Is Epiphone dropping the ball?

The_Sentry

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can%20of%20worms.jpg


:lol:

OK. I'll come out and ask this question...

I know that a lot of different people play Epiphones, and for different reasons. For some of us, it's a question of cost. For others, it's a question of having a guitar to modify. And yes, all kinds of people who play different genres play these guitars. I have no misconceptions about this.

But, I still think the question needs to be begged: Is Epiphone dropping the ball?

I have come to the conclusion that yes, they have. And the market share that they have gained in the last few years is going to dissipate rapidly.

Not too long ago a Guitar World issue came out which spelled out the history of Epiphone. It was an interesting read. From their humble beginnings to present day, Epiphone survived, prospered, and ultimately perished only to be bought out by Gibson in later years. And for a long time, the brand was dormant.

So what, pray tell, got them back on the map? It probably started (oddly enough) with Noel Gallagher of Oasis who, as a rabid Beatles fan, desired an archtop to help him achieve those sounds. Enter Epiphone....and IMHO I think this has to a degree also increased Gibson's stock since cheaper copies of their models were re-introduced back into the mainstream public.

And, for years sales hummed along nicely. The plant in China was opened, and units moved rapidly. But what has happened in recent months?

I am saddened to see lines like the Les Paul Custom Plus, the '56 Goldtop with P-90 Soapbars, the Zephyr, the ES-295 and a few other guitars become manufacture discontinued in exchange for multiple Slash signature models, multiple Zakk Wylde signature models, and the Prophecy line. IMHO this signifies a bold move to a metal player's market which in my opinion is already oversaturated. And in addition to Dean, ESP, Ibanez, BC Rich, Jackson, and a host of other major manufacturers already have this market, and will keep it due to repeat customer service.

The new Zakk Wyle model is already in production by Dean guitars. The Prophecies would have been great if there weren't multiple variations. I see no real benefit to a second Slash signature whatsoever. I applaud the innovations made with the Ultra line, but I do not see the benefit of doing this at all.

Not to mention they have further cut models available to left handed players. Another topic for certain, but it begs the question...just who is Epiphone hoping to get as consumers?

If it was a case of streamlining, one has to wonder what exactly was the notion or idea by keeping some models that weren't selling (or are never seen on the shelves...anywhere) while discontinuing models that were more popular based on consent of repeat customers. I suppose there are some things that are not understood here, and the further question is begged by the international market...perhaps there is more demand for certain models over there. I'm not so sure.

Nevertheless, I do think Epiphone is dropping the ball in one significant way: By attempting to gain a foothold in another oversaturated market, they are killing product lines that repeat customers found favor with. There is also the argument that archtops and traditional guitars "got them to the dance", these types of models "brought them back to the dance", and the question needs to be begged as to whether or not they have a desire to remain one of the top brands.

Risk is necessary in business, but at this point I don't see any benefit to introducing models which I do not think will sell while at the same time cutting production models that were really synonymous, or at least emphasized the Epiphone brand's association with tradition. It's a good thing to branch out and try new things, but at this point I think Epiphone has gone too far and reduced sales will be a result of this.

2 cents.
 

Iceman0124

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I think they want to muscle in on Schecters turf, and really arent going about it the right way IMO. Schecter caters to the metal crowd, but rarely goes over the top, the bulk of their designs are very classy, functional, and affordable, which is why they have such a loyal following....Some of the new epi's and gibbys I just dont get, I personally cant believe gibson didnt outright fire the idiot that came up with the reverse V :wtf:.....instead they demoted him to epi and we have the SGV :wtf:....if given a choice I'd rather have a STD than have to play one of those in public....who knows....it could become the next '59 :Ohno:
 

calibud

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Maybe its that appeal to a certain generation..? You know the folks that like Zakk and Saul (not saying I dont) so much that they have to have what they have. That and maybe they just think that all LP players who want options should just buy Gibson... Who knows but I do agree any more signature models from Epi is overkill. They lost me as a customer when they jacked up the prices and failed to show what improvements they made to justify that increase.
 

lifele55

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Always the case with companies/bands.. They start small and do all they can to make it big and get the crowd. And when they get bigger and there already is a good number of followers, they suddenly change they way they do things and leave behind the main values that people go to them in the first place...

Sad.. but true.
 

derock85z

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what i dont understand is how zack wylde and slash have signature epi models and why page doesn't. i don't think gibson has ever made a page model have they? I can think of a few more well known players that would appeal to a broader audience....

I agree with this, im all for guitar companies to explore the next big thing and be on that edge but if its the metal game they wanna play they are atleast a decade late. Ibanez,ESP, and Jackson win that round. Epi has to play catchup and by the time they do i'll bet everyone will be going back to vintage sounds. like i said im all about expansion but they seem to have forgotten their followers a bit. Where are the models for the guys that have always been and probably always will be Epi/gibby players? and being a lefty player i agree with sentry, wtf happened to all my choices?:confused:
 

Iceman0124

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what i dont understand is how zack wylde and slash have signature epi models and why page doesn't. i don't think gibson has ever made a page model have they?

wiki to the rescue!

Signature models
Gibson released Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul which was discontinued in 1999, then released another version in 2004, which has also been discontinued. The 2004 version included 25 guitars signed by Page, 150 aged by a former Gibson employee (an acknowledged aging 'master'), and 840 'unlimited' production guitars. The Jimmy Page Signature EDS-1275 has been produced by Gibson. Recently, Gibson reproduced Page's 1960 Les Paul Black Beauty, the one stolen from him in 1970, with modern modifications. This guitar will be sold in 2008 with a run of 25, again signed by Page, plus an additional 500 unsigned guitars


Jimmy Page - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

sig info at the bottom
 

derock85z

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hmm i see, i haven't brushed up on my gibson history in a bit, but thats not like the other models, that was only a limited production run like most of high dollar replicas. i ment have it mass produced for an extended period
 

LEFTY LES

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You hit the nail on the head Sen!!! Good post man. I would love to see them stick to their hollow body roots and focus on them and LP's biut it is what it is I guess. The problem is it sucks bad for us. Starting pretty quick here it will be nothing but the used market for guys like us in the current Epi price range. Well maybe I'll hit the Power Ball and I wont have to worry about it. Hey....you never know!!!
 

Jody

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maybe epi is trying to get out of that association with the beatles era and trying to modernize the company..to appeal to a younger generation.I think that epi is riding the coattails of the guitar hero games.the dude that does the guitar work has his own sig model,slash on the cover and in the game (along with zakk) have thiers also.the kids that play these games end up wanting a guitar sooner or later, so mom and dads gonna shell out some $$$ for one (and I dont see that being a $4500 gibby) I may be off base here, but thats what I see.....my $0.02:hmm::)
 

VictorLazarus

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I'm a little worried they may only be making 'metal' guitars in the future which is annoying cos I don't like floyde rose, high gain pickups etc I like a good tone!

MVL.
 

MesaBoogie

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maybe epi is trying to get out of that association with the beatles era and trying to modernize the company..to appeal to a younger generation.I think that epi is riding the coattails of the guitar hero games.the dude that does the guitar work has his own sig model,slash on the cover and in the game (along with zakk) have thiers also.the kids that play these games end up wanting a guitar sooner or later, so mom and dads gonna shell out some $$$ for one (and I dont see that being a $4500 gibby) I may be off base here, but thats what I see.....my $0.02:hmm::)


The sad thing is that most of the guys who buy a guitar after having played Guitarhero, will find that the learning curve on a real guitar is too steep and quit in a matter of weeks.

Also +1 on not seeing where Epi is going. IMO there are pretty decent metal guitars for a reasonable price (Ibanez, LTD, Jackson, Dean (?) etc...). These guitars are already identified with Metal (much more than Gibson or Epiphone for that matter) whilst a decent Les Paul or a SG is identified IMO with classic rock and blues.

Grtz,

Mesa.
 

Sore Fingers

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Great Post Mate,

I think things will come around though, nothing like a big push of customers requesting specific models for the people eating the profits to dust of the old plans and start making certain products again though !

Is the custom plus fully discontinued from Epiphone now then ? i thought they'd just dropped the Vintage Sunburst and were carrying on with the heritage Cherry ? ( which i've never really liked, don't throw anything at me, its all about personal taste lol )
 

GrouchyDog

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Great post, I agree totally.

My biggest question is their dumping of the Elitist line. I think that with some good marketing/salesmanship (which they obviously never put into the line) there'd be a market among hobbyist or low-level gigging players willing to pay $1100-1200 for a US-quality instrument (on the GOOD end of US quality...) but not willing to pay $2500-$3000 or more for a good Gibson.

My biggest personal gripe is dropping the '56 GT - I really want one, but now I'll need to look used if it comes to getting one.
 

The_Sentry

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Great Post Mate,

I think things will come around though, nothing like a big push of customers requesting specific models for the people eating the profits to dust of the old plans and start making certain products again though !

Is the custom plus fully discontinued from Epiphone now then ? i thought they'd just dropped the Vintage Sunburst and were carrying on with the heritage Cherry ? ( which i've never really liked, don't throw anything at me, its all about personal taste lol )

Yup...the Custom Plus is gone. I suspect they had a tough time marketing that one, and it got squeezed between the Elitists and the Slash signature.

Call me crazy, but I think they should have done this: I suspect the Elitists were discontinued because they were cutting into the sales of Gibsons...fine, whatever. But instead of just doing away with the regular Epiphone lines, they should have improved the quality on those models and the regulars (moving the whole line closer to Elitist quality, or at least raising the bar a bit) while Gibson pushed their third manufacturer (I can't remember the name off the top of my head, but they make really cheap guitars) to step up their quality and take over for Epiphone on some of their lower end models.

The customers (which I used to think were always right) LIKED the traditional models, and the Elitists. Innovations like the Ultra II were applauded because they offered innovation while appeasing/appealing to the traditionalist.

I just don't get this new direction at all as far as Epiphone goes. ZW and Slash are great players, but in the past couple of years they've offered no less than 4 signature models for one guitar player and 2 for another who DON'T EVEN USE THEIR GEAR ONSTAGE. I can see one signature, but is this really worth discontinuing some popular lines along with multiple variations of guitars that are not likely to sell outside of the metal consumers?
 

zplapplap

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Great post, I agree totally.

My biggest question is their dumping of the Elitist line. I think that with some good marketing/salesmanship (which they obviously never put into the line) there'd be a market among hobbyist or low-level gigging players willing to pay $1100-1200 for a US-quality instrument (on the GOOD end of US quality...) but not willing to pay $2500-$3000 or more for a good Gibson.

My biggest personal gripe is dropping the '56 GT - I really want one, but now I'll need to look used if it comes to getting one.

I absolutely love my Elitist Casino. I love it every bit as much as my Les Paul Classic Antique and the quality is better than what is coming out of Gibson USA. I had an elitist Casino, sold it to by my LP, and bought another one used 6 months later after regretting the decision to sell. Both Elitist Casinos are amazing, high quality instruments. Sure, I would have preferred a nitro finish, but the Casino is a famous model and I see absolutely no reason to drop the extra cash on an ES330.

Discontinuing the Elitist series is a mistake unless the company was really taking a loss. Epiphone as a brand, it seems to me, benefits from having a professional line of guitars that is widely respected for its quality. Even people buying entry level models want to see the name on the headstock and believe that they are not playing a POS knock-off. Having the Elitist series could only help in promoting the Epiphone brand. How much this is really worth in terms of value is for the company to decide, but I have to believe that Epiphone did not get all that it could from the Elitist series. There seemed to be high demand and limited availability. Most Elitist models hold their value quite well, which reveals something about the market for these instruments.

This is an interesting thread. From what Sentry is saying, Epiphone is going the way of Guitar World. This emphasis on metal seems to be over-the-top, but what do I know.
 

Skynyrdpicker

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I'm with you man. What used to be a cool, budget line of some of Gibson's nicest guitars is now based on "br00tal" metal axes for 13 year olds...
 

Horse

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its a very confusing picture at present with Epi, I have no probs with them making cheaper versions of the ZW/slash models, after all Epi are the poorer mans alternative to Gib. But, cutting back on vintage type lines, then brining out the Prophecy line (i have one), you have to wonder if they are just following trends and cashing in, and, writing this, it seems to fit doesnt it? price increases, no added value, less variety for someone wanting Gibby vintage type models......

and thats why so many are looking at Tokai, burny etc, good guitars, made in line with Gibbies philosophy......and they certainly dont include friggin plywood in their guitars.....(im gutted since i found that out).

lesson, we all love our Epi's but things are pushing us in different directions, so yeah they have dropped the ball.......
 

RMC1

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The way Epi`s prices have gone,you`re much better off looking at Tokai or Burny,way more consistent than Epi`s currently are.There are a few UK Shops that have both,at very reasonable prices,and both either at the price,or below the price of an Epi Standard Plus Top.
 

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