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Friday, October 17, 2014

Edwards E-SG-100LT2 "An affordable quality guitar from China/Japan"

I had been scanning the internet and local guitar shops for quite some time looking for a suitable SG guitar. I love the look of that guitar and the great playing comfort. I also like that special tone that has served as kind of a "tone model" for iconic guitarists in many genres through the years. My first electric guitar back in 1979 was actually a Sigma SG. I actually still have it. Sigma was a Japanese brand from the mid 70's. The playability was pretty good, as i remember it back then, but today it feels both scrubby and rigid. It is more of sentimental reasons it's allowed to remain in collection. I've also owned a few other SG models over the years, but they all left fore something else better, cooler or more interesting. 

What I sought for now was a comfortable "individual" with high playability and not to expensive. I did not really have the 3000 dollars required for a descent vintage Gibson SG. I also wanted it to be black with the small black pick guard. Quite tricky demands in a way because affordable guitars always have something that does not feel right.

Gibson SG Special 
The first object I was looking for was in fact a Gibson, and there are plenty of them out there. I tested the cheaper models like "Special", "Faded" and the more expensive "Standard". Unfortunately no one fell into my arms.

One thing about this is that many Guitar Shops rarely adjust their guitars, and I think that's very strange. They say that they do not have the time nowadays. But who wants to spend a thousand dollars on something that feels like crap and sounds out of tune?

If you have the slightest interest in guitars, you can feel right away if the guitar doesn't as it should. I think they underestimates the customer. A rightly adjusted Gibson SG Standard is not a bad guitar, it's actually a really good guitar. But the ones I came across did not fit my needs. Maybe I'm picky, I do not know?

As I was reading various forums on the internet I discovered that a lot of people actually preferred a brand called Edwards, who makes brand new clones of the Gibson SG Standard with an almost surgical precision. Edwards have been making clones for ages, I actually owned a great Les Paul clone in the late 80's.

Edwards is today a brand under the ESP group and are recognized for their Gibson clones, especially the SG Standard. The problem is that they are not in stock here in Europe, as they are primarily made ​​for the Japanese home market. Edwards guitars are manufactured in the northeastern part of China by an ESP company called Heilongjiang ESP Electronic Audio Co. The wood comes from Russia according to several sources on Internet. When ESP actually moved their production to China is unclear, but sometime in the early 2000's.

ESP factory in China 
The reason for moving the production to china was clearly money related. China has cheaper labor and cheaper facilities than in Japan. What made it possible was a "trade agreement" between China, Japan and Russia that made it advantageous to buy and sell between countries.

The production takes place under the strict supervision of Japanese design engineers from ESP. When the guitars are finished and assembled, they are sent to Japan for "The Final Touch", and this is where all fine adjustments takes place, the one that makes them superior. The factory in Japan is called Saitama and is located north of Tokyo. They have chosen not to put the final quality work in China due to "lack of quality skills". Presumably this is the answer to how they can keep such high quality in the critical part of the process, but still find attractive price levels. These guitars are "Made in China/Japan", interesting times we are living in. The former enemies build cool guitars together.

I guess that this is an approach that several "new" Japanese-made brands will apply in the future. On the Japanese website Rakuten you can buy them directly from the final plant in Japan at great prices.

However, one must add the cost for shipping and customs. But even with those turned on, the guitars are much cheaper than US Gibson SG Standard here in Europe or America. So I hit the button, well aware of the risks of buying a guitar that you have not tried. But with thorough research in the forums, you can reduce the risk ratio quite well.

Edwards E-SG 100LT2 

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood, 22 frets w / White Binding
Radius: 305 R
Scale: 628 mm
Saddle: Bone (43mm)
Inlay: Pearloid Dish
Neck Attachment: Set-Neck
Tuners: GOTOH SD90-SL
Stall: Old Type Tune-Matic & GE101Z GOTOH
Pickups (Neck) Seymour Duncan SH-1n (Bridge) Seymour Duncan SH-4
Mechanics: Nickel CONTROLS: 3 way switch, 2 volume, 2tone,
Color: Black

Right out of the box is perfectly adjusted and with perfect intonation. It's impressive, especially if one considers that the guitar was transported in an airplane all the way from Japan to Stockholm.

The mechanics are Tune-O-Matic and tuners from GOTOH and it feels stable with a perfect tuning, even after quite a rough treatment.

The neck is very nice shaped and the binding is "pale yellowish" and gives the guitar a vintage feel. The fingerboard of Rosewood is easy to play, as most Rosewoods are. The guitar actually feels better than a well made Gibson SG Standard. Sorry boys and girls, this Edwards SGs rocks every day in the week.

One explanation is that it truly is a great guitar made with finess and skilled workers in combination with great efforts to adjust the guitar carefully on the spot. I think it's in their blood and culture actually. They just have to do a good job and the "japanese company culture" is about being proud of what they do. I am not talking about asia in general now or brands in general, I am talking about ESP/Edwards and this guitar.

The guitar has, like other SGs a surprisingly strong sustain, given that it is much less in weight than, say, Les Pauls.

The pickups are 59' Seymour Duncan SH-1 in the neck. SH-1 are often called "poor" PAF's by some "users". Sure they have slightly lower output, but I must say that they are quite hot with a fat bottom..

The bridge pickup is a SH-4 which has a significantly higher output than SH-1and behave an elegantly high-gain, and they are also called "hot-roded humbuckers".

The bridge pickup produce a classic AC / DC character in a Marshall if you like, but it also works very well in a tight metal context, in for example Rectifier or Peavey 5150.

This is a very good SG for both beginners and the more experienced guitarist and if you're out hunting an affordable guitar with high quality and if you can imagine refrain from "Gibson" on the head I can warmly recommend this guitar. If you get one in your hands you can easily feel the quality at once. Everything with this guitar feels solid.

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