Other Guitars

Opinions and experience with Epiphone Wildkat Take 3

1

Njdevil asked two days ago in this post:

I have never played one but they get rave reviews and from the youtube clips I have heard, have a wonderful full midrange tone with depth.

Please share your thoughts as I am very interested in what seems like a good deal.

Trying to post a response in that that thread returns a "connection reset" error.

Parabar yesterday then tried to help by posting this response in in another thread, which likewise resists response.

Something seems haywire with NJDevil's post --- I can't seem to add a reply, so here's my response:

I've had mine for over a dozen years, and like it a lot. It's not one of my most frequently played guitars, but it's just right for certain things. To my ears it sounds somewhat like a Telecaster that's been taking vitamin and protein supplements --- beefier with more punch, and it dirties up very nicely. The neck is very comfortable, and it's chambered, so not too heavy.

Now I'm curious what's jinxed about the topic. Does Bax disallow mention of Epiphone in a topic title? Is there corrupt, malformed, or otherwise defective code embedded in the actual text of Njdevil's post? (I pasted it in above; we'll see.)

At any rate, here's my response to the original question (which I've saved just in case it became possible to continue discussion of the Wildkat Question:

I like mine not enough to play it much, but too much to get rid of it. Yes, lots of midrange. Complex, interesting midrange that rewards close listening - but can seem lacking on top and bottom (especially when you move to it when your ears are used to another guitar).

Excellent workmanship, fit and and finish. CHEESY electronics. Pickups can squeel like schtuckened pigs. LOTS of down-pressure on the bridge, creaks and rocks with stiff Bigsby use. That needs some solution or another; there are a couple of approaches that work.

I think it's great-looking, and I like that it's unique - not a copy of either a Gibson or anything else.

Cool spec all the way around. Different P-90s might make it a little more vibrant - but possibly less sonically unique.

I guess I like it, but don't quite love it.

2

Is the floor open for discussion?

3

BINGO! Get your Wildkat on here!

4

Somewhere floating around planet internet is a long article about the electronics in these guitars. Basically it says that, unless Epiphone has upped the quality of its electronics lately, there is too much ropey wire in there -- and the pots aren't all that good either. So fit new pots and some decent wiring. I don't know how the pickups rate.

5

The pots are pure cheese, the wire string cheese. Never a good thing.

The pickups, dark and honky. Sometimes a good sound. Some blame the thin chromed metal covers for that sound, as well as for the propensity to squeal. I believe they're as non-standard for P-90s as those on the Casino, which makes it hard to find replace them.

Some recently posted a source here (on the GDP, I think) for plastic replacement covers that might change the equation, though.

6

The pots are pure cheese, the wire string cheese. Never a good thing.

The pickups, dark and honky. Sometimes a good sound. Some blame the thin chromed metal covers for that sound, as well as for the propensity to squeal. I believe they're as non-standard for P-90s as those on the Casino, which makes it hard to find replace them.

Some recently posted a source here (on the GDP, I think) for plastic replacement covers that might change the equation, though.

– Proteus

My cousin gave me one. Hated the electronics, put in some gfs? p90's. Sounded better, but never bonded with it. Plus it's neck heavy, which I hate in a guitar. Sold it and bought an Epi Joe Pass for less than I sold the wildkat for. Love that guitar, especially after swapping PU's to Benedetto in the neck, and classic 57's at the bridge. This one's for sure a keeper. My only complaint is I'm not a fan of poly finishes, and if I can ever put the dang thing down long enough I'll do a lacquer refinish on it.

7

Proteus-- thanks for getting this thread on the straight and narrow. I typed TWO separate responses and got the same error both times. Here goes the third...

For what do you want to use a Wildkat?

If you're looking for either a Gretsch or Casino on a budget, you're always going to come up short. However, if you're looking for a "Les Paul meets Casino meets Gretsch," then this may be the axe for you!

It took a lot of sweat equity to get my Casino singing. Wildkats are more similar than different in this regard.

First off, those pickups are way too hot. The Wildkat is not a true hollowbody, so you won't get the squeal like you will with a Casino out of the box. I had to test the extreme limits of my amp and pedal EQ sections to get these to not sound like mud. These were the first things to go on my mod list as a result. This is no small feat though because the Wildkat neck pickup also uses the irregular spacing that the Casino does. I had Lollar build a 50s-style P90 set into an extra set of Casino chrome covers I purchased for the job. Not cheap, but it's certainly worth it if you like the guitar's construction and layout and get it at a good price.

The licensed Bigsby feels different (read: not as sturdy or maneuverable) in my hands. Maybe I'm a wiggle stick snob? This is always a turnoff for me on a new guitar.

To go with the pickups, I put in a new wiring harness. Also worth it. Proteus is right on. Major cheese.

Add in new saddles and a nut so that your Bigsby actually holds a tune and now your great deal becomes competitive in price with an Electromatic or a more deluxe Epiphone model. So if you're looking to emulate one of those on the cheap, I would avoid it. Especially since it doesn't really do either of those things particularly well to my ears. My needs always fall more squarely into one of those two buckets; never both simultaneously.

Re-sale (or lack thereof) is another issue, but that's another kettle of fish.

8

I've always thought these were cool because of the size and construction method. The 'solid but routed-out' back with attached top seems cool. The Gibson Midtowns are made this way as is my Godin Flat Five X.

Neck heavy is a deal breaker for me, so I'm sorry to hear that. And I'm not so much a fan of the metal headstock badge, whether it's 'vintage' or not. And I'm over gutting a guitar to make it workable; been there, done that...too many times.

BUT, if a husk without any electronics showed up somewhere for like $100~ I'd probably go for it.

9

Great input here guys and big time thanks for Proteus to ignite the flame of input.

First of all, the big alarm went off when some other folks gave me warning about the wiring. The pots I knew were going to be less than OK but I was holding out hope because of some youtbe clips I heard and liked what I heard in the neck position.

I just a a bad feeling buying a Chinese made Epi from only youtube samples. Now the input I read is a general consensus that really helps the "buyer beware". That has now turned into "non-buyer is making a good decision on the side of caution". I also heard some gripes about the action being too high and the frets needing some attention.

The Koa topped Kat is the one I was looking but it was a nice idea while it lasted. Plus I have an Edwards goldtop LP with CTS 500k pots and Lollars that I will switch out with Gibson P90s for the warmth I am looking for. The Lollars are wayyyyyy too hot.

Now that I am on a P90 role, there is always this one that got my attention:

https://www.sweetwater.com/...

10

I ought to add that the Epiphone Riviera P93 I have owned for about three years is a fine guitar in every way. All the controls operate smoothly and the three P90s are pretty decent. If I replace any of them it will only be the bridge pickup -- it's not bad, but I could do better. Similarly, better tuners would be nice, but the stock units are OK for now. The neck is comfortable, there are no nasty fret ends and the action is low.

11

What gripes me about the Epi's is the electronics in general. OK, I get the so-so pickups, but fer cripes sake man, add about $10.99 to the price of the dang thing and you've got decent pots ,jack and wiring.

12

For what it's worth, the Wildkat was one of the few guitars I've bought that was literally perfect in fit, finish, and detail as purchased. I mean, not a flaw anywhere. Fret ends were smooth, action was great, felt good.

No one has mentioned - but the stock case is also a sweet piece of luggage. Fits like a glove, plush and well-finished.

This is not to say the pickups aren't what they are, or that the electronics are up to snuff. (Unless you like to snuff cheese.)

(About the pickups: to be clear, if you like their darkish tone, they're just fine. I kinda like that they have their own voice, whether or not it's an ideal or even typical P-90 tone. And be aware: they're not. If you're shopping for "a P-90 guitar," this is not it - unless you replace the pickups.)

I bought mine in 2006, so I can't speak about current components or build quality - but at the time I was more than impressed. What Gibson intended to deliver (ie, given the component specs) was delivered perfectly.

As others have mentioned, something in the suspension system (bridge and nut) will need attention for tuning stability. I believe I bought a Graph-tek nut, then opted not to use it after dressing the nut a little and changing the bridge saddles.

As I mentioned, with the extreme down-pressure, the bridge rocks and creaks in its studs with Bigsby motion. I wasn't making bridges yet in 2006, and my solution was Graph-tek saddles - which largely resolved both the bridge motion and squeakery, and the tuning issues that went along with it.

13

I was looking at an Epiphone Wildcat back in late 2008. I found a shop that had one in Mandurah, Western Australia, tried it out and I really enjoyed playing it in the shop, but went home to do some more research.

I rang another shop in Perth a few weeks late and asked if they had a Wildkat I could try out. The bloke I spoke to suggested I try a Gretsch.

'What a stupid mistake', I thought ... three Gretsch's later and it is the smartest stupid mistake I've ever made.

14

The modern Epiphones are constructed great. It's just a shame that on the standard models they have to put in cheap electronics and hardware. I think these guitars would live up to their potential if Epiphone released a Wildkat Elitist or something. I found this 2011 Epiphone Casino 50th Anniversary guitar on Craig's List and it has Gibson P90s, CTS pots and Wilkinson tuners. The only mods I made to it were to add a Lollar P90 spacer under the bridge pickup to raise it up and to replace the plastic nut with a bone nut. It's an amazing guitar. If Epiphone released a Wildkat with all the upgrades in place I think they would sell more. I love the idea of the Wildkat but I'm over playing cheap instruments.

Gretsch has all kinds of cool small bodied guitars now at every price point. I would prefer a new Streamliner over a Wildkat. You could always add some Seymour Duncan Phat Cats, Kent Armstrong humbucker P90s or any other variety of humbucker P90s if you have to have P90s. Any of these would most likely sound better than Epiphone's standard P90s.

15

BuddyHollywood - That is a kickass Casino! Great input and great x 2 suggestion regarding the Streamliner. I want to swap out the Lollars in my Edwards LP for something much warmer. Then the Lollars could go into the Streamliner.

I admit that the look of the Koa WildKat "sucked me in" but between the comments here, Proteus' experience, and your input I have received the slap upside the head that saved me from something I would've been disappointed with.

In regards to Proteus' comment, I do like the darker P90 tone I have heard from the Koa WildKat but a good looking guitar + great looks does not always mean it is a good deal.


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