Review: Epiphone Casino Coupe and Riviera Custom P-93 Guitars — Video
The thinline double-cutaway may be the most versatile electric-guitar design ever conceived. It works well for many styles of music, from jazz and country to hard rock and punk.
Two new thinline models from Epiphone—the Casino Coupe and Riviera Custom P-93—prove there is still room for innovation without sacrificing the basic look and sound of classic examples.
These new Epiphone models are so outrageously affordable and appealing that they deserve a closer look from anyone who wants to add a thinline guitar to his or her arsenal.
FEATURES The Epiphone Casino Coupe is essentially a Casino with the smaller body proportions of the ES-339 model. It retains the same fully hollowbody design as the original Casino and provides a full-size mahogany neck with a 24 3/4–inch scale, 22 medium jumbo frets, a rosewood fingerboard with a 12-inch radius, parallelogram inlays and a Sixties-era Slim-Taper C-shaped profile. Unlike classic Casino models, where the neck meets the body at the 16th fret, the Casino Coupe’s neck joins the body at the 19th fret and provides better access to the uppermost reaches. The body is made from five-layer laminated maple.
Also true to the Casino’s classic design, the guitar is equipped with a pair of P-90 single-coil pickups with chrome-plated dog-ear covers and nickel-plated hardware that includes a LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, floating trapeze tailpiece and 14:1 tuners with metal buttons. The control configuration consists of separate volume and tone controls for each pickup and a three-position pickup-selector switch.
If you need even more tonal versatility, look no further than the Riviera Custom P-93. This is a full-size double-cutaway thinline electric with a semihollow laminated maple body that incorporates a block of mahogany through the center, beneath the pickups, bridge and tailpiece. Like the Casino, it has a 24 3/4–inch-scale mahogany neck with 22 medium jumbo frets, a rosewood fingerboard, a 12-inch radius and parallelogram inlays. The Slim-Taper neck has a D-shaped profile.
The Riviera Custom P-93’s tonal versatility comes courtesy of three P-90 single-coil pickups with dog-ear covers, individual volume controls for each pickup, a master tone control and a three-position pickup-selector switch. The hardware is gold plated and consists of a genuine Bigsby B70 vibrato tailpiece, Wilkinson 14:1 tuners with small gold-plated buttons, and a LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge. While the Casino Coupe is available with three finish options (red, natural and sunburst), the Riviera Custom P-93 is offered with a Wine Red finish only.
PERFORMANCE With its exceptionally light weight and compact body size, the Casino Coupe is very comfortable to play, especially when seated, which is when a full-size thinline body can feel a bit bulky. Thanks to its fully hollow design, the guitar produces outstanding resonance and sustain. The Coupe’s smaller body size provides more focused midrange honk and bite, and it makes the guitar more resistant to feedback than a full-sized Casino. The pickups deliver the classic, aggressive P-90 snarl that perfectly complements the Casino’s midrange and acoustic resonance. The Coupe’s focused and assertive voice makes it a great thinline choice for lead guitarists.
With its semihollow design, the Riviera Custom P-93 leans closer to the tones and textures of a solidbody guitar, but it still provides plenty of body, resonance and sustain. The Riviera’s P-90 pickups have the same crisp, bold and dynamic character as the Coupe’s P-90s, but having three of them at your disposal provides an even wider range of flavors and nuances to work with.
Both of my examples displayed impressive attention to detail. When I looked up the street prices for both, I was shocked to discover how affordable they are—I was expecting each model to sell for more than $1,000, just judging by the workmanship, playability and tonal performance. On appearance alone, the Riviera Custom P-93 far outclasses other contenders in its price range, and both models were ready to gig right out the box, without needing any hardware or electronics upgrades.
LIST PRICES Casino Coupe, $748; Riviera Custom P-93, $832
MANUFACTURER Epiphone Guitar Corp., epiphone.com
The Casino Coupe features the same compact body size as Epiphone’s ES-339 model while retaining a fully hollowbody design.
The Casino Coupe’s two P-90 single-coil pickups deliver classic, assertive Casino tones but with more focused midrange and less susceptibility to feedback.
The Riviera Custom P-93 has a semihollow design and three P-90 single-coil pickups that provide a wide range of tones and textures.
The Riviera’s gold-plated Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge and Wilkinson tuners are pro quality.
THE BOTTOM LINE If you’ve always wanted to add a thinline electric to your collection or you’re looking for a versatile first ax, these Epiphone models deliver outstanding performance for outrageously low prices.
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