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Thread: PRS SE? vs Epiphone?

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    Junior Member Toledo Bob's Avatar
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    PRS SE? vs Epiphone?

    Hi Gang. Sorry if this might have been covered before but I couldn't find a thread like this. I have been a loyal Gibson player for years now awaiting a new PRS SE ZM. Just interested if anyone who has owned both Epiphone and PRS SE guitars would care to comment about the differences/similarities. Epiphone is Gibson's Asian made models as seems to be PRS' SE models. I have owned Epis too and am just curious to hear opinions from this forum. Thanks. TBob

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    Epis are a great value, however I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how nice the SEs are.
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    Raven Lunatic Raven17's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Epis are a great value, however I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how nice the SEs are.
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    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    This is a rare occasion where I need to disagree with Les. I do not thing the Epi's are a great value or even a good value. If you compare a PRS SE to the equivalent priced Gibson/Fender offerings, you will see right away a big difference in construction quality. I'm talking simple things too, like sharp fret bar edges, or noisy toggle switches. I gave my SE 245 to one of my nephews who also owns a Gibson Les Paul Studio - a step up from the Epiphone LP models. He likes his LP, he LOVES the SE 245. I don't think I'm ever getting that one back (only sent it so he had a 2nd guitar as backup in his band - the Gibson is the backup now). Give them a try, I'd really be surprised if you didn't walk away thinking "wow! I should have looked into these earlier!"

    This is, of course, my opinion based on the 30 years I've been playing (not quite as ancient as Les claims, but not too far behind) -YMMV and all that standard disclaimer stuff.
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    Senior Member sleary's Avatar
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    I was a gibson player for a few years. Epiphones are a great value however the se line might just surprise you. Loved mine alot and just ordered a new se to compliment my core prs.
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    Mostly Normal AP515's Avatar
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    I see alot of Epiphones that my students bring to lessons. The SE's are much better in quality. The tuners on Epi's are very poor. Play them side by side and you'll be impressed with the SE's.
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    Junior Member starscream67's Avatar
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    I went from a Gibson LP Studio to a PRS SE Custom 22 to Epiphone LP Tribute to a PRS SE Singlecut to a Epiphone LP Standard Plustop Pro and now to a PRS SE 245.

    For me, PRS won the war.

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    about 2 months ago I bought my daughter a epi les paul standard plus top as well as my se 245. The epi needed a new bridge right off the rack(epi bridges are horrible) as well as some spot dressing on the frets. I got the flattest fretboard I could find and it still had a slight hump in it between the 3rd and 5th frets. The epi is heavy but plays great and sounds wonderful. The se245 got some locking studs on the bridge, new strings, and a general setup. Not as heavy, beautiful fret work, and plays like a dream. I prefer the pickups in the epi a little but the se is much more comfortable to play.

    She HAD to have the trans blue color. That said, it will be the last epi I buy.

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    Senior Member gball's Avatar
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    I've been playing Gibsons and Epis for 36 years (and more recently PRS). I think you'll find that the PRS SE line is more comparable to Gibson than to Epiphone. They are that good.

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    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Every once in a while you can find an Epi that's as good, or close, to an SE. But not often. The SE's, you KNOW you're getting a guitar that has it all done right the moment you buy it.

    I recently picked up an older ('94) Epi, and it's pretty nice... I wonder if they were significantly better or at least better QC when they were made in Korea in the Samick factory? I'm a little too young to know such things...
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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    Depending on the specs, you can get a good Epi or a bad one. I've seen some Epis come with Grover tuners and all the good stuff (Gibson pickups etc.) in the higher end range. But if you were to get a lower end one, don't expect anything fancy. Epi's stock pickups are not that great IMO, I have never tried one that I like, they tend to sound dark and boomy. There are some people who prefer the more "vintage" response that they give over the more modern-sounding PRS SE pickups though. If you want some good Epis, look for the Elitist models, but that would be way more expensive than a PRS SE. I would say the quality standards on Epis have been better in recent years, but not enough for me to justify getting an Epi over an SE. But do keep in mind that I might be slightly biased since I'm an SE user.

    I've always thought of the PRS SE as contenders for the Gibson entry-level line (Studio, or the more recent 50's, 60's, 70's Tribute models) instead of the standard Epis. While the Studio line is more stripped-down, PRS SEs are nearly full-bling, and the hardware quality is comparable to that of more expensive guitars. That said, it's up to your hands, ears and eyes, whether you fancy an Epi or a PRS SE. Try them out extensively, and put down the spec sheet. See which guitar gives you more "mojo" and go with it. No matter how high the quality of the guitar is, if it doesn't resonate with you, it's not a guitar for you. (But still, PRS SEs are more consistently higher in quality)

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    Junior Member Chuckblues's Avatar
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    I have both an Epiphone Jack Cassady Bass and an Epiphone Dot 335 guitar ! They are both nice instruments but my favorite guitar is a PRS SE Bernie Marsden . I also have several other SE's In my opinion the quality of the PRS SE's is much better than the Epi's The Se245 pickups in my Santana and SE245 are so much better than the Epi pickups ! As I said although I like the Dot 335 , the SE's win hands down !!!!
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    Angry Southern Gentleman Hopeful Sinner's Avatar
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    I have never owned an Epi but have played many. I do own a new SE ZM and think you will be surprisingly blown away...

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    pretty much every SE I have had in the house played better and was better quality than the 2002 USA LP standard I had. better quality than the 2010 studio I had. Se line is a budget line than can run with the big dogs of the OTHER brands IMO.
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    Junior Member Toledo Bob's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your input. I am really looking forward to my first PRS. Been playing, ...well, forever LOL 40+ years. I have had many guitars with Gibson Traditionals being my favorite. PRS was not even on my radar until the SE ZM. Gibson recently came out with a semi-hollow Special with the one f-hole arrangement like the ZM. It was a Guitar Center special issue in limited quantities. Never got a chance to even play one being as how the Eastern US appeared to have received the lion's share of the stock. Anyways the ZM popped up and I wanted one especially at its price point. I do still own 2 Epiphones- 2001 Custom and a 2012 Tribute Plus which I modded heavily. Good guitars but neither can keep up with my Gibsons. They rarely get played out while the Gibbys are the mainstays of my gigging choices. I read that if guitars were women, Epiphones would be the gold diggers. They are beautiful but they will take all your money and still leave you wanting more. I appreciate your feedback.

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    I have an Epi ES-335 and a PRS Paul Allender SE. The PRS is a far superior instrument, although it is worth about 3x the Epi. The 335 is nice, no complaints but the PRS is so easy to play that it rvals the Les Paul I have.

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    Yeah you wont find an epi that compares with THAT SE ZM.
    The SEs are netter than the epis but you still will find some new SEs with sharp fret ends.. Seen them myself. But I haven't seen any with necks that were twisted...from the factory..but I've seen epis like that. The necks have a twist so they just mill/grind the frets to compensate. Seen several where the frets around the 12th fret were ground flat and wide and almost to nothing while those on the ends of the fretboard looked untouched.
    PRS SE everytime!

  18. #18
    PRS Guitar Owner HANGAR18's Avatar
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    PRS SE generally always wins over Epiphone.
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  19. #19
    Sharp fret ends can happen with any instrument, even a great one. They're all about the results of temperature and humidity, and are kind of like setups in that regard.

    I had a brand new US model delivered during one of the hottest weeks of last summer; when I received the guitar from UPS, the guitar case inside the shipping box was literally hot to the touch from sitting in the truck. As a result, the fret ends went a little sharp and needed to be touched up. It was very slight, but noticeable. No big deal, fixed by the PTC.

    Imagine a guitar sitting in a box in a metal container on the deck of a container ship, along with hundreds of other metal containers coming via the Pacific in the heat of summer. with all that humidity. It's a wonder they survive at all.

    I've seen guitar stores that were so dry in winter from forced air heat that nearly every guitar had sharp fret ends. It's simply the nature of guitars, and doesn't mean they were fretted poorly.

    PRS dries the wood for its US guitars extremely well (I don't know much about what they do for SEs), and very few go very sharp at the fret ends, but there was a thread sometime last year where Shawn said that the fret ends can go sharp during shipping when there are environmental extremes.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-29-2014 at 09:18 AM.
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  20. #20
    Junior Member Felix's Avatar
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    ^ I wish that PRS would file the frets so that the full length of the fret-wire matched the curve of the fretboard ("Flat" in reference to the fretboard) out to the end, rather than sloping off (I knew at one time what that was called, but can't remember just now). I have seen this done on some very nice, single-maker guitars, but never on a production model. I'm sure it is labor intensive, but IMO well worth the extra time and effort, since I am wont to bend up to the note's perfect fifth (seven half-steps) and such and need the extra space on the fret.

    As far as Epi vs. a PRS S-anything? Wait, and get a Gibson if you like them (I am partial to the 336 model myself, though I'm not a "Gibson guy") or a PRS Core line model if you are inclined that way. I know they are expensive... but I would say that the added value outstrips the added cost. A Gibson will hold its value better, in general, though it is my opinion that they are inferior in most cases to PRS guitars.
    Last edited by Felix; 03-29-2014 at 11:51 AM.

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