The Gibson Les Paul Futura MONSTER Electric Guitar Review!

The Gibson Les Paul Futura (Vintage Gloss) Electric Guitar Review
Gibson USA has been working on diversifying its offerings quite a bit here in 2014… It’s an “anniversary year” at Gibson (their 120th), and they’re introducing new guitars and wrinkles on previous guitars.

In particular, Gibson is offering the Min ETune automated (“Robot” from Tronical) tuning system. This new tuning system is encapsulated and doesn’t require wiring to go through the neck to the control cavity (as previous Robot versions did). The system is removable, user-replaceable, and parts can even be purchased to repair the system.
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One of Gibson USA’s 120th anniversary guitars is the vintage-gloss Les Paul Futura. The Futura (as of this writing) comes in a Les Paul and an SG. They both offer a new-ish finish, a hard case, Min ETune, an interesting pickup combination, and a 15db boost.

The Les Paul Futura is a player’s guitar through and through, with feel and sound that’s a real match for the real-world price of the guitar.

Quick Opinion:
In a quick pre-summary, the Futura Les Paul is a versatile, very playable, excellent-sounding guitar with a nice hard case that’s hard to beat when it comes to getting lots of sounds out of your recording or stage guitar.
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The tuning system is OK, the pickups and circuitry are excellent, the playability is better than par, and the new colors are a refreshing addition to the Gibson color array.
There are customer reviews and more specs for the Gibson Les Paul Futura (I like the Blue one!) available here at zZounds.

Features:
The Gibson Les Paul Futura’s feature list is one of its strongest suits. It’s very versatile and is a great performer that’s also not too hard to work on stage in or in studio. Many versatile guitars get overly “switchy” or have lots of extra stuff you have to do to get different sounds: the Les Paul Futura isn’t switchy at all; it’s easy to use.

The Les Paul Futura has an array of pickups, a boost, and more:
* A Les Paul Studio type of build
* A hum-free Sidewinder P90 pickup in the neck position
* A wonderful Alnico 2 BurstBucker #3
* A wonderful white-fur hard shell case – very nice at this price level these days!
* Modern weight-relieved body with mahogany back and maple top
* Maple neck with the 60s SlimTaper profile
* Rosewood fingerboard with the 120th anniversary badge on the 12th fret
* A fingerboard radius of 12″
* 22 frets (cryogenically treated)
* A new black TckToid nut (PLEKd)
* The Min-ETune tuning system with charger, battery, and a nice tuning chart
* The new Supreme Grip Speed Knobs
* The one I purchased had new Gibson ClearTone-coated strings
* That “uncluttered” look of a Les Paul without a pickguard
* Coil splitting – one each for the BurstBucker AND the Sidewinder – mine had Push/Push pots
* A COOL 15db battery-powered boost with a push-push pot to whack the amp when you need to lead!
* Lots of colors in the new “Vintage Gloss” finish
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Overall: This Les Paul is built to play and it plays like a monster! It’s a dynamite axe on stage or in the studio or just in your garage or bedroom. Wake the neighbors!
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Playability
In general, I found the Gibson Les Paul Futura to be a very playable and very comfortable Genuine Gibson Les Paul. The weight-relieved body is actually helpful for those who find the full-bodied Les Pauls to be a bit heavy on the strap. The neck is nice, and the pickup placement is great for those who pick right between the pickups.

In this review, I don’t want to really go down the road of opining about the Min-ETune system. I think it is a lot of fun, makes tuning to alternative tunings (something I do almost all the time) very easy, and is excellent for those who have a hard time tuning their guitar. I found my Min-ETune to be slow to tune and often not quite right, even after I lubricated the nut with BigBends Nut Sauce. I’ll save more opinions for another reivew and another day…

THe neck is the Gibson SlimTaper 60s neck, although really I found it to be on the thicker side of those SlimTaper 60s neck Gibsons I’ve played over the past years. It’s a good thing: it is an excellent balance between the little neck and the fat neck of many Gibsons: it feels comfortable and natural – in particular as you go up the neck. It’s almost as though the taper keeps you from noticing the neck’s feel at all (A Good Thing).

The frets were fairly well dressed. The new cryogenically-treated frets don’t feel different to the fretting hand (or the tapping hand, for those who the “Big Hair, Two Hands” thing :-)). In general, my Les Paul Special Semi-hollow has superbly dressed frets: these are much more average than the Special’s. To be fair, the frets were cleanly clipped and nicely ended – very nice overall. I guess I get spoiled when I play Gibsons with the fret-end binding – no fault of this guitar at all!
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The balance between the maple neck and the weight-relieved body is above par for a full-size Les Paul (as opposed to a Baritone or a flat-body Junior or Special). I like the way it feels when playing sitting down. Since I mostly record music at a studio desk, this is a great thing for me. Standing up, the Les Paul Futura does a fine job. It feels good on the strap. Good job, Gibson.

One of the most wonderful feature Gibson is doing this year on some guitars (including the Futuras) is the PUSH/PUSH potentiometers for coil splitting and 15db boost! These things are like, “Why have these taken SO long to come to market on a mass-produced guitar?” They’re wonderful. You just push down and you get a jump-up knob for boost/split. Push down again for full/both coils or boost off. It’s intuitive and extremely easy on stage! No more grappling with the slippery witch-hat knobs to get them to pull up. And: the biggest thing is that a well-worn push/pull pot is VERY easy to accidentally whack back into humbucker/boost mode when you’re reaching for tone or volume adjustment.

I love these pots. They’re worth a great deal to me. I am actually looking for some of these setups to mod two of my existing split-able Les Pauls to make my life easier and more fun!
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”
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Sound
Here is one of the Gibson Les Paul Futura’s strongest things: the sound!

I absolutely love the pickup combination. I am a big BurstBucker fan and a huge P90 fan. I also like quiet pickups when I’m recording, so the two that are installed in the Futura are just up my alley.

The pickups, with splitting and boosting, have lots of different characters and sounds. You can go chugging through rhythm, sear through lead, soar through 15th-fret-and-up passages, whirl through arpeggios, and still get a nice moody clean sound when you don’t need to burn out their nose hairs. I love these two pickups, and even more so the two together.

If you are looking for versatility without frequent instrument changes, this Les Paul is for you!
If you purchase a new Gibson at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.

Fit and Finish
The quality of the Gibson Les Paul Futura I bought was at or slightly above average. I found touch-ups in the stain here and there – nothing dramatic, but they were there. I found the fit of the controls, neck, hardware, an do other parts to be very good to excellent. This Les Paul was put together by great craftspeople.

As far as the “Vintage Gloss” finish: It’s a 50/50 thing if you like them. They’re nicer than the faded Gibsons in many ways, and less grabby with sweaty paws than those with a hard gloss. I think they look great from a few feet away, and are more tolerant than the faded finishes, although they are more fragile than the hard gloss nitro finishes.
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To be honest, I am in the middle of the road on the finish. When I first unboxed my Les Paul Futura, it felt tacky to the touch, almost like the finish was not quite cured. However, after playing lots of these, this turns out to be just the way they feel. The finish is properly cured – it just feels different than the faded, poly (like the Gibson Elliot Easton Firebird), or gloss finishes. IN general it’s a comfortable finish. It’s just new to me and I have had to adjust to it.
The new Gibson 2014 models are now in stock at zZounds. Celebrate 120 years of excellence and Legendary Tone!

Wishes and Wants
In general, I think the Gibson Les Paul Futura is an excellent guitar. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who wants a versatile guitar that has LOTS of guts in its sound.

I do think I would like the regular gloss better – that’s just a personal thing. I do wish the guitar was also offered in a Min-ETune-less version with a hard case for something less retail. I like the system – I just think the option would be nice for those on a budget.
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I wonder what a Gibson Les Paul Standard or Traditional with these pickups and wiring system would be like? Hmmmmm… (Gibson, listening? ;-))
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the MIGHTY Gibson Les Paul Futura – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

The Gibson MIII Limited Edition HSH 24-Fret Magnificent Monster Electric Guitar Review

The Gibson MIII Radical Reissue Reinvented Electric Guitar Review
One of the staples of recording electric guitar is to have an array of guitars that can make many different sounds without having to unplug and get a different instrument to do it. The MIII is just such a guitar – a tone machine. I like being able to sit down with it and a set of ideas, crank up the tubes and the recording world, and get down to business while the mood and inspiration are hot.

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My MIII fits the bill nicely. I recommend one if you’d like a great neck and versatile sound coupled with the rock-solid tuning stability of a double-locking Floyd Rose-equipped guitar.

Quick Opinion:
I have been looking forward to writing this review. There’s a lot to say! One of the first things that struck me when I unboxed my MIII for the first time was the cool finish. It is very much like the old-car-metallic-poly (yes, it’s lacquer, I’m speaking of ‘look’) appearance of my Gibson Elliot Easton Tiki Bird Firebird… Mine is a RADIANT orange color with the look of the grain under a clear coat. It looks deep, it’s much cooler than other metallic finishes I’ve seen.

My Orange Glow Gibson MIII plays easily, sounds fantastic, and is a pleasure to hold whether sitting or standing. It sounds great, it feels good (like an Explorer’s neck on a double-cutaway body) with stay-in-tune-the-whole-day kind of playability. Nice!
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I think if you’re looking for a shreddy guitar, a quick-playing in-tuning whammying guitar, and want a set neck with a maple fretboard, this is THE choice! More details? Read on for more…
There are customer reviews and more specs for the MIII available here at zZounds.

Features:
The Gibson MIII is very feature-rich with a ton of great specs.
* Nice double-cutaway mahogany body
* Excellent maple neck with maple fretboard, with a profile something like an Explorer with a reversed “Explorer banana” headstock
* 21 degree radius on the fretboard – very comfortable and natural in the hands for bends
* 24 fret heaven – hit that ultra-high E with ease!
* A Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut combination – if only most static bridges had the fine tuners! (Gibson, what about making the TP6 available on production guitars?)
* Tone and Volume knob simplicity: I can reach the volume with my pinky and do volume swells with ease
* The master tone pops up to split the humbuckers into singles
* HSH pickups with a 5-way selector
* A wonderful high-gloss, smooth finish that colors the body and the back of the neck and headstock
* Gold-silkscreened Gibson logo on the headstock
* Those awesome old-school upside-down black fret marker inlays, yeah!
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The pickup selector is a traditional blade-type switch with the following configuration (from neck-side to bridge-side):
** Neck only
** Neck and middle
** Middle only
** Middle and Bridge
** Bridge only

Overall, this guitar is loaded with lots of stuff, buttons, switches, and downright coolness built-in. I think its gutsy of Gibson to have some fun with a maple-fretboarded tone-ripper!

When you combine the popped-up splitting knob with the blade selector, you can get loads of different sounds and strengths from these very versatile electronics.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Playability
My MIII is a dream to play. I already love Firebirds and Explorers – and the neck is pretty similar in most ways to both… It was like a fun FireExplorerSG with Maple and a Floyd… Nice! I am agnostic as to necks when it comes to the “perfect” neck for me. I love flat necks, fat, necks, medium necks, even the flat/wide neck of a classical – so I’m almost always comfortable when I pick up a quality-made Gibson of any kind. Given that I love my Z-shapes and my banana headstocks, I must say that the MIII felt right at home, despite its funky thumb-bassy-body look.

The fretboard has an interesting feel to it. It’s not glossy like some of the Fender maple necks – rather it is almost “flat” or satin. You can get your pure nickel Ernie Ball “ROCK AND ROLL” strings out and get everything nice and gray from the nickel on your fingers. The neck does have some kind of finish on it (much like the Raw Power SG and Les Pauls a few years back), so the black stuff doesn’t become permanent – but it looks cool when it’s been played quite a bit.
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I have found that using the Floyd with the last two fingers of my picking hand and then sliding down to pinky the volume is actually fairly easy for those who do this type of thing. Even though I’ve gone to using a Morley Steve Vai Alligator volume pedal, I do still love the fineness of a slick volume control knob’s sweep. These are quick and easy because of the metal black knurled knobs. Generally, I carefully swap out my Gibson witch-hat knobs for this very reason (to either knurled or speed knobs) – but the MIII already has it covered!

It’s not too heavy on the shoulder or the leg, and it has a nice general balance to it – the neck sits out a good ways, but the body is bigger and thicker than something like the SG, so it’s not too much of a diver at all.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Sound
Here is one of the Gibson Limited Edition MIII’s strong points: sound: Gibson has brought back the very cool Dirty Fingers humbucker with a vengeance! It’s as crunchy and broad as the original, with that nice ability to clean up pretty well when you pick softly and dig in a little less. Very nice…

The Humbucker Single Humbucker configuration, combined with the 5-Way blade pickup selector and the coil-splitting tone knob, you get lots of different sounds out of this beast. I have found that the nicely-sized body gives excellent sustain, while not being too heavy. Although you don’t get solid-body Les Paul sustain-for-weeks sound, you do get much better long-lasting sustain than with the traditional bolt-on-neck-Floyd guitars.

I think the locking Floyd system is a great strong suit to this guitar’s arsenal: It stays in tune day-to-day for me, and I like that. I’ve had GREAT guitars with whammys with which I loved recording – but had to stop and tune them over and over again between takes because of their trem systems. This MIII has that beat and then some!
If you purchase a new Gibson at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.

Fit and Finish
My MIII is extremely well made. The finish is bright, smooth, and doesn’t have lots of flaws around the neck pocket and the electronics. I like the way the craftspeople at Gibson did this one. It was well-done out of the box.

I only had to adjust two saddles for intonation on the bridge – otherwise, it was ready to go right out of the box. The fretboard is perfect, the fret ends were clean (not rounded and invisible, but clean, just the same). I think my most recent Les Paul (a limited semi-hollowbody) has the sweetest factory fret ends of any non-bound Gibson I’ve handled. This MIII isn’t on par with that one – it has more edge and end to the feel than the LP.

The case is nicely manufactured, the finish was completely cured and the bridge was nicely adjusted. Opening the control cavity reveals a simply done set of electronics that are neatly soldered and well-grounded.
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Overall, it’s really quite nice from stem to stern.
The new Gibson 2014 models are now in stock at zZounds. Celebrate 120 years of excellence and Legendary Tone!

Wishes and Wants
I really love my MIII. I think the only thing that would have sent me over the top to buy a second one (for more tuning options, like keeping one in DADGAD and one in CGCGCC with thicker strings) would have been if Gibson had taken the time to put the fret-end neck binding on this guitar – black or body color or white… Gibson’s fret-end neck binding is, in my opinion, one of the sweetest features Gibson offers. I love the feel of it when I’m playing – or rather, the lack of feeling the frets when I’m playing.

Maybe, just maybe, a pickguard model with all the electronics behind the pickguard would be cool, particularly if the guitar was wired with the Gibson Quick Connect electronics wiring and changing system. I would love to have a box of Quick Connect pickups that I could use to change things out on the fly…

Otherwise, I love the MIII – they did a great job with it.
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the wonderful Limited Edition Gibson MIII – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Limited WHO Edition Guitar Review

The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Electric Guitar Review
I love Gibson SG guitars. Really, I do. So much so that I scrambled and bought a new SG for Christmas for me… The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard was out of manufacture, and a few of them were left at the online retailers. I knew I’d love some P90 goodness, an old-school SG setup, and that nice Gibson 60’s SlimTaper™ neck.

I really enjoyed my Christmas present. It made for lots of happy evenings of after-work picking and recording.
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Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information Gibson SGs – click here! (visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! (And G.A.S., of course! :-))

Quick Opinion:
It really was a strong purchase – and I’m glad I did it. My Pete Townshend arrived in absolute perfect shape, crafted with great care and put together perfectly. The neck was superb, the sound was fantastic, and the finish was remarkable. You’ve gotta love that new Canadian TKL case smell combined with that new hand-finished lacquer smell. Yowza.
The Pete Townshend SG plays like a dream and has a sound that is unmistakably golden. This guitar is a player, and begs to be taken out of its collector’s case and PLAYED.

Features:
The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard with P90s guitar is an excellent bundle bargain. It has what you’d expect from a Gibson Standard SG, plus a cool case. Overall, I think Gibson really packed a lot in to this instrument for the money.
* Mahogany body and neck
* Rosewood fretboard with 12” radius
* Dot inlays
* Polaris White nitrocellulose lacquer finish
* 22 frets on a 24 ¾” scale 60’s SlimTaper neck
* A wraparound compensated lightening bar saddle bridge
* Full size Grover nickel Rotomatic tuners
* 2 Alnico V P-90 pickups (vintage voiced, plus a little extra oomph)
* Totally cool “WHO” special silkscreened case
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Playability
Along with the nice features, playability is where this Gibson SG shines. It feels great in the hands from start to finish. It begs to be played, and if you are like me, the neck is a real winner. Although I usually write a great deal about playability when I compose guitar reviews, I didn’t feel it was necessary to do so with this review. The Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary Gibson SG plays like an old friend in mint condition.

This guitar feels great in the hands. The finish is easy on the paws and the balance is typical for an SG – and it feels right at home. I love the way the fretboard radius is set up, and the frets are a breeze.

In general, this is the archetypical SG in many ways and it’s easy to play!
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Sound Sound, sound, sound, sound, sound… Rich, thick, full, strong, awesome, iconic, fantastic, unbelievable – these are the words that I would think every time I played my Pete Townshend.
The Gibson SG Pete Townshend guitar is no longer available through retail as a new guitar, but you can read lots about the many different Gibson SGs here at zZounds.com.

The pickups can be warm and full when they are not overdriven. When the pickup selector toggle is in the middle or neck position, the sound can be downright molasses thick – fairly amazing for a single coil pickup. Once you start to add overdrive or distortion, things get really deep. The midtones are warm without being muddy. One of the great things about a Gibson vintage-voiced P-90 is that it is versatile without losing EQ.

With the selector on the bridge pickup, the guitar downright wails with tube amplification. It’s snarky enough to get a good bite and definition of the higher pitches – but it doesn’t lose all its low-end tightness. The midtones are very strong in the bridge pickup. I do love Fender single-coil pickups, and they are very different than P-90s – but the completely different nature of the Gibson P-90 pickups is an incredible strong sound that has its own wonderful coloring: not all single coils are the same.
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I really like zZounds and their service, and their people! Here’s a list of the current Gibson SGs offered at zZounds.

Fit and Finish
When I unboxed my Pete Townshend SG, I was actually impressed with pretty much all the aspects of the way it is built. Smooth finish, excellent choice of rosewood fretboard wood, hand-crafted fret-end binding, superb carving of the body and neck, and a flawless setup of the bridge, pickups, and headstock components… very nice!

Each of the Gibson “standards” I’ve owned (and those with fret-end binding) has a unique quality to the way the binding is scraped and cut down to meet the fret ends and the fretboard wood. Some guitars will have a little ridgy-ness to the top surface of the fretboard binding that’s scraped away, others will exhibit a baby-soft smoothness. Some guitars have both… but I always find that the fret-end binding technique (rough or smooth) makes the neck so very playable. My Townshend SG was the variety where the craftswoman/craftsman who dressed the fretboard binding really took a long time to do the finish work. It was as though the binding had been made ten minutes or so per side per fret. I think it’s the best I’ve seen, including my Les Paul Custom… Nice!

Funny thing about necks… they either feel right or they don’t. This one did. I think the craftsperson who did the neck really thought it through from beginning to end. Overall, a great guitar!
Here’s Gibson’s page detailing the wonderful SG Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary edition. (Opens new window.)

Wishes and Wants The wrap around Lightening Bar compensated tailpiece/bridge is excellent in comparison with the traditional smooth-top wrap-around tailpiece. However, I did not have much success in recording with the Pete Townshend and other guitars with TOMs or individual-saddle bridges.

The Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic Guitar Review!

The Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic Guitar Review

I love things with strings. Things with strings that make sound… Many times, I can be just as happy sitting with an acoustic guitar (or bass, or mandolin, or…) and play for hours on end. I compose, I wander, I contemplate, I just lose myself in the music. With electrics, I can hear what I’m playing (when not plugged in) and can enjoy the sheer ease with which the guitar comes to life beneath my fingers. I’m not particularly “for” or “against” anything – I love playing things with strings. Yesterday, it was a rubber band and a couple of pencils because I was too hot and tired (from yardwork) to play my instruments.

But when you’re playing an acoustic instrument, the gratification is wholesome and wonderful. Wow. I just love the whole experience of playing an acoustic instrument – and when it’s a great instrument, the experience ceases to be about playing (guitar or whatever) and becomes about a flow of life between my heart/brain and the instruments and back to my ears. When I stop thinking about playing and start living the experience, I get lost in the music. What a joy.
OK, with that little ramble, let’s take a look at a guitar that’s easy to experience that joy – and is easy on the wallet, too!
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I needed an acoustic to augment my library which gives me a brighter and louder experience – that’s easy to play and can tolerate odd tunings very well. My budget was just wiped out by purchasing a nice Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Studio, so I wasn’t flush with cash… I did my research, did a little experimentation and in-store noodling, and settled on the Epiphone Dove Pro.
I am so glad I did. Here’s why!

Quick Opinion:
The Epiphone Dove Pro acoustic guitar is a surprisingly inexpensive guitar that has a great deal to offer. The sound is great, the build quality is top-notch, and it plays like a guitar that costs hundreds more.
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the Elegant Epiphone Dove Pro – click here! (visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! (And G.A.S., of course! :-))

I generally have my Epiphone Dove Pro out on a stand in the living room – and every guitar player that comes through plays it. All have remarked positively, even those who are die-hard fans of other brands and types.

Features:
The Epiphone Dove Pro has a long list of features for a low-cost dreadnought acoustic guitar. From great tuners, to a solid wood top, to excellent binding and inlays – this is a great guitar.
* Solid spruce top
* Maple neck, back, and sides
* Dovetail (no pun intended :-)) neck/body joint
* Rosewood fretboard
* Parallelogram inlays
* Bound fingerboard, body top and body back
* 25.5” scale (the distance between the saddle and nut)
* Compensated saddle and dove-inlaid rosewood bridge
* Grover tuners
* Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Sonicore sond-hole preamp

The Epiphone Dove pro is listed as Violin Burst – but in truth it is a beautiful orange-y burst with a transparent orange-y back and sides. It’s a beautiful guitar that stands out from the everyday colors seen on most acoustics. I am an unabashed “orange” fan when it comes to transparent finishes on guitars – so it is right up my alley. I love the dove inlays in the very striped bridge and the parallelograms in the fretboard match the look of my Gibson Songwriters to a T.
The Dove comes with a simple and easy pickup/preamp combination from Fishman. The soundhole’s easily-accessed master tone and volume controls work great and are easy to change while actively playing the guitar. Adjustment is like on an electric – you just turn the knob(s) until your ears like what you hear.

Overall, the Epiphone Dove Pro is very feature-rich, very much on par with guitars that cost north of $700 (street value).
You can see more about the features and benefits of owning an Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic here at zZounds.com
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Playability
This guitar is easy to play. The neck is a little on the narrow side, so it isn’t giant wide like some acoustics. It has a good “D” shape that helps you grip the neck nicely when doing difficult chords or fret reaches. When you’re holding acoustic strings down for a good while when you are playing, it is nice to get a good grip on the neck. For those with small hands, the neck isn’t too deep a D – it is a good balance for most hands. I’m a person with large hands and slender fingers, so the neck is mostly good with me. The width of the fretboard on my Gibsons is more comfortable – but my Dove feels somewhat similar to the necks on my Seagulls (Original 6 and 12).
The fretboard is nicely finished, so it is easy when playing lots of fretting-hand movement. The string spread of the bridge is just about right, making it fairly comfortable for finger picking, hybrid picking, and flat-picking.

Despite the miles of hard maple in this guitar, it is surprisingly comfortable and relatively light. My Ibanez Artcore guitars are substantially heavier, for comparison. The guitar is easy on the shoulder and easy on the knee – and feels like a good depth for lots of pick-arm and hand work.
The full-size Grover Rotomatic chrome tuners are very smooth and work great. They’re easy to use and do a nice job. The nut (it seems like almost every guitar, these days) works great with a little lubrication such as Lizard Spit or Big Bends Nut Sauce.

Sound
The Epiphone Dove Pro comes strung with phosphor-bronze .012-.053 D’Addario strings. The strings themselves sound fantastic and present themselves with a clean, edgy acoustic sound that is clear and not muddy at all. I’ve played 80/20 bronzes on maples before, and have found that the 80/20 bronzes tend to darken the sound such that the maple-ness of the sound is not as articulate as it tends to be. The phosphor-bronze strings sound just right.

As a dread, the Dove is loud and clear. It does the low notes very tightly and the mid-tones nicely too… The highs tend to be a little tinny when playing in the middle third of the neck on the two plain (E and B) strings. I think this is partly a function of the finish and the glue/joint work. When recording, the first two strings played from 7 to 10 (frets) are often not warm enough – such that I’ll often play up the neck on the D string if I can… I don’t think this is a deal-breaker on this guitar: it’s not a $2700 hand-crafted instrument.

The resonance and sustain are good to very good on the Dove. It sustains like an excellent glued-in neck – but with the highs rolling off fairly quickly on fretted notes. The open-string notes ring pretty well, particularly the 6th-4th strings. The strings on this guitar make a big difference. Dead, corroded strings muffle out this guitar fairly dramatically – when the strings get nasty, the Dove begins to sound like a laminate-topped guitar. I like the D’Addario EXP coated strings and the Ernie Ball coated acoustic strings on this guitar. The feel and sound of these particular strings is no sacrifice as compared to the truly long life you get out of the sound on average. Even those with sweaty or acid hands will see a good length of use from the two strings I’ve mentioned.
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Fit and Finish
The fit and finish of my Dove is outstanding. I did not see a single finish burble, and everything fits and sits like it should. Since the Dove appears to be finished in poly, it has a hard and slick finish that puts up with lots of little dings without showing them. The finish doesn’t sound like the resonant quality of a hand-applied lacquer finish – but it doesn’t seem to dampen things too much. The body and neck finish are extremely consistent and smooth. The headstock and neck inlays are actually nicely done: many Asian-made acoustics I’ve handled have lots of dark filler around the inlays. The Dove’s inlays are very accurate in most cases, with only a few very minor filled splinters or routing blems.
The fret ends were nicely dressed out of the box. The overall feel as you traverse the neck is simple and good, with no real issues to be found. I didn’t find any substantial fret leveling issues (if any at all, really). There aren’t any buzzes that appear at unexpected spots. The guitar even plays nicely with .013 strings tuned to a low tuning like CGCGCC. It does play crisply and nicely with standard .012 gauge strings and “standard” EADGBE tuning.

The electronics are attached to the inside of the body nicely and are fairly well dressed. The wires don’t dangle too much and don’t clunk around in the body. The Fishman controls are solidly mounted and work smoothly and easily. The end-pin 1/4” jack works great and attaches positively to the cable.
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Wishes and Wants I do wish the battery was in a standard battery box attached to the sides somewhere instead of deep in the sound hole. I wonder how hard it would be for Epiphone “Pro” guitars to have that killer fret-end binding one gets on better Gibson electric guitars and basses?

One other thing: Couldn’t we have 18:1 Grovers on our Gibsons and Epiphones? I really like the larger-ratio feel when tuning.
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