George Thorogood: why I love my Epiphone White Fang ES-125

George Thorogood with his Epiphone White Fang signature guitar
(Image credit: Gibson)

In his earliest days, George Thorogood says he “played nothing but acoustic guitars.” Which made the hollow-body Gibson ES-125 an easy fit when he eventually started plugging in.

“The 125 had an archtop and f-holes,” Thorogood says. “So it was an electric guitar, but it felt like playing an acoustic.”

There was also another reason behind its appeal. “The price,” he admits with a laugh. “It was inexpensive.”

Thorogood’s motivations may have been somewhat pragmatic, but the ES-125 nevertheless has served him well over the course of his more than 40-year run as one of popular music’s preeminent bluesmen.

“The tone of the 125 was distinct, which gave me a distinct sound,” he says. Indeed, it’s the guitar he has played more than any other live and in the studio, and it can be seen everywhere from his concert stages to the video for his most famous song, 1982’s Bad to the Bone.

Now Epiphone has captured that recognizable sound and look in the new George Thorogood “White Fang” ES-125TDC Outfit.

(Image credit: Epiphone)

Based on his vintage ES-125, the model boasts a single-cutaway hollow body, traditional 'Diamond' trapeze tailpiece, Wilkinson Deluxe tuners and a custom Bone White finish. And as found on Thorogood’s original, there’s also a pair of P-90 pickups, but in this case they’re new P-90 PRO single-coils, which the guitarist points to as a welcome upgrade.

“My original 125 and P-90s was a good blend - the tone was nasty and different,” Thorogood says. “However, the pickups weren’t that powerful. If another guitarist was playing with me I got kind of left in the dust. But the P-90 PROs have a great combination of tone and power, which is the best of both worlds.”

When I tried to take the cobra sticker off I realized my guitar tech had taken the liberty of having someone paint it on there without asking me!

Regarding the origin of the cobra sticker that, along with the striking finish, lends the White Fang its name (and which, on the new model, is made of removable static cling material).

Thorogood explains: “A long time ago we had these stickers at shows and I thought they looked kind of cool. So I cut one of the cobras out and put it on the guitar without much thought.

“Then we started another tour and when I tried to take the sticker off I realized my guitar tech had taken the liberty of having someone paint it on there without asking me. So I said, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it now!’”

“So it’s stayed with us,” he continues. “Some people dig it, some people don’t. But it looks groovy to me.”

As for whether Thorogood digs the new White Fang? He laughs. “To quote the good people of Minnesota, ‘You betcha!’ I play it every night, exclusively, and it sounds great.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.