Epiphone 150th Anniversary Wilshire | Review

Published 1 month ago on May 3, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Epiphone 150th Anniversary Wilshire | Review

MSRP: (UK) £799 / (US) $899

Nick Jennison reviews the limited edition Epiphone 150th Anniversary Wilshire. This hard-rocking guitar was created in celebration of Epiphone's 150th anniversary. From its introduction in 1959, the Wilshire has been one of Epiphone's most successful original solid-body electric guitars. This special anniversary version features an asymmetrical-style Wilshire double-cutaway mahogany body for outstanding upper fret access, a mahogany neck with a comfortable 60s SlimTaper "D" profile, and an Indian laurel fingerboard with dot inlays.

Shortly after their acquisition by Gibson in 1957, Epiphone released a slew of double-cutaway solid-body electrics aimed squarely at their Californian competitors, Fender. This sort of healthy competition was commonplace back then, and since Epiphone had given Gibson such a run for their money in the hollow-body market during the preceding decades, it's fitting that they should take a crack at the boys over in Fullerton.

Perhaps the best-loved of these surf-inspired models is the Wilshire—a seriously cool double-cut with a square slab body and asymmetrical horns, a pair of mini humbuckers, and a 6-in-a-row headstock that's reminiscent of the classic Adam West-era Batmobile. It has since become the weapon of choice for countless garage rockers, surf stylists, and in-the-know alternative players, and I had the pleasure of checking out the 150th-anniversary re-issue.

Aside from the looks, which will divide opinion, I'm sure (into people who love it and people who are wrong? Who am I to say...), the Wilshire is a tight, functional, no-nonsense beast with no fat on its bones. The body feels comfortable and well-balanced and ironically offers SG levels of upper fret access for us shred-heads in the audience. The neck is similarly inviting, with a slim '60s taper and a fairly flat 12" radius. Should you want to, you could get the action super low without a hint of choking or buzzing. How do I know? It's the first thing I did when it came out of the box, of course!

The electronics are a pair of USA-made Gibson Mini Humbuckers with a three-way toggle to select between bridge, neck, or both pickups, and that's all you get because that's all you need. For folks unfamiliar with Mini Humbuckers, you'd be forgiven for expecting PAF-esque tones or even something akin to a Seymour Duncan Little '59. In reality, they're a sound all unto themselves. Think of the fattest, cleanest Tele pickup you've ever heard, and you're in the ballpark, or maybe a more refined and open P90, but without the midrange honk. They're one of my favourite pickup styles and supremely versatile. Anything where you'd normally reach for a single coil, such as a Mini Humbucker, will likely excel while still being meaty and authoritative enough to do the work of a full-size humbucker. The pickups in the 150th Anniversary Wilshire are superb examples of this style of pickup and sounded great through any signal chain I threw at them, but especially good with cleaner and more rootsy styles.

Epiphone's build quality has been rock-solid for a very long time now, and the 150th Anniversary Wilshire is no exception. The fit and finish are first-rate, with a flawlessly applied Pacific Blue finish (that I could have sworn was Pelham Blue) and immaculately dressed frets. The authentic '60s "radio" knobs add a touch of class and feel great under the hand, sitting atop genuine CTS pots to accompany a Switchcraft toggle switch and output jack. No corners have been cut here, even under the hood, where it'd be easy to get away with it.

The Epiphone 150th Anniversary Wilshire is a no-nonsense guitar for the no-nonsense player and exudes a timeless rock 'n' roll swagger. It sounds killer, features premium hardware and electronics throughout, and somehow still comes in on the right side of a grand. Seriously impressive stuff.

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