Few acoustic guitars offer the power of a jumbo. And among jumbos, the Gibson SJ-200 is a legend. But if you're looking for a more affordable version the Epiphone EJ-200SCE just might be right for you. Today, we'll walk through some of its key features.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

Jumbo guitars are a mainstay when it comes to country and rock -- they've been played by the likes of Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, and Jimmy Page. They also sit surprisingly well in just about any mix. Here's what to consider before buying a jumbo:

  • Tonewoods. Many of these guitars combine a spruce top with a maple back and sides. Maple is superb when it comes to projection, but if you want a warmer sound, you may want to consider the back and sides of mahogany or similar wood.
  • Cost. The Gibson SJ-200 is considered to be the King of Flat-Tops, but it's very expensive. The Epiphone EJ-200SCE is a great example of a more affordable guitar that still offers a stellar tone.
  • Size. Jumbos offer massive sound along with massive size. Playing one can be an adjustment, and smaller players might prefer a mini jumbo instead.
  • Electronics. Being able to plug in and play is important if you perform. If you regularly play live, you may want to invest in an instrument with great electronics.
  • Neck profile. Some jumbos come with very thick necks. A tapered neck profile can make playing easier, especially if you have very small hands.
Quick Comparison: Epiphone EJ-200SCE & Its Alternatives
IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Solid sruce top for excellent excellent
  • Slim Taper D Neck and cutaway body for better playability
  • Gibson like aesthetics
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  • Also with solid spruce top
  • Comes with natural finish, abalone rosette and fretboard inlays
  • Slightly more expensive than Epiphone EJ-200SCE
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  • Solid spruce top with scalloped bracing
  • Mahogany neck instead of maple for little warmer response
  • Electronics not as high end.
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  • All-laminate flame maple top and catalpa back and sides
  • Unique dual-output pickup
  • Significantly less expensive than Spiphone EJ-200SCE
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Our Picks for Review

epiphone eJ-200SCE

PRO's & CON's of Epiphone EJ-200SCE

But before we really dive into our Epiphone EJ-200SCE review, let's take a look at some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Solid spruce top offers excellent response
  • Cutaway body and SlimTaper D neck create excellent playability
  • Fishman electronics give you reliable live sound
  • A Gibson-like aesthetic makes it a visual standout

Cons

  • Laminated back and sides don't sound quite as good as solid wood
  • Compared to more expensive models, the electronics don't offer the same detailed live sound

Features and Benefits

Is the EJ-200SCE the right guitar for you? Let's take a look at some of its most important features to find out.

Tonewoods and Body Style

As a jumbo acoustic guitar, the EJ-200SCE brings a loud, bold voice to any song. And like many of the world's most legendary jumbos, it has maple back and sides. Maple is unmatched when it comes to projection, but there's more than that -- it imparts beautiful focus and clarity, especially compared to warmer woods like mahogany.

The top is solid spruce, a classic choice. Its sound is often referred to as being "sparkling." When paired with maple, it creates a tone that's both delicate and powerful -- perfect for playing leads of flatpicking a rhythm.

A jumbo body probably isn't the best choice for fingerpicking, but it excels as a lead, flatpicked, or strummed guitar. To learn more about jumbo acoustics and how they compare to other body styles, check out this informative video.

Playability and Sound Quality

The larger jumbo body can be a little cumbersome for some players. But the EJ-200SCE has some key playability features that make it easy to manage. The smooth Venetian cutaway gives you comfortable access to upper frets.

The neck profile is also worth mentioning -- it's a SlimTaper D profile neck. That means you get the classic feel of a D-profile neck, but it's tapered enough for fast playability. This video (below left) covers the wide variety of neck shapes and who they're most suitable for.

It's worth mentioning that the EJ-200SCE has a maple neck -- an unusual choice for an acoustic. After all, you most commonly see maple necks on electric guitars, especially Fenders. In this case, the maple neck imparts some extra clarity to the tone. And since maple is an especially hard and dense wood, it isn't prone to warping and other issues over time. The neck is capped with a pau ferro fingerboard which makes for comfortable and fast playability, too.

In terms of sound quality, though, the EJ-200SCE offers more than would be expected for the price. It's bright with a strong and focused fundamental, but there's enough in terms of harmonics and overtones to make it sound remarkably rich and full.

Flatpicking really highlights its powerful bass response, while strumming brings out its truly lovely sparkle. And when played as a lead guitar, its tone really cuts through without becoming overpowering. When you play it (or even listen to a demo), you'll see why so many guitarists have said it sounds remarkably close to the sound of a Gibson.

This unboxing video (above right) shows off its sound right out of the box. And remember, as the solid spruce top opens up, it will sound even better with time.

Electronics

When it comes to electronics, the EJ-200SCE stands out compared to other guitars in its price range. It has a Fishman Presys preamp with a convenient built-in tuner. The Presys is essentially an upgraded version of the Sonitone, as it offers far more tone-shaping possibilities.

The preamp has a three-band EQ, while many similarly-priced guitars have a two-band EQ or even no EQ at all. And of course, the volume knob comes in handy when you're plugged in.

One of the most valuable features of the preamp is the phase switch. A phase switch helps you control how two sets of soundwaves interact. When you're playing plugged in, soundwaves sometimes become out of phase. This leads to a thin sound that's underwhelming -- it robs you of your guitar's full sound. Engaging the phase switch stops the issue and makes your plugged-in sound especially rich.

Of course, the pickup is an undersaddle piezo. Many experienced guitarists will tell you that these pickups can have some issues -- namely, there's the piezo "quack" sound that you'll notice with some instruments. These pickups also sometimes produce uneven amplification, where one or more strings end up sounding louder than the others. Still, the pickup is higher quality than most more affordable Fishman pickups. This video demo lets you hear it for yourself.

Finish and Appointments

The finish on a guitar isn't (or probably shouldn't be) the deciding factor in a purchase decision. But especially if you're a performer, it makes a major difference in your appeal to your audience. Each of these guitars comes with a pickguard modeled in the style of a Gibson SJ-200 pickguard.

Some players have noted that this pickguard looks cheap in comparison, but it's easy enough to upgrade. Similarly, the nut and saddle are PVC, but they can be upgraded easily, too. This video shows you how to replace your guitar's nut.

The EJ-200SCE is an otherwise beautifully appointed instrument. Its tuners are top-notch Grover Rotomatics, and they're finished in gold for some extra sparkle. And like the original SJ-200, it has striking crown inlays on the fretboard. Its pau ferro mustache-style bridge also has beautiful inlays to match, but a simple rosette stops it from looking overly gaudy.

In terms of finishes, the SJ-200SCE offers you more choices than you might think. The Vintage Sunburst finish offers classic appeal, and even the neck is finished in sunburst. If you want the look of an aged acoustic, you may want to go for the rustic-looking Antique Natural.

And if you want a modern, darker aesthetic, the Black finish may be more your style. Ultimately, the EJ-200SCE has a beautiful tone and three beautiful finishes to match.

Social Proof of the Guitar

Buying a guitar online poses one main challenge: you can't try it out before you buy. To make your decision a little easier, here are some Epiphone EJ-200SCE review snapshots we found:

Martin LX1E Review 01

This review helps assure guitarists who might be concerned that this guitar's affordability means its sound isn't ideal. Even though it's priced as a midrange guitar, the EJ-200SCE punches well above its weight when it comes to tone.

Martin LX1E Review 02

This realistic review points out the one relatively minor flaw in the guitar -- the pickguard. Thankfully, it's an easy fix -- the inexpensive pickguard can be removed if you'd like, and you can either replace it or just leave the guitar as-is.

Martin LX1E Review 03

This review offers high praise for the EJ-200SCE -- even though it's made by Gibson's budget brand, it still offers a sound that rivals that of a Gibson costing many times the price.

Alternatives to Epiphone EJ-200SCE

If you're purchasing a guitar in a shop, you'd probably try more than one instrument before making your selection. Of course, you can't try out a guitar online, but you can check out some similar models to make sure you're making the right choice. Here are three potential alternatives to the EJ-200SCE:

Takamine GJ72CE-NAT

How it Compares to Epiphone EJ-200SCE

  • Natural finish with abalone rosette and fretboard inlays offers a classic aesthetic with a bit of sparkle
  • It also has a solid spruce top for great response and articulation
  • Synthetic bone nut and saddle deliver upgraded tone with increased harmonic content
  • In terms of price, it is slightly more expensive than the Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Review

Takamine offers similarly-priced guitars to Epiphone, and this jumbo has a similar build with a slightly different aesthetic. It has a solid spruce top with striking flame maple back and sides and the Takamine TK-40D pickup delivers excellent sound, especially for the guitar's relatively affordable price.

If you're looking for a great-sounding cutaway jumbo and have a little more to spend, make sure you check this one out!

Guild F-250CE Deluxe

How It Compares To Epiphone EJ-200SCE

  • Scalloped X-bracing and solid spruce top deliver excellent response and projection
  • The neck is mahogany (instead of maple), so it has a slightly warmer sound
  • Fishman Sonitone AP-1 electronics aren't especially high-end
  • It's slightly more expensive than the SJ-200SCE

Review

Need an even bigger jumbo sound? This arch-back jumbo from Guild offers great value and an even bigger body cavity for lots of low-end and impressive overtones. Like the EJ-200SCE, it has a solid spruce top and maple back and sides, and it also has a cutaway for excellent fret access.

If you want a quality jumbo from a legendary manufacturer of acoustic guitars, this one is worth a look!

Washburn Festival EA15

How It Compares To Epiphone EJ-200SCE

  • All-laminate flame maple top and catalpa back and sides don't offer the same full sound as a solid top
  • Unique dual-output pickup gives you a hi-Z output for an amp and a low-Z output for a PA or mixer
  • EQ4-T pickup system doesn't sound quite as detailed as the EJ-200SCE's Fishman Presys electronics
  • It's significantly less expensive than the SJ-200SCE

Review

Especially if you're a smaller player, a full-size jumbo can become a bit unwieldy. This mini jumbo offers a jumbo-style tone in a smaller package, and it's very affordable, too! Its laminate flame maple top looks especially striking in an Ice Tea Burst finish.

If you're looking for a smaller and more affordable instrument, make sure you check this one out!

In Conclusion

In closing, even though it's an excellent value, the Epiphone EJ-200SCE also sounds like a much more expensive guitar than it is. With a Gibson-like aesthetic, outstanding playability, and reliable electronics for live performance, it's a great choice for the working musician or even the casual player looking for jumbo sound. Click here to check it out!

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