The Epiphone Explorer is an homage to the rare original 100 Gibson Korina Explorers produced in 1958. Features a korina body, mahogany neck, and a rosewood fingerboard. The onboard electronics are made up of a pair of Alnico Classic humbuckers wired to two independent volumes and a shared EQ. The natural korina top looks great and is complimented by gold hardware and a white pickguard. The guitar could easily be mistaken for it's gibson counterpart.
The explorer's slim neck profile allows for quick chord changes and fast lead passages. The 24-3/4" scale length allows for easy bends and loose playing feel. Tuning stability is actually better than on the Gibson USA explorer. The inherent cutaway in the the explorer body shape allows limitless access to all frets.
I played the Epiphone through a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier. Mesa 4x12 cab. No pedals.
Tonally speaking, the guitar is at the least comparable to the it's Gibson brother. The guitar can dish out any genre you put into it. Cleans? It's got them. Classic rock? Yes. Modern High gain? Of course. I was very impressed with how great the guitar felt. Being in the market for an explorer, I initially turned my nose up at Epiphone. Incidentally, I liked the feel and sound of the Epiphone better.
The Epiphone 1958 Korina Explorer outperforms the Gibson USA model in both tone and feel. Gibson's build quality of late is so sporadic that it has really damaged the brand in my eyes. No longer is it "safe" to purchase a lower priced model without getting hands on with it first. That said, I played 6 different Epiphone Explorers over the course of 4 years and all were consistent. That says something. The guitar is no longer in production but can be common found for as low as $150 on the used market. Incredible value for money.
The Epiphone Explorer '58 reissue is a lower priced version of the original Explorer that was released in the late 1950s as a very new and radical guitar design. It features a Korina body and neck (like mahogany tonally) a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets, Kluson tuners, a tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, and a pair of Epiphone humbuckers based on Gibson '57 Classics. It's pretty faithful to the original model and looks just like the classic Gibsons, except with a lower price.
The design isn't the most ergonomic in the world given that it's very large and cumbersome overall. The bulky shape doesn't really allow for the most comfortable playing surface, but that's no fault of the Epiphone brand, just the design of the guitar itself. It's of a medium weight and the neck has a nice feel to it with a profile that's not really as thick as the baseball bat type ones on some Gibsons of that time. The upper fret access is decent, but impeded a bit by the design of the neck heel and the glossy neck finish.
This guitar sounds pretty good for being a cheaper level import guitar. The clean tones are pretty cool sounding. The neck pickup has a nice bassy quality for jazzy quality, and the bridge pickup is a delight for blues or country tones. It doesn't quite have the sparkle of say, a Fender, but it is very warm sounding in place of that. It has its own tone as a result of the Korina that is different from even a Les Paul or SG. The drive tones are very smooth and clear. I find it works best for classic rock type stuff mainly. Unfortunately it does get a bit muddy when you use lots of gain, so heavy metal probably isn't the greatest choice for this guitar.
All in all I think the Epiphone '58 Explorer is a great guitar for anyone looking for a unique looking guitar that offers a different sound that is based on that warm, thick Gibson tone. At about $500 new it's a decent deal and well worth it if you want a cheaper way to get into one of the most radical solidbody guitars made since 1958.
Made in Korea
Mahogany set-in neck
Rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets
Alnico Classic humbuckers
2 volume, 1 tone control
3-way pickup selector switch
LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece for more sustain and easier string changing
First of all, I'll state that I do NOT like guitars with overly large, angular bodies, as a general rule. I say this so that you, the reader, understand how cool this guitar is. Epiphone has done a fantastic job with this guitar - the Korina Explorer looks very well-made, with great fit and finish. The playability is similar to any of the higher end Gibsons - it feels that nice. And the tone is out of this world.
This guitar was made with tone in mind. The Korina wood has been highly sought after for a great guitar tonewood, and this model certainly delivers tone in spades. I don't know why I keep being surprised by Epiphone's pickup quality - each of the newer models that I've tried have all had superior sound quality to other budget guitars. I'm speculating, but I think Epiphone probably gets their pickup-winding specifications directly from Gibson, and makes them just as Gibson does, as these Alnico Classics in this Explorer sound great. This guitar is a classic rocker's dream, and it is also incredible for southern rock and metal as well.
The look of the finish drew me in, the playability got me excited, and the tone won me over. This big guitar can come to my house any day, and if it wants to, it can stay indefinitely. I'd just have to get over the excessively large guitar case. As much as I never thought I'd say this, but this Explorer is a surefire winner - a great guitar.
This guitar is kind of strange. The whole point of Epiphone doing a Korina guitar is to have the cool natural yellowish finish. Because when Epiphone does a Korina guitar it isnt really made of Korina it is just a mahogany guitar with Korina veneers. So this guitar made of mahogany with Korina veneers but with black paint on them. You lose the whole point of having the Korina veneers. In the late 50s Gibson made some radical guitars to show they were a modern guitar company. The Explorer is one of these. The first 50s models were made from Korina wood these are the classic yellow looking Gibsons you have seen. This Epiphone model has veneers that are made from the Korina wood so it would have a yellowish look if it wasnt for the paint. They have 22 frets on a mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. Two humbucking pickups which are a Epiphones own alnico humbuckers. Two volume and one master tone control with a 3 way toggle switch pickup selector. There is gold hardware on this guitar.
Early 50s Gibsons had huge necks. Today people refer to them as the "baseball" bat necks. In the 60s Gibson switched to slimmer neck design. This Epiphone Explorer today has that 60s design. The 60s Gibson neck profile is one of their most popular and it is what they use on most of the Epiphone guitars. They use this profile on the Epiphones because kids might be playing them and kids will like the smaller profile better. The upper frets are easy to reach because of the Explorers design. The radical shape actually gives the guitar a perfect balance for playing while standing up. The neck will come to rest at a perfect angle due to the large body acting as a counter weight.
Gibsons are known for their warm humbucking tones and the Epiphone Explorer is no different. No matter how cold it is outside the Explorer always sounds warm. The Explorer is made from a huge piece of solid mahogany and you can really hear it. The pickups on the Epiphone Explorer have gold covers and this matches well with the korina wood. The Epiphone Explorer sounds like what every Gibson should sound like. If you are looking to play heavier music you may want to change the pickups to Seymour Duncans or EMG's for a more heavier sound.
The Explorer design was ahead of its time in the 50s but in the 70s it was just right for the music and players of the time. People may look for the Gibson tone in just Les Pauls but the Explorer can deliver it too. This Epiphone sounds better than some Gibsons with Gibson starting to chamber its Les Pauls the Explorer shape may be the way to go if you are looking for a really solid piece of wood to get tone from. Even with the pointless Korina veneers under the black finish the black finish and gold hardware give the guitar a classy look.