Got a good deal yesterday on an Epiphone AJ-45. Absolutely blown away by it, and thought i'd share my thoughts / see if any other people shared my enthusiasm for them.
I watched a few reviews on Youtube prior to the purchase, and one comment really hit the nail on the head; "these are great guitars, at any price point". Not just for the money.
I already had very high expectations, as i've had very good experiences with recent, non-masterbilt, Epiphone acoustics of late. My Dad was recently shopping for a relatively affordable acoustic to get him started, i did some research for him.. and based on his taste, and my findings, i recommended the Epi John Lennon version of the J160e (always had a thing for that guitar myself). Just missed one by a matter of pence on ebay. I went back to the drawing board and stumbled across the AJ220, the reviews were good and the Youtube demo's really intrigued me.. and as this guitar was around the £200 mark brand new, my Dad was very keen, as it both looked similar to the 160 (in terms of being a vintage sunburst round shoulder dred), and he liked the thought of having a brand new one.
He ordered it, it came.. and man.. i was very close to ordering one myself. At this time i owned both the Gibson J45 standard, and a Historic Collection Hummingbird.. and this guitar still really seemed to stand out to me. I'm not by any means implying that it was comparable to either of these Gibsons.. in tone, character, nor workmanship.. but at £200 it's certainly capable of giving guitarists on a much lower budget at least a taste of what its like to own a guitar of such quality.
The AJ220 plays and feels like a guitar of a much much higher price point.
So i was shopping for a gigging guitar.. the type of plank that plays and sounds great.. but at the same time something that's not gonna get me stabbed in Liverpool town centre for at 1am walking back to my car after a gig. Something that i could just throw in the car and not be on pins about whenever it leaves the house. Something that doesn't have me twitching over temperature and humidity in the room where it's kept.. true story, ha!
This led me to the Masterbilt AJ-45ME. Picked one up for £400 with hardcase, in as new condition.. still had the factory strings and the plastic covering on the guard. Seen less than five hours use apparently, the chap bought it for his daughter to learn on, who subsequently lost interest.
I was drawn to this guitar as it looked and felt similar to a J45, it had the lovely and super comfortable satin finish of my Dad's AJ, and came as standard with a decent pickup. Ticked all the boxes.
This guitar is awesome.. and i'll say it again, not just for the money. It's clear, articulate, sustains well.. the sound projection when un-plugged is fantastic. It just feels lovely, and is set up really well right out of the factory.
There's the odd few mixed reviews online (predominantly good reviews overall however), reviewing these with reference to earlier Masterbilt Epiphones.. but this is the only one i've had experience with, so i can't comment on that. But man.. If the earlier Masterbilt's are anything like this i might have to start collecting them.
I'm really happy with my purchase.. and it's always great and refreshing to come across guitars that are affordable and of such high quality. It's a great time be alive in terms of being a budding guitarist, or an experienced guitarist on a low budget. There's really not much standing in the way of anyone playing and owning some really high quality stuff.
I could tell you about similar experiences iv'e had with my Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, but that's worthy of a whole new discussion in itself.
I'd love to hear of anyone else's experiences with this guitar.