Good news for lovers of moderately priced, smaller sized jazz guitars. The Epiphone ES-175 is back. This time they (Epiphone) are calling it a Premium model. The going price (September 2014) is about $900 without case.
This is a competitive price with a number of the other higher end moderately priced hollow body electrics. However, comparing to the Eastman models I would still choose Eastman. Of course, I already have chosen the Eastman AR371ce which is basically an ES-175 in a single pickup configuration. The AR372ce is the dual pickup model.
I just read about this model’s release today and don’t have all of the details about it’s construction. Here’s a comparison to the AR372ce from Eastman Guitars.
- Price: Epiphone Premium ES-175 is about $900 without a case. A hardshell case costs extra. Eastman AR372ce is about $980 and includes a hard shell case. If you can find a case for about $100, the two guitars are fairly close on price. The proper case (according to Epiphone) is the Model EEMCS usually sold for the Joe Pass Emperor II guitar. (See this list near bottom of page for which cases fit which Epiphone models. You can also use the Sweetwater Case Finder. If you go to , look for cases that fit small F sized guitars.)
- Bridge: The ES-175 has rosewood base with a Tune-o-matic bridge. This is how most standard Gibson ES-175s are configured but historic re-issues have an all rosewood compensated bridge, as does the AR372ce. All rosewood should be better acoustically but amplified probably doesn’t matter. Individual intonation adjustments on the Tune-o-matic bridge is nice but once set properly is unlikely to matter much either.
- Tailpiece: The Epiphone has the classic ES-175 zig-zag tailpiece. The Eastman has a simple trapeze tailpiece similar to an Epiphone Casino. I like the Epiphone ES-175 tailpiece better but I don’t think it is a big deal.
- Pickups: Epiphone is using Gibson USA ’57 Classic Pickups. That’s nice. The Eastman doesn’t specify the pickups. Epiphone wins on pickups. That’s a big deal. If you wanted to upgrade your guitar to the ’57 Classic Pickups the going price is about $150 each plus labor and parts if you’re not up to wiring them yourself. However, in spite of its generic nature, I don’t have any complaints about the pickup on my Eastman. Side-by-side the Gibson pickups are probably better — though I haven’t actually done a side-by-side.
- Scale length: Both are 24.75 inches.
- Nut width: The Epiphone’s nut width is the same as most Gibson guitars, a classic 1.68 inches wide. In spite of the fact that this is a widely accepted standard nut width, I prefer the Eastman with a wider 1.75 inches width at the nut.
- Top thickness: I can’t find anything about how many ply thick the laminated top is on the Epiphone. The Eastman and Gibson Historic Re-issue ES-175s have a thinner top (3 ply vs. 5 ply) than the standard Gibson ES-175 currently in production. This also results in a lighter weight guitar for the Eastman or historic re-issue models.
Overall, both the Epiphone Premium ES-175 and Eastman AR372ce are excellent guitars. I would have considered the Epiphone had it been available when I purchased my Eastman. However, I probably would have made the same decision I made because I really like the wider fingerboard on the Eastman.