Other Guitars

NGD: Epiphone Masterbilt Century Deluxe

1

So. I’ve been really interested in the new Epiphone archtops since they were announced but I hadn’t had the chance to try one out and there are few decent reviews at this stage.

Visiting the family for Christmas, I decided to drive down to Cologne and see if the ‘Music Store’ had any in stock. They did! Deluxe, Zenith and the Olympic. I owned a 1960 Zenith for a few years and never bonded with it so my main focus lay on the Olympic for its tininess and the Deluxe. I played both and, while the Olympic has a really unique tone (think Dave Rawlings, obviously), I couldn’t really see myself using it much. The Deluxe, however, I bonded with really quickly. I tried both the round sound hole and the F-hole versions, both are absolutely delightful, but the round hole version is too close to a dreadnaught sound-wise, so I couldn’t really justify getting that one. I already have an indecent number of guitars for someone who doesn’t play out anymore. So, I really liked the F-hole Deluxe and while I probably would’ve preferred getting the blonde (it has a really beautiful honey tint to it), the sunburst that I played sounded great, even with the thin (.12s if that) phosphor bronze strings. I’ve since restrung it with .13 Monels and it has more mids as a result, which is a good thing for an archtop. I might see if .14s improve the sound even more eventually.

I’m a happy camper! I really love the tone, it’s more balanced than most lower end acoustic archtops (Godin, Gretsch [sorry!]) and it’s a very well built instrument indeed. Finish is great and the appointments are neat: slightly off-white/aged looking binding, reissue old-time tuners, which look interesting and seem to do the job well. I’m really in love with the neck as it’s fat, which is really good for someone whom God gave paddles for hands. The Gretsch New Yorker (is that the archtop they recently reissued?) also has a nice fat neck but it has a pronounced V shape; the Epiphone’s neck is a rounder baseball bat neck.

6

Nick, a very big congrats to you. I have been eyeing these since they were announced but I can't find these anywhere. They look great.

8

I wish they were here locally.

For a long time I've been dying for an early Gibson L4 but don't want to spend 3 grand for one.

That round hole version might work instead.

9

Thanks, guys! I've played four of those and they all were of the same high build quality. In case you're thinking about mail order.

10

I appears to have a matte finish. Can you confirm this? If so, matte finishes are nice. Gloss is nice as well.

11

I can and hereby do confirm this. Matte indeed!

12

Epiphone has done a fine job with those guitars. Congratulations and enjoy

13

So glad to hear what a fine job they are doing with these. I have its vintage cousin and love it like crazy. It's like they are redeeming Epi's company from the dustbin where his brothers' squabbles consigned it when he died.

Play it in excellent health!

14

Shuggie, your review was a great incentive to check these things out, actually!

Strum, thanks for the kind wishes. They really did everything right here.

15

Thanks Nick, I'm glad somebody out there reads them

16

Nice score, Nick. I played that very same model a few months ago and was impressed. They are a great playing, and more importantly, a great sounding archtop acoustic. If I had money burning a hole in my pocket, with no other guitar need, I would jump on one of those.


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