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I'm hearing from many musicians, people who run instrument shops, etc. that Epiphone uses cheap Asian wood. I know that the company is not the same it was when it was American with Greek luthiers, but is the wood really that bad?


And my sense too is that the Masterbilts use good wood. My acoustic DR500 -- w Sitka spruce top and solid sides and back -- and sounds like a lot more expensive than it is. Have these people just not gotten the news?

Tags: Epiphone, acoustic, spruce, woods

Views: 2696

Replies to This Discussion

I have not heard this at all.  Most of the Asian made instruments I see now, especially ones as good a quality as the Epi Masterbuilts, are made with great materials, the cost is kept down by using cheaper labor, like in Asia and Mexico. If you buy a solid wood instrument and the wood LOOKS good, then it probably is, because you see all the imperfections!  I wouldn't worry!  Edward

Hi, Edward! Happy holidays! I was wondering if you saw this review. I found myself becoming agitated as I read it, but as you know, I'm still learning all this guitar stuff. I own three Masterbilts and there is no problem with any of them. I think each one sounds and looks wonderful.

Here's the link:

Just when I think I'm getting all this technical stuff down, I find myself wondering about gear ratios, ha. All I know is that I have three Masterbilts, and they are all wonderful. I also kind of challenge the review writer's comments with regard to the neck profile (see his photos), and his comments about the necks being different on two of the same model Epiphones. I think is photos look a bit strange, and not accurate. Oh, well. Again, all I know is that I'm keeping mine.


There is clearly a real enthusiasm in the acoustic guitar community for North American wood and Seagull wood in particular.... The Seagull I am sort of borrowing, with its cedar top, sounds great... But the Epi w the Sitka top (can't recall wood of sides/back) sounds better.

Hi Scott,

I've got a seagull cutaway model from 95' 'cedar top', and sweet as.  Also recently got a Epi Masterbilt EF500RA natural finish and the wood is superb, solid rosewood back & sides, mahogany 50s style 'V' neck and nice Sitka spruce top with some nice abolone inlay, sounds great new, so it's just going to get better in a few years (I hope).  I'm not a 'hotshot' player but  I've played some nice guitars in the shop and as much as I'd love to own a Martin or Gibson, my Seagull and Epi are fine guitars for a home player.  It'll be interesting what other views there are,  all the best, Mike

I just bought the Seagull Entourage Mini Jumbo Rustic about 3 weeks ago and really like it. I was looking at the Masterbilts and Breedloves but got such a buy on this I took it. I did take a Breedlove home and play it a couple of hours but opted to take it back and get the Seagull for the 1.72" neck and the cedar top. The cedar top and  the sale price and 15% off closed the deal on the SG. This is my first cedar top.



I just made a minor adjustment on the truss rod tonight and it plays even better now. I have a new Tusq saddle coming as well to make further adjustments. But it still doesn't match my Martin as far as the playability but I'm keeping it sitting out where I can grab it quickly for a quick play and I keep the Martin in it's case till time for longer sessions.


Scott, everything I've read in other forums seems to point to good wood and workmanship on the Masterbilt. I know in one forum some people were having problems at one time with the neck lifting on some models a while back but I think that was resolved.


Mike, how do you find the Seagull compares to the Masterbilt? I'm considering either a Taylor or a Masterbilt in the future.







Gary,  my  Seagull cutaway is a quality guitar, I managed to get mine 2nd hand in v.good condition when I'd finally realised the standard 1 11/16 nut was no good for my fingers on acoustic. Fitted a fishman US transducer which is fine thru a pre-amp.    The tone and playability, quality of wood is superb.  I would buy Seagull again, however they are not so widely available in my area of Oz, so it will probably be the retirement trip to Canada..  The Masterbilt was new and in the sale, I've always like Epi and this range was marketed as more upmarket build, which it is. 

My reason for buying was, on sale, awesome looker, nearly like a Clapton Martin OM.   I'm hoping to get a Martin or Taylor when I learn to play :-), if there's anything left in the super fund when I retire.  For now, the Masterbilt is a nice change from the Seagull and is my reason for learning travis picking, not that I couldn't do that with the seagull, but it sounds better belting out the chords.  All the best, Mike

Gary, that guitar is quite lovely! :)

I own two Epiphone acoustics and my son owns one also.  They all are made of great wood.  In fact I was suprised when I bought my son's PR5-E, which was the first we bought.  He had picked in out on line, it was only $300 so I said okay.  When it arrived I was blown away with the quality and sound.  I've been recommending it to everyone as the lowest price quality guitar you can buy.  The guitar in my photo is a Masterbuilt EF-500RCCE.  I've been playing guitar for 40 years and it is the ONLY steel string I have ever been satisfied with.  Since I began studying classical guitar in '81 I had been looking for a steel string with rosewood back and sides and cedar top like my classical.  It took till 2006 to find one!  I would either play my classical or I'd play electric.  I could never play bar chords on anything but my classical.  When the EF-500RCCE arrived I was crying because I could play bar chords on it and the intonation was perfect.  I wouldn't trade that guitar for any guitar at any price.  Anyone who thinks Epiphones are not good quality has never played one.

Hi Ruth;


I have a 1980 PR600 Epiphone which is a 000 body size guitar with the sunburst finish. It sounds and plays great, I bought on eBay to resell but after I got it and started playing it I couldn't get rid of it. It got me interested in smaller body guitars and I also have an OM Martin which I really like.

In fact I love the smaller body guitars so much I started a group a couple of days ago for small body size guitars here on AGC called Small Body Guitars.  :)


Isn't the EF-500RCCE a smaller body guitar as well or am I thinking about another model?


I've been researching the Masterbilts as a possible purchase in the future for my next guitar.


I was looking for a smaller body size in the Masterbilt. When you visit the Epiphone site it doesn't have a lot specs on some of the models. It would be nice if they would add upper and lower bout sizes and other detailed info.





I think the EF-500 series are the OM size.  Mine is 15 1/4 at the widest part of the bottom and 11 1/4 where the cutaway is.  The body is thicker at the bottom, 4 1/8, than where the neck joins the body, 3 1/2.  The EF is supposed to be for fingerpicking, it has a wider string spacing, 1 1/2 at  the nut to 2 3/8 at bridge and the fretboard is fairly flat.  That's one of the things I like about it.  But ironically it is really great for strumming.  I have an EN-515 also, that's classical, nylon strings, rosewood and cedar.  The EF-500 series is much thicker than the EN series or my son's PR5-E.  My EF-500 has a very balanced tone, better than a dreadnought.  The Masterbilt series come with a hygrometer installed in the case, and a humidifier, which is really nice.  They are also made with hot hide glue, which luthiers say makes a difference.  Apparently it does, they seem to get noticebly more sustain as they are played.  They also record really well.  I don't even use an acoustic amp for them.  I just plug them straight into the recorder or the PA for live, without even any EQ.  The classical didn't come with a pickup and I always got a woofy sound with a mic.  So I had Atomic Guitars in Peoria put just a simple pickup in it-not even any controls and it works perfectly now, just like the steel string.  These guitars are so well balanced they don't need any tweeking to get a good sound.  Any Epiphone is a good value for the money but the Masterbilts are amazing value for the money.  The closest thing I found to my EF-500 was a Santa Cruz which was $3,000 and it didn't have a pickup.  I think I payed about $815 for the EF-500.  The few non classical guitars with cedar tops seem to always have mahogany back and sides-that's why I didn't buy a Seagull.  I think Epiphone has the perfect balance, body size, wood types, pickups, etc.  The rest of the brands seem to be lacking in one way or another.

Thank you Ruth for the detailed post about the model I appreciate it very much, that helps a lot and sound like what I would be looking for in size and depth of the body. The only thing is I would prefer a 1 3/4 inch nut rather than the 11/2 " nut.


Thanks again for the details!




Ruth, Gary,

Think that's maybe a typo, the EF models are all 1 3/4" nuts (1.75").

I've got the EF500RA and very nearly got the 500RCCE, it's a very nice guitar, very similar to the Taylor Grand Concert/Auditorium style.  As Ruth says, 'amazing value'.

:-)  Mike


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