Epiphone Slash Collection J-45: What is it?
We might always associate Slash (opens in new tab) first and foremost with the Gibson Les Paul. As soon as Appetite For Destruction introduced his animalistic rock style, he almost single-handedly restored its preeminence as hard rock’s electric guitar (opens in new tab) of choice.
Few have worn it better. But there’s a sensitive side to the man, too, a side that requires an acoustic guitar (opens in new tab) of some repute – and preferably one with some lungs on it to sit right in a mix with W Axl Rose. For Slash, such moments have called for the Gibson J-45 (opens in new tab).
His recently released signature Gibson Collection – a no-brainer for the company’s first Brand Ambassador – includes a couple of these round-shouldered dreads. Often referred to as ‘workhorse acoustics’ for their stripped-down look and a tone that’ll go with anything, the Gibson J-45 is anything but. It costs well in excess of two grand.
As with the Gibson Les Paul Standard, that makes the J-45 beyond the reach of many of us, and so when Epiphone announced that it was releasing a Slash Collection, too, with more keenly priced versions of its big-ticket sibling range, that was big news.
Not only were we getting the same finishes, the same signature details by way of a low-key ‘Skully’ illustration on the back of the headstock, these would also be the latest in the Epiphone line-up to pack in some very serious specs that would run entry-level US Gibson models close.
Take this J-45. It’s recognisably a J-45, with gently rounded shoulders and generous body proportions. Like the Gibson Slash models, it too comes in vintage Tobacco-esque November Burst and the rouge-tinted Vermillion Burst. It is similarly an all solid-wood build, with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany on the back and sides. The body has four-ply binding on the top, single-ply on the bottom.
The high-gloss finish brings out all the nuance in the ‘burst. Like the US models, this J-45 has an unbound mahogany neck and dot inlays on the fingerboard to make for a more stripped-down instrument. But where the US models have Indian rosewood ‘boards, here we have its industry-standard substitute, Indian laurel. As with pau ferro, it is a more than passable stand-in, and it is one of the few noticeable differences between this Chinese-built and the US model.
The feel is similar. No question, with the Slash Custom Rounded C-Shape neck not too dissimilar to a ‘50s style Les Paul neck, with a little substance to it without it feeling overbearing. The fingerboard has a fairly flat 16” radius and is combined with the 24.75” scale length.
With the typical Montana J-45 – and indeed Slash’s Les Paul Standards – boasting a Gibson standard 12” fingerboard radius, there’s something quite modern about this one, as though you could roll out your A Game without too much warming up.
Elsewhere, we have a ‘Reverse Belly’ bridge of Indian laurel, with ivory plastic bridge pins, and a ‘50s style tortoiseshell pickguard that’s sure to appeal to traditionalists. The electronics don’t crimp its style either, with the LR Baggs VTC preamp controls for volume and tone mounted out of the way inside the soundhole, and a tidy endpin jack for your cable. The accompanying pickup is positioned under-saddle.
All this gets bundled inside a hard case lined with pink plush. The top hat you’ll have to buy yourself. Or not. The thing is: as with the Les Pauls, what’s great about the Slash collection is that the signature model business is kept to a minimum. There’s a little graphic on the rear of the headstock that no one but you will see. There’s a Slash signature on the truss rod cover.
While we’d have liked a blank in the case as per the Gibson models, if it really bothers you, blank spares can be purchased online for about 10 bucks. All in all, even if your tastes are more box of roses than Guns N’ Roses, and you would run miles from Myles Kennedy, this J-45 is still a great looking acoustic.
Epiphone Slash Collection J-45: Performance and verdict
The J-45s tonewood combo and dimensions hold few surprises in terms of sound but that doesn’t mean to say that it isn’t thrilling when you bang out an open chord. There’s plenty of volume, enough to upset the neighbours, and that solid Sitka spruce applies the magic treble touch on the warm power of the solid mahogany.
Solid spruce and mahogany is a time-honoured build for a reason, and in this dread’ format, its balanced voice makes the J-45 compatible for a number of styles, with little flab on that low-end. The flatter fingerboard makes Slash’s J-45 more versatile still. Think of it as an open invitation to work out your blues chops. Again, those tonewoods are more than supportive of such endeavours.
• Epiphone 'Inspired By Gibson' Hummingbird (opens in new tab)
A convincing and grown-up Epiphone take on Gibson's most-famous acoustic, the Inspired By Gibson Hummingbird bears the sonic hallmarks of its illustrious US-built kin. All at a more attainable price.
• Martin X Series DX1E-04 (opens in new tab)
Smart design and excellent playability help the DX1E-04 do justice to the name at the top of the headstock.
• Gibson J-45 (opens in new tab)
Any guitar that brings the office to a standstill while its incumbents drool and swoon over it, is something special indeed.
There might be more sophisticated preamp controls out there offering more EQ options but the LR Baggs VTC pickup and preamp system does a neat job of translating the J-45’s acoustic voice through an amplifier.
That’s all you want. The J-45 is not the sort of guitar that needs much processing to sound good. You’ll need to pick up a 9V battery, too, because the J-45 doesn’t ship with one but that’s no odds; we would always replace the one supplied before even considering open-mic night.
Ultimately, the Slash J-45 is an instrument that takes Epiphone a little closer to its parent brand Gibson and offers us a classic-sounding acoustic with a slightly unorthodox feel that’s very welcoming. Given that the Gibson J-45 is probably top of the list of any singer-songwriter’s dream acoustics, having an all-solid-wood option offering plenty of change from a grand is a very attractive prospect. Best of all, it’ll sound better as the years go by, as those woods mature.
MusicRadar: A superb signature twist on an all-time classic acoustic guitar, Slash’s vision for the J-45 translates perfectly to the Epiphone format, and if its price makes it one for today, its all-solid build makes it one for the future, too.
Epiphone Slash Collection J-45: The web says
"The J-45 [packs] a solid low-end punch that’s well out of the way of muddy frequencies, but also has a high-end sparkle to it. Our first impressions strumming chords is that it has a very studio-like, pre-EQ’d quality to it."
Total Guitar (opens in new tab)
Epiphone Slash Collection J-45: Hands-on demos
Epiphone Slash Collection J-45: Specifications
- BODY: Mahogany back and sides/Sitka spruce top (all solid)
- NECK: Mahogany
- SCALE: 24.75”
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
- FRETS: 20
- ELECTRONICS: LR Baggs VTC pickup/preamp
- HARDWARE: Chrome
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- FINISH: November Burst (pictured), Vermillion Burst
- CONTACT: Epiphone (opens in new tab)