Epiphone Power Players SG review: What is it?
Many outside forces can stop a young budding guitarist from picking up the instrument, but the guitar size shouldn't be one of them. Luckily, Epiphone agrees and has created the new Power Players series to bring their iconic shapes to smaller musicians.
Including the legendary Les Paul and SG models, these newly designed guitars feature shrunken down bodies and a shorter 3/4+ scale length, and although they may be small, they certainly don't compromise on feel and tone.
Epiphone hasn't strayed from the tried and true formula all that much, keeping the mahogany body, neck and a set of searing humbuckers at its heart. That said, they diverge slightly from the traditional SG design with the inclusion of a bolt-on neck, rather than the far more common set neck you'd expect to find on a guitar of this type.
This bolt-on neck even features a sculpted heel for improved upper fret access, meaning your little one won't have any trouble learning those face-melting solos that ignited their passion for guitar in the first place.
Both of the guitars in this series come in three unique and creatively named finish options - a scorching Lava Red, pitch-black Dark Matter Ebony and frosty Ice Blue. Each guitar also comes equipped with an Epiphone branded gig bag, strap, plectrums, and a guitar cable.
Epiphone Power Players SG review: Performance and verdict
Design and feel
It's fair to say you aren't short of options if you're a junior player in the market for a short-scale beginner guitar. It seems that all the heavy hitters in the world of electric guitar offer some form of kid-friendly 6-string. This isn't even Epiphone's first venture into junior instruments, with the Les Paul Express being the most notable model.
Fender's most popular mini axe is arguably the Squier Mini Jazzmaster, Jackson has the fiercely metal JS Minion series and Ibanez even has the Paul Gilbert-approved GRGM21. So with all these choices available, how does the new Power Players SG hold up to the competition?
We'd say this SG is a formidable adversary to the guitars we've listed above. The clean and elegant design is a definite step up when compared to Epiphone's previous offerings and the bold colour choices allow the guitar to stand out in this crowded space. We are especially taken with the Ice Blue finish, which, while it looks more like it should appear on an instrument made by their Californian rivals, works surprisingly well on the curved body of the SG.
Now, there's always one problem when it comes to reviewing a guitar aimed squarely at a younger demographic - we aren't the intended audience! So for that reason, many of the mini guitars on the market can feel cramped and awkward for us larger guitarists to play. Thankfully that isn't the case with this petite SG. This guitar feels surprisingly natural to hold and while the fret spacing is different from that of a standard scale instrument, it didn't seem to mess with our muscle memory. In fact, it was actually very gratifying to play.
Squier Mini Jazzmaster (opens in new tab): If you are looking for a shrunken-down, alt-rock icon, then look no further than the Squier Mini Jazzmaster. Not only is this stunning guitar easy to play, but it also sounds incredible and better yet, it's broadly cheaper than the Epiphone!
Jackson JS Dinky Minion JS1 (opens in new tab): If your budding little shredder is looking for an axe with a little more attitude, then the Jackson JS Dinky Minion is most definitely for them. Featuring high-output pickups and an array of '80s-inspired finish options - from Gloss Black, Neon Green, Neon Orange, Neon Pink and Pavo Purple - this tiny guitar rocks!
Okay, the action wasn't the lowest we've seen, but low enough to comfortably play a mix of cowboy chords, hard rock riffage and lead lines with ease. In addition, this smooth-feeling neck is adorned with the new and improved Epiphone headstock design, which is actually the original shape from back in the day - and it's something we absolutely love, so we're glad to see it make a come back.
If you were at all familiar with the original Les Paul Express, you may remember the very cheap six-saddle bridge that sat atop the previous model. Not only was this bridge not particularly good, but aesthetically, it just didn't fit with the Epiphone's look. Luckily, the new Power Players SG sport the Lightning Bar compensated wrap tailpiece, which not only looks the part but also feels great under our hands when palm muting.
Now, we have to mention that our review sample did come with a few blemishes in the finish, but this was mainly localised to the heal joint, and it does appear to be purely cosmetic. Usually, this wouldn't be an issue for this style of guitar, with most child models coming in well under the £200 mark. Unfortunately, the Power Players is considerably more expensive at £249/$279, and frankly, for this price, we'd prefer to see a little more attention to detail on the finishing front.
That brings us to the sound of this mighty little SG. The main tonal generators come in the form of the Epiphone branded 650R and 700T humbuckers. Now while they may be a fairly standard pickup with no frills such as coil-splitting or out-of-phase functionality, they actually sound pretty great - delivering a larger-than-life tone that punches well above its weight.
On a clean setting, these ceramic pickups offer up plenty of low-end and warmth, while at higher gain settings, they do a good job at retaining their clarity and punch. So, for that reason, we'd say these are fairly versatile pickups and that's something we certainly can't grumble about at this price point.
As this SG is marketed as a "first" guitar, it comes with a wealth of extras that all budding guitar players need to get started. This includes a fairly basic gig bag which prominently features the Epiphone branding across the front. You also get a black webbing strap, a set of plectrums and a budget guitar cable.
Okay, so the extras here aren't exactly premium, but it's nice to see Epiphone throw in essential beginner items with the guitar - at the end of the day, it means you don't need to go out and buy all your accessories separately. That said, we would recommend you purchase a better cable, as we can't see the one provided lasting very long at all.
As of now, Epiphone doesn't offer this guitar with an amplifier, but we're hopeful that they'll make this available soon. They do offer the Slash signature AFD starter pack with a beginner-friendly practice amp, and it wouldn't be much of a stretch for Epiphone to offer the same amplifier with the Power Players series.
For the most part, we enjoyed Epiphone's new short-scale venture. Despite its size, this guitar feels fairly grown up, with excellent playability and superb tones locked away inside. That said, at £249/$279, this guitar is a fair bit more expensive when compared to its competition and doesn't offer all that much extra for the money. Despite this, we still believe this is one of the best guitars for kids looking for a comfortable instrument with a stellar tone.
If you are seeking a solid first instrument with an exciting finish and you long to recreate the tones of classic rock, blues or even metal, then the new Power Players SG will most definitely fit the bill.
Epiphone Power Players SG review: Hands-on demos
Epiphone Power Players SG review: Specifications
- Body Shape: SG
- Body & Neck Material: Mahogany
- Neck Profile: SlimTaper D
- Scale Length: 577.34 mm / 22.73 in
- Fingerboard Material: Indian Laurel
- Fret Count: 22
- Frets: Medium Jumbo
- Bridge: Lightning Bar Compensated Wrap Around
- Tuning Machines: Tuning Machines
- Neck Pickup: Epiphone 650R Humbucker
- Bridge Pickup: Epiphone 700T Humbucker
- Controls: 2 Volume, 2 Tone
- Contact: Epiphone (opens in new tab)