“Epiphone has pulled off its conjuring trick once again and made three acoustic guitars that are amazing in practically every respect”: Epiphone 1942 Banner J-45, 1957 SJ-200 and J-180 LS review

Following on from the excellent ‘Inspired By Gibson Custom Shop’ electrics come three high-spec acoustic electrics from the Epiphone brand. How do they measure up?

Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom 1942 Banner J-45
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Guitar World Verdict

The workmanship and craft that has gone into this trio is truly first class, and the playability and – most importantly – the tone are jaw-dropping, and once again we find ourselves offering Epiphone a hearty round of applause for delivering the goods as promised.


  • +

    Classic designs, superb builds and tone.

  • +

    Full of vintage mojo, too!

  • +

    Not to mention the value for money.

  • +

    SJ-200 is big, bold but has a magically refined sound.

  • +

    J-180 LS has a voice that'd Wake Up Little Susie.


  • -

    SJ-200 is big-bodied.

  • -

    No lefties.

  • -

    J-180 LS's star inlays won't please everyone.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Everything from Epiphone’s ‘Inspired By Gibson Custom’ range that has come our way in recent months has raised eyebrows hereabouts and we’ve been left wondering if Gibson’s sibling marque’s output is a bit of an own goal for the mighty guitar company. 

After all, with the type of quality we’ve seen, we have been left wondering why – with this sort of quality readily on hand at around a quarter of the price of the ‘real thing’ – anyone would even take a second look at the Gibson equivalents. But that was the impression left by the electric instruments. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

David Mead

With over 30 years’ experience writing for guitar magazines, including at one time occupying the role of editor for Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, David is also the best-selling author of a number of guitar books for Sanctuary Publishing, Music Sales, Mel Bay and Hal Leonard. As a player he has performed with blues sax legend Dick Heckstall-Smith, played rock ’n’ roll in Marty Wilde’s band, duetted with Martin Taylor and taken part in charity gigs backing Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden and Robbie McIntosh, among others. An avid composer of acoustic guitar instrumentals, he has released two acclaimed albums, Nocturnal and Arboretum.