Be sure and check out
for a review of the Epiphone
EF-500M. Mark Starlin performed the review and awarded the EF-500M the
Better Guitar Great Gear Award! Here's a sneak peek:
Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500M
Review by Mark Starlin
The 1930’s were a very difficult time for America.
The Great Depression robbed many people of their jobs, homes, and hope. The
rise of dictatorships in Europe and Asia led to worldwide war by the end
of the decade. Yet Americans persevered and eventually prevailed.
…..As in most troubled times, music played an
important role in comforting and helping heal the heart of a generation.
Guitars became increasingly popular during this decade, and Epiphone and
Gibson became fierce rivals, constantly trying to one-up each other in an
effort to win over the guitar buying public.
A Tradition Returns
Inspired by this golden age of guitar building, Epiphone
has reintroduced the Masterbilt line of acoustic guitars. With design elements
drawn right out of the 1930’s, including an “offset" headstock
shape with historic Epiphone script logo and "stickpin" inlay, the
Masterbilt’s looks invoke the feeling of being from a different era.
The EF-500M features all solid wood construction with
Mahogany back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top. A Rosewood version is also
available. The guitar features a tapered dovetail neck joint, hand-scalloped
bracing, and full-body abalone binding. A thin headstock with open-gear Grover
tuners helps continue the “vintage” vibe of the guitar. A very
deluxe, embroidered hard-sided gig bag with built-in hygrometer (an instrument
used to measure humidity) is included to round out the package.
…..The EF Masterbilt models are fingerstyle guitars
and feature a slightly wider neck than typical Dreadnaught models. The neck
also has more of a “V” shape than traditional guitars, which becomes
more pronounced as you move up the neck.
Unlike many current guitar builders, Epiphone no longer
subcontracts their import guitar models out to other Asian companies. In
October 2002, Gibson/Epiphone opened their own factory in China dedicated
solely to making Epiphone guitars. This gives them complete control over
manufacturing, materials, and quality. The payoff is evident the minute you
open the gig bag and see the instrument. The construction of the review guitar
was flawless, inside and out. The Mother Of Pearl diamond neck inlays fit
tight and there were no rough fret edges to be found. I looked hard, but
couldn’t find anything to complain about.
The action was a hair higher than I prefer, but certainly
playable. A small truss rod adjustment would take care of it. There were
no string buzzes or other annoyances. The guitar is comfortable to hold and
fun to play. The only concern some player may have is the “V” shaped
neck, which gets a little thick as you move up the fretboard. Those with
small hands will want to try this out for comfort.
The use of Mahogany for the back and sides, gives
the EF-500M a warm tone with pronounced midrange and high end. Those looking
for more bass will want to check out the Rosewood EF-500R. The use of solid
woods and a light satin finish, make this a very resonant guitar. The guitar
feels “alive” when played, and picking staccato notes reveals plenty
of overtones as the body resonates the other strings.
…..When fingerpicking softly with my fingers
the tone of the high strings was a bit subdued, but playing a little harder
brought out the sparkle. Don’t be afraid to dig in, you’ll find
a richer tone when you do. I should mention that this guitar also sounds
great when strummed with a pick. Flatpicked arpeggios chime nicely too. And
being a solid wood guitar, the tone should just get better with
The wide neck makes this guitar ideal for fingerstyle
players. Although any guitarist with large fingers may enjoy the extra room,
as it sounds great with a pick also.
While the Epiphone line has long been considered
“made to be played”, the Masterbilt EF-500M takes bang-for-the-buck
to new heights. With its flawless construction, good looks, and great tone,
it is obvious Epiphone is focusing their attention on both value and quality.
When you consider that you can get a great sounding and playing, solid wood
guitar with a very nice case for $600, perhaps this century is the golden
age of guitar building.
HERE to visit BetterGuitar.com.