Epiphone are well-known for their electric and acoustic guitars, but they are also considered to be the budget range of Gibson. The subject of this Epiphone PR-150 review is a good example of this budget range idea. This is a shame because while they are viewed like that today, it hasn’t always been that way.
There have been times when the Epiphone models have been better than their Gibson counterparts. The 60s Epiphone Casino, for example, was used by a glittering array of guitarists back in the day, and in some cases, still is.
Once the master…
People say the Epiphone and Gibson relationship is similar to the Squier and Fender situation. There are some similarities, but there is one big difference. Squier has never produced a guitar that the Pros said was better than the Fender. Whereas Epiphone produced in the Casino, a guitar the Pros said and still do say is better than the Gibson.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall in Kalamazoo when the Gibson toys came right out of the pram when that happened.
There is still a stigma about Epiphone, but it is worth considering one point before we move on. Both Gibson and Epiphone produce Hummingbird guitars. For Epiphone, it is one of their top of the range models. The Gibson costs almost exactly ten times the price of the Epiphone. But is it ten times better?
Of course, it isn’t. So, let’s move on…
Today Epiphone makes a range of instruments that are popular with beginners and improvers. Firstly because they are well-priced and affordable. Secondly, and even more importantly, because they are good guitars. Contrary to opinion, they don’t just copy Gibson guitars, and this is a good example. And we shall look at why this guitar is a bit different a little later.
But they aren’t just for those looking for that first guitar. There are enough experienced musicians who use them, recognizing that they are well-made and sound good. We are going to take a look at one of their budget range acoustic guitars – the Epiphone PR-150 acoustic. So, let’s see how it shapes up?
Epiphone PR-150 – An Overview
Epiphone makes quite a wide range of acoustic guitars. They do, of course, as with any manufacturer, differ in quality. This can usually be recognized by cost. This particular instrument is very much a budget guitar and aimed at the beginner market. However, it is not recommended for very small children, as the size would make it quite difficult to hold, let alone play.
This is what you might call a classic Dreadnought style set at a very affordable price. In fact, it is one of Epiphone’s more affordable acoustic guitars.
Are you looking for an instrument that will be good to learn on without upsetting the bank manager (or the wife)?
If you are, then it is worth a look. And the look of this says it all. It does look very good. But how does it play and sound? Let’s find out as we take a closer look…
As we have already mentioned, this is a Dreadnought design with no cutaway. Very traditional in its styling. Epiphone has gone part way to making sure the tonewoods are excellent. The top is Spruce, which is a tonewood that makes a great soundboard. The back and sides are Mahogany. Together you will find them on some of the best acoustics in the world.
To ensure costs for this particular instrument are kept at an affordable level, they do not use solid pieces for the construction. This is what we meant when we said they go part way to making the sound excellent. These woods are laminated, both the Spruce and the Mahogany.
Laminated means that wood, and of course some money, was saved in construction by gluing together thin veneers of the wood. This forms a thicker surface from which the guitar is made. Solid planks of tonewood will resonate better. They will have more depth and thus produce a better sound.
Laminated guitars can produce a decent, but not a great sound, but at a vastly reduced cost. For the beginner or the player on a tighter budget, they are a superb choice.
We mentioned earlier how Epiphone had not just copied a Gibson design. That is shown by the shoulder of this Dreadnought design. It is much more of a Martin square-shouldered Dreadnought design, giving you a better low-frequency response. It also pumps up the volume and sound projection.
Not a bad manufacturer to take influence from. As we all know, Martin has created some of the most legendary acoustic guitars ever.
A nod to the past…
The body is finished off with a stunning sunburst color that has vintage written all over it. To add to the look, it is given a white edging and a traditional-looking tortoiseshell scratchplate. The plate has a close resemblance to the original 60s Epiphone’ E’ logo, but not quite the same. Just a little ‘Casino’ reminder to say we are still here.
A decent body. Well-made with good woods, and a stunning look. Is a young starter or improver going to be impressed? Oh yes.
Nothing to worry about with the woods here. A Mahogany neck and a solid Rosewood fingerboard make a great combination. Interesting and really quite surprising that Epiphone is able to use solid Rosewood for their fingerboard, while some of Gibson’s Les Pauls use all sorts of strange things.
The fingerboard has 20 frets, but as there is no cutaway, only 14 are reached easily. There are dot inlays in standard positions. The neck has a scale of 25.5 inches and has a slim tapered profile.
Epiphone often tries to make their necks slim, tapered with a slight ‘C’ shape, similar to electric guitars. This neck is quite like that. It is, therefore, very easy for small fingers to come to grips with the fingerboard. It has an adjustable truss rod.
Up at the top, there is a very 60s looking ‘Sloped dove wing’ head. There are nickel, chrome plated, sealed tuners with a good 14:1 ratio. That is a comfortable ratio as it makes very small adjustments to the tuning easy and quick.
If there is a weak point in this guitar, and for the price point, we shouldn’t be too harsh, it is in the tuners. They do feel and look a little on the cheap side. It has what we think might be a plastic nut. But that is compensated with a synthetic bone saddle and a real Rosewood bridge.
As is common with budget range guitars, a few corners have been cut with the hardware. Apart from the bridge and saddle, which are very good, the rest is only adequate, but easily replaceable and upgradeable if need be.
This is one of the critical areas and will be of interest to those that can already play. The Dreadnought style body and the square-shouldered design give this guitar a very powerful projection.
The Spruce means it has plenty of top-end and presence, and the Mahogany gives you a little low-frequency warmth. For strumming away, it is going to be good. But for single-note playing or fingerpicking, maybe it is not so good.
For a beginner who will be learning their chord shapes, it is great value with an impressive sound. For the experienced player, it is not a guitar to be taken on stage, and more a guitar to be played around the campfire at night. And in that environment with its powerful sound, it is going to be good.
But let us focus on what this guitar is really for. A starter or even an improver is going to be impressed with the sound. It sounds real. There are no thin, cheap sounds coming out of this one. You may find a little fret buzz on some areas of the fingerboard, but that can be solved with some adjustment. Generally speaking, this guitar punches way above its price point for its sound.
How does it Play?
Experienced musicians are not going to have a problem with it at all. A Starter though may find the huge Dreadnought body shape awkward to hold. But we think they might be able to cope with that because the neck is very playable. Having said that, it is not going to suit the average-sized child under about eight years old.
The neck being slimline is going to help the beginner, and the selection of the gauge of strings may play a part. It is, therefore, well-suited to someone just starting out.
Epiphone PR-150 Review Pros and Cons
- Very affordable.
- Good sound considering the price.
- Fun to play.
- Stable tuning.
- Not the best build quality you will find, but OK for the price.
Looking for other superb acoustic options?
If so, check out our comprehensive reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids, the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners, the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars under 200 Dollars, and the Best Acoustic Guitars under 300 Dollars currently available.
Or, you may also be interested in our in-depth reviews of the fantastic Epiphone Hummingbird Pro, the Taylor BBT Big Baby, the Martin LX1 Little Martin, the Taylor GS Mini, the Epiphone EJ 200SCE, as well as the Epiphone AJ 220S.
Epiphone PR-150 Review Conclusion
What do we think?
The Epiphone PR-150 is what it is. A budget range starter guitar. It doesn’t try to be anything else, unlike some, and is well put together and has some nice features. It plays ok and sounds very nice, especially when you consider the price. And of course, essential to the young player in their early days, it looks good. It is, though, a strumming guitar rather than a solo instrument.
Set at this price point, it is a good buy, and that cannot be a bad thing. It is going to last a new player through those difficult early days. For an experienced player who wants an instrument to take to party’s or bar b q’s for a sing-along, it is also good. Easy to play with a big sound, and at this price, you haven’t got to worry about a few scratches.
We like it. It is not going to be seen on stage with the Eagles any day soon, but it isn’t supposed to be. But for the price, it is a very well made guitar with good materials and a nice sound. Well worth the money.