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Write down five of the most iconic acoustic guitars ever made, and we bet ten bucks that the Gibson J-200 is on that list! First released in the 1930s, the J-200 has been used by countless artists and remains an absolute legend.
The only downside is that not everybody can afford one. Enter, the Epiphone EJ-200SCE – an excellent electro-acoustic that pays tribute to the J-200, while coming in at a more accessible price. Today we’re taking a closer look.
No prizes for guessing the shape of this beauty – it’s a jumbo, just like the original. If you’ve not played a jumbo before you’ll find it certainly lives up to its name, with a large body that projects like a beast (even though the scale length remains similar to others at 25.50”).
But enough about the size – it’s the design that interests us the most. The EJ-200SCE is very faithful in replicating the unique historic styling of the original. Epiphone have added appointments including an elaborate J-200 pickguard, pearloid crown fretboard inlays, sloped dove wing headstock, and that eye-catching mustache bridge.
It also boasts good tonewoods for the affordable mid-range price. The top is made from solid spruce, while laminated maple makes up the rest of the body, which comes finished in one of three retro colors (for the record, black is our favorite).
Finally, the EJ-200SCE features a generous cutaway allowing for easy access to all 20 frets of the pau ferro fretboard, which sits on a seriously playable hard maple SlimTaper D-shaped neck.
If you’re taking this one to the stage (and why wouldn’t you?), you may be pleased to hear that it is loaded with a pickup and preamp system. A very good one at that! The EJ-200SCE makes use of Epiphone’s respected Shadow eSonic-II HD stereo pickup system.
This system features both a NanoFlex under-saddle piezo pickup, as well as a NanoMag fretboard pickup, with advanced controls that allow you to blend between the two. This comes on top of standard EQ controls and a handy onboard tuner.
Elsewhere, Epiphone have stocked this guitar well. The headstock is fitted with a set of gold Grover Rotomatic machine heads with an 18:1 tuning ratio for precision adjustments. Back on the body, the aforementioned mustache bridge is made from solid pau ferro, with a synthetic bone saddle sitting comfortably on top.
Truth be told, the design of the EJ-200SCE is worth the cash alone. If it sounds decent, then it’s a bonus… right? In fact, this acoustic sounds fantastic. The combination of solid spruce with maple delivers a rich tone that’s definitely on the brighter side, although there’s enough warmth to stop it sounding too brash. It’s therefore very well suited for rock and country music (as if the aesthetics didn’t already suggest it!).
As for volume, it projects well and certainly fills the room with sound – as any jumbo does when compared to a smaller guitar. However, compared to other jumbos, it surprisingly lacks a little punch, feeling quieter than first expected.
Still, through the upgraded electronics, the EJ-200SCE becomes a worthwhile partner for the stage, while the pickup system works well to offer a natural replication of the unplugged tone.
At the end of the day, Epiphone EJ-200CE is a very fitting tribute to Gibson's legendary jumbo. Sure, there's a difference between the models offered by these two companies, but Epiphone's price compensates for any shortcomings in terms of performance. If you're looking for a powerful, loud and overall well-built jumbo, this EJ-200CE should definitely be on your short list.