Let's start by disclosing that I am not an employee of Gibson and no one asked me to write this review. As of this date, the people at Gibson have yet to offer me one of their Les Paul Axcess Guitars in exchange for a review of said Les Paul Axcess Guitar.
I have although, worked in the retail music industry since 2002. For several years I designed web sites for a west coast boutique guitar retailer with his own custom shop. I photographed all the guitars that came through the store for the web site, many of which were uber-expensive boutique guitars like JET's, D'Aquisto's, McNaught's and Gledura's. I also got to play them, along with all of the best of the top-of-the-line brand name guitars like Jackson and Gibson.
This Epiphone guitar is an inexpensive reproduction/reissue of the 1960's era Epiphone Wilshire Guitar. I've always liked the retro look, small body and fret access of the Wilshire and I must admit, I bought the guitar solely because I like the look.
I did not expect a great deal of craftsmanship or quality for the $249.99 sale price tag, but when I saw this body style was being reissued, I just had to get one. The good news is that I was very pleasantly surprised.
The guitar is built solidly, but it is a very top heavy guitar with a thick, chunky, painted neck, which adversely effects playability. The headstock feels like it's trying to drag you down to the floor.
The few cosmetic issues are not really as big a deal as the playability issues. One, the nut is slightly slimmer than the neck, which does not effect string placement or playability, two, that the two tone paint on the Batwing headstock is just a wee bit sloppy where the colors meet, and three, one of the tone knobs was attached in an incorrect orientation.
Before I designed and built my own guitars I bought different guitars for playing in different tunings. After this purchease I decided to turn the Wilshire into my System of a Down guitar and tune it to drop C. I put 12's on it, dropped it a whole step then dropped the bottom to C. I like to play along with Toxicity and Steal this Album.
After a little intonation work the Wilshire sounds pretty darn good, even with the low output chrome covered alnico pickups. The neck is fully bound, which effectively smooths the edges of the fretboard. I get a relatively fat tone out of the 12s despite the bargain electronics.
My biggest complaint would be the difficulty in forcing the harmonics out of the chunky, "D" shaped neck. The harmonics sound a bit timid, and raising the pickup to high thoroughly distorts the tone (duh). I also prefer a fatter fret wire, but I assume this size fretwire was native to the original Wilshire.
This is a fun guitar to play. I would recommend this small bodied, retro guitar to anyone, especially at the bargain basement price of $249.
The paragraph below comes straight from Musician's Friend website.
"Original Wilshire guitars are demanding high prices in today's collectors markets. Epiphone has worked to bring it back in an affordable package without sacrificing quality. Perfect for anyone who wants to stand out or already has an SG and LP. Mahogany set neck construction, alnico humbucking pickups and classic white finish are just a few of the outstanding specs. The Epiphone Wilshire guitar also features a rosewood fretboard, chrome hardware with inline Grover Mini-Rotomatic tuners on a cool, batwing-shaped headstock.
Brett W. Bertram