Once in a while, I’ll get on a kick where I just want to find a Tele-style guitar that’s different from the ones I own.

Once in a while, I’ll get on a kick where I just want to find a Tele-style guitar that’s different from the ones I own. I found this guitar some time ago during one of my daily eBay searches. It’s a 1996 Korean-built Epiphone solidbody that definitely strayed into Fender territory.

I liked the blonde color and maple fretboard—an unusual twist for Epiphone. This particular guitar also came with GFS pickups, which I had heard great things about. The auction also included the original Epi pickups, as well as a hardshell case. I figured this would be a great time to audition some GFS pickups and get an unusual T-style at the same time. So I lay waiting in the bushes for the auction’s final seconds and pulled the trigger, snatching victory from all other bidders. Actually, it turns out I was the only bidder, and I snagged the guitar for $175, plus $40 shipping. When I paid the seller with PayPal, I reminded him to also include the original pickups, which was fortuitous.

When the guitar arrived, it looked really cool but had very heavy strings on it. I immediately changed them, but as I did, part of the nut broke off under the low E. Bummer! It was a clean break though, and luckily I was able to Super Glue it back on. I used a clamp and let it sit overnight. In the meantime, I emailed the seller, explained the nut problem, and asked for a $25 partial refund to replace the nut. However, it turned out the seller was having hard times and sounded destitute, so I dropped the issue.

The next day, when I removed the clamp and finished restringing the guitar, I was treated to a really sweet-playing instrument. However, when I plugged it in I was a bit underwhelmed with the sound. The tone was good, but it didn’t have quite enough balls. I decided to revert to the original Epiphone pickups, and when I reinstalled them, I liked the sound much better. The Epi pickups were hotter and they gave the guitar a nice, spanky tone.

Bottom Feeder tip #2872: When buying a modified guitar, always ask for the original parts if they’re available.

I ended up selling the GFS pickups for $40 and the hardshell case for $50 (I’m a gig-bag guy), bringing the total cost of the guitar with shipping down from $215 to $125. All right, that’s more in my comfort zone.

Bottom Feeder Tip #678: Don’t be afraid to sell off extra parts you don’t need. They can pay the way for more cheap guitars down the road.

So is it a keeper? Sure—for now anyway. It’s an unusual Epiphone, it plays great, sounds pretty good, and has a cool vibe. Plus this purchase allowed me to check out some new pickups I had heard about. Yeah, I’m happy.

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.

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