Before we get to our Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Review, let’s consider that Epiphone is a brand name with a history going back many years that many are unaware of, and some just choose to ignore. Considered now as Gibson’s budget range, it is a similar situation to the Fender and Squier relationship.
There is a major difference, though. Squier to our knowledge has yet to build a guitar that the Pros say was better than a Fender. Epiphone has produced a guitar that the Pro’s said was better than a Gibson. There were some strained relationships in Kalamazoo where both guitars were manufactured.
But the pro players at the time, Keith Richards, Dave Davies, and others, turned their backs on the Gibson 330. They wanted the Epiphone Casino. Quite right, it was better.
The Beatles are seen to play them in live film footage. And every single recording session they ever did had a Casino on it — not a bad pedigree.
Nowadays, Epiphone has seemingly been banished to outer darkness, some think. The make their guitars in far off places, near-exact copies of Gibson’s most of them. Some scoff their noses, but the reality is they have a growing reputation. They can build Gibson-quality guitars.
The difference is that they are not at Gibson-like prices. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic-electric guitar is a good example of what they can do. So, let’s have a closer look…
The Hummingbird was first introduced in 1960, and it didn’t take long to gain its popularity. Its distinctive square-shouldered shape and sound made it a Country Rock classic of its generation. It is still instantly recognizable today with its classic lines and styling.
Epiphone has taken the vintage and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It has been given, and active pickup system and onboard EQ, and suddenly, a classic guitar comes alive. They might have brought some aspects up to date, but there is no doubting the style has remained the same.
It doesn’t look any different than it did nearly sixty years ago. And that is important because when you are producing a classic guitar, you have to get it right. Just one of the ways it has to be right is how it looks.
As we say, that is just one of the ways. How it feels, how it plays, and perhaps most importantly, how it sounds are all important. With the look, Epiphone has ticked all the boxes. Let’s take a closer and see if the boxes get a tick in the other important areas. Welcome to The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic-electric guitar.
Replicating its forerunners, it is a basic no cutaway Dreadnought shape. It is built with Mahogany back and sides. Mahogany is a great tonewood. With Mahogany, you get a rich, lush sound with great resonance. This is one of the reasons for the overall tone of a guitar, especially an acoustic. But you want a little more than the warmth and depth that Mahogany gives you, you need a little natural top end.
That is achieved by giving the guitar a solid spruce top. More of the natural sound is produced here. The top, or as it is sometimes known, the Soundboard, is vital and will make the most difference to the sound of your guitar.
The strings produce the sound, which then travels through the bridge. It then travels onto the soundboard, the top surface, where it vibrates the wood and is amplified. Spruce is quite a complex wood but is ideal to be used as a tonewood. Its attributes improve as it gets older. Therefore the longer you have the guitar, the better it is going to sound.
The authenticity of the design continues with the faded cherry sunburst finish and the 5-ply white and black binding. On the rear is a single-ply binding. The black pickguard is made from tortoiseshell and given a design that is etched into the surface.
Not only for the overall strength of the instrument but for the sound. The bracing governs the vibration of the soundboard. A guitar with no bracing would vibrate in an out of control manner and produce a poor sound. Good well-designed internal bracing can affect the sound of the instrument as much as the wood it is made from.
The Epiphone has the ‘X’ bracing style known for its efficiency and sound production. The ‘X’ are two blocks of wood that cross each other just behind the soundhole. There are also additional cross pieces under the bridge. It produces not only strength in construction but also a very balanced sound.
It’s built with strength for durability but, at the same time, is not heavy. It weighs just under five pounds and so is really lightweight. This guitar has an excellent build quality and is made in Indonesia.
The neck is manufactured from one piece of select Mahogany and has a ‘D’ profile shape. It has a 24 and three-quarter inch scale length with twenty frets. The neck is designed with a slim taper. It is attached to the body through a dovetail joint that is glued into place. It is fitted with an adjustable truss rod.
A very traditional Rosewood fingerboard has a white binding. The classic feel of the neck is completed with Pearloid parallelogram inlays. The nut is 1.69 inches.
All quite standard and nothing adventurous with the design. They have stayed as close to the authentic features of this historic guitar except for tapering the neck a little. This is going to make it easier to play for those with smaller hands, but it could affect those with extra-large hands.
We know that sometimes people read reviews of guitars that are called ‘budget instruments.’ They might read of good woods used and quality in manufacture. Then they get to the hardware and think ok this is where the corners are cut. Not with this guitar.
Up at the headstock are 14.1 ratio Grover sealed machine heads. These and a nicely stained front surface with an inlaid Pearloid decal. The headstock has that classic dove wing design and the Epiphone logo. There is an imitation bone nut.
Down at the bridge end, there is a Rosewood reverse belly bridge. The term reverse referring to the flat side of the bridge facing the soundhole. The compensated saddle is imitation bone. All the hardware has a nickel plating.
This is where the guitar arrives in its time machine into the 21st Century. Looking around, it might have wished it stayed where it was, but nevertheless, it has arrived.
The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic-electric guitar has a Shadow ePerformer Preamp and Pickup system. The Shadow system is developed in Germany and has, as we might expect, exceptional quality.
The Shadow NanoFlex pickup is located under the saddle. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is one of the electric acoustics from Epiphone that carry this system. The Shadow Preamp has its set of controls but more on this later.
The Shadow system has been specifically designed to produce an amplified sound that has an acoustic feel. That will mean a bright and crisp top end. Playing live with an acoustic means having to sacrifice a little on the lower end of the frequencies. If you don’t do this, the guitar is going to boom. It may also have excessive feedback. Some people mistake this necessity for the guitar having too much treble, but it is something you need to do.
So, back to the controls for the Shadow ePerformer preamp. They are situated conveniently on the top edge of the guitar. They have a Volume and controls for treble and bass for minor adjustments to the EQ. There is also a mute and a dynamics control and a battery level indicator. Because the system is active, you will need batteries for the preamp and pickup. It takes two 2032 batteries.
One very surprising omission, in our opinion, is the lack of an onboard tuner. We think that is a near necessity for an acoustic-electric guitar, but it hasn’t been included. No doubt there is a better reason than we forgot to do it?
One small issue with the battery life we should mention. If you are using it amplified, be sure to remove the jack plug cable after use. The jack socket is effectively the off/on switch, and so left in it will run down the batteries rather quickly.
How Does It Play?
The first thing you notice when you pick it up is that it is quite lightweight. That makes it ideal for a young player just starting out or upgrading to a better instrument.
The neck is tapered as we have said, which gives it an easy playing feel. This is a guitar very much for the traditionalist, so no cutaways in body design. Access to the full fingerboard is therefore limited. But it isn’t a guitar for solos. It is a guitar for those big Eagles-type chords and songs that ring out. The Country Rock thing where the chords sing and dance under the melody.
The surprising thing about this guitar apart from the quality of the workmanship is the playability. We watched as a guy played the Epiphone, then the Gibson then back to the Epiphone. He was asked to define the difference in the way they play. His answer was that he couldn’t; they both felt the same with only subtle differences.
But differences so irrelevant they didn’t indicate one manufacturer or the other. Maybe the Gibson purists might not like that. But the fact is that Epiphone makes great guitars. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic-electric guitar is one of them.
It plays great and makes a mockery of its price point. When it is compared with other ‘big name’ manufacturers that cost more, it stands out as a great buy.
How Does It Sound?
If you are expecting to pick it up and it sounds like it did 60 years ago, you will be disappointed. Many of us crave those days when we had some ‘serious stuff’ to play. Those days are gone now, and manufacturers’ efforts to recreate them with their ‘vintage’ lines are futile. The sound is different, but nevertheless, we think good. We won’t call it very good, because it isn’t, but it is good.
Unplugged, there is a nice richness to the tone with the tonewoods combining to produce a sound of quality. It is bright and alive and clear. It is also a lot louder than we thought it might be. But then it is a Dreadnought design.
It has good depth, but if you wanted to be critical about one aspect of the sound, it might be this. It is nice but lacks a little of the real depth you can get. The top-end, though is great and rings out with its brightness. Acoustically it is very good indeed.
It is when you plug it in that maybe it leaves a bit to be desired. Many players use a mic when playing acoustics live. We can understand why. The sound system coming from a small pickup and preamp can never match the sound of a great mic and a PA.
So it is here, along with most other electric-acoustics, that it falls down a little. We are not saying it is bad, far from it. But we much preferred the acoustic sound. The amplified sound is a little too toppy. And whilst you can control the EQ, adding bass does affect the other frequencies.
Not quite sure if the look of the Hummingbird is for you? Maybe it’s just a little bit too pretty? If so, worry not, there are plenty of excellent alternatives. So please check out our reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitars under 500 dollars, the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars under 200 dollars, the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners, and the Best Acoustic Travel Guitars currently available.
Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Pros & Cons
- Legendary classic looks.
- Very high build quality.
- Shadow NanoFlex pickup.
- Incredibly playable.
- Good overall sound.
- The looks may be legendary, but they are not to everyone’s taste.
- Lacks a little in the low-end.
- The pick-up is good, but nowhere near as good as the guitar sounds acoustically, so a microphone is best for live and studio work.
- No onboard tuner.
- You need to unplug the cable every time or it will drain the battery.
We think you are going to have to go a long way to get a guitar as good as this Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic-electric guitar. It has so many plus points that we have already covered; there is no point going over them again. It is very well made, it really looks the part and invokes the atmosphere of a period of time. Also, it plays very well and acoustically it is great.
If you want to amplify it, then it will be ok. But you could do what the others do and use a mic – then it will sing.
In doing this Epiphone Hummingbird PRO review, we have been surprised by its quality and shocked at its price point. This is a guitar that you may never outgrow. It is an excellent instrument, and for the money, you pay, staggeringly good.
So, it is less than ten percent of the price of another manufacturer’s Hummingbird (no names mentioned, but we are sure you know who we mean). Is the other one, ten times better, Of course not. Epiphone has cracked it with this one.