NGD: Epiphone Ltd. Ed. JLH 100th Anniversary Zephyr Outfit

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by RomanS, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    Some of you may remember that I did a NGD thread less than a month ago:

    Well, when it rains, it pours - I just got another guitar a couple of days ago - the

    Epiphone Limited Edition John Lee Hooker 100th Anniversary Outfit (quite a mouthful, huh?)


    This model was announced in June or July 2018 - and while I do like JLH, I'm not like a huge fan - but some of the specs on this models made it really interesting to me (a thinbodied "real" hollowbody - no center block - that doesn't look too upscale "jazzy"); limited to 1000 worldwide (mine is #781, if I interpret the serial number correctly). Looked around for shops that might get them, and pre-ordered some time in Aug. or Sept. - they said they'd start shipping in early Oct. - well, Oct. became Nov., then Dec., still no official date; that's when I ran across the G3140, and bought it, because it was from a local guy and had a great proce. Of course, 2 weeks later I get a mail from the store I pre-ordered the Epi from that it has arrived, and they's ship if right after Christmas...

    Well, it's here now, have been playing it for a few days - here are some observations:
    - Really nicely made, no finish flaws (well, maybe a teeny tiny one at the end of the neck, but really not noticeable unless you are looking from a very close distance).
    - On the Epi page they call the neck profile a "Vintage C" - but it is more of a soft V, that slowly starts morphing into a C somewhere above the 7th fret; BTW, the neck has a comfortable chunky thickness, 22 mm (.866") at the first fret - not as fat as my favorite Tele (1" thickness all the way), but not as thin as that G3140 (20 mm - .787"); and unlike JLH's vintage 1961 Zephyr, it has a 24.75" scale, not a 25.5". It is 1-11/16" wide at the nut - I personally like 1-3/4" best, but that's rare, and I can manage the slightly narrower width if the thickness is there...


    BTW, as you can see, the headstock is not glued on (as it usually is with Epiphones and other guitars in this price range) - it is made from two solid strips of mahogany, and a thin maple one. As a Tele player who tends to make fun of Les Pauls for their common headstock breaks, I hope the maple strip will make the transitions somewhat more solid...

    - Rather lightweight - 3.1 kg / 6.8 lbs.
    - For some weird reason, it came set up with a really low shredder-like action, that made the strings buzz with my heavy-handed style - raised it, and it works now; I still have to change those thin strings (9 or 10s, not sure) to 11s at least; also, the bridge is compensated for a wound G, but it came with a string set with a plain G...
    - Hardware has a matte-rough nickel finish; makes it look "vintage" but not in an overly cheesy "relic" way, like it!
    - Both E strings run outside of the poles of the bridge pickup (the high E more so than the low E) - probably because the string spread at the bridge is 54 mm instead of the typical 52 mm of a TOM; didn't notice any fall-off in volume, though.


    - The case is covered in a really cheap looking medium grey faux leather - I guess that's period-correct, as I have seen speaker cabs, car seats, furniture, etc. from the 50/60s with similar covering.


    - It came with a COA with a pic of JLH, and the cheesiest/flimsiest guitar strap I have ever seen - I hope that this is a nod to tradition, because otherwise it's a joke... The strap is made from a really thin and stretchy plastic, I'd be afraid to use it on stage, because it might tear any minute. It had a shoelace attached at one end, like you're supposed to mount it at the headstock, acoustic style - but the guitar has two strap buttons... Also, the strap is really long - even at its shortest setting, the guitar hangs below my waist (and I'm onl 6 ft tall...)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    hcsterg, Mellowcat, gtttrrr and 4 others like this.
  2. Beardog

    Beardog Synchromatic

    Apr 15, 2018
    Nova Scotia
    Well thats a looker, congrats
  3. BuddieGreen

    BuddieGreen Gretschie

    Sep 3, 2018
    indiana usa
    congrats! can never have "to many" NGD's
  4. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    Now for the most important part: How does it sound?

    Unplugged it has a relativey loud sound, perfectly enough for practicing without an amp; not as much bass as my full-depth Loar LH300, but not as dull, cardboard-box like as the Godin 5th Ave one of my bandmates owns, either...

    Plugged in:
    I have only been able to play it at apartment friendly levels yet (and only clean - I rarely ever use more than a bit of low gain OD).
    And I have to preface this by saying that I usually hate humbuckers (and that includes Filtertrons...) - I hate the dull, thuddy attack that HB-equipped guitars have on the low E and A strings; my favorite pickups are Dynasonics, Tele bridge pickups, and Strat neck pickups, and I like Danelectro lipsticks, Charlie Christians, and HiloTrons; P90s work for me if they are not wound too hot.
    No matter whether it was an SG, an Epi Sheraton, some Ibanez semi-acoustic, or a HB-equipped Tele that I owned - I never liked the lack of snap and twang on the low strings, sold all of those; didn't care for the Filtertrons in a friend's Black Falcon, and those in a Cabronita I had, either, for the same reason; I have never played a guitar with mini-humbuckers before, though!

    That said, I was pleasantly surprised by these pickups on the Epi:
    The neck pickup is not dull at all - not a blanket-over-the-amp jazz tone, but a full round, sweet tone - very useable for Western Swing or Jump Blues stuff.
    The bridge pickup is, OK, well,... - let's say it's useable; it's not as twangy as my favorite single-coils, but for Bakersfield country I have my Teles, and the tone of the Epi bridge pickup will suffice for Grady Martin-style rockabilly licks, of dirtier bluesy stuff (JLH, duh...)
    The middle position is really my favorite, it has a very acoustic-like character, great for Travis picking,
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  5. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    Now for some comparisons: I currently own three archtop/hollowbody type guitars - the Epi, the G3140 (which has a center block), and a Loar LH 300 that I modded with a Bigsby and a floating CC-stlye blade pickup...

    I really like my Loar for unplugged playing, and the plugged-in tone is great (though I miss a twangy bridge position) - but as somebody used to Teles, the relatively thick body does feel a bit uncomfortable when playing it standing up for longer times - after our last gig, where I used the Loar exclusively, I had some pain in my right shoulder - nothing that has ever happened with my Teles, but I've got this one band where we play Western Swing, 40s style country (Hank Williams,...) etc., and a hollowbody works better there both tonally and visually. Also, while I like the 1-3/4" nut width on the Loar, the rather hard V profile, and the tiny vintage frets make it less enjoyable to play than the Epi.

    The Gretsch G3140 Historic: I LOVELOVELOVE the tone of those Dearmond 2000 pickups on it; Dynasonics are my all-time favorite pickups, and those are really close. BUT: That tiny neck... That's a problem I have had with every single Gretsch (Electromatic, Pro series, doesn't matter) I have ever tried - they simply don't come with chunky necks; on the G3140 it has a thickness of 20 mm (.787") at the 1st fret - that's 2 mm less than on the Epi, 3 mm less than on the Loar, and 5 mm (!!!) less than on my favorite Tele neck. It really doesn't feel that comfortable when playing for longer periods. Also, the Gretsch is quite a bit heavier than both the Loar and the Epi; and due to the center-block, it responds and sounds almost like a solid-body electric, like one of my Teles.

    The Epi: I love how the neck feels - reasonably chunky, but not cumbersome; nice medium jumbo frets, feels really comfortable; and I love the light weight and the thin body.
    Also, it feels and reacts really lively - very inspiring to play, very different from my Teles, but not as big and clunky as the Loar; feels like a solidbody, but sounds & reacts like an archtop - perfect combination.
    It's only the pickups (or rather, the bridge pickup) that I'm not 100% satisfied with - as I said, for a humbucker-hater like me, those mini HBs were a pleasant surprise, but I can't help but feel that a single coil in the bridge position would make this guitar even better.
    And of course it needs a Bigsby!

    So, the Loar is a keeper; might be selling the G3140 again (it's a pity about those pickups, though); and the Epi - well, need to try it live with my band; it's definitely a keeper, too, but I might start looking for another bridge pickup (not that many single coil options in a mini HB shape, though...)
    Hammerhead likes this.
  6. mschafft

    mschafft Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2017
    Next on my list. Thanks !
    RomanS likes this.
  7. 5120mantis

    5120mantis Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2011
    Epiphone’s no joke!
    RomanS likes this.
  8. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    My rather more expensive Taylors, as well as Peerless-made Historic Series Gretsches all have glued on headstocks, so it's not really something to associate with lower cost guitars.

    Mini-humbuckers are a very appealing aspect of this John Lee Hooker model.
    RomanS likes this.
  9. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Those are killer, i wanted one when i first saw the demo's but now my guitar fund is low:(
    Congrats to you though;)
    RomanS likes this.
  10. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    Beautiful! That natural finish is one of the best I've seen.
    RomanS likes this.
  11. thunder58

    thunder58 I Bleed Orange

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Congratulations , she's a real beauty ( ..... and I see it came with a case too ;) )
    RomanS likes this.
  12. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Congrats on another one!
    RomanS likes this.
  13. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    If only it came with a jack plate., too. :D
    Merc and thunder58 like this.
  14. gtttrrr

    gtttrrr Synchromatic

    Dec 7, 2011
    United States
    Great lookin axe there!
    RomanS likes this.
  15. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    That is a great looking guitar....congrats
    RomanS likes this.
  16. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Congrats,nice looking geet that!
    RomanS likes this.
  17. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria

    Everything is better with a Bigsby!
    wildeman and JeffreyLeePierre like this.
  18. JeffreyLeePierre

    JeffreyLeePierre Gretschie

    Nov 11, 2018
    Paris, north down Montmartre hill
    Really beautiful one, congrats.
    Is the bridge actually wood? Is that mellower sound or what?

    And did you add one to your G3140?
  19. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    Yep, the bridge is real wood - pau ferro. On most traditional jazz guitars, the bridge is made from wood (usually ebony or rosewood) - in my experience, it gives a more mellow attack and a bit less sustain.

    Nope, no Bigsby on the G3140 yet - as I'm not 100% sure whether I will keep it (I love the tone, but don't like the thin neck).
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