Posted by: kubiakl | September 13, 2008

Epiphone AJ-500MNS

This is my go-to guitar.  It’s usually the first one I reach for when I want to play, and even gets a special place in my apartment.  While my other guitars stay in a rack stand, this guitar stays two feet from where I sit – right between my couch and my computer chair.

We got together by accident.  I wasn’t looking for anything new, and had a pretty good relationship with my old acoustic.  Sure, it wasn’t the hottest thing around, but we’d grown accustomed to each other.  The blemish on the back, the little dent on the neck where my thumb would rest… I liked those things.  Honestly, I was just there to buy some new strings.  But who goes to a guitar shop without playing around a little?

I walked into the acoustic room and immediately noticed it.  It didn’t try to catch my attention like the other guitars did.  No, it played it cool.  I found out later that it was because of the satin finish (most guitars have a gloss finish).  After drooling over a few Gibsons and Martins I picked it up.  The first thing I noticed was that it felt different – the satin finish gave it a very smooth, natural feel.  I strummed a G-chord and was overwhelmed by the balance in the sound.  Not too much bass, not too much treble, but just right.

Have you ever played a Taylor guitar?  They are wonderful.  Great playability and remarkably smooth, lush tone.  Which is great… but not for me.  I like a woody, kind of dry “back porch” sound.  The Epiphone has it in spades.  It also responds well to differences in picking style – a light touch gives a very smooth tone, but pick a little harder and it overdrives the top for a little edge.  Fingerpicking sounds absolutely gorgeous.

And the playability?  Just my style.  Not so low that I can’t dig in to the strings, but not so high that I have to make a Stevie Ray Vaughan face just to hit a note.  And it isn’t just that good in the first position, it’s that way all down the neck.  Remember that satin finish thing I talked about?  Glossy guitars can feel sticky (especially when it gets hot and humid… which is often here) but the satin finish will still be smooth and comfortable after hours of playing.

I’m not a professional guitar reviewer, so take this opinion for what it’s worth (which is roughly the same amount you spent to read this).  Alls I know is that I like my guitar, and since the intent of this blog is to talk about things I like in music, it belongs.



  1. yeah, I love my Aj-500 too! I’ve got some vintage martin’s which are sweet too, but I don’t want to take them out to a gig. My Epiphone is my “work” guitar and I’ve got no complaints!

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