Friday, July 5, 2013

Rockabilly Riot II - Epiphone ES-295

Rockabilly Riot II - Epiphone ES-295

I figured I would follow up that 1959 Harmony Meteor with another rockabilly weapon of choice.  Here we have an Epiphone ES-295 which is a copy of the original Gibson ES-295.  Yes, its a contemporary reissue and technically doesn't fit the jist of this blog as I try to present older catalogue type guitars but for me it represents an important part of guitar history and so I will allow myself some poetic guitar license.

So, first off its not a Gibson ES-295, but every now and then a reissue will come along that serves my purposes just fine without having to pay $10,000 for an original.  I'm going to talk a bit about this guitars very important relationship with Scotty Moore and while we are talking prices, Scotty's original ES-295 that he played on the Sun recordings sold for $125,000 back in the early 2000's.  You see where I'm going - this guitar is one of the best bang for the buck guitars in my collection - at around $700 it does everything I need to get that rockabilly tone.

This is a pretty faithful reproduction of the original ES-295 with a few changes.  Most obvious is the Epiphone style headstock which for my money isn't near as classy or cool as the original Gibson headstock.  Epiphone tried to provide a more ornate design which I think distracts from the cool simplicity of the original Gibson headstock design.  This model also has a Bigsby tremolo which is a nice addition and works well.  Scotty's ES didn't have a bigsby and he had the stock tailpiece switched out for a more traditional tailpiece as well as added an early version of todays tune-a-matic bridge for better intonation.  A contemporary tune-a-matic bridge is provided with the reissue and helps maintain intonation especially with that Bigsby temolo which can reek havoc on a players intonation if used excessively.

The neck on this guitar is very comfortable and easy to play and the body is a pretty faithful reproduction of the original right down to the gold volume and tone controls and P90 pickups.  The tuners are a kluson style reproduction and probably the only thing I would change with regard to this guitars construction.  They are similar to the tuners used on the original and in both cases I feel they look a little out of place as the tuning shafts are very long and stick out a fair ways from the headstock.  Probably being a little bit picky.

The tone on this guitar is dynamite and as I said earlier does everything one would need to recreate that great old rockabilly sound.  Scotty used his ES-295 on the Sun Recordings and helped to provide the birth of Rock and Roll.  Though he is clearly a well regarded, influential guitarist, enough can not be said about Scotty's contribution to music's guitar lick catalogue.  Scotty traded in a Fender Esquire for his 1952 ES-295 and one can only wonder if the world of Rock and Roll would be the same if he had not made that trade.  I truly believe certain guitars elicit a certain style of play and the ES-295 gave Scotty the sound he was looking for as he stayed faithful to archtop style guitars for the rest of his life.  An insanely important sound and an insanely important player, I put Scotty in the same category as Bill Monroe in terms of his ability to essentially create a genre of music.

This guitar has been reissued a number of times and must be loved by those who are lucky enough to own one because you don't see them come up for resale very often.  I know mines a keeper.

If you are interested in Scotty Moore history and his guitars check out
This is a great website that provides a chronological history of Scotty's guitar use as well as many other Elvis and Scotty facts.