turn heads at every venue you play, time and time again. Its inimitable appeal is propped up by the peculiar moustache shaped pau ferro bridge, imitation Tortoise pickguard with J-200 Graphics, black and white bindings and crown pearloid inlays.
The Epiphone EJ200SCE ships with 0.012-0.053 strings and may require a setup to suit your playing preferences. It is available in a vintage natural, black and sunburst finish. This is the only jumbo acoustic offered by Epiphone and that is probably because the design, craftsmanship and price of this model are hard to beat. It’s iconic looks and mammoth size makes this a memorable guitar. If you are ready to own a ‘King of the Flattops’, you will find it hard to find another instrument that gives you more guitar for your money.
- Unique Jumbo Size Guitar
- Powerful projection and clear, balanced sound
- Study construction and top notch electronics
- A head-turner – the visual appeal makes it stand out from the crowd
- Great playability and comfort, ages well
#8 Epiphone ES-339 PRO Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar, Vintage Sunburst
The ES-339 is one of the newer designs in the Gibson and Epiphone guitar catalogues. While it is easy to confuse it with an ES-335 style guitar, it a different beast altogether. The size is smaller (roughly three quarters) and the fit is more comfortable. It features a mahogany neck with select maple body and a solid maple block in the center. Regardless of the reduced size, it offers 22 medium jumbo frets on the pau ferro fingerboard with mother of pearl inlays.
This guitar was built to cater to a broad appeal while still honoring the tasty and fat DOT tone and it does that in style. Despite being a semi-hollow body electric guitar, Epiphone has done a great job of balancing its weight. It is more feedback resistant as compared to the ES-335 models and can crank out some nifty overdriven tones ideal for AC/DC style hard rock music. It is comfortable to play while sitting or standing for hours without any pain or discomfort. The semi-hollow sound is unique and a breath of fresh air for those who are looking to move away from the Stratocaster and Les Paul tones.
The nickel hardware finish and Epiphone Dexlue 18:1 tuning machines leave no room for criticism. The LockTone bridge keeps strings stable and in-tune without any problems. The Alnico Pro humbuckers offer a thick and warm tone that lends itself to anything creamy and crunchy. Unlike other archtops, this model has split coil pickups that can be activated by the push-pull volume knobs. This leads to an extended range and tonal variety that can carry you through anything from Brit Punk to gritty blues. The Epiphone ES-339 scores a win for being more versatile than other similar guitars on the market.
These guitars are setup in USA and play perfectly well out of the box, the only adjustments you may need to make might be on account of your personal preference. This is an easy ten in the looks department if you are vying for a classy, retro looking instrument. The finish is spot-on and the tobacco burst models really ooze a vintage vibe. It is also available in an equally gorgeous Cherry Red or Pelham Blue finish.
- Comfortable size and slim body profile
- A high quality option to explore beyond the Strat and Les Pauls
- Stunning looks that define the modern classic style
- Great for blues, jazz and rock music
- Split Coil pickups for additional tonal options
#9 Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s, Iced Tea
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard series is a first-rate substitute for those who cannot afford the expensive high-end Gibson models. They have nearly the same quality of performance and construction but at a fraction of the cost. The Standard 60s models stick out in this range, often touted as the gold range for beginners and students.
The ageless and timeless aesthetic of the Les Paul shape body is a class of its own. This guitar channels the zeitgeist of the 60s with a vintage charm and a resonant rock ‘n’ roll vibe. The mahogany lends its harmonic richness to the tone and the elegant AAA flame maple top brings punch, grit and clarity to balance it. The 60s C neck profile allows for smooth and comfortable playing. It has an Indian Laurel fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets with trapezoid inlays. It also features the premium Rotamatic tuning machines and LockTone ABR Tune-o-matic bridge.
The PAF style pickups and CTS electronics are built with high quality components and render an impressive output and sensitive tonal response. They are more articulate than the Alnico pickups and do a top dollar job at reproducing the iconic Gibson Les Paul sounds of the 60s that are the backbone of many great records. The Probucker-2 neck pickup is slightly overwound and is ideal for crisp highs and a tight low end while the bridge ProBucker-3 is capable of some serious snarling tones and outstanding sustain. There is the usual volume and tone knob for each pickup and a 3-way toggle switch to dial in a wide variety of tones.
This guitar is capable of all the staple tones of the 60s era and keeps with the tradition of the vintage Les Paul. It looks, feels and sounds authentic and is backed by Epiphone’s limited lifetime warranty. The affordable price tag makes this beauty a viable option for intermediate and advanced guitarists to consider as their primary or backup instrument. The Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s electric guitar is available in an Ebony, Iced Tea and Bourbon Burst finish. This is a sure bet for anyone on the lookout for for a timeless instrument that provides an upscale experience for a pocket friendly price.
- High quality electronics and sturdy construction
- Rich, versatile tone with exceptional Sustain
- Embodies the true character of 60s Gibson Les Pauls
- A solid offering at a very reasonable price
#10 Epiphone Casino Hollow Body Electric Guitar, Cherry Red
From Keith Richards to John Lennon, the Epiphone Casino has been used on really famous records by some of the world’s most noteworthy musicians. Since its introduction in 1961, Epiphone Casino has been the brand’s crown jewel and has continued to feature as one of the best selling archtop electric guitars on the market.
The 5 Ply Maple top with Basswood bracing is finished brilliantly and doesn’t include any binding on the top or headstock. The SlimTaper D-style mahogany neck has 22 frets and a 12″ fingerboard radius. The well designed neck makes it comfortable to play across the fretboard but a little intermediate skill is required to play faster lines and higher up the neck. The vintage-style Epiphone tuning machines are sturdy and reliable. As far as looks go, you cannot go wrong with something that is so spectacularly designed and executed with the highest quality craftsmanship. The nickel plated hardware, traditional white/black/white pickguard, f-holes and trapeze tailpiece give it a retro look that is befitting of a classic. While it looks absolutely timeless in cherry red, it is also available in natural, turquoise and vintage sunburst finish.
The Epiphone Casino has a lot of tonal range to offer and can easily switch from a clean tones to distortion. The control knobs cater to volume and tone for each pickup and a 3-way toggle switch that can be very handy to dial in the right sound on the fly. It is shipped with stock D’Addario 0.10-0.46 strings which are a good match for the capabilities of this guitar. The legendary Dogear P-90T Classic™ stock pickups on the Casino have been an integral part of the tones that defined blues and rock and roll in their early years. From the smooth and mellow sounds in the neck position to the crisp jangly tones from the bridge position, the toggle switch allows for a plethora of purposeful permutations and combinations. The wide variety of possibilities makes this a versatile guitar that can cut through the mix in everything from blues to rock to jazz.
The reasonable price is what really makes this guitar a bargain because it can be hard to find another guitar of the same caliber that offers so much value for money. This is the archtop that put Epiphone on the map and kept it there even when times were tough. There can be no better approval for a guitar after three members of The Beatles buy and use it.
- High Quality Construction & Finish
- Attractive Vintage-style Design with Modern Hardware
- Iconic Tone of Dogear P-90T Classic™ Pickups
- Four knobs and 3-way Pickup Toggle for Tonal Variety
- Time Tested Guitar Played by Famous Artists
- Great Product in the Price Range, High Value for Money
History of the Epiphone Brand:
Epiphone was founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos in Izmir, Turkey and continued its steady growth in the United States after Stathopoulos moved to America in 1903. He renamed the company, then called The House of Stathopoulos, to Epiphone after his son, Epaminodas Stathopoulos and it soon became a force to reckon with in the American archtop market. Due to the World War and financial issues after the death of its founder, it was bought out by its main rival, Gibson in 1957.
After its acquisition, Gibson began to use the Epiphone brand to produce a parallel line of instruments based on more expensive Gibson versions but it continued to maintain Epiphone archtop guitars and basses which enjoyed a great amount of following around the world.
Today, Epiphone’s catalogue boasts of many high quality guitars that cater to everyone from beginners to more experienced players for travel, road, or as a practice guitar. Even though some of the hardware quality and electronics may not be comparable to the flagship Gibson models they correspond to, they are great instruments that many artists prefer over more expensive Gibson models. Though these are no longer produced in America, many of these are assembled in the USA where they setup after they go through a series of high quality to ensure that each instrument lives up to the brands promise of excellence. Epiphone stands behind every instrument that it sells with a limited lifetime warranty and access to the Gibson Customer Service
As our pick for the 10 Best Epiphone guitars concludes, you may have noticed that there is something for every level of guitar player and genre. Epiphone’s implausible growth from a little family repair shop to a leading global leader in manufacturing and selling high quality music instruments is rife with relentless hard work and the hunger for innovation that defines the quintessential American dream. Today Epiphone has emerged from the shadow of being a budget version of Gibson into a guitar brand with its own following across continents.
Epiphone has a huge range of options categorized stylistically which includes the iconic SG, Les Paul, ES style electric guitars and other Artist Signature and Limited Run electric guitars. On the other hand, their acoustic manufacturing talents are evident in the Masterbilt, Epiphone USA and Modern Acoustic range of acoustic guitars they offer. Their catalogue also boasts of popular bass guitars like the Thunderbird PRO, Jack Cassidy Signature Bass, Viola Bass and Allen Woody Signature Rumblekat Bass.
Epiphone has made a continuous and noteworthy effort to keep with the market trends and the ever-evolving demands of its consumers. Time and again they have surprised us with instruments that have redefined and raised our notions of quality and value. We hope this effort to round up some of their best offerings will help you find a guitar to suit your taste.