Semi-hollow bodied guitars always make you stop and look twice. This guitar is no exception. In this Epiphone Wildkat review, we’ll take a closer look at this rather gorgeous specimen from Epiphone. We’ll look at materials, features, tone and finally summarize who might be interested in the Wildkat. Let’s get started!
Overview of Epiphone Wildkat
Let’s start with the basics. The Wildkat is a semi-hollow bodied guitar, with a mahogany block sitting behind the bridge and tremolo mounts. The body is made of mahogany with a glued in maple neck. Although this guitar isn’t what you’d call budget busting, it’s good that it doesn’t have a bolted in neck, which improves the tone. The Willdkat is a full scale guitar (24.72″).
Back to the body. It has a flame maple top, which produces a really nice finish. The two “f” holes show the semi-hollow body nature. You’d expect it to be lighter than other mahogany bodied guitars, however the Bigsby style tremolo mounting adds a little weight. The semi-hollow body enhances the resonance of the Wildkat. There are two strap anchor points in the standard positions.
The Wildkat features Epiphone’s locktone tune-o-matic bridge with the aforementioned Bigsby style tremolo. Whilst it looks like a whole lot of metal, it certainly adds to the vintage style of the Wildkat.
Output is handled by two Alnico P90 single coil pickups. Alnico is a composite material often used to make more budget friendly pickups. Although they’re single coil they run pretty hot giving some punch to the tone.
A three-way pickup selector allows you to switch between using the P90 at the bridge, the P90 at the neck, or both in combination. The pickups are housed in wax potting to help reduce unwanted feedback. For extra style points, the pickups are covered in chrome.
The profile of the neck is slim taper D style. It’s pretty fat, in keeping with vintage style, but still pretty comfortable to play. There are 22 medium jumbo frets on a Rosewood fingerboard. Not many guitars feature Rosewood these days, especially at this price point. Dot inalys mark out the key frets.
There are 4 control knobs, mounted rather randomly on the body. Two volume knobs control the volume for each pickup along with master tone and master volume control knobs. It’ll take a little getting used to the position of the master control knob. It’s not that convenient for quick volume sweeps.
I also find that the Tremolo arm can get in the way when you want to adjust tone or volume quickly. It’s not a major issue and I’m sure most people will be able to get used to it.
The Tremolo arm gives a subtle shimmer to chords, but it’s not as dynamic as a whammy bar. You’re certainly not going to be pulling off metal style divebombs with it. Nor should you, that’s not what it’s designed for!
The tuning gear isn’t bad, consisting of nickel plated Grover 18:1 machines. These are adjustable in case there’s some slippage over time. In general the Wildkat seems to hold it’s tune pretty well. The headstock is vintage Epiphone style.
The Wildkat comes with a set of .10’s attached. They’re not bad but you might want to swap them out for your preferred gauge and brand.
How much set up the guitar will need out of the box varies. Usually the Wildkat has a decent action, however you might need some truss rod adjustment if you find that the action is a little high. It’s usually worth having a luthier look over a new guitar to have it set up according to your personal preferences.
Epiphone’s tend to take design and some hardware from their more expensive cousins, Gibson. However the Wildkat is distinctly Epiphone. They’re still holding to the principles of quality whilst trying to keep the price low.
The Wildkat is produced in China to keep costs and therefore the price down. Overall they’re well constructed but it’s worth having the guitar checked over by a luthier when you first get it to make sure there’s no inconsistency with the frets.
So who is the Wildkat for? It’s great for Jazz and Bluesy styles. It’s a decent mid to low priced guitar, so good for an intermediate guitarist who wants an upgrade on their first guitar.
It’s not suitable for heavier styles, so if you’re into your heavy rock and metal this isn’t the guitar for you. You’ll need something with some decent humbuckers if you want to shred.
The Epiphone Wildkat is an extremely stylish guitar, harking back to the origins of guitar based blues music. It’s mellow and warm tones are great for Blues and Jazz, yet the P90s can also produce a bit of bite for Country and rockier styles. Here are some of the best bits:
- Outrageously Stylish
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Great Variety From P90’s
I think the cons of the Wildkat are more about personal preference, but here they are:
- Position of Control Knobs Inconvenient
- Tremolo Control Can Get In The Way
- Not Suitable For Heavier Styles
The Wildkat is a beautiful guitar. There’s no argument to counter that in my opinion. Considering the price point, the materials Epiphone has used to build the Wildkat are very good. The tuning gear is good quality, the flame top is very nice and the P90s aren’t bad at all.
Although the pickups are good quality, it’s one area where they’ve made a slight compromise, using Alnico composite materials. They’ve also kept costs down by manufacturing in China. It appears that most guitars are of decent quality but the quality assurance process may not be as good as it might be if the guitars were produced in the USA.
In summary, if you’re looking for a guitar that should probably exceed it’s price point that’s great for Blues, Jazz and Country, the Wildkat should definitely be on your shortlist. Looking for something a little lighter on the wallet? Take a look at my post on the best electric guitars for beginners.
I hope you’ve found this review useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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