Monday, January 23, 2012

Epiphone Zakk Wylde Graveyard Disciple (Limited Ed)

Just when you thoughts I ran out of Zakk Wylde signature models, I present to you the Epiphone Zakk Wylde Graveyard Disciple guitar! A guitar which is ugly as hell, but superbly unique, with an amazing tone. This represents my fourth ZW signature guitar, and yup, you guessed it! It comes with a hand-signed certification from Zakk himself. It took me more than one year to track down this guitar, and I finally found it in an Epiphone dealer's store in Thailand. Prior to that, I had it on order from my "friend" who helped me acquire two other Zakk signature models. Word was that it was so limited (and this word came from Barb - Zakk's wife - in one of my conversations with her in Singapore) that Asia would see very few pieces, with most of it being thrown off to Japan. Luck would have it that I headed to the guitar store in Thailand by "accident". I was actually on a mission to visit another guitar store to acquire an old Nick Catanese Washburn guitar, which I passed on the last time I was there. However, as I was walking towards that particular guitar store, I stopped by the mall where this guitar store was hosted to "take a look".

Long story short, I saw this guitar on display at the store, and immediately ran in and hand gestured as much as possible to get to give it a test run. After giving it a good ol go, and realising how well the guitar was set-up and somewhat "seasoned" from all the testing (I reckon it's been at the window for more than a couple of months), I realised this playability of this guitar felt amazing. It squeals on both neck and bridge effortlessly.

After a quick test, and several discussions involving a calculator, I finally made the decision to purchase the guitar at a fantastic price below RM3k (where it was otherwise quoted closer to 4k in Malaysia). To top it off, I got a tax rebate at the airport, which made this superbly worthwhile.

To add to this already "lucky" story, I was absolutely worried on my flight back. I was on a MAS flight, which was one of those dinky 737-400s. Economy class tends to be absolutely full and I was very worried where I would stow my guitar - or perhaps be forced to check it in. Luck would have it that on my return flight, I was bumped up to business class! So I basically boarded first, had an entire to myself, and my guitar! So I returned feeling really happy and lucky!

Quick Facts:

Neck Material: Maple
Neck Profile: Slim "D" Profile
Fingerboard: Rosewood (22 frets)
Body Material: Mahogany
Neck Pickup: EMG-HZ
Bridge Pickup: EMG-HZ
Licensed Floyd Rose

Make: Made in China


I actually played this guitar consistently for 2 weeks in a row. I really really enjoyed the playability of the guitar, the tone was heavy, and there was something different about it in comparison to the other ZW models I had. The body was smaller in comparison to the Les Paul and the ZV, the mahogany body somehow made the attack brighter, and both bridge and neck pickups provided an energetic rhythm. Soloing on this guitar is very effortless, and the set-up when I received it made it very easy to shred up and down the neck. The SlimTaper "D" profile helps to hit the right notes quickly, and also to switch to rhythm very quickly. The string tension allowed for vibratos to be achieved very easily, and of course, this guitar was built like a tank.

It took me less than 1 minute to get comfortable playing this guitar. An extended "stand" pops out at the bottom which helps keep the guitar on balance on your lap. No issues of the guitar being too body heavy and falling off. In fact, I find this guitar way easier to balance and play than a Flying V guitar. With that said, I've not attempted to stand up and play this guitar yet - so I can't comment much on the playability of this guitar when standing up.

The pickups are what you would expect from the EMG-HZs. The recent set of EMG-HZs I've received on my ZV and Graveyard Disciple somehow has a harder attack than the ones equipped on my Korean made ZW Les Paul, which feels a tad more passive in comparison to these newer ones. This may have prompted Epiphone to begin equipping the ZW models now with active EMGs - but I'm not sure. In any case, this guitar was easily built for metal and to rock out. You can probably get away with some nice clean tones - but I'll be honest and say I've hardly played this guitar on clean, as I have no idea why anyone would want to play anything clean on this guitar! Just look at it and tell me if you're be doing any Tommy Emmanuel on it anytime soon.

Great guitar, pretty much one of a kind, excellent build quality out of the China Epiphone factory - which has been improving year by year. I was impressed on how well it was put together (although it is boasted that it was inspected in the US). Of course, with Zakk's personal guarantee as he has mentioned in many interviews that he ensures quality for any piece of wood which has his name on it. For sceptics, just tune in to a Guitar Player special on YouTube where he plays his signature Epiphone LP and still manages to have his tone coming out of those HZs.

Overall Rating: 8.5

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