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Old 01-24-2010, 08:22 AM
topher10 topher10 is offline
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Default Epiphone Masterbilt Problems?

Im new to this board and wanted to ask you guys about the Epiphone Masterbilt line of guitars. Ive read alot about the lacking quality of the series lately. So I have two questions. Have anyone of you had issues with a DR500M, or any of the guitars really? Also, would it be wise to get one of these guitars made in the past few years (eBay has some very good prices), or should I shoot for the earlier ones? Thanks!!
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:40 AM
Chris Kemp Chris Kemp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topher10 View Post
Im new to this board and wanted to ask you guys about the Epiphone Masterbilt line of guitars. Ive read alot about the lacking quality of the series lately. So I have two questions. Have anyone of you had issues with a DR500M, or any of the guitars really? Also, would it be wise to get one of these guitars made in the past few years (eBay has some very good prices), or should I shoot for the earlier ones? Thanks!!
I have an AJ 500M and have not had any problems with it. It is an excellent guitar and compares to guitars costing twice, if not three times as much. I am a luthier that repairs and builds guitars and haven't heard anything about the lacking in quality. In fact the few that I have seen are superior in quality. It is a light braced solid wood guitar with scalloped braces and a forward X-brace design, similar to pre-WWII war Gibsons and Martins. For this reason I would stay away from heavy gauge strings. Heavy gauge strings proved to be detrimental to some of the early guitars as well. If you buy one you will need to take care of it as you would a high dollar guitar. In that it is not built like a tank as some economy Epiphones, Ibenez and Fenders are it will be more susceptible to humidity and temperature changes.

Last edited by Chris Kemp; 01-24-2010 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:58 AM
Sleehrat Sleehrat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Kemp View Post
I have an AJ 500M and have not had any problems with it. It is an excellent guitar and compares to guitars costing twice, if not three times as much. I am a luthier that repairs and builds guitars and haven't heard anything about the lacking in quality. In fact the few that I have seen are superior in quality. It is a light braced solid wood guitar with scalloped braces and a forward X-brace design, similar to pre-WWII war Gibsons and Martins. For this reason I would stay away from heavy gauge strings. Heavy gauge strings proved to be detrimental to some of the early guitars as well. If you buy one you will need to take care of it as you would a high dollar guitar. In that it is not built like a tank as some economy Epiphones, Ibenez and Fenders are it will be more susceptible to humidity and temperature changes.
Curious -- what do you consider to be heavy gague strings? I use mediums on my dreads. Are there heavier sets than that?

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:16 AM
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Anything over 13-56 would be heavy. I have had 2 Masterbilts, the bridge was lifting on the 1st one, but that was fixed easily, sold to a friend of mine, then bought another, same model, AJ500-RC. That was sold at the end of summer last year, "just because". Both guitars were really good guitars, fit and finish were excellent, but for the bridge on the first one. They were both '2nds' also.

I am using medium gauge strings on my guitars now, but I think mediums would've sounded great on the 2nd AJ.

I have not seen any newer MBs, but last year's models were really good.

I don't think you'll have the bridge problems with the 1sts.
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:18 AM
Blackwood Blackwood is offline
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wasn't there a recent thread talking about some masterbilts having problems with the tops bellying and Epiphone moving production to a new factory? I couldn't find it, but didn't think I was imagining it...
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:41 AM
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The bridge lifted on my 3 year old Masterbilt DR500R. A little young for that sort of thing.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:09 AM
Wadcutter Wadcutter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topher10 View Post
Im new to this board and wanted to ask you guys about the Epiphone Masterbilt line of guitars. Ive read alot about the lacking quality of the series lately. So I have two questions. Have anyone of you had issues with a DR500M, or any of the guitars really? Also, would it be wise to get one of these guitars made in the past few years (eBay has some very good prices), or should I shoot for the earlier ones? Thanks!!
Topher10, I had a Masterbilt EF500R a few months ago that I simply could not stand to play. Of course I bought it sight unseen (new) from an online retailer so I must blame myself for the bum purchase. Maybe my experience was an anomaly, but no matter what I did to tweak the tone of that guitar ( even including bone nut & saddle), it's tone could only be described as "harsh and metallic." I ended up selling it for WAY less than I bought it for just to get rid of it. That was my experience with a Masterbilt guitar, but I know others like theirs. Maybe the lesson from my experience is more to the point that buying guitars sight unseen and unplayed can bite you in the butt many times, other than the notion that Masterbilt guitars suck. All I can say is this one did. And there ya have it.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:19 AM
Blackwood Blackwood is offline
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Wadcutter, did you get the HD-28?
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:33 PM
Chris Kemp Chris Kemp is offline
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Curious -- what do you consider to be heavy gague strings? I use mediums on my dreads. Are there heavier sets than that?

Thanks!
I tend to stick with 11's for all of my acoustics.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:41 PM
Armstrang Armstrang is offline
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I can't find any Masterbilts around here to try, so I took a chance on an AJ-500M online. It is an excellent guitar! So, thinking I needed a bit of variety, I took a flyer on an AJ-500R. Hoo, Boy! It is excellent, too! I lucked out both times, I guess. Think I'll give the online buying a rest now...

Almost forgot the question: 12-56's work fine with all the guitars, except the 12-string. Elixirs for the graphite, different other ones for the wood. It will take some time to discover faults in either Masterbilt. Right now, I couldn't ask for them to be any better.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:43 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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I've been fairly impressed with most of the Epiphone Masterbilts I've run across, and extremely impressed with a significant percentage of them. I think they represent a terrific value for the money.

Having said that, my overall experience with Asian-made all-solid wood musical instruments, regardless of country of origin in Asia, is that they do tend have a few more problems down the road than acoustic instruments built in North America.

In most cases these guitars, banjos and mandolins have been made of the same tonewoods as North American instruments. So I don't know whether there's less stringent quality control in place in those overseas factories, or if they don't let the woods season for as long before building with them. (I suspect both might be a factor to some degree....)

In any event, what I've found is that structural problems with necks, bracing and bridgeplate can arise more quickly with Asian-made guitars than you'd typically see in a US or Canadian guitar.

BUT - and this is important - when you get a good one, they're GREAT. I still have a made-in-Japan Kentucky mandolin that I will NEVER sell. it's been a dream instrument for the more than twenty years I've owned it.

So my standard advice whenever contemplating the purchase of Asian-made instruments is to just go over them very thoroughly, then choose the one that sounds the best. And if it manifests problems down the road after the warranty has expired, pay to get it fixed. If it's worth buying and playing, it's worth maintaining.

Hope that makes sense.


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Old 01-25-2010, 09:14 PM
Wadcutter Wadcutter is offline
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Quote:
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Wadcutter, did you get the HD-28?
Blackwood, I had to put the purchase of the HD-28 on hold temporarily. My daughter got laid off last month and of course Mom & Dad had to come to the rescue financially, you know how that goes. Hopefully, if all goes well, I may be able to pursue the purchase again next month. Thanks for asking brother.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:36 PM
topher10 topher10 is offline
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Thanks for all the information. Bought a dr-500m on eBay (made in 2006, like new) and should get it sometime next week. Took a risk, but for the price I got it for, if it doesnt work out, I can always sell it and go for something else.

Will string it with some DR Sunbeams. See how it goes!
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Old 01-26-2010, 07:43 AM
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My AJ-500M also had bridge lifting problem, but it was an easy fix (and covered by warranty). But the sound is just phenomenal. I couldn't be happier.

Regarding string gauge, it was shipped with light (12-53) gauge strings. But Gibson cust service said it's okay to use medium.
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Old 01-26-2010, 08:22 AM
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i've seen a few with lifting bridges and bulging bellies. i haven't found the sound to be bad, but it's not great, either. yes - they're solid wood and the sound reflects this, but they don't sound better than an all solid parkwood or other lower cost solid guitars i've tried.

that being said, my husband and i were talking about the ones we've played, and he brought up something i had forgotten. the first time i saw a masterbilt with belly bulge and a slightly lifting bridge, it actually sounded the best of any we've played. it was marked second on the back of the headstock, the only time i've seen that on a new guitar at gc.

while i agree that a lifting bridge isn't that much of an issue, although not everyone should be replacing their own bridge, and really imo it's an issue that should have been dealt with at the factory long ago. you rarely see lifting bridges on any guitar in a store except for masterbilts, and seems like a fair number of people see them within year 1. and being the paranoid person that i am, it makes me wonder what other issues they're missing at the factory that may not show up for a while.
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