Epiphone Limited Edition Riviera Custom Royale P93
A poor man’s White Falcon? Meet this sexy limited edition Epiphone P93.
I first saw one of these about a year ago on eBay and remember drooling over it. Man, what a guitar! It seemed to have it all: cool white finish, three P-90 pickups, Bigsby vibrato, gold sparkle binding, and gold hardware. It looked spectacular.
With all its ornamentation, this Epi reminded me of a ’60s Gretsch White Falcon. The only problem was, it was also kind of pricey. These guitars were going for around $550–$700 on eBay. I already owned a similar P93 in a dark wine red finish that had set me back $325, but this white one left mine in the dust. I knew I had to own the white model, so I did a daily search for one on eBay and got outbid time after time.
The locking Kluson keystone tuners are a sweet upgrade to an already sweet guitar.
The P93 boasts a trio of P-90 single-coil pickups and an innovative wiring scheme.
This model has gold sparkle binding on both the body and fretboard.
But I was diligent and after almost a year, my daily searches finally paid off. I saw this beauty, which had two nice upgrades—a hardshell case and gold Kluson locking tuners—and a buy-it-now price of $350 or best offer, plus a flat $20 shipping fee. Even though I should have just hit the buy-it-now button for $350, I was feeling lucky that day and decided instead to offer $330. The seller immediately emailed me back with a counter offer of $340. I was lucky he was at his computer, and I immediately made another counter offer of $335. Within a few minutes he accepted and the guitar was mine! That really made my day. With shipping I got it for $355 total!
I was excited when it arrived and after inspecting it thoroughly, I was relieved to see that it was undamaged and not stamped as a factory second. There seem to be a lot of these models floating around on eBay with cracked necks and broken headstocks, likely from a cargo shipping container that was dropped by a crane.
Bottom Feeder Tip #2,793: When buying an Epiphone guitar, always check the back of the headstock and make sure it’s not stamped “Used.” That stamp means it’s reconditioned or a factory second, and typically will have a resale value of 15 to 20 percent less than a pristine model. Thankfully this guitar was not stamped with that. Whew.
So how does it play and sound? Amazing! The seller had his guitar tech set it up for him and it really showed. The action was great, nut slots nice and low, and intonation dead-on. What’s really cool about these guitars is how you can use the 3-way pickup selector switch to choose either or both of the two outside P-90s, and then gradually bring in the middle pickup with its own volume control to subtly blend sounds. With this wiring, I’ve found you can create unlimited tonal shadings. I love the sound of the guitar, the way it plays, and especially the way it looks. It’s a keeper for sure.
Will Ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz.