Epiphone Explorer Electric Guitar Review
The Epiphone Explorer is an iconic electric guitar that has been a mainstay in the world of rock and metal since its inception in the late 1950s. With its radical design, impressive playability, and rich tonal palette, this instrument has left an indelible mark on the music industry. In this comprehensive review, we’ll take a deep dive into the features, sound, and overall performance of the Epiphone Explorer to help you determine if it’s the right guitar for you.
A Brief History
The Explorer was first introduced by Gibson in 1958, alongside the equally revolutionary Flying V. Both guitars were initially met with skepticism due to their unconventional designs, but they quickly gained popularity among iconic musicians such as The Edge, James Hetfield, and Bill Kelliher. Epiphone, a subsidiary of Gibson, began producing their version of the Explorer in the late 1980s, offering a more affordable alternative to the Gibson model without sacrificing quality or performance.
Design and Construction
The Epiphone Explorer features a distinct, angular body shape that sets it apart from other electric guitars. This design not only looks unique but also provides excellent balance and ergonomics, making it comfortable to play both standing and sitting.
The body of the Explorer is typically made from solid mahogany, giving it a warm, resonant tone with plenty of sustain. The set-in mahogany neck features a slim taper “D” profile, providing a fast and comfortable playing experience. The fretboard is usually made from rosewood or Pau Ferro, with 22 medium-jumbo frets and dot inlays.
Epiphone equips the Explorer with high-quality hardware, including a LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece for improved sustain and intonation. The Grover tuners ensure stable tuning and make string changes a breeze. Aesthetically, the guitar is available in various finishes, such as Ebony, Alpine White, and Korina, all of which are complemented by a black pickguard and chrome hardware.
Electronics and Sound
One of the standout features of the Epiphone Explorer is its powerful, versatile sound. The guitar comes equipped with a pair of high-output humbuckers – typically an Epiphone ProBucker 2 in the neck position and a ProBucker 3 in the bridge. These pickups deliver a rich, well-balanced tone with plenty of bite and sustain, making them suitable for a wide range of musical styles.
The Explorer’s electronics also include a three-way pickup selector switch, allowing you to choose between the neck, bridge, or both pickups simultaneously. Additionally, there are individual volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control, giving you precise control over your sound.
The Epiphone Explorer truly shines when played through a high-gain amp, delivering a thick, aggressive tone that’s perfect for rock and metal. However, it’s also capable of producing warm, clean tones suitable for jazz, blues, and other genres. This versatility makes the Explorer a popular choice for musicians who need a single instrument that can handle a variety of styles.
The Epiphone Explorer is a highly playable instrument, thanks in part to its slim taper neck profile and comfortable body shape. The neck is fast and smooth, making it easy to navigate the fretboard and execute complex techniques. The medium-jumbo frets provide excellent playability, while the set-in neck construction ensures optimal sustain and resonance.
The Explorer’s body shape may look unconventional, but it’s designed with ergonomics in mind. The guitar sits comfortably against the player’s body, providing easy access to the higher frets. The balanced weight distribution helps prevent neck dive, which can be a common issue with guitars featuring larger headstocks.
Pros and Cons
- Distinctive, eye-catching design
- Comfortable to play, with excellent balance and ergonomics
- Powerful, versatile sound suitable for a wide range of musical styles
- High-quality construction and hardware
- More affordable alternative to the Gibson Explorer
- The unconventional design may not appeal to everyone
- Some players may prefer a thinner neck profile
The Epiphone Explorer is an iconic electric guitar that offers a unique combination of style, performance, and versatility. Its distinctive design, comfortable playability, and powerful sound make it an excellent choice for musicians in various genres, particularly rock and metal. While its unconventional appearance may not be for everyone, those who appreciate the Explorer’s radical aesthetic will find a high-quality instrument that’s built to perform.
If you’re looking for an electric guitar that stands out from the crowd, both visually and sonically, the Epiphone Explorer is well worth considering. Its combination of quality construction, versatile tone, and comfortable playability make it a fantastic option for players of all levels and styles.