Thinking about getting yourself an Epiphone Nighthawk? This budget-friendly re-edition of a famous 1990s Gibson guitar surely has a lot to offer. Our Epiphone Nighthawk review will explore how good this electric guitar really is and who it’s best for.
Wondering whether the title above is correct? Yes, it is! Although you might know Nighthawk mainly as the popular Gibson solid-body model from 1993, Epiphone, Gibson’s subsidiary, has reissued this guitar some years ago under its own branding.
When it was first launched, Nighthawk was considered to be a real sensation – this guitar basically revolutionized Gibson’s design completely, probably resembling more famous Fender guitars due to its distinctive sonic characteristics and design. Some users even nicknamed the guitar a Gibson’s Stratocaster, although it was commercially nowhere near as successful.
Nevertheless, Nighthawk is much more than just a copy of some other guitar. After all, besides many avid amateur players, it also attracted numerous prolific professionals including blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker, musician Nancy Wilson, or Dave Davies from The Kinks.
But can the Epiphone Nighthawk reissue produced in Asia and promoted as a budget-friendly instrument really be as good as its predecessor? We’ll discuss all of its strengths and weaker points below.
Key specifications of Epiphone Nighthawk
One of the main differences between Gibson and Epiphone Nighthawk is the material used for its body. While the original model was constructed of poplar wood, Epiphone’s reissue is mostly made of mahogany and maple. It’s available in a nice variety of trendy finishes ranging from honey sunburst to trans black.
See the detailed specifications of the Epiphone Nighthawk guitar below:
|Body Type||Single-cut solid-body|
|Body Material||Mahogany, maple|
|Pickup||Full-size NHT humbucker (bridge), NSX single-coil (middle), NHR mini-humbucker (neck)|
|Warranty||Lifetime for original purchaser|
|Latest price||Click here find the latest price|
Core features of Epiphone Nighthawk
Epiphone Nighthawk is often praised as a great budget-friendly electric guitar for both beginners and advanced players. Let’s break its qualities and features down one by one.
Epiphone Nighthawk is a 10-pound solid-body electric guitar with a single-cutaway that can be immediately recognized by its longer, 25.5-inch scale (one of the reasons why this guitar resembles Fender Stratocaster, as we’ve mentioned earlier).
To give you a better idea of how robust or small this guitar is, we can compare it to the notoriously renowned Les Paul, which has a shorter neck yet larger body built. Epiphone Nighthawk certainly feels much more compact, while the weight of these two guitars is more or less identical.
As you’d probably expect from a solid-body instrument, Nighthawk feels relatively heavy in hands.
This is, however, nicely compensated with a slim-taper “D” profile neck. This original design feels very comfortable in hand and allows smooth and convenient movement across the whole fretboard.
Another nice feature is Nighthawk’s single deep cutaway – it allows you to reach all the frets with ease even if you are shorter. All in all, Epiphone Nighthawk’s playability is exceptionally good at least partially thanks to its well-balanced dimensions and thoughtful curves.
Sound is the main characteristic of every musical instrument. However, it’s also the hardest one to describe and evaluate. So, how does Epiphone Nighthawk Reissue sound? In short, its voice is beautifully full, very clear and bright, and also truly unique in its character.
Nighthawk has a full-size NHT humbucker at the bridge, an NSX single-coil pickup located in the middle, and an NHR mini-humbucker for the neck. The five-way switch and the coil-split function allow you to achieve 9 different settings and play with your sound however you like to.
If any of the pickups could be considered a weaker point, it would probably be the bridge one – its sound is not so clear and articulated. As a result, owners of this guitar tend to replace it in time. Some users also complain about the quality of the neck pickup, so replacing this one is probably an option too.
All in all, Epiphone Nighthawk sounds pretty impressive – especially for a budget-friendly instrument. It’s also highly versatile, perfectly suitable for all sorts of genres from blues to rock and much more.
Nighthawk is in numerous regards really unique and special. That applies to its features and controls too. Some of them will probably surprise you as a nice bonus, others are simply missing completely.
The latter applies to tremolo – this guitar doesn’t have this feature standardly, so if you can’t imagine playing a guitar without one, this will probably be a dealbreaker for you.
Nighthawk’s controls include 1x Volume, 1x Tone with push/pull function, and 5-way toggle switch. The bridge has a string-thru design.
Epiphone’s Nighthawk reissue is, in fact, a cheaper alternative of its predecessor – high-end Nighthawk by Gibson. Logically, achieving a better retail price of some instrument usually involves the use of less expensive materials for the guitar’s body and components. Nevertheless, Epiphone Nighthawk certainly doesn’t feel cheap nor mediocre in regards to its construction quality.
While some guitarists might be a bit discouraged by the fact that this instrument is produced in Asia, you can rest assured that it’s made with the utmost attention to detail – after all, if you read through the reviews of other users, you wouldn’t find many complaints on the guitar’s construction quality.
In the light of its decent price, Epiphone Nighthawk is a surprisingly reliable instrument.
Pros of Epiphone Nighthawk
Let’s summarize the Epiphone Nighthawk’s most characteristic benefits and qualities:
Great value for money
If your budget limits your access to the premium electric guitars, but you still want a top-quality instrument with exceptional sound, flawless design, and versatile features, Epiphone Nighthawk might be an ideal choice. This chameleon can really surprise you with its qualities at a reasonable and affordable price.
When it comes to sound, Nighthawk has often been compared to Fender’s famous Stratocaster. Nevertheless, its voice is really unique and easily recognizable. It’s a perfect match for all styles and genres – clear, bright, warm, and punchy.
If you like to experiment with your sound and look for a new expression, Nighthawk is like a playground where you can let your creativity shine. Its 5-way toggle switch and push-pull knob allows you to explore 9 distinctive combinations, making this guitar a perfectly versatile all-rounder for every taste.
Ease of use
This guitar is a relatively heavy solid-body instrument, and it also has a longer scale. Nevertheless, it feels very comfortable in hands thanks to the unique slim-taper “D” profile neck and the deep single-cutaway providing perfect access to all 22 frets.
Cons of Epiphone Nighthawk
No instrument is perfect. Before you order your Epiphone Nighthawk, make sure you consider its weaker points too:
Pickups – Epiphone Nighthawk has a full-size NHT humbucker at the bridge, NSX single-coil pickup located in the middle, and NHR mini-humbucker at the neck. None of them is really bad, but advanced guitarists who are used to high-end components might find them a bit mediocre. Of course, nothing prevents you from replacing them (or at least some of them).
Made in Asia – Epiphone never hid the fact that its instruments are being made in the Far East. Although we strongly believe that this doesn’t mean that Epiphone guitars are less durable or reliable than many other guitars made in the US or Latin America, some guitarists will probably see this as a disadvantage.
No equipment included – Whether it’s a gig bag or a set of strings for replacement, you have to buy all your equipment and extras for Epiphone Nighthawk separately.
Discontinued – As of 2020, Epiphone Nighthawk is no longer being produced (although some future re-issue is quite possible). This might make it relatively complicated to get your hands on a new A-stock Nighthawk guitar, and it can also complicate your access to replacement components or additional equipment for this instrument.
Are there any alternatives?
Epiphone Les Paul
Epiphone’s Les Paul is another affordable reissue of one of Gibson’s iconic electric guitars.
It’s a perfect instrument for beginner-to-intermediate guitarists who want to get the best possible value for money.
It’s beautiful design and renowned name will also make you feel like a genuine rockstar.
Les Paul comes in many versions and even some eye-catching special editions, so it’s easy to find the one that will suit your style and taste perfectly.
Its main advantages include stunning full-bodied sound reinforced by the set of classic Alnico humbuckers and some other top-quality components.
Read our detailed Epiphone Les Paul review for more information.
PRS S2 Singlecut
If your budget allows you to consider something more exclusive, PRS S2 Singlecut is definitely an instrument to consider.
Besides resembling Epiphone’s Nighthawk physically, this guitar also has a slightly similar tonality – warm, clear, perfectly articulated.
PRS S2 Singlecut has a mahogany body constructed in Paul Reed Smith’s Maryland factory.
Components are usually made in Korea though, which helps to keep the price of this instrument relatively reasonable while providing it with reliable quality.
If you’re curious to learn more, we’re discussing this guitar along with some other great PRS models in this article.
FAQs About the Epiphone Nighthawk
Answer: Epiphone is Gibson’s subsidiary company focused on producing top-quality instruments at an affordable price. While their instruments are being made in the Far East and often use slightly cheaper materials and components. Epiphone Nighthawk is in general considered to be a very reliable and impressively sounding guitar.
Answer: As a budgeet-friendly guitar, Epiphone Nighthawk comes without any additional equipment, so you have to buy your gig bag or hard case separately. The best match is probably the Epiphone G310/G400 hardshell case that should fit this instrument perfectly.
Answer: Squier and Epihone are often being compared. What they have in common is that they both are budget-friendly subsidiary companies of premium guitar brands – Gibson and Fender. Which one is better? That depends on your preferences, but experienced players often state that Epiphone guitars have better construction qualities and they also sound nicer. This applies to Epiphone Nighthawk too.
Answer: No, the standard Epiphone Nghthawk does not come with a tremolo. Only the special e dition model known as Epiphone Nighthawk ENHPT had factory fitted tremolo, but the production of this model was very limited. Today it’s considred a very rare find on the market.
Answer: The Epiphone Nighthawk is a solid-body electric guitar made of mahogany, maple, and rosewood. It weights around 10 pounds. For comparison, Nighthawk weights almost the same as Epiphone’s Les Paul, whereas it’s cnosiderably heavier than the oringial 1990s Gibson Nighthawk.
Answer: Out of the box, Epiphone Nighthawk comes with a full-size NHT humbucker (bridge), NSX single-coil pickup (middle), and NHR mini-humbucker (neck).
While the NSX single-coil is usually praised by both beginner and advanced guitarists, pickups located at the bridge and neck of this guitar are sometimes criticized for lower clarity. Experienced players often replace them to achieve tonal perfection.
Epiphone Nighthawk offers quality and character at an affordable price
Many guitarists downplay Epiphone’s re-editions of iconic Gibson guitars as lamer “fake” versions of the originals. However, if you get the chance to see and play Epiphone Nighthawk for yourself, you’ll probably agree that this guitar is much better than that.
Nighthawk looks great, feels very solid, and offers perfect playability. It also comes with a bold sound full of unique character and versatility. Yes, pickier guitarists would probably agree that it could have been equipped with some better pickups, but replacing them is relatively easy and cheap. Given the great price of this guitar, such modification is definitely worth it.
Who is Epiphone Nightwalk really good for? What we probably like the most about this guitar is its flexibility and adjustability, which makes it a perfect match for intermediate guitarists striving to master their skills and explore their creative possibilities. This really is a great guitar to grow with as a musician and explore your personal style.
Jodie is a trained classical guitarist. She is also a full-time blogger and loves to write about different types of guitars. Just give her 60 seconds of your time, and she’ll tell you all that you need to know about any guitar of your choice.