The support guitar brands show rising playing talent is vital, and it also sends a message. Seeing Epiphone go from the endorsement of Emily Wolfe to a full signature model here is a statement that it not only believes in her obvious talents as an inspiring musician, but also that it’s open to the design input of contemporary players.
It’s worked with Lee Malia, Matt Heafy and Jared James Nichols before, and the two parties here have created a truly stunning looking Sheraton.
We’ve long cast envious glances at the Gibson Memphis satin range of 339s and 335s, but this is a black aged gloss that lies somewhere in between, taking on the look of a well played nitro without any of the relic’ing. The idea of pairing it with gold hardware risks going too showy for a guitar billing itself as ‘stealth’, but the ‘lightly aged’ gold stays classy and consistent with the aged binding.
The unique features continue with diamond holes inspired by the Trini Lopez model and lighting bolt inlays that give the aesthetic a subtle rock ’n’ roll edginess. Wolfe’s own signature touches strike a careful balance – her signature on the back of the headstock is literally stealth-like as it’s only visible at certain angles in the light.
The tattoo-style gold wolf’s head below it is more conspicuous, but we’re not complaining. This is undoubtedly one of the most badass-looking Epiphones we’ve seen, and there’s been some strong output lately on that front with the Prophecy series. Wolfe has described it as “elegant and aggressive”. We like that. And if Darth Vader had become a BB King cover act, he’d have liked it too.
It’s also a heavy guitar – 9 lbs gives it a solid heft for a semi-hollow. It feels very comfortable to play, though, with a spot-on setup that really sells the Indian laurel ‘board; it’s fast and coupled with the '60s slim taper profile neck here we’ve got a very positive first impression plugged in. The string slack is in the goldilocks zone for us – springly for expressive bends but firm enough for heavy rhythm.
The neck humbucker really sings with sustain, and drenched in fuzz and reverb it’s a treat. The bridge is warm too and it’s comfortably voiced for blues and classic rock, with the volume controls proving sensitive for cleaning up.
But like Wolfe’s music, this will confidently stride between the world’s of Albert King and Josh Homme: when things get gain-y there’s broad low string heft complemented by the open higher end articulation for chords that wins semi-hollows so many fans. As this guitar deserves to do, too.
- PRICE: $799 / £749
- BODY: Maple
- NECK: Mahogany, 60s Slim Taper C
- SCALE: 628 mm (24.724”)
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
- FRETS: 22
- PICKUPS: 2 x Epiphone Alnico Pro Humbuckers
- CONTROLS: 2 x volume controls and 1 x CTS potentiometer tone control
- HARDWARE: Lightly aged gold-plated Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, StopBar and Lightly aged and Grover Rotomatic tuners
- FINISH: Black Aged Gloss
- CASE: EpiLite case
- CONTACT: Epiphone