Photo source: http://www.epiphone.com
Summary: The Epiphone Casino has been offered a a left handed model for a few years now. It’s a classic guitar design. If you’re looking for a left handed guitar that looks good and offers a wide range of usable sounds, the Casino is worth trying.
Feel: If you’ve mainly played solid body guitars, then the Casino may take a bit of getting used to. It’s a fully hollow guitar with quite a wide body. Played sat down it feels more like you’re holding an acoustic rather than an electric guitar. Played standing up I found it comfortable.
It has a medium sized neck- not too thin, not too fat- and the model I played was set up well with a decent medium-to-low action.
For chords in all positions it felt good to play. It felt like it had been string with 9s or 10s and string bends were fine. Although this guitar is mainly associated with pop and rock acts like the Beatles, it’s worth remembering that the fully hollow, twin P90 pickup design is shared with the Gibson ES330. The Gibson was used by the greeat jazz guitarist Grant Green, and I imagine that the Epiphone would lend itself to being strung with heavier guage, flat wound strings if you’re after a ‘thicker’, fuller sound.
If you take a look at the picture above, you’ll see that the neck joins the body around the 15th fret. If you’re a lead player and go regularly above the 12th fret on any guitar, do take the trouble to try the Casino before buying. Clearly full and unrestricted access to the top of the neck is something of an issue because of the design, but that’s not to say that you can’t do it on this guitar.
Sounds: Before plugging into an amp I like to try an electric guitar unplugged. The Epi really surprised me in this way, becasue it’s a completely hollow bodied guitar. Therefore it is loud unplugged. How loud? Well it’s not as loud as a normal acoustic guitar, but if you were sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and playing this guitar unplugged, you’d easily hear yourself.
I then plugged into a small twin channel Marshall valve combo, on the clean channel first. I set up a fairly neutral clean setting and was reall impressed by the rich tone of this guitar. If you’re strumming chords you get a very full and pleasing sound, especially from the neck pickup or the middle (both pickups) setting.
Lightly overdriven the P90 pickups give you plenty of bite, but again the Casino’s large hollow body helps deliver a full and almost ‘fat’ sound. The bridge pickup really shines when you’re going through a dirty amp. Think of the tone Paul McCartney got on ‘Paperback Writer” and you’re there. However, the Casino can get dirtier than that. Add even more gain and it becomes a real feedback machine. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on what you’re after…
Things only really started to sound mushy when I got silly and turned the gain all the way up on the Marshall’s drive channel, so I think we can say that the Casino might not be your first choice for a metal guitar. Then again, depending on your tastes, you may deicde to amaze all your friends and give it a go.
All-in-all, as a good looking guitar that would work well for rhythm playing, or if you want a rich and full sound for leads (whether clean or overdriven) the Casino is a really good guitar and well worth a try.
Good for: Anyone, and not just Beatles fans or retro rockers. This could be for you if you want a versatile guitar with good looks and lots of character (just don’t push the gain over the top…).
There aren’t that many left handed guitars with P90s out there, and not many lefty hollow bodies at all, so if you want something that’s good for rhythm, fine for lead playing, and can be used in a variety of musical contexts (rock, jazz, pop etc) you might want to try the Casino.
I think this guitar would also appeal strongly to left handers who mainly play solid bodies, but who are looking to buy their first semi-acoustic guitar.