« Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II »Published on 08/23/04 at 15:00
I bought my Joe Pass a few months ago. I had been in the market for an archtop to play rock-a-billy songs while jamming with friends and jazz sitting around on the couch. Of course I first looked at Gibbie's and Gretches (both WAY too expensive for my budget)and Ibanezes (nice to look at but seemed very cheapy made when taken off the rack). When purchasing a new guitar I first play them all without being plugged in. The Joe Pass sang sweetly like a bird. I was at Guitar Center where about 15 guys were testing various guitars - all doing the usual noodling and shredding - and when I plugged into a Fender Bassman and played a Delta-Blues tune - everyone in the place stopped what they were doing and looked over - not at me - at the guitar producing this sweet tone. I held onto the guitar while I looked around the store a bit more and two guys followed me around - hoping for me to put it back on the wall so they could have their crack at it! Needless to say I bought it before leaving the store. It was set up wonderfully right out of the box.
The only thing I dont like about this guitar was the pick-gaurd. The tortoise shell and multi-binding are beautiful, but the Joe Pass signature is silly and makes it look cheap. Since the signature is burried somewhere in the multilayers, I couldnt figure out how to get rid of it. So I took the pickguard off. It was IMPOSSIBLE to find another pick-guard, and I looked around quite a bit including some swap meets and still havent found a replacement that fits. So in the mean time I have a cheap Les Paul pickguard on there ($7 from Sam Ash) and have that on there for now. Doesnt fit or look right but looks a lot better than the cartoon signature one. Joe Pass (RIP) was an exceptional guitarist and his memory is deserving of better than a phony signature on the pickguard of his name-sake instrument. The guitar is a wonderful tribute and and exceptional instrument for the price. The goofy pickguard is an insult. I did save it though in case I ever decide to sell the guitar (very, very unlikely) and the purchaser wants it "stock".
But, like with all guitars I get from the "Super Stores" I took it in to have it proffessionally set-up. And believe it or not, the guy who does all my set-ups told me it didnt need a full set-up! Very rare for a guitar from Guitar Center or Sam Ash and other places where its out of the box and onto the wall. He filed the nut a bit, made one tiny crank to the truss rod. I told him I noticed a slight "buzz" when I played on certain parts of the neck and it turned out to be simply due to a loose pot wire inside the body and the pick-up covers also needed tightening. So he charged me $10 and sent me on my way.
Great guitar for the price - and as many others have commented - quite a head turner. Wherever I go, everyone wants to "try it out". If you want a quality jazz box for a doable price. This is it.
This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com