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  #1  
Old 11-14-2018, 12:40 PM
mcmars mcmars is offline
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Default NGD Epiphone Masterbilt Century Zenith round hole

Hi folks, I just received one of the epi masterbilt century zenith round holes from Chicago Music Exchange a day ago and thought I would post here about my initial impression.

Pros:
The ebony neck is one of the nicest fastest necks I have ever played; frets nicely polished very low fast feel and no sharp ends, the intonation was perfect as it gets, fret rocker test showed very even frets similar to my national reso rocket for comparison. The width (43mm at nut) and feel is extremely comfortable to my hands, really as good as it gets, for me.

Sound is very nice for my solo vintage blues style, bright, piercing and loud when needed, but sweet delicate unique tones I am enjoying for now in the "honeymoon" phase of our bonding. The low end has a very nice dry blues "thump" tone when damped with right hand. It is not all like the typical dread sound or even most nice flat top parlors, it is different and I like that aspect. Very bright highs, maybe too much and great mids.

Overall quality looks very nice with lots of bling factor.

Cons: No pickguard came with mine, but it was a "blem/2nd deal", who knows. The tuners simply suck, full of mush and slop. They seem to hold OK, but getting there requires lots of fussing around and guesswork and is a lesson in patience. The on board electronics are quacky, have some high and low feedback from my fishman performer amp, maybe some more tweaking will find a good mix. But I will probably just use my fishman rare earth soundhole PU which also has a mic and possibly blend in a tad of the Epi piezo if needed for a full sound. I like having a shure 57 anyway when I can, but always hoping for a natural plug in sound to avoid the feedback loops and hassle of adding mikes on stage.

Mine came set up with light gauge strings and very low action, but with the fairly long scale (25 25/32"), first thing I did after a few hours of playing was to change them out for D addario 80/20 custom lights (11-52) for lighter action for my old arthritic hands and tone down the bright phosphor bronze tone it had with the oem strings. It took and hour to get the new strings and bridge set back to near perfect intonation, but they come packed with a protective strip of thin foam under the bridge, so that had to go anyway.

I am wondering what the perfect affordable hardshell case might be, planning to try it out in some of my existing cases I have other guitars in to find a good fit.

For now, I want to keep it, but change out tuners and find a pickguard to have a nice resting spot to place my right pinky to anchor my right hand. I have a email to epi on the pickguard and tuner issue, curious what they will tell me. Pretty early in my impressions, but I really like how easy the neck plays for an acoustic and the unique tones. I have really enjoyed playing it and am finding it easy to be creative and figure out new melodies, so thinking this will be good for inspirational work and new tunes and be a good gigging and travel instrument to avoid messing up my vintage guitars.

I am wondering if others here have this guitar and what they are thinking about it? I can get measurements and pics of details if anyone here has questions.

Here is link to epi for specs: http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Aco...lt-Zenith.aspx

Last edited by mcmars; 11-14-2018 at 09:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2018, 01:54 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmars View Post
Hi folks, I just received one of the epi masterbilt century zenith round holes from Chicago Music Supply a day ago and thought I would post here about my initial impression.

Pros:
The ebony neck is one of the nicest fastest necks I have ever played; frets nicely polished very low fast feel and no sharp ends, the intonation was perfect as it gets, fret rocker test showed very even frets similar to my national reso rocket for comparison. The width (43mm at nut) and feel is extremely comfortable to my hands, really as good as it gets, for me.

Sound is very nice for my solo vintage blues style, bright, piercing and loud when needed, but sweet delicate unique tones I am enjoying for now in the "honeymoon" phase of our bonding. The low end has a very nice dry blues "thump" tone when damped with right hand. It is not all like the typical dread sound or even most nice flat top parlors, it is different and I like that aspect. Very bright highs, maybe too much and great mids.

Overall quality looks very nice with lots of bling factor.

Cons: No pickguard came with mine, but it was a "blem/2nd deal", who knows. The tuners simply suck, full of mush and slop. They seem to hold OK, but getting there requires lots of fussing around and guesswork and is a lesson in patience. The on board electronics are quacky, have some high and low feedback from my fishman performer amp, maybe some more tweaking will find a good mix. But I will probably just use my fishman rare earth soundhole PU which also has a mic and possibly blend in a tad of the Epi piezo if needed for a full sound. I like having a shure 57 anyway when I can, but always hoping for a natural plug in sound to avoid the feedback loops and hassle of adding mikes on stage.

Mine came set up with light gauge strings and very low action, but with the fairly long scale (25 25/32"), first thing I did after a few hours of playing was to change them out for D addario 80/20 custom lights (11-52) for lighter action for my old arthritic hands and tone down the bright phosphor bronze tone it had with the oem strings. It took and hour to get the new strings and bridge set back to near perfect intonation, but they come packed with a protective strip of thin foam under the bridge, so that had to go anyway.

I am wondering what the perfect affordable hardshell case might be, planning to try it out in some of my existing cases I have other guitars in to find a good fit.

For now, I want to keep it, but change out tuners and find a pickguard to have a nice resting spot to place my right pinky to anchor my right hand. I have a email to epi on the pickguard and tuner issue, curious what they will tell me. Pretty early in my impressions, but I really like how easy the neck plays for an acoustic and the unique tones. I have really enjoyed playing it and am finding it easy to be creative and figure out new melodies, so thinking this will be good for inspirational work and new tunes and be a good gigging and travel instrument to avoid messing up my vintage guitars.

I am wondering if others here have this guitar and what they are thinking about it? I can get measurements and pics of details if anyone here has questions.

Here is link to epi for specs: http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Aco...lt-Zenith.aspx
I've had two Masterbuilt Olympics (same tuners) and the first one had sloppy tuners, at least when there was no string on the post, but when the strings were tuned to pitch the slop went away. I haven't had the problem on the second one. The electronics on mine are average at best, but I bought the guitar as a couch player with a cool acoustic tone. I put light gauge (.012 - 054)) Martin Monel Strings on mine and I really like the tone.
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Old 11-14-2018, 04:37 PM
mcmars mcmars is offline
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Default Good to hear..

Interesting that you had varying results from the 2 guitars with the same tuners? On mine, it is like guesswork to get them to get to pitch, no consistency about how much you turn em. And no feel to them like you are turning actual gears inside the enclosures, try 1/8th turn, nothing, 1/4 nothing, 1/16th no, micro touch more, then, all of a sudden the needle on the tuner jumps up a ton and you turn em back to start the process over. Ughh. They do hold a tune overnight very well in my living room, perfect tune today while sitting out on a stand overnight. That seems surprising for a brand new guitar still acclimating to new conditions, hoping that means it might be a stable guitar for travel and temp/humidity changes (?).

But, I also have great news to report that Epiphone is sending out a pickguard at no charge as the guitar had none included. And they are going to check on the specs for replacement tuners for an upgrade. I appreciate their great customer service, that means a lot to me and might make of break my decision to want to invest in new equipment.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:09 AM
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BoneDigger BoneDigger is offline
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I own two of the Masterbilt Deluxe guitars, one Classic with F-holes and one with a round hole. The F definitely has more thump to it and projects better. The round hole version is much quieter but has a slighter sweeter sound. Both have very good note separation due to the maple body and parallel bracing.

The tuners on the F hole work great, the ones on the round are a bit tedious and impresice. If I keep the round hole, I'll likely replace the tuners.

As for a case, Epiphone makes a really nice hardshell case specifically for these guitars.

I like the tone of both of these guitars, though probably favor the f-hole a little more. However, I haven't had the round hole for long so I'm still learning its pros and cons. The paint job on the F is burst and antique natural on the round. Definitely prefer the latter as the burst looks a bit cheesy to me.

I use Thomastik Infield light gauge jazz strings (AC111) on both guitars.
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  #5  
Old 11-15-2018, 01:27 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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This case at Sweetwater looks good, don't know if it's the price you're looking for. I put this pickguard on my Eastman archtop.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2018, 02:40 PM
mcmars mcmars is offline
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Default nice pickguard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
This case at Sweetwater looks good, don't know if it's the price you're looking for. I put this pickguard on my Eastman archtop.
Ebony pickguard, how cool! Looks like the hardware might be sub par, reviews talk about the screws being drywall screws, but easy to go to hardware store and find a SS screw.
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:40 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmars View Post
Ebony pickguard, how cool! Looks like the hardware might be sub par, reviews talk about the screws being drywall screws, but easy to go to hardware store and find a SS screw.
Yes I mounted mine diferently than with the provided hardware. Used a piece of 1/4" steel barstock with two holes through one side to use very light screws into the elevated neck, then two holes in the top which I drilled and tapped to screw the pickguard into. No clamp or strap going into side of the guitar. If I paid to post pics here it would be clearer.
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  #8  
Old 11-29-2018, 08:39 PM
mikehartigan mikehartigan is offline
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I've had my Zenith with F-Holes for about two months. Absolutely loving the guitar but, as you said, the electronics leave more than a little something to be desired. As far as the tuners, mine were as sloppy as hell. People in various forums have suggested tightening down the button screws. I tightened the screws two full turns, but they became hard to turn, so I backed off a full turn and they're much better now. Still not ideal, but usable. The plastic buttons seem fragile, though time will tell. I bought the matching Epiphone case with the guitar because I thought it had a classy look. At $149-ish, I didn't think it was badly overpriced.
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