General impression out of the box: Very nice finish on the guitar, truss rod set up up perfectly and even the intonation was nearly spot on. The satin finish feels great changing positions on the neck, it's also quite robust when it comes to knocks and scratches. The gig bag is great, nice and sturdy with lots of pockets for storing leads and pedals.
Features: Apart from the normal features the kill switch was a nice feature, it takes a certain style however to fit it in to normal playing but a nice touch nonetheless. The gig bag has ample space for fitting 3 or 4 long cables and a few pedals in it along with the guitar. Note that the control cavity is very narrow, with little space to fit a battery if you install active pickups. It's possible, but the cover is slightly raised if you stuff it all in. XD
Sound: The epiphone alnico pickups are very 80's thrash sounding, a great sound for stock pickups. I however swapped them out for an EMG 81/60 combo later, but that is just for personal preference. The explorer sounds great with heavy gauge strings, with no adjustments needed to the truss rod even with .12's. The mahogany is very warm sounding compared to my Squier Stratocaster, perfect for heavy rhythm or even lead guitar playing. I tried the guitar out with a MXR 78' Custom Badass Distortion pedal and my little Roland Cube amp and it sounded pretty good, but the guitar sounded great on an old H H VS Musician amp.
Quality: The finish on the Explorer is brilliant, with a quick rub with a dry cloth being all that is needed every so often. The sound off it with stock pickups as well as the EMG is brilliant. The gig bag is robust with no problems at all.
First of all: I really, really like this guitar. As I wanted to have another guitar with mahagony body, humbuckers and really cool looks I could not ignore this beauty ;)
It is a really nice guitar, as long as you don't expect to much for that price. The otherwise really cool finish has a few rough spots here and there. On my guitar one of the strap-pins is not totally straightly driven into the wood, but I can easily live with such minor things. The playability is really good, the action is fine, too. A rather cool feature is that the tone control also works as a killswitch.
If you like to upgrade your guitars this one has real potential. The Pickups are not bad, but not great either. As the wood is quite good and resonant an upgrade with some better humbuckers might get you a real killer axe out of this baby ;)
The gigbag is okay. Don't expect it to be as good as a case though. If you simply want to carry your guitar on your back from one place to another from time to time it will serve you well but don't trow it in a full car with other gear...
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