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PROS: Great fit and finish; fantastic neck; highly responsive and articulate P90 pickups.
PRICE: $599 w/out case
The Casino has been around for decades, first brought to worldwide fame by the Beatles. Since then, Epiphone’s production has moved around the globe a few times, first from America to Japan, then to Korea and now China. While some aficionados maintain that the Korean-made Epis of the 1990s were better made than the contemporary models coming out of the brand’s Chinese facilities, this reviewer begs to differ. The production-line Casinos being produced today, in 2014, are perhaps the finest in the brand’s long history.
Fit and finish are immaculate – the binding, the fret edges, the neck contour, the pickup routing. We were incredibly impressed by the aesthetics, even more so since it came in our preferred “natural” finish. What sets the Casino apart from other 335-style guitars is its completely hollow body (no sound block here like on the Dot) as well as its single-coil pickups (as opposed to Gibson/Epi’s standard humbuckers).
Those two factors alone give the Casino a lighter, more articulated tone. We greatly preferred the detail and clarity we heard when A/B’ing it against similar guitars with semi-hollow constructions and full humbuckers. Those sounded a bit muddier to us – and yes, while they had a louder output and will perhaps overdrive an amp quicker, the P90s (yes, the stock pickups) in the Casino are so incredibly versatile, we couldn’t fine a genre they didn’t fit into with ease.
The age-old problem of feedback was even a non-issue. We picked up a tiny bit of squealing just once, and never again; no need to stuff the sound holes. So all in all, if you’re in the market for a mid-range guitar that can pretty much tackle any job you throw at it, test-drive the new Casinos and fall in love like we did.