Don't let the rock stance fool you. This SG is a master of versatility.
Practical features. Upmarket looks. Surprisingly broad palette of stellar tones from flexible pickups.
Heavy for an SG.
Epiphone Prophecy SG
The guitars in Epiphone's new Prophecy Collection, which includes the Prophecy SG reviewed here, perform an impressive balancing act. They streamline the classic Gibson four-knob control array, trade PAF-derived pickups for Fishman Fluence units, and style the guitars in a manner that screams "rock" with an exclamation point. But for all the streamlining, these instruments are enormously flexible, and they retain important cosmetic touchstones that emphasize the family connection to parent company Gibson's most iconic designs. Epiphone also maintained balance when it comes to price. The Prophecy SG is a reasonable $899.
Like the other Prophecy instruments in the collection—which include a Les Paul, Flying V, and Explorer—the China-built SG borrows a few styling moves from Gibson's Custom Shop-level instruments as well as unique cosmetic touches. On the SG, these include a 5-ply bound headstock, a split-diamond headstock overlay, and a bound ebony fretboard with fancy block-and-triangle pearloid/abalone inlays. On our review model, an appropriately menacing aged-gloss black finish conceals the ½" maple cap which Prophecy models wear atop otherwise solid mahogany bodies. But you can also opt for a flashier red- or blue-tiger aged gloss flame-maple veneer.
The set neck is solid mahogany with 24 jumbo frets. The profile, however, is a contemporary asymmetrical version of the SlimTaper neck profile, which is thicker on the bass side. I prefer it to the SlimTaper of old, which always felt a little flat in my fretting hand. Scale length is a traditional Gibson-style 24 3/4".
Epiphone certainly didn't reach for the bargain bin when it came to hardware. The Prophecy SG features Grover locking Rotomatic tuners, a black Graph Tech NuBone nut, and a LockTone Tune-o-matic-style bridge and stopbar tailpiece—all upgrades from Epiphone's less expensive models.
Even unplugged, the Prophecy sounds and feels lively and rings with sustain.
The Prophecy SG's most significant new features, though, are the Fishman Fluence pickups that effectively make up the guitar's engine room. These active humbuckers offer three voices via the push-pull pots on the master volume and tone knobs: modern high-gain humbuckers with both pots in, vintage-like PAF humbucker tone with the bridge knob up, and a hum-free single-coil tone with the volume knob up. Between that and the 3-way toggle switch, there are a lot of sounds to play and create with.
Our review Prophecy SG was set up well and played great right out of the case, though it's a little on the heavy side for a slim-bodied SG, at around 8.5 lbs. Even unplugged, the Prophecy sounds and feels lively and rings with sustain. Those characteristics remain very present when you plug it in, too.
The high-gain humbucker settings pack plenty of power. Played through the lead channel on a Marshall-style Friedman and a high-gain Axe-Fx preset, the pickups seemed to sustain almost endlessly. But I also heard a certain sweetness you don't find in many over-wound or hot ceramic pickups. That said, the PAF setting is probably my favorite of the available voices. It moves from crunchy to full, articulate clean tones with a lot of personality. It also handles high-gain environments with a classy edge. The single-coil sounds are welcoming, too. I sensed a little hum when I mated the single-coils to high-gain amps or presets, but they are impressively quiet otherwise.
The Prophecy SG has tons of tone on tap, and is much more flexible than its rockist stance and 2-knob control array suggest. It's an impressive guitar for the money, and the bundle of upmarket features and high build quality put it over the top when it comes to bang for the buck.