Be sure and pick up a copy of the April 2004 issue of Guitar One Magazine. On page 57 you'll find a review of the Epiphone Elitist J-45 by Douglas Baldwin.......and the announcement that the Elitist J-45 has received the coveted Guitar One, Mark of Excellence Award! This is the second Guitar One Award that the Elitist line has received (previously won by the '61 SG Standard) and we couldnt be more thrilled! Here's a sneak peek at the review. (Reprinted with permission.)


Epiphone Elitist J-45 - An Elitist for the Working Class
By Douglas Baldwin

Your Grandpa would probably remember how tough it was to get much of anything during World War II. Every scrap of metal, plastic and rubber went to the military, and even the guitar factories sacrificed men and tools to defeat Hitler and Hirohito. Those lean times saw the development of Gibson's J-45, a visually unpretentious instrument designed to compete with Martin's popular dreadnaughts. As the post war economy boomed, so did the use of the J-45, as it found favor with folk, blues and bluegrass musicians. Epiphone's Elitist J-45 is a commendable recreation of the Gibson Paradigm at a price that will appeal to the working musician with an ear for superior tone.

The J-45 comes close to a standard dreadnaught size; the rounded upper bout gives it the illusion of being a bit longer and thicker. And while Gibson offers some upscale relatives of the J-45, Epiphone has wisely chosen to present their Elitist J-45 in its simplest form. Plenty of guitars have pearl inlay and herringbone doodads, but then how hard do you want to play them? The hard-working Elitist J-45, on the other hand, keeps to a simple luthier's palette, which makes the Vintage Sunburst finish and the well-chosen woods all the more attractive. Should you place the Elitist J-45 round-shoulder to round-shoulder with Gibson's first generation progeny, you'll find nary a difference save the Elitist's healthier Grover tuners; older J-45's often receive this upgrade anyway.

Every detail of construction and set-up was simply perfect on our review model; it played as sweet and open as a Midwestern spring breeze. I've come to favor long-scaled, heavy-stringed guitars, so the Elitist J-45 floored me with its 24-3/4" scale and light-gauge strings. Chords and single-note lines sounded articulate and expressive at every volume level, and fingerpicked patterns like the one below produced buttery bottoms and glistening highs.

I recently brought the Elitist to the home of Bob Wescott, an avowed Gibson addict, and compared it to several of his round-shouldered jumbos. Bob's well-worn 1965 Gibson J-50, roughly equal in resale value to the new Elitist J-45, seemed a bit warmer but was hampered by its original ceramic bridge and thinner neck. A more upscale 1998 Gibson Southern Jumbo stood up well, but I preferred the Elitist's slightly snappier bass response. If you're buying a guitar for its name or eventual resale value, you might consider a Gibson. But if saving a few hundred dollars while obtaining delightful tone floats your boat, go for the Epiphone Elitist J-45. Besides, you can tell your friends it's the recipient of our "1 Award".