Epiphone AJ-15 E Acoustic/Electric Reviews 4

In another life, I was the lead singer in a few different East Coast-based rock bands. I played around on drums once in a while, but always wanted to learn to play guitar. That was about 15 years, 15 lbs, and half a head of hair ago. Recently I got the music bug again, so I contacted a buddy of mine who is a semi-professional guitarist, and he agreed to come shopping with me for a good, low-priced beginner guitar. I would recommend playing several before choosing one, and if you are a beginner, bring along a guitar player/friend, someone who is knowledgeable about the instrument when you shop. Do NOT rely on the salespeople at the store, because their agenda is most certainly different than yours. I played some Hohners, Yamahas & Fenders...but my hands-down favorite was the Epiphone AJ-15 E. It was a factory 2nd and I paid $100.00 new. I've been playing it for about 3 years now, and felt compelled to write a review, now that I've had my hands on it for a while.

The neck is very slim for an acoustic, a plus for smaller hands like mine. Makes for great playability and less fatigue on the hands, especially for a beginner like me. I had the intonation and action set-up by the shop for $50.00, and the action ios low & sweet...it plays like butter. I had my heart set on a tobacco sunburst model, but my guitar-buddy gave me some sage advice: Judge the guitar by feel and sound, not looks. I must've played 5 or 6 different Epi AJ-15s in the store. The one I finally picked had the best sound, and a good feel, but it wasn't the prettiest. It was stamped on the back of the headstock as a factory 2nd. I believe this was due to a small, almost imperceptible fleck of black dust in the finish. I could find no other perceivable flaws. The sound is very good, though somewhat on the thin side when using lighter guage strings. I have switched to medium (.13) which sound a bit richer, but are a little tougher on the fingers. It's a matter of preference to the individual player.

The "E" in the AJ-15 E means it is electrified, ie: you can plug & play it through an amp or PA. The passive pickup is not the best-sounding. I played with the tone through the PA and through a 50-watt Yamaha amp, and still couldn't get anything better than half-way decent. BUT, I got an acoustic ZOOM pedal, and with just a little tweaking, got a great, and I mean GREAT amplified sound.

Though it was stamped factory 2nd, the quality was very good. I just love the slim and slender neck! It is well balanced and does not feel "cheesy" in the least. It feels like a professional guitar, and well, it is, albeit entry-level. If I had to get really picky, I would say the electronics are sub-par, and the tuning machines could be better. This after having played on my Dean Acoustic (costing 4 times as much), which has Grover tuning machines. The Grovers are much better than the stock Epi tuners, but again, I am being super-picky. The stock tuning machines are certainly adequate.

This is the ideal beginner/intermediate guitar. Perfect because of not just the sound and quality, but if it ends up sitting in the closet (sadly, as many do) it won't break the bank. I play my Epi live at coffee shops, parties, on the front porch, open mike nights, and it serves me well. Great playability, Gibson quality, lifetime warranty, more-than-decent sound and it paid for itself after the first paying gig. It beats anything I've ever heard or played for under $300.00.

Joe G. rated this unit 4 on 2004-09-16.

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