Admin Post Cactus Andy, bassist extraordinaire of Clutch Draggin’ and the Lug Nuts, has a handful of guitars that he inherited from his older brother, some years ago. When visiting him today, I chanced to ask about the Epi Dot that I knew he had and he dug it out of the closet. When we opened the case, we were both disappointed that the G string had broken, but I gave it a quick tuning on the remaining five strings and realized that it was virtually unplayable, with copious string buzz, pretty much everywhere. A quick check revealed that the neck was as flat as Kansas. At that point, I began to be concerned about the health of this poor beast, which has been unplayed for nearly ten years, ever since Andy’s brother fell ill. So, I offered to take it home, replace the broken string and see if I could get the neck back to a healthy profile, with a slight bow. When I got it home, I took off the truss rod cover and using my bespoke truss rod wrench, proceeded to reduce the tension. It wasn’t as easy as I would have expected, that truss rod was as tight as any I’ve ever seen. At one point, I was actually afraid that I would break the head off the truss rod, but eventually is gave in and I backed it off to the point of zero tension. The guitar literally quaked at that point. Expecting little, beyond bad news, I fished an .017” plain steel string from my stock of spares and tightened it up, finally tuning the entire guitar. I still wasn’t expecting much and was mentally preparing myself to give Andy some bad news, but after a minute or so at concert pitch, I gave it a play and was pleasantly surprised that there were no buzzes or rattles. After several minutes of scales and other exercises to get me to every point on the neck, I plugged it into my Winfield Tremor with the reverb and delay of my EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master as the only effects. In my formative years, the ES 335 was sort of a red-headed stepchild among Jazz guitarists. Yeah, it could get mellow, but it was seen as a stepping stone to an ES 175 or an L-5, by many players. My first Gibson had been an ES 340 and I always felt that I was an outsider among Jazz players. However, in the years since, I have heard the 335 on any number of Jazz recordings, and came to the opinion that it’s a real Jazz axe. Obviously, it has a place of honor in the world of Blues guitar and has been used successfully by many Rock players over the years. It’s not as common in Country, but is certainly useful in that genre, as well. Once I plugged in the Epi Dot, I decided to try some Jazz and it did quite well. Select the neck pickup with the tone rolled off about halfway and you are able to nail the classic Jazz guitar sound of the ‘50s and ‘60s, back when ES 175s were the Jazz guitar, in the eyes of many. At this point, I should mention that this Epi has a set of flat wound strings on the bottom three and the standard .010”, .013” and .017” plain steel strings up top. The balance between the top and bottom three strings was better than average with no discernible difference in timbre, when going from the D to the G string. Another thing that stood out was the solid feel of the guitar. I never felt that the strings were going to jump out of the bridge or that I would get an undesired twang or snap. The action never felt heavy, in fact it felt slinky, but not to the point that the guitar felt too loose. Of course, there’s more to music than Jazz, so I tried some Blues and found that sound was good on either pickup, or both. For Blues, I tended to keep the tone control wide open, or possibly backed down to 8, but never as choked down as I would have it for Jazz. The bridge pickup was BB King, there for the taking. It had good texture, but never got grainy. On both pickups, the Blues sound was a mainstream ‘70s sound. Think Elvin Bishop. On the bridge pickup, the Blues sound reminded me of any number of British Blues bands from the ‘60s, perhaps a bit more treble than Freddy King or the like. It’s probably not a sound I would select for Blues, but it was a great Rock sound. I tried for a Surf sound, but found that it was more of an Instrumental Rock sound, although hitting the Catalinbread Topanga might have pushed it into Surf territory. It’s not the Twangy sound of a Fender, but is not a dark, “blanket over the amp” sound either. Actually, for an indoor venue, this might be a more audience friendly sound, because the ice-picks and razor-blades sound never appeared. When the audience starts looking like Superman in the presence of Kryptonite, you know that the piercing highs are more than the venue can absorb. For a small, indoor venue, this might be a better compromise for Surf. Likewise, for Country; let’s just say that it doesn’t sound like a Tele. Now my Country Gent can do a passable Tele sound, so it’s not just a matter of hollow vs. solid, bodies. With a little amp tweaking, and possibly a bit more reverb, you could get a good Country sound, but no one will confuse it with a Telecaster. As a final test, I tried for a Chet Atkins sound and both passed and failed. If you are thinking the RCA era sound of Chet playing a Gretsch, it ain’t gonna happen. If you are thinking the post RCA sound, with Chet on a Gibson, the Dot nails it. Once again, playing with amp settings and you might get closer to the RCA era Chet sound than I did, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this thing to sound just like a Gretsch. The fit and finish of this 2002, Peerless-made product of the Korean work ethic is excellent. I wouldn’t place it on par with Terada output, but it is well above average. I have heard the opinion that these Korean Epis were as good, or better, as their MIA Gibson counterparts, and I wouldn’t dispute it. The pickups are said to be sourced from Gibson, and they sound excellent. Electrically, the guitar seems excellent, with pots that are smooth and free of extraneous noise. The tone pots were as usable as any I’ve ever seen. They are not the muddy mess that I’ve heard with so many guitars, but instead, they are useful at every setting I tried, including some major treble-cut dialed in. The strings are a mystery, and one I hope to solve. They look and feel like they could be Thomastics, but they are not gauged the way Thomastiks are. Looking at the Thomatik website, they don’t even list the sizes I measured. As I measured it with a micrometer, the bottom three were “.051, .042 and .031. Measuring strings with a micrometer can be tricky, so I will probably try again tomorrow, during light of day. Both LaBella and D’Addario sell flats with .052, .042 and .032 gauges on the bottom three. These strings on this axe don’t strike me as looking like Chromes, so I would favor that the might be LaBellas. The feel is round-core, and I’m not sure if LaBellas are round core. If anyone out there has suggestions on other string makers which make what appear to be nickel wound, round-core flatwounds in the gauges i mention above, I’d love to know about it.