On the way home from a little guitar jam visit at a work friend’s place I stopped at Guitar Center. I didn’t have long before closing so I looked for something I hadn’t played before. Low and behold the “Epiphone Limited Edition Swingster Royale”. A very cool axe with a too long name. The finish was in a dark gray/black sparkle and silver sparkle bindings. It’s a mixture of elegant and tacky all in one! Regardless, the finish was perfectly applied – no ripples, orange peel, or buff throughs anywhere. The inner edges of the “F” holes even got the silver sparkle details. I’ll have to admit it – Epiphone is getting better at finishes. The guitar was fitted with a Bigsby and roller bridge and had the cylindrical handle for another touch of class. The pickups were Epiphone’s take on something between a Dearmond and Filtertron ….growly like a Dearmond with a little Filtertron twang. Each pickup had push/pull series/parallel switch. I really couldn’t tell which I liked better…both were cool but different. They were a touch dark but worked well enough – nothing that a little amp EQ didn’t compensate for. As usual, Guitar Center put the guitar out without bothering to stretch the strings. At first, I thought there might be tuning issues but once I started to work the strings in, everything settled down and the Bigsby stayed true with no tuner slippage either. Frets were typical of a guitar in this price range – very playable but hardly bling PRS. The neck felt comfortable with enough shoulder to fill the hand well. Probably the best way to describe this guitar is Epiphone’s take on a Gretsch Electromatic 5120…with my nod going to the Epi for the slick paint job and added touches like the roller bridge, handle, and pickup switching.
Through the Marshall DSL15’s clean channel with a gobs of reverb, this guitar sounded very retro Gretchey-twangy-Setzery (lots of “eys” eh?). I wanted to plug it into a reverb-equiped Fender but time ran out. In the mid $700, this is a great stage guitar for anyone that wants to Rock This Town. It begs for dirt and reverb. A blast to play.
Here’s a couple of shots including a close up of the sparkle finish and binding.