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Review of the Epiphone Casino
By the Tweak
Modern day copy of a Beatles-Era Guitar
I am no stranger to Epiphone Casinos. I used to play an original Casino, borrowed from a friend, every time I gigged. My own guitar at the time, a Les Paul of some unknown make, was simply not gig-worthy. Decades later, i discovered that the Casino has returned in the 21st century, and after picking on up i realized I had to have it. The new Korean made Casino's feel and play just like the original did. The sound is close. We'll get into all that in a bit.
Rumor has it that the Beatles, at least John, Paul and George owned Casinos. Epiphone has a special John Lennon Collectors edition of the Casino that is supposed to hold true to John's original hardware mods. Its kind of nice to imagine, as you play the guitar, that you are part of a great lineage. OK, they were different guitars back then, just don't tell me when i am having fun, OK.
The Epiphone Casino is a semi hollow body guitar. Though it looks a lot like the Epiphone Sheraton and like others in the category of the Gibson ES335 shape, it's distinguished by its lightness. The Sheraton and ES335 are heavier guitars, and don't sound as loud as the Casino unplugged. You can easily practice without an amp with the Casino, in fact the loudness can be a problem in some recording situations. You pretty much have to wear headphones so your ear does not confuse the acoustic sound of the strings with the recorded sound from the pickups.
I love the action on the Casino. Thanks to the Epiphone adjustable bridge, you can bring it very low, and with the small screws on the bridge you can set intonation quite easily. In about 5 minutes with a guitar tuner and a flat head screwdriver, I was able to set up intonation to my satisfaction. The neck is a bit thinner than other guitars, which helps you get your hand around it for fast finger maneuvers and barre chords.
Nothing outstanding, but nothing bad. I notice some strings tend to drift about 5 cents between sessions, but its not a problem getting it back. Notice the tailpiece is different than on a Sheraton. The Casino tailpiece lets you press into it to get a semi-vibrato sound, of course at the risk of detuning the guitar a little bit.
The Casino is outfitted with P-90 pickups, which are single coil. The advantage here is that P-90s have a lot of bite. Play soft and the tone is sweet; dig in and it bites you back. As I play blues style sometimes, I find this pleasing. It makes the fingers want to dig in a bit deeper and get the guitar talking back at you. However, a characteristic of the P-90 is that they tend to hum and buzz, particularly when around computer monitors. Break out the gates. There is no noise cancelling circuit on the Casino. If there is a significant drawback to the Casino, there it is.
Otherwise, the electronics were not as impressive as the rest of the guitar. The toggle switch is not high quality and mine already has a dusty sound even after a week.
Fit and Finish:
Flawless as far as I can tell. Its a darn good looking guitar. Not as ornate as the Sheraton II, but much nicer than the Dot and Dot Studio to my eyes. The Casino is not aesthetically in the same class as a real ES335, but at one quarter the price, one can't expect it to compare.
Not as trebly as guitars with humbuckers. The strength of the P90 is in the mid range, think 50's and 60's style Rock N Roll mid range. Yet it can do cool jazz tones as well, and very tasteful colors between both pickups. Overdriven it sounds good too. I find it works well with my various amp modelers, including my favorite, Guitar Amp Pro, that comes as standard plugin equipment in Logic 7.
The guitar has great value for the price. I am a bit amazed at the quality of the Epiphones, including the Sheraton and the Dot and Dot studio. Probably the most difficult choice is which of the above to get. For me the Casino won out for largely personal reasons, having played one a long time ago, and that i am a great fan of the Beatles. However, I will say that the noise that the P-90s make is a big detractor for those like me that mainly play in a studio context. If you need the quiet, you need humbuckers. If you need the biting bluesy tone of the P90s, the Casino is the ticket.
Compare the Casino with the Sheraton II, Dot, Dot Studio and of course, the Gibson ES 335
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