What is it?
Ever since Emily Wolfe broke through as a blues-rock player to watch, the Texan guitarist has been associated with the Epiphone Sheraton. A classy thinline semi-hollow, the Sheraton made its debut as so many groundbreaking electric guitar designs did at the tail end of the 50s.
It has undergone many revisions since, but perhaps none so dramatically as this Emily Wolfe signature model, which has a 'stealth' finished in Black Aged Gloss with tastefully aged gold hardware to match. The New York mini-humbuckers of the original Sheratons are long gone, and in their stead comes a pair of Epiphone Alnico Pro Humbuckers.
You'll note the oversized diamond-shaped f-holes, a nod to one of the all-time classic signature models, the Gibson Trini Lopez. Also, check out that pearloid block inlay on the fingerboard – there are abalone lightning bolts nested within the design. These are the boldest appointments, for Wolfe has erred on the side of restraint when it comes to this.
Her signature is surreptitiously etched on the rear of the headstock above a gold wolf graphic. On the headstock facing, we have the classic "tree of life" inlay, a refined touch that looks the part on the Kalamazoo "open-book" headstock.
Picking the Emily Wolfe Sheraton out of its EpiLite case counts for gentle exercise as this semi is of the big-boned variety, clocking in at 9lbs in its stocking soles. Where does that weight come from? Surely not the neck, which is of glued-in mahogany design and carved into a '60s Slim Taper. While semi-hollow, the body is built of laminated maple and there's a lot of it.
The Emily Wolfe Sheraton uses a familiar control setup, with a three-way pickup selector joined by a pair of volume controls for each pickup, and two-tone controls. As we now come to expect from Epiphone – a brand that is having an almighty hot streak – the quality of components is excellent, with CTS pots as standard, a Graph Tech nut in place, a set of Grover Rotomatic tuners and Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge with StopBar making for a very solid instrument.
Performance and verdict
Some brands would charge you more for a finish like this. It's not quite satin, not quite gloss, and gives the Emily Wolfe Sheraton an aged feel albeit without any relic'ing. This makes for a very attractive option for those who like the idea of vintage instruments but don't have the money, who like the idea of a lived-in guitar without paying a guitar brand to strategically damage the finish to make it look like you played it when opening for the Who in 1970 at the University of Leeds Refectory.
Once you get accustomed to the weight, it offers a very comfortable ride, arriving immaculately setup from the factory, with a slinky but not slight feel that makes it equally suited to playing chords or a ripping blues lead.
• Guild Starfire I DC
A very impressive retro-inspired semihollow with a mahogany build and a voice that's a little more on the sedate side, this could be a more appealing option for those leaning towards jazz and blues.
• Gretsch G5655TG Electromatic Center Block Jr
With its Broad’Tron pickups, the G5655TG puts a contemporary accent on the Gretsch voice, and like the Emily Wolfe Sheraton, it loves a little overdrive and distortion.
If you've had the pleasure of catching one of Emily Wolfe's sets, you'll get an idea of the sort of style's her Sheraton is equipped to cover. The bridge pickup is a natural ally for the blues-rock player, with enough pep to see you through a classic rock set, retaining impressive detail as you dial in more overdrive.
This is when you get the benefit of those CTS pots. You can dime your amplifier until it's all kinds of feral, but roll back the volume to clean it up for more restrained passages. Those sorts of dynamics can be invaluable. At the neck pickup, there is naturally a little more warmth, ideal for sweet, honeyed blues cleans or dialling back the treble a little for an archetypal jazz tone.
That's the thing with the Emily Wolfe Sheraton – it can take turns playing all kinds of different sets, and lets the player impress their style upon it. Whether you see yourself as an all-out rocker and pack a generous complement of fuzz and overdrive pedals on your 'board, an old-school blues cat or a jazz purist, there's something for you here, too. Just so long as those abalone lightning bolts aren't going to put the fear into your audience.
MusicRadar verdict: A smart and imaginative update to the Sheraton, with heavy Trini Lopez vibes and a voice that's perfectly aligned to the jazz-blues-rock continuum, Wolfe's signature model is at the head of the pack of today's affordable yet giggable semihollow electrics.
The Trogly's Guitar Show
- BODY: Maple
- NECK: Mahogany, 60s Slim Taper C
- SCALE: 628 mm (24.724”)
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
- FRETS: 22
- PICKUPS: 2 x Epiphone Alnico Pro Humbuckers
- CONTROLS: 2 x volume controls and 1 x CTS potentiometer tone control
- HARDWARE: Lightly aged gold-plated Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, StopBar and Lightly aged and Grover Rotomatic tuners
- FINISH: Black Aged Gloss
- CASE: EpiLite case
- CONTACT: Epiphone