Epiphone SG Special Review | Is this the best budget guitar?

Wondering if the Epiphone SG Special is a good pick for an electric guitar on a budget? We’ll dive right into it, and while we’re at it, see the details that go into the Epiphone SG Special electric guitar.

The guitar world is vast as there are a lot of companies producing varieties of guitars with different features and in different price ranges. So purchasing the one, the perfect guitar for you is indeed overwhelming, especially when you are someone new to this circle.

If you are one of many of those people who don’t want to spend a fortune on a guitar then buying something from Epiphone is a great choice.  Epiphone is a company known for producing great-sounding guitars at an affordable price. If you are someone who loves Gibson guitars but cannot afford it then the Epiphone guitars shall be right up your alley. Epiphone is known for producing the budget-friendly versions of the Gibson series. 

From those many produced ones, the Epiphone SG Special is discussed in this article. Let’s dive into the specifics. 

Too lazy to read the full review? Here’s a quick summary!

What We Think

Epiphone SG is a guitar that suits the taste of both the energized guitar freak, who is new to jamming and also the intermediate ones who have got the hang of it. This does not mean that the advanced or pro players can’t use this guitar. If one loves the quality of sound this guitar provides and the many other features this guitar has to offer, it can be used by them too. And many have been found using it! So, if you are comfortable with this guitar and love its features on it, you won’t have to splurge on the new guitar any time soon. This definitely is a plus point.

This guitar is good for all genres. You might think I am exaggerating it but I am not. You can use it to play really any genre like funk, country, reggae, etc. Metal, rock, or hard rock are the more preferred ones because of the full and powerful sound of this guitar.

It sounds good, looks good, and also feels good. With Epiphone SG, not only will you be able to fulfill the desire of playing an expensive Gibson SG at a low price but also get to enjoy almost all the features that you will get in a legit Gibson SG guitar. This really is an exceptional deal! I can say that the money invested in this guitar won’t turn out to be a waste and you will be able to get the maximum out of it and that also for a long time. 

Features

  • SG body with dual cutaway
  • Slim D shaped neck
  • Killpot switch
  • Tune-o-Matic bridge with stop bar switch

Let’s look at the details

Epiphone and Gibbson

Epiphone is a brand that has made its name since its establishment. It was founded by Anastasios Stathopoulos in 1873 in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire. He then later moved the company to New York City in 1873. His son, Epaminondas Stathopoulos, was the one who actually named the company “Epiphone” after taking over his fathers’ company and started making guitars. The prefix ‘Epi’ was derived from his own nickname and the suffix ‘Phone’ means voice in Greek. That’s how the name was formed. This company started the guitar manufacture in 1928. Epiphone is not limited to only guitar in the present. The company manufactures double bases, banjos, amplifiers, and various other string instruments too.  

Another American guitar manufacturer company Gibson was started by Orville Gibson in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. By the 1930s, the company was making not only the flattop acoustic guitars but also one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars. This hollow-body electric guitar was popularized by Charlie Christian and the company started gaining much fame. To this date, the company has been owned by many different companies and corporations. 

Gibson purchased the Epiphone company in 1957 and relocated it from Queens, New York to Gibson’s Kalamazoo, Michigan factory. After the purchase, Epiphone started manufacturing lower-budget models of Gibson-based products. This company started to fulfill the dreams of those people who could not afford to buy the expensive original Gibson guitars by providing them the cheaper versions with the same original feel. Therefore, we can say that Gibson purchasing Epiphone was a good thing indeed.  The special thing about Epiphone is that it not only produces low-priced Gibson products but is also famous for its own exclusive models. Their own original products getting that fame and appreciation shows that even if they don’t produce any replica of a famous guitar, they can get the name that they deserve. This does show the credibility they have and that is what I like about this company. 

Over the years, Epiphone has produced many different budget-friendly replicas of Gibson and other original products. They are continuously working on improving their products and therefore have been manufacturing a series of different guitars, the better versions. Their continuous dedication and that determination of producing better than before do show that they are serious about what they do. And thus deserve every bit of fame they have. 

Detailed review of Epiphone SG special

Design

It can be seen that the design of this guitar is inspired by the 60’s Gibson look and thus have a classic Gibson look. The finish of the body is beautifully glossy and also has devil horns-like shape. Thus, eyes are instantly attracted to its’ shiny and attractive body. It has a double-cutaway design on the back of the body which is popularly known as ‘SG’. This means that it has curves on both the lower and upper bouts which makes reaching the higher frets for the players easier and without much struggle. Not only the design is made taking the visuals into consideration but also taking into account the comfort of the players. So, you will be pulling the attention of people towards yourself, even without trying, by carrying this guitar with ease.  

epiphone sg special body design

There is a variety of color options with the variety of this Epiphone SG Special series. Those colors are namely The Sparkling Burgundy, Faded Pelham Blue, Ebony, Cheery, Green, Cherry Sunburst, Vintage Sunburst, Pitch Black, etc. Therefore, you can choose the one as per your taste and the vibe you are going with. All these stunning colors aid your personality.  Epiphone SG Special guitars with some of these colors have been discontinued and thus you might not be able to get those readily. You might have to put in some work to obtain it but some are still being manufactured and therefore, you might not have any difficulty in getting your hands on those. Also, the chrome finish of the hardware adds points to the visuals of this guitar. 

Along with the double-cutaway design, the slim D-shaped neck of this guitar and its’ lightweight makes the journey much more comfortable. 

Build quality

The build quality of this guitar is noteworthy. Being a lower-budget replica or copy of Gibson, you might think that this guitar is not durable and won’t last long. But this is completely wrong. The body of this guitar is made from the same material that the Gibson is. It has a solid body where the back is made up of Mahogany and the body is made up of Alder or Maple. The neck is made up of Maple and the fretboard is of rosewood. These woods are tonewood which means that they have tonal characteristics and thus are responsible for adding something to the sound produced by strings. Along with the tonal enhancement, they are reliable and sturdy woods which means that guitars made from these woods are sturdy too. 

Weight

The weight of this guitar is 6.19 lbs only. In comparison, it is lighter than other guitars having the same number of frets as this one. So, even if you are a small person or a beginner, handling the guitar won’t be much of a problem. Long hours of practice, to become a pro, shall be possible without many sore arms.  

Neck

It has a slim D-shaped neck and it is designed in such a way that playing this guitar is pleasant and effortless. There are 22 frets and the effortless playing is possible because of their medium-jumbo size. The frets are neither too small nor too large. If the frets are small, it becomes harder for the beginners to play. But if it is too large, the reaching of the two different frets takes more time, as you have to stretch your fingers more. Thus the playing speed decreases. Therefore, the medium-jumbo size of the frets is just right for playing and maintaining that speed.  Also, the presence of the dot inlays, marking out the key fret intervals, guides the placement of the player’s fingers. It is especially helpful for beginners. 

epiphone sg special headstock and neck

 You will find the neck glued onto the body rather than being bolted. Either gluing the neck or bolting the neck, the preferences are different for the individuals. Some might not prefer this glued-on neck in this guitar, but I would say in defense that the glued-on neck helps with the resonance. This ultimately affects how a guitar sounds. 

On the other side of the guitar, it has a “Clipped Ear” style headstock. There you will have a 60’s era Epiphone logo and often the year edition logo too on the back of the piece.

Electronics

You will find two pickups in this guitar. The pickups are the P90 pickups with three-way pick-up configurations. Guitars nowadays have three pickups with five-way pickup configurations. If you are someone who especially needs a five-way pickup configuration then this is not the guitar for you. But if that is not a necessity then you can get the things done with this three-way pickup configuration as well. 

The P90 pickup is a single coil with alnico magnets and produces more output than the single coil. But it cannot produce as much as the humbucker can. P90 enhances the low-end sounds and delivers a smooth mid-range sound. Therefore, it can be said that P90 produces sound or tone in between to that produced by single-coil and humbucker. 

 It is the ceramic one, which is cheap, and hearing that you might think the pickup is of not any value. Some might say that the tone produced by this guitar is brittle and harsh. But we do need to consider that we all have different preferences and perceive the tones of sound differently. So rather than saying that the ceramic pickup is a bad feature in this guitar, I would say that the judgment depends on the preference. 

The pickups are there in the neck and the bridge. The master volume knob and two-tone control knobs with the three-way pickup selector help in getting three different configurations. We can select either the bridge only or the neck only or the combination of both in the middle position. 

Hardware

The hardware in this guitar is in chrome and thus the visuals look appealing as it brings that contrast from the rest of the guitars’ body. 

You will find a Locktone Tune-O-Matic bridge in this guitar with a stop bar tailpiece. The Tune-O-Matic bridge is easy to set up and is used to stabilize the tuning of the instrument. We can adjust the string height by raising or lowering the height of the bridge and thereby influencing the guitars’ action. The stop bar tailpiece keeps the strings in tune and maintains the string path stability. These both in combination are responsible for providing the intonation and enhancing the sustainability and vibration of the strings. 

Some version of this Epiphone SG Special consists of a kill pot switch. With this, you can kill the sound of the guitar for some moment by pushing it down. When released, it automatically springs back. This kill pot switch does not cut the signal dead but turns the signal on and off. It helps in creating that rhythmic effect and also some interesting machine gun sound effects. This means that you don’t have to flick your toggle switch back and forth to get those sounds.

You will also find a non-rotating output jack in some versions of Epiphone SG Special. This ensures consistent performance as it increases reliability. With this, the output will last forever.

The presence of the SG styles pickguard will protect the guitar from being scratched by the players’ nails while playing.

Sound

Along with the shape, size, weight, and strings of the guitar,  the wood used in the guitar also affects how the guitar sounds. The thick and heavier wood brings in that good resonance and gives a fuller sound. But if the wood used is comparably thin and light then you will get less fuller sound with little resonance. 

This guitar consists of Mahogany wood and other various tonewoods like Maple, Rosewood and 

So, you will get that rich, warm, and fuller sound with great resonance because of the mahogany and maple body. At the same time, you will also get clarity and definition because of the maple top.  In addition to these, the rosewood in the fretboard 

absorbs all the undesirable overtones and provides warm mellow tones.

The Good

Not too expensive Lightweight Great build quality Sleek and attractive finish Comfortable and easy to play 22 medium jumbo frets with white dot marker Slim D-shape neck profile Rosewood fingerboard Mahogany, alder, or poplar body LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge Stopbar tailpiece KillPot control knob Single master and volume knobs 3-way pickup switch Standard truss rod

The Bad

Missing some of the features of a full SG style guitar Not many sustainable strings. Nut is Cheap  Pickups can be changed (as per preference)

Final thoughts 

In the end, I can say that this Epiphone SG Special is a classic timeless piece and is indeed special as it lets people get the feel of playing the Gibson SG but at a much more affordable price. The looks, playability, tone, and quality of sound this guitar produces are on par and might also be better than other guitars when compared in this price range.

 You don’t need to make any adjustments if you are a beginner or an intermediate-level player but if you are someone who is experienced in this field then you can easily make some adjustments here and there to fit it as per your taste. 

As the price of this guitar is less, you won’t be able to get the exact same features and quality of sound as that of the original Gibson SG. But I cannot deny that this guitar, as a budget-friendly replica of the original one, is worth every penny.

I cannot deny that there is some room for improvement in this guitar but let’s be honest, getting to feel how the Gibson SG plays, live your dream, and have an experience of it, without spending a ton is indeed a lot you can get for this price. Also, you get to play almost all types of genres with this guitar and just have a great time with the music of your choice. 

FAQ

Who is the Epiphone SG Special Guitar Suited For?

The Epiphone SG Special is lighter in weight than other guitars when compared and thus it can be said that it is most suited for a bit smaller people. They won’t have as much trouble handling this guitar as any other heavier guitar. When it comes to playing this guitar, it is mostly suited for beginner and intermediate-level players. But if you are someone experienced and like how this SG sounds particularly then you can just go for it!

What kind of genres can I play with this Epiphone SG Special?

It might seem like I am overstating but it is true that you can play almost every genre of music with this guitar. With a few tweaks here and there, you can modify it as per your taste to particularly fulfill your taste in music. 

Of course, it is! If you are doubtful of this guitar because it is a copy then you might want to go through this article. Even if it is a copy, you will be able to enjoy almost all features of the original Gibson SG without much compromise. We know this is a budget-friendly version of the original and to be honest, it won’t be the same as having the original one. But even so, the manufacturers have done a great job and this guitar is truly noteworthy. 

Is Epiphone SG Special any good?

Of course, it is! If you are doubtful of this guitar because it is a copy then you might want to go through this article. Even if it is a copy, you will be able to enjoy almost all features of the original Gibson SG without much compromise. We know this is a budget-friendly version of the original and to be honest, it won’t be the same as having the original one. But even so, the manufacturers have done a great job and this guitar is truly noteworthy. 

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