Note: this blog entry was already published in my old Spanish version of this blog, around November 2011. I'm revisiting it here and updating it with more relevant info.
Who can resist to the attraction of the Gibson Korina Flying V?. Who wouldn't love to have one of those in his/her arsenal?.
Well, prices of a Gibson Korina Fying V are absolutelly out of my budget and, more if this shall not be my #1 guitar. So, I went to Gibsons' poor brother and bought an Epiphone Korina Flying V and, this is my experience and impressions with such a guitar.
No surprise. All these low cost guitars, Made in China, come with a cardboard box (which seems a casquet), wrapped in some kind of foam-foil that just protects the guitar from dust and nothing else.
With the guitar, some adds by Epiphone, a cheap instrument cable and an Allen key to set up the thrussrod.
But, wood looks really good. No flaw, nothing wrong to point here.
Well, you need to know that Korina is just a paint color, not the wood. Really, the wood for neck and body is just mahogany, with a Korina-colored clear coat.
So, if you expected a Korina made instrument, you will not get it.
Body, neck and peghead are really good finished and, even the fretboard has a nice look (not that cheap rosewood fretboards with zebra aspect).
Respect of plastics: the pickguard and the jack's plastic nut are triple-layered (cool!). The nut, even being a plastic one, looks hard plastic and not that bland plastics seen in most of cheap Chinese guitars.
Respect of hardware: we can find typical medium-cost asian stuff, not bad and, fully functional. Die-cast oil sealed tuning keys, etc. The gold plated coat is low cost so, it will wear really fast, as usuall.
Frets are of type of wide medium-jumbo but, a tad shorts on height so, if in a future your frets wear, you will probably need to completely refret the fretboard.
Two aspects that worry me are the narrow sparrows where stand the light weighted bridge and, that piece where the strings go to their anchoring spots thru the body.
Electronics are good. Not those typical mini-pots or cheap 3-way pickups selectors. The electronics work was neat and the guitar presents no hum or ground noise, at all.
Pickups have a very low output and, to get something good from them, you need to push them with some booster (Xotic EP Booster or Wampler Decibel+ are good ones for this task).
They sound PAF-alike but, they lack output, body, harmonical richness, and openess for a wide and huge sound. Well, they sound just plain and lifeless.
Anyway, as it comes stock (except for overall setup) it has an use but, as often happens with Epiphone's guitars, a new set of better sounding pickups will be very well welcome, indeed.
Playing the guitar
After, seen that the overall impression is favorable, this is time to hung the guitar on and to check how it plays. But What the hell is this?.
This guitar has a serious head diving issue. It's just unplayable as it cames stock!.
Without going to change the position of the strap anchors, the only way to get a bit rid of the issue is to use a lether (with big grip) strap, to minimize the diving issue.
I've finally decided to move the upper anchor to the back of the body, centered just below the neck junction (as you can see in Gibson's models). This completely fixes the diving issue but, then, you have that anchor drilling your belly, and certain lateral deviation.
Neck is easy to walk and smooth (well finished frets). Overall, it seems to me that strings haven't the right stress, they feel bland. But, after swapping stock strings with D'Addario XL110 (10") everything, in stress and sound made an awesome difference.
Pots and 3-way work smoothly. No issues.
Respect of sound, testing it with a Marshall 1923C and a few pedals: Xotic EP Booster, Hermida Audio Zendrive and Tiki Drive, it sounds a tad dark and warm, which makes it a bit difficult to cut the mix and, the sound seems as covered by a blanket but, this is a clear issue coming from the choosen pickups.
If I test the guitar unplugged, it's clear that the wood is very resonant and with a huge sustain.
As I said, new pickups are a must for this guitar to let it shine
Moding the guitar
Until now, we found three main issues: head diving, strings and pickups but, if you try to mod your guitar, you will soon find the forth and fifth issues with this guitar.
One of the worst design decisions I've ever seen is that the posts of the bridge are drilled through the pickguard and, that means that if you wanted to remove the pickguard to swap your pickups, you need to unscrew the post (so ruining your setup) and, just when you had that post removed you could be able to remove the pickguard. So, you bet it, one of the best mods you can do is to carve that part of the pickguard to avoid that screw thru the pickguard.
Second issue is related to the way the strings are being inserted. Not having the typical stop tail piece, you cannot just loose the strings and remove bridge and stop-tail, you need to completely unstring the guitar.
Other issue that you can find is that there is no room for a push/pull pot. Body is slim and its cavity also so, any potential mod should go thru micro-switches, IMHO or, after routing the cavity deeper.
This is a great guitar for its price, even leaving it stock. Has an eternal sustain and a very particular voice, bumped in mid-low frequencies, with a very warm and vocalish sound, all arround.
But, it's highly recommended that you re-position the straps anchors to fix the peghead diving and, that you swap stock strings with a good sounding set (D'Addario XL110 sounded good to me) and, that you throw there a good set of pickups.
Other than this, cut that pickguard to avoid the bridge post to go thru it and, you are done.
With right strings and pickups and, after fixing the peghead diving issue, this guitar will give you lot of fun and satisfaction. I have to highlight, very specially, its sustain and very vocalish voice.