Celebrating the EJ-200CE
The EJ-200CE, Epiphone's modern version of the "Super Jumbo" or King of the Flat-tops, is one of the most distinctive--and most beautiful--acoustic guitars in the history of popular music. But don't just take our word for it. The "J-200" is known worldwide for its distinctive hourglass shape and strong midrange tone that has powered every major trend in rock, pop, country, and folk since it was first introduced in 1938.
Today, the Epiphone EJ-200CE is the direct descendant of the singular acoustic guitar whose look and sound has been treasured for generations over all genres. King of the Cowboys Gene Autry, honky tonk queen Emmylou Harris (who now owns Gram Parsons' J-200), the Everly Brothers, The Who's Pete Townshend (who composed The Who's Tommy on his J-200), Reverend Gary Davis, Elvis Presley, Paul Weller, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison have all recorded, performed, and posed with their Super Jumbos.
When Epiphone introduced the affordable EJ-200 and then the EJ-200CE (cutaway) in the 90s, a new generation of artists finally had access to the Super Jumbo sound for the first time. Noel and Liam Gallagher used an Epiphone EJ-200 as their main writing guitar for Oasis' debut album including the worldwide hit, "Wonderwall." And today, two of Epiphone's most critically acclaimed independent artists--songwriter Todd Snider and Emmy Award winner "Farmer" Jason Ringenberg--are hardly ever seen on stage without their EJ-200CE. "I've given away at least 10 EJ-200CE's over the years," says Todd Snider. "I love them. I can't play anything else."
Today's Epiphone EJ-200CE, which has the same bracing style and sonic punch of vintage models, has a mid-range tone that is part guitar, part percussion. As a "singer's guitar, they have incredible balance. And for churning rhythm, there's no substitute. Probably the best example of the "200" sound can be heard in Don Everly's kick off-open-tuned lick for "Bye Bye Love," surely one of the funkiest acoustic guitar intros in pop. Don's original "200" was a gift from his father Ike, a major influence on both Chet Atkins and Merle Travis.
George Harrison used his J-200 on classic Beatles tracks "Here Comes the Sun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" as well as the introduction to "For You Blue" from the film, Let it Be. George gave his J-200 to Bob Dylan, who used it on the cover of his 1969 classic, Nashville Skyline.
A Look Back at the Super Jumbo
The idea for the original Super Jumbo came from Hollywood cowboy star Ray Whitley, the author of "Back In the Saddle Again," who took a basic drawing to the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1937 (Epiphone would move into the same factory in 1957). When Ray's dream guitar went into production, it was dubbed the "Super Jumbo" and according to shipping records, only 100 were made before America's entry into World War II. Both Whitley and fellow cowboy film star Gene Autry (later owner of the California Angels baseball team) used their Super Jumbos (with custom decoration) in numerous westerns. That first run of Super Jumbo guitars boasted a super-large 16-7/8" flat-top body with a double-braced red spruce top and rosewood back and sides. It initially came in a sunburst finish. The "200" was added in 1939, signifying the Super Jumbo's retail price of $200 ($3,100 in 2014 dollars), a common practice for Kalamazoo-made acoustic instruments in the 30s. And for an extra $50, you could get your name inlaid along the fretboard.
After the end of World War II, the model name was shortened to J-200, the back and sides were switched to Maple, and the body depth increased from 4.5" to 4.75." The mustache bridge appeared at this time as well as the distinctive pickguard. Production shortcuts over the decades strayed far from the original design, which made finding a great sounding J-200 difficult. It wasn't until Epiphone picked up production in the early 90s that the Super Jumbo returned to the form and sound that made it a legend in the first place.
A new generation discovers a classic
Epiphone's EJ-200 series, now represented by the EJ-200CE with a much-requested cutaway, combines all of the attributes of vintage models. However, where as the tonal quality of vintage models can vary wildly, thanks to Epiphone's refined manufacturing processes, the modern EJ-200CE is the best sounding (not to mention most plentiful)--version of the "200" since Ray's hand-made original. Today, there are more Epiphone EJ-200s played around the world than Ray could have ever imagined.
When Epiphone brought back the EJ-200 series in the 90s, its return was especially heralded by independent artists like Todd Snider (pictured right) who had grown up admiring the "200" as the best guitar for singers who were also dedicated rhythm guitar players.
"I fell in love with it," Snider told Epiphone. "That's the guitar that Emmylou and the Stones played. The first time I used and Epiphone EJ-200CE was on Austin City Limits and I remember hearing the monitors at sound check and thinking: I've been wanting this sound my whole life. And I finally have it. And I've had so many people try to talk me out of my guitar."
Emmy winner Jason Ringenberg (Jason & the Scorchers, Farmer Jason and pictured left) was one of Epiphone's earliest endorsees of the EJ series. "I have two EJ-200s that Epiphone set up for me and they sound magnificent," says Ringenberg who is known for his "take no prisoners" treatment of rhythm guitars. "One of them I've had since '94 and I did all that Scorcher touring with it. Now, it's my first Farmer Jason guitar when I travel. And then I keep a newer one for videos and for recording and for photos--it's nice and new looking. It's a really good guitar."
The Epiphone EJ-200CE has all the classic looks and sound of the hard-to-find originals including a Maple body, a Solid Spruce top and a striking cutaway for easy upper-fret access. The SlimTaper™ Maple neck makes it easy to make full chord shapes while keeping a driving rhythm and the Rosewood fingerboard has vintage styled Pearloid "Crown" inlays.
One key element to the tone of the EJ-200CE is the now iconic Rosewood "mustache" bridge. The EJ's tortoise style pickguard is modeled after late 40s models and is set off by the three color finishes--Black, Natural, and Vintage Sunburst.
Plug In With the Epiphone eSonic2™ Preamp
The EJ-200CE's balanced tone makes it an easy guitar to amplify with the new Epiphone eSonic2™ preamp system. Made in cooperation with Shadow Germany, the new eSonic2™ preamp features a built-in, easy-to-use tuner. When engaged, the guitar's output is automatically muted with no "popping" noise, making it a perfect choice for stage use.
You can also push-in the tuner and unplug the guitar without a loud "pop." Other controls on the state-of-the-art preamp include Master Volume, NanoFlex™ Tone, NanoMag™ Tone, Stereo Blend, Low Battery indicator and a Phase switch to help eliminate unwanted feedback. The preamp uses two 2032 lithium watch batteries that are not only lightweight, but provide significantly longer life than old-fashioned, heavy 9V batteries.
Check out these classic clips of Epiphone's Todd Snider and Jason Ringenberg on their Epiphone "Super Jumbos" and compare them with equally classic clips of George Harrison and the Everly Brothers. And what's the difference between a new EJ-200CE and a vintage model?
Just the price. Visit your Authorized Epiphone Dealer and discover the Epiphone EJ-200CE, the new King of the Flat-tops.