The Ultimate Guitar Lovers Epiphone G-310 SG Review

The Ultimate Guitar Lovers Epiphone G-310 SG Review

The Gibson Les Paul was first made in 1952, but when sales were significantly down in 1960, Gibson decided to take on a new approach. They took the Les Paul, thinned out its body, and gave it a flat top, a double-cutaway, and a
body contour.

The neck joint was also scooted over by three frets and the neck was made a lot thinner than it is on the original Les Paul. The problem with this design, though, was that nobody clued Les Paul himself in on the design change… and he didn’t like it.

In 1963, Les Paul asked Gibson to take his name off the guitar, at which point they had to come up with a new name. They settled on the (somewhat boring) name “SG,” standing for
“Solid Guitar.”

The SG was advertised as having the “fastest neck in the world” with low frets and super quick action, but due to the thinness of the neck, it was extraordinarily common for the necks to snap clear in half. In ’62, the neck was thickened up a little bit (although it was still thinner than the SG), meaning unsnapped 1961 SG’s are highly valued to this day.

Epiphone, which was purchased by Gibson in 1957, is also allowed to use the trademarked SG design to produce a cheaper version of the SG, angled mostly toward novice and intermediate players. This review is on the Epiphone G-310 SG, which is a budget version of the famous (if somewhat controversial) guitar.

Background

Epiphone began manufacturing the G-310 SG over 15 years ago, due to such high demand for a cheaper alternative to the famous Gibson SG.

The G-310 is modeled after the 1967 version of the Gibson SG, which includes double humbucker pickups, rather than some of the other pickup variations Gibson was using in the early sixties, such a single or double P-90s or triple PAF pickups with gold covers.

Read on to learn more about the specs and sound quality of the Epiphone G-310 SG!

Epiphone G-310 SG Specs…

  • Body: Just like its Gibson counterpart, the Epiphone SG body is made out of a single piece of solid mahogany (according to the Epiphone website—although some other sources list the G-310 body as solid alder, strangely enough). Mahogany is found in Central America and Africa and is a semi-dense wood that produces a warm and round tone with nicely balanced harmonic response. Unlike the Les Paul’s bulge on the front, the SG is a flat top and has contoured edges and double cutaway horns.
  • Neck: The G-310’s “D”-shaped neck is also made of solid mahogany, which is a pretty common neck tonewood to use with mahogany bodied guitars. As a neck, mahogany enhances the warmth and softness of the tone and supports the low end. However, because mahogany is too soft to be a fingerboard, a layer of harder rosewood is added on top, the hardness and density of which aids in the production of responsive highs with pleasantly complex harmonic response. The midrange is broad and doesn’t come off overly strong. Differing from the Gibson SG, the Epiphone model has a bolt-on neck, which can change the guitar’s tone a fair amount. The bolt-on Epiphone SG has a little bit more of a snappy twang than does the Gibson, because the set-in neck allows for immediate vibration transfer between the neck and body, thus producing more warmth.
  • Pickups: Like mentioned above, the Gibson SG has come in a variety of different pickup variations over the years, but the Epiphone G-310 is modeled specifically after the 1967 Gibson version, with double open-coil humbuckers. The bridge pickup is a 700T and the neck pickup is a 650R, which is, in fact, the same pickup arrangement as the Epiphone Les Paul Standard II. The pickups have very little buzz, although they can get a little bit noisy when played with high gain because they are, after all, high-output pickups. Not optimized in the least for clean tone production, the G-310 definitely excels in genres that include lots of distortion, overdrive, and other effects. The 700T on the bridge is extra hot and provides some extra grit when desired.
  • Hardware: The hardware on the Epi G-310 is not terrible, but it certainly has some room for improvement. The guitar comes with two tone and two volume knobs (one for each pickup), as well as a pickup selector switch. The knobs are made of solid plastic, and the pots and switch seem to be reliable. The guitar utilizes a LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge, which adds some sustain and makes the strings a bit easier to change. In the headstock department, the G-310 uses LockTone tuners, which are mostly reliable but do detune at times, especially with moderately large bends. The jack could be improved and sometimes comes loose, even so far as being pulled up inside the body of the guitar. Also, the strap nuts are not extremely reliable and should probably be replaced. It does seem that the hardware is the area where Epiphone cut the most corners in producing a cheap guitar.

So, how does it sound?

The Epiphone G-310 sounds pretty nice for a budget guitar, but it’s not amazing. The high-output 700T/650R double humbucker pickup arrangement is great for distorted and overdriven tones, such as for rock, metal, and so forth.

However, the guitar definitely lacks in the clean tone department, producing tones that lack harmonic complexity and sound overall quite dull and murky. It seems the pickups and body design require the extra harmonic boosting of distortion to take on more interesting and engaging sonic characteristics.

One major positive side of the guitar is that it produces very little buzz (if any at all), unless playing with extremely high gain, although this is typical of any decent humbucker. The body shape is nice (of course, it’s basically identical to the Gibson SG), and the neck is quick and facilitates speedy solos.

It’s constructed out of quality tonewoods, using mahogany for the body and neck and rosewood for the fingerboard, but the bolt-on neck limits some of the guitar’s potential for warmth, which would probably yield better tone on clean settings.

Overall, for a beginner player who knows they would like to play mostly heavily distorted genres, this guitar will be great. If you don’t know yet what kind of genre you’re interested in playing—or if you like to mix clean and distorted tones frequently—the lack of versatility of the G-310 will not be pleasing to you.

In Conclusion

  • Pros:

    • Pickups are pretty good—but only for distorted tones
    • Quality tonewoods
    • Fast, enjoyable neck with quick action
  • Cons:

    • Tone isn’t great on clean channels and lacks versatility
    • Hardware is pretty cheap, especially the jack and strap nuts
    • Probably would sound better with a set-in neck

Overall, I give the Epiphone G-310 SG a 3.8 out of 5.  

While I love SG’s and playing through H-H pickups, the G-310 is lacking in too many areas for me to fully back it with a high rating. The lack of versatility in clean tone production is a major turn-off that Epiphone may want to reevaluate. Also, the fact that the cheapness of the hardware is so easily visible is a problem.

The G-310 is a decent guitar for a beginner, but there are better, more versatile guitars that can be purchased for a comparable—or even cheaper—price tag, with the Epi G-310 coming in at about $270. Of course, you can always check out the latest prices here.

But don’t take my word for it. If you’re curious, just stop by a music store and check it out yourself!

For more options or alternative guitars to try, check out my round-up of the Top 11 Electric Guitars for Beginners! 

About the Author Danny Trent

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3 comments
Ren says July 28, 2017

Well, I have to be the devil’s (or G310’s) advocate. I have been playing since 1980, so i have been around the block so to speak. I am an SG fan. I looked for years for an SG (Gibson or Epi) that was smooth, light, and a slim, fast neck). I have played about 24 of them over the last 3 years and my findings: The 61 Reissue was nice, but way out of my $$ range, and an G310 kicked its butt. I eventually found a 2011, Indonesian G310 that blew me away. It has a neck that I have not even seen on most Gibsons. I have a 2002 SG Faded (with moon inlays). I absolutely hate it. It is chunky, clunky, and besides being lighter and with the Gibson name, my Epi blows it out of the water. I have also put Seymours in it Jazz/JB. This thing plays like butter, and has such a fine cream white finish it’s wonderful and smooth. Supposedly there were some great Epi’s made in Indonesia. I don’t know why. This one also has a very dark neck that looks like Ebony. I have not found this on any other Epi, though it is on my Gibson (which is enony). Anyhow, I would at least try them out. I still look for a Gibson that out does my Epi, of course within a range that I can afford. haven’t found it yet. I noticed the Epi “Special” in the photos. Those I would only recommend for beginners. They have nice thin necks though!! Wanna buy a Gibson 2002 SG?

Reply
    GSEditor says July 30, 2017

    Ren,

    Thanks for the insights. I do like the 61 Reissue but happy you found the 2011 G310 to play. Keep making music. It’s the only way to live. Danny

    Reply
    Will says August 15, 2017

    Great comments. I have a 2012 G310 and love it. Bought it Used from GC, excellent condition, red, plays clean and distortion very well. Great sustain. Grover tuners. I am very happy with the clean tones I am getting as well as the distortion. I play fenders and a Epiphone 56 Gold Top w P90s , this G310 fits in beautifully.

    Reply
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