Epiphone Emperor, Joe Pass, or Swingster,

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by Skibbers, Sep 15, 2021.

  1. Skibbers

    Skibbers Electromatic

    Feb 21, 2020
    I only have one guitar right now and I’m looking seriously at these Epiphones. I’ve played other Epiphone models at the shops and most felt pretty nice to me. I was seriously looking for an ES-295 for a while but now I’m leaning toward the Swingster. I would have already bought one if they had P-90’s like the ES-295. I could always switch pickups. Then there’s the Casino and Sheraton. Any hollow body epiphone wood be fun to have around. Too many choices.
    What are your thoughts? I need some insight.
    BuddyHollywood likes this.
  2. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Friend of Fred

    Skibbers, when I was looking for a hollowbody, I went to GC and auditioned a Gretsch 5420 and the Epiphone Swingster. The 5420 played without feedback at a moderate volume. At the same volume, the Swingster had real feedback issues (this was 2015). If I was to consider the Swingster, I would want to play it first to make sure they took care of the feedback issues. Unless, of course, you are wanting some feedback.
    CBHScott likes this.
  3. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Friend of Fred

    I should say that the Joe Pass is a very nice hollowbody. Not chimey like a Gretsch, but nice in its own way.
    ZackyDog likes this.
  4. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    I have a Riviera, Dot, Swingster and Wildcat. Riviera is with 3 P90s and it's great sounding guitar. Only drawback is that its heavy! Dot is really comfortable to play and sounds great too.. I have no complaints about Swingster, but I play only at home and not with high volume so I have not experienced any feedback. Wildcat is ok bit I like the other three better.

    I used to have a Joe Pass but traded that in towards a Gretsch. I think that can be excused here? :).
    speedicut likes this.
  5. mister rain

    mister rain Gretschie

    Apr 23, 2020
    new orleans
    well, the sheraton isn’t hollow, for one. i adore my peerless sheraton.

    i really liked my swingster, and loved it once i upgraded the pickups. the stock buckers were awful
  6. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Swingster for me as I almost bought one 11 years ago instead of my Chet Atkins 6120-1959 ....... and I would have never found this great forum :p
    ZackyDog likes this.
  7. capnhiho

    capnhiho Country Gent

    Feb 16, 2013
    Yes, the Epi Joe Pass is a really nice guitar for the money, but it’s definitely a jazz box; goes in a different direction than a 295, a Swingster, or most Gretsches.
    ZackyDog and Spidey like this.
  8. Skibbers

    Skibbers Electromatic

    Feb 21, 2020
    Riviera, Dot, Wildkat, I missed those but if they play nice they should be on my list. Also the 2420 streamliner should be on my short list. I do want true hollow but right now I’m looking at everything on my local craigslist and FB marketplace. Most of these models pop up regularly at decent prices.
    section2 likes this.
  9. Skibbers

    Skibbers Electromatic

    Feb 21, 2020
    I was also considering a Washburn J7 but I never hear anyone talk about them
  10. SAguitar

    SAguitar Synchromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Jack Plate, Oregon
    I have owned a couple of Sheratons, and loved them both although I did swap out the pickups.
  11. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    If you're thinking of a Gretsch, I'd suggest taking a look at the 5410 and 5420 as well. They're a step up in quality from the Streamliner and they're within about $50-$100 of the Swingster's price range. The 5420 is Gretsch's best seller, so there are usually quite a few used ones floating around at reasonable prices.

    That said, the pickups in the 2420 sound a little more Gibsony and a little less Gretschy, which might be what you're looking for. And there's a 2420 model with a P90 neck pickup.
  12. RRGuitarCo

    RRGuitarCo Gretschie

    May 23, 2021
    San Diego CA
    I actually own most of those guitars, an elitist casino, emperor, swingster, sheraton, joe pass and a 295. Of the box guitars I have to go with the Swingster, I feel it has the most versatility. My casino is amazing, but it's an elitist model which is eons above the Chinese and Korean epis so it's not really a fair comparison. Of the whole lot, as far as playability, versatility in tone and overall beauty, my pick is the Sheraton. I really love my Sherri. If I could only keep one, it's the one I'd keep. It's your run of the mill MIK Sherri, added a hand carved bone nut, fret level, 50's wiring w/ vintage caps and Gibson P94 pups. She's a monster!!
    Honestly, I feel the 295 is a HUGE POS for the price. It's pretty much my least favorite of the bunch. In fact, if I can find some sucker to fork over the $1300 I paid for it, I'd sell it in a heartbeat.
    Again, my vote goes to the Sheraton.
    THAT BEING SAID, I believe there's better value in other guitars. Eastman is making some pretty incredible semi hollows that you can easily find on the used market for $500-$1K. Classic Gibson style down to the double chiclet inlays.
    Of course, I have to throw out the Gretsch 5420 and 5422, for the price, you'd be hard pressed to find a better guitar.
    These are guitars that are in general of a higher quality. The fretwork, finish, general build, and pickups are far superior. I'm all about that bang for your buck!
  13. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    I bought one of the Peerless Emperors after coveting them for years. it was beautiful, but they are a huge guitar! It was too big and clutzy for me. Standard string brands are not long enough for the low E!
    I played a swingster a couple of times and it seemed nice. The Joe Pass ones I tried seemed poorly built for some reason, yet the Swingsters seemed pretty good. Go figure.

    The Sheraton (another Peerless beauty) I had was nice, but man... that's a HEAVY guitar... I had no idea.

    Find an ES 295!
    My neighbor bought a like new Johnny A Epi recently, literally a new guitar with tags but supposedly "used". It is a killer guitar.

    I ended up with my Ibanez George Benson and man oh man, that's a killer guitar. And beautiful. Neck shape is perfect. Fit and finish is impeccable. Fret board wood grain is super tight, almost no obvious grain at all. Guitar body not too big, or too thick. Great pickups and electronics. They did their homework on that. The tone works in a nice smooth transition.... not a big jump from treble to bass etc.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
    new6659, Jeff67 and BuddyHollywood like this.
  14. Skibbers

    Skibbers Electromatic

    Feb 21, 2020
    Why was the ES-295 a POS? I played one shortly after buying my Gretsch and thought it was really nice.
  15. BuddyHollywood

    BuddyHollywood Gretschie

    Sep 11, 2009
    Venice, CA
    I was shopping for a Gretsch G5422 when I stumbled on a 50th Anniversary Casino on Craigslist about 6 years ago. The regular Casinos are good, the new Worn Casinos feel better and are less expensive than the standards because of their thinner finish but if you can find a 50th Anniversary, a Blak and Blue Gary Clark Jr. Casino or anything above that up to the Elitist or the new USA models that would be the way to go. I like the 5422 better than the standard Casino but I like the 50th Anniversary Casino better than a 5422. I don't think I would ever order an Epiphone online without playing it first unless it's one of their new "Inspired by Gibson" models. There are too many variables. I don't really have any experience with other Epiphones. They seemed to be geared more towards jazz players. Like @swivel mentioned, Ibanez hollow and semi hollow guitars always feel great to me. I don't own any but I like checking them out when I see one.
  16. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Actually it's the D which is too long a stretch for standard string sets, since it's several inches past the low E. I literally have tied on a splice to extend my D string on my Emperor. That's a result of the extra string length required on the bottom 3 strings by the Frequensator tailpiece. That said, I also have the Broadway, which is exactly the same guitar but with two mounted humbuckers instead of a floating mini-humbucker, & the strings I use on that go all the way to the D tuner just fine. So it varies by string manufacturer.

    I would add the Epiphone Broadway to the list of possible candidates here. I suspect it's no better nor worse than similar Ibanezes. I'm quite fond of mine.
    My Emperor has been edged out by a similar floating mini-humbucker Eastman AR810, which is twice the price & a vastly superior guitar.
  17. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    Nope. It was the low E for me. Notice the tailpiece, that's the issue...!
    guitarfarm and new6659 like this.
  18. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    OK, even though that's the shortest of the strings which require the greatest length. Obviously the D requires several inches more than the E, so you must have gotten a string set which was fairly out of specification. And yes, the Frequensator tailpiece is what I mentioned as the cause of the issue. Like I say, depends on which set of strings you're using. I have all three of the Epiphone models using that body size & tailpiece & I've only once had to improvise a fix for a too-short string.
  19. Spidey

    Spidey Gretschie

    Jan 14, 2015
    Pacific Northwest
    Joe pass is great guitar! If you can find the Korean build with the flamed back, try it. Such a lively hollow body guitar. Even if it's not what you're after, you'll find a lot to like about it, even unplugged. I want to change pickups on mine, but haven't' yet. Something about the stock ones that are nice. Maybe someone changed them before I got it.

    I have the G5420T, gotta say you really can't go wrong there. That's your safe bet and it's unlikely you'd be disappointed and an easy sell if you are. It's nice as it is, but also very much worth putting money into with mods later on as you like. A real keeper.

    But when you mentioned p90, I thought about my Reverend Pete Anderson PA-1. They don't make them anymore, but they do pop up now and then and if you can find one used at a decent price, grab it!! I have one and can't recommend it enough. I wasn't sure what I thought about the satin (natural) finish at first, but now I totally get it. It's silky feeling. It's great even stock and with a set up, it's a stage ready guitar.

    Just my 2 cents....
  20. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    Yeah, I hear you. I probably got it wrong. I've been wrong before.... 1972 I think... :D
    It just seems like that was what I remember. And yes, this was the only guitar that was an issue for me too. But it's a 25.5 scale. Maybe that exacerbates the problem more. I had to use Mangan strings on it.
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