King Loudness 05/06/2011

Epiphone The Dot : King Loudness's user review

« Not bad, but not great. »

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The Epiphone Dot was designed to be a close approximation to the original late 1950s Gibson ES-335 "dot neck" version of the classic semi hollow body instrument. It features the following specifications:

Laminated maple body and top
Body binding
Set maple neck
22-fret rosewood fretboard
Dual humbuckers (based on Gibson '57 Classic humbuckers)
3-way pickup selector
2 volume and 2 tone controls
LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece add more sustain and easier string changing
Chrome hardware

It's a very basic hollowbody guitar and feels much like a 335, except without the classic craftsmanship and attention to detail that getting one from Gibson Custom Shop would get you. I've owned one and played several and they're of varying quality. Epiphones in general tend to lack consistency, which can be a problem when shopping for guitars like this.


Playing this guitar was definitely something to get used to! At the time I owned it, I was accustomed to much lighter, more ergonomic solidbody guitars, with the occasional foray into fully acoustic guitars. The particular example that I owned was on the heavier side (probably about 9 to 10 pounds) and felt a little bit clunky and odd to get used to at first because of the very large body. The upper fret access was not stellar on this guitar either, but I can't be too picky about that considering that the guitar was not designed to play lightning fast Yngwie or Guthrie Govan tunes. For being designed how it is, the ergonomics and upper fret access weren't terrible by any means, just not nearly as good as many of the solidbody guitars that I've owned.

Getting a decent sound out of this guitar is not too difficult. It's wired exactly the same as a Les Paul or SG, with dual humbuckers, each with its own volume and tone control, and then a 3 way toggle switch to go between the pickups. The pickups in this guitar are definitely a weak point, so the tones I dialed in were often muffled and/or muddy sounding, so that was a bit of a crutch, but again, for a $400 guitar I can't be TOO picky about the stock OEM pickups.


I used this guitar with my main rig at the time, a Mesa Boogie Mark III head and Basson 2x12 speaker cabinet. Like I stated above, the pickups in this guitar really are not very impressive. From what I've read in some places, they were based on '57 Classics, but I would argue that they really don't do that sound. I have '57 Classics in my main Gibson LP and they are a MUCH more articulate and dynamic pickup than the OEM copies in this guitar.

The clean tones were the better sounding ones. The neck pickup had a nice bassy sound for jazz and cleaner blues tones and the bridge pickup had a thicker, wooly sounding tone, again great for bluesier textures. The muddiness is unfortunately fairly apparent with this sort of tone, so I had to compensate by using more treble on the amp than I would normally, which made it a bit piercing if I switched over to the overdrive tones. However for just playing cleaner tones with this guitar, if I adjusted the amplifier settings to dial out a bit of the muffled character, it was great.

The overdrive tones were quite honestly not much to write home about. The neck pickup was very bassy. There wasn't a whole lot of note definition when using this pickup, so it really only worked for single note lines or doom rock/metal type tones (IE: Sabbath, Sleep). The bridge pickup wasn't too bad, but again the lack of definition in the pickup relegated it to a much bassier sound than I'm used to using, and such a sound wasn't really one that fit the music I was playing at the time.


All in all I think Epiphone has a great idea with this guitar. The construction is decent and the feel of the guitar is nice for a hollowbody. The biggest issue for me was that the electronics were basically junk, and being that it's a hollowbody, pickups and electronics are much harder to swap out, so I was stuck using the stock pickups and electronics for the time that I owned it. The other big issue I have with Epiphones is consistency. I've played many great ones, many average ones and many total dogs, without any rhyme or reason as to which would be great and which wouldn't. I would say that my particular Dot (2004 model) was on the average side, not amazing but far from a dog.

These guitars are cool for $400, but to me the pickups are fit for the trash unless you want bass heavy mud... so factor in another $150 for new pickups. At that price point with upgrades, it's really no longer as good a deal, so I guess it's up to the end user to decide what works.