Epiphone Alley Kat Reviews
I purchased this guitar from zzounds.com for around $400. I wanted a semi-hollowbody guitar with a modern look, and I was very pleased with my Epiphone acoustic.
This instrument feels very strong. It looks great and has a really nice tone. I can get a great blues sound, and it has nice sustain. I don't have any trouble at all with noise or feedback. I really like the feel of the neck as well. The guitar just feels very natural to play.
Initially, my biggest complaint was the finish around the binding on the neck. Nothing is sticking out, but it doesn't look all that great. My danelectro has a better fit and finish on the ends of the frets. The pickup switch also felt very cheap. Within a couple days it quit working and I replaced it with a rotary switch from digikey. I like this switch better, because I never accidentally hit it, but for a guitar that lists for $800, you would think a decent switch could be included. The switch was a pretty hokey design. It even had the Epiphone name stamped on it. I hope they have fixed this issue by now.
As I mentioned, the guitar seems sturdy, and feels nice. My only complaints are around the neck binding and the fret ends, and of course the switch. The rest is really nice. The quality of the sound lives up to my expectations. It was set up well, and after a year of owning it, I have had no problems other than those mentioned.
Over all, I would buy this guitar again. It suits my playing well. I like to play blues, rock, jazz, and funk, and this guitar can be used for any of them. It also looks great hanging on the wall. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a versatile, yet fairly inexpensive semi-hollowbody, provided they don't mind replacing that switch.Bob
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Purchased from Modern Music in Ft. Lauderdale; $479 for the guitar, $79 for the case.
Like another post to this page, I was looking for a hollow body electric for gigging to compliment my Fender Strat and Tele. I've tried every guitar on the market, every model and style and never found one that really rang my bell with one exception - the "Lucille" Gibson. I guess I could have sold my other guitars, added a few bucks, and bought one, but that would have limited me. And I'm sentimental about my Fenders. Plus, a full size 335 style guitar is kind of big for me and a bit uncomfortable.
I saw the Alley Kat and it's cousins at Mars one day and tried them out. Not bad, but I had that made in Korea hang up.
However, I bought the guitar and played my first gig with it last night. My band covers everything from jazz to the blues to Santana and this guitar does it all. It has a fat jazz box sound and it screams when I saturate my amp (Fender Deville). I'm happy!
Ugly head stock!. My partner likes it. The chrome matches the hardware. But I think it would look nicer with the name painted or decaled
It's built well and the fit and finish are great. The rosewood finger board is "ebonized". I dont know what that means, but it's smooth and finished and plays easily. The flame matched top is gorgeous with the vintage sunburst finish. By looks alone, this guitar could easily be $1000. It looks and plays as well as the Gibson custom shop 336. (small body)
Forget the price and country of origin. If you're a guitar player who's looking for a hollow body, check this guitar out! It's great.John Steele (Tracy Steele Band)
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Ordered it from Musicians Friend. The price at the time was (US)$479.99. I also ordered the matching "Flame Kat" hardshell case at $79.99. Epiphone's list price is $799.
I'd been looking for a hollow body f-hole guitar for about a year, but they were either way too pricey ($1300 to 3000), or, at under $1000, had terrible or wimpy sound (the De Armond Starfire, for instance). I came across the Kat series of guitars doing a search in the Epiphone website...I was actually looking for the Sheraton and Dot models, and came across these new guitars, a "Limited Edition". I was immediately intrigued both by the appearance, features and novel design concepts.
The guitar is solid feeling, but lighter than a a 335 since it does not have the block-through body construction.
It can go from clean and jazzy to down and dirty.
The neck is exactly to my taste.
Now that I am used to the controls, I have really begun to appreciate the master volume control, which doesn't change the character of the output, just the volume.
And it looks great (except as noted below).
My biggest gripe is that the headstock decoration looks really cheap, and it is screwed on, which is a shame because the headstock shape is pure Gibson. Also the truss rod cover has the Epi "e", whereas I think the name of the guitar would have been far more appropriate, especially since nearly every guitarist who has seen this instrument has had to ask me what it is.
I miss the second tone control, which allows a bit more distinction between the pick-ups, and creates an 'out-of-phase' effect with the toggle in mid position.
The other issue I have is the strap buttons are those woefully inadequate standard Gibson/Epiphone dinks. They were immediately replaced with strap locks.
The one I chose was the translucent black, which shows a "tiger" bookmatched woodgrain through the finish, subtle but elegant. The body, neck and f-holes are bound. The body size is a bit smaller that a 335-style, with a single cutaway. There are two USA Gibson humbuckers, one standard size and one 3/4 size (a New Yorker, or something like that...) with a stop tailpiece and a 'tun-o-matic' bridge. The stop tailpiece threads into an isolated block of wood, so that the body cavity is almost totally hollow, creating a very interesting tone. It has only one tone control, two volume pots and a gretsch-style master volume pot mounted a couple of inches below the neck pick-up, and a selector toggle on the upper bout. The neck is very reminiscent of the "fretless wonder" necks of old, and feels very close to my '72 SG.
The pick-ups each have a distinct character, yet both are warmer sounding than the old Epiphone humbuckers. There is no pickguard, like on a good Les Paul or a 335, which saved me having to remove it.
Want a semihollow body guitar that sounds like it should sell for three times it's price? The jazz players I know have been shocked that this little Korean import sounds almost as good as their Es 130, Es 325, Gretsch Falcon, Epiphone Joe Pass, etc.
The blues and Classic Rock guys are stunned by the tone and output. The country players love the clean sound and the master volume effects... they are all just too lame or ashamed to buy an Epiphone. This guitar is destined to become a classic!K.C. McCarthy
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Got this earlier this month from Musicians Friend for $479.99. This was the first inexpensive yet seemingly high quality semi-hollow archtop I had seen in years except maybe the De Armond Starfire model.
This is a "Black Chrome" finish, and you can still see the flamed grain of the wood through the finish. Body, neck and f-holes are fully bound. The neck is surprisingly close in feel to my 72 SG. The stock Gotoh tuners were a surprise, they feel very smooth. The Gretsch-style master volume has proven very useful, since I do not use effects. This axe can go from the sweetest deep tone to a ripping rock squeal in a flick of the switch and a turn of a knob. Judging from the headstock, this guitar should say Gibson on it!!! But then it would cost $1500!
I have newfound respect for Korean guitar making!
My first issue with this design is that there is only one tone control, so that the sproingy, "out-of-phase" sound that is so excellent on most 2 pickup instruments (like a LP, 335, SG, Ibanez Artist etc.) when the tones are pushed to opposite ends and the selector is straight up-just doesn't happen on this layout. But I can live with that, therer's plenty of pluses with the two different humbuckers.
My only other issue is the headstock. It has the Gibson scroll work, and for some reason Epiphone decided to put this cheesy-looking metal nameplate on the head with 3 screws, which was not apparent in the photos- the screws, I mean. Also, the truss-rod adjustment cover has the Epiphone trademark "e" design, when it would have been much hipper to have had the name of the guitar there, since the only place that the name is on the guitar is inside the upper f-hole on the guarantee sticker!
Minor issues...that's why I bought it!
For the uninitated, this is a set-neck, single cutaway, semihollow (not neck through!),dual humbuckers (1 small, 1 full size) tunomatic bridge/stop tail... think oversized Les Paul with f-holes...smaller than, say, an ES model, more body than the Blueshawk. Probably what the Blueshawk should have been...
The workmanship appears to be as good as any Gibson (and I have a couple), except the f-hole "binding" which has a "brushed on" quality.
Would I stand on the face of this guitar like I have done to prove a point about quality and construction on Guilds and Martins? Probably not.
This guitar filled a void for me at a remarkable price. Anyone one looking at spending a grand or more to get that jazzy/swingy hollow jazz box sound should at least find one of these and try it out, preferably through a small tube amp with master gain (like a Fender Blues Junior or Deville) and just put it to the ear test. I had done that with a FlameKat (same basic setup, with a Bigsby vibrato and a gaudy paint job,and, btw, missing the head stock plate!) and was amazed by the versatility and tonal range. Note my rating of 4 should be taken as about a 4.7!K. C.
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