I know I reviewed the Min-ETune last week but i promise this blog is not turning into Epiphone Central. That said, I will admit a bit of nostalgic affection for the guitar makers at Epiphone. My first 3 decent guitars were all American-made Epies. One, was smaller than a standard guitar, too.
I've been reading, with interest, about the new Epiphone Pro-1 line.
These smaller scale guitars (there is a choice of 4 models - 3 acoustic and 1 acoustic electric cutaway) are at low street price points and intended to take the physical challenge out of learning to play guitar. Don't mistake these for travel guitars. They are not. They aren't 3/4 size nor parlor size axes either. They aren't Daisy Rocks either. They are just a slightly smaller profile than most acoustics.
That slightly shorter (about an inch) scale length and the slightly smaller body profiles make for a much more comfortable experience for some beginners, youths transitioning from travel, 1/2 or 3/4 size instruments, people with small hands and those who want the easiest adjustment to playing guitar that they can get.
I have raved so many times in the podcast and in these posts, I'm sure, that the paramount focus, when buying a guitar, should be how it fits you. Well, if you aren't a long armed, large handed guitarist, here is yet one more possibility.
Because I'm here, "doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time," I need to break down Epiphone's pitch on this guitar - and I don't mean pitch in a negative way.
First and foremost it's being called "easy to play." No question. It's a little smaller, has a slightly shorter scale length, which requires a bit less tension on the strings and there is a slightly pared down neck profile.
All those things will increase playability and reduce the amount of pressure and stretch necessary to fret. Each model has Jumbo-PRO frets, too. They aren't my favorite but within reason, the bigger the fret, the lighter you can play and still make clean sound.
On all these points, Epiphone is on target, that these guitars may be easier to play. The Pro-1s are all factory strung with extra light strings. Well, of course they require less pressure, but you can approximate that experience on any guitar with an adjustable neck. (The lighter tension may require the truss rod to be adjusted in order to prevent buzzes with very light strings.) So, the extra lights do not set this guitar apart from others. It's just a fact that extra lights are easier to press. A discriminating ear may or may not prefer the sound of extra light strings.
Then, there's the PRO-Ease Lubricant that comes with each PRO-1 guitar. Yes, the PRO-Ease string lubricant will make playing on any string a smoother experience and will reduce or eliminate finger noise (which might be desirable for recording or if you hate the sound of it.) That's not PRO-1 specific. String lubricants have been around for quite a while. Me, I'm not big on applying anything to guitar strings, for the sake of the sound. Just call me, Purist. (But I love DR's K3 coating because it actually enhances sound, playability and string life.) If there's a sore fingertip issue - generally, if you aren't unnecessarily pushing way through the fingerboard when you can use much less pressure, the fingertip sensitivity is short lived. I always tell beginners that if their fingertips are sore after they play, (and they are not pressing harder than is necessary) to do a few seconds on and a minute or longer off an ice cube, and repeat it a few times. If it's a child, have them break their playing into 10 or 15 minute intervals, rather than a long session, until their fingertips toughen up. I'm honestly not a fan of string lubricant. But if it's your thing, lubricate to your heart's content.
So, what are you buying, if you get a PRO-1, and what kind of prices are there?
According to Epiphone:
All PRO-1 Acoustic Guitars Feature:
- Mahogany Body
- Mahogany Neck
- Glued In Neck Joint
- EZ-Profile™ Neck Profile
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- JumboPRO™ Frets
- Dual-Action Truss Rod
- PRO-Ease™ Lubricant
- Graph Tech® Nut
- Short Scale Length
- Deluxe Tuners
- Ultra-Light Strings
- EZ-String™/Pinless Rosewood Bridge
- Graph Tech® Saddle
- eMedia® On-Line Lessons
- Guitar Beginner's Guide
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Optional Case
- Optional Accessory Kit
The models are
PRO-1 (street is about $119)
PRO-1 Classic (street is about $119)
PRO-1 Plus (street is about $229)
PRO-1 Ultra (street is about $329)
Except for the Classic model, all come in a few color options.
This line will be available in September. If the quality is there, and it usually is with Epiphone products, these are a great budget alternative to a larger, more challenging instrument.
If I have a change to play these next month, I'll post a review.
If you haven't played on extra light strings and you'd like to feel the difference from your current tension, I unabashedly recommend DRs.
The Genuine Raptor Picks Flash Sale is still going on, but won't be for long. If you haven't heard and felt the difference a Raptor pick can make, this is the time to try them. I used the same style guitar pick for literal decades. I tried the Raptor and have used nothing since. They are revolutionary. You'll never see them at the flash sale price again. Try them!!