Every once in a while, you come across an instrument that just makes you STOP what you’re doing…and look.
An instrument that is so unique, so wondrous in it’s singularity…that time seems to be in flux somehow.
An instrument…that gives you G.A.S.!
And, voila, next thing you know…you’re writing an Ephiphone WildKat review like me.
The beauty you see above is what prompts today’s entry. It’s called the “Tiger Stripe” WildKat. Epiphone manufactured this beauty sometime around 2007. It’s just one of the finish options in the “Wildkat” series that continues to be sold quite successfully up to today.
But THIS particular wood grain and finish is rare in the Wildkats. When I saw this baby pop up on ebay, I just couldn’t stop researching it and scouring the pictures.
Just look at that wild wood. That ferocious finish. That savage saviour-faire!! Even in pictures, it’s beautiful. In person… even better. 😉
Inspecting the Specs!
So, what’s the layout of this beast?? For those with inquiring minds, here’s what you need to know:
Alnico-V P-90 dogear pickups
Laminated tiger striped maple top
Set Hard Maple neck
Rosewood Fretboard with dot inlays
Limited edition logo on back of headstock
White body & neck binding
Tune-o-matic bridge with Bigsby Tremolo Tailpiece
Metal “Bikini” logo plate
Black reflector knobs
2 pickup volume & 1 Master Vol. 1 Tone controls
3-way selector switch
Black finish with natural top
On Safari for a Wall of Sound Trophy…
My first glimpse of this guitar was one with a solid-red finish and no wood grain. I’d seen a musician friend play it live on stage in some concerts in the past couple years, so I knew the play-ability and tone were great. I spoke with him backstage about it after one concert and learned that they held up well over time and didn’t create any problems live.
I’d kept this particular axe on the back burner until one day, checking through Ebay for great deals, I decided to type in “Epiphone Wildkat”. Ya know, just to see what’s out there.
Man! I caught a glimpse of this savannah-stripin’ creature and heard the snarl of potential tone satisfaction as I read about it. When I saw the price was pretty low, I knew I would make a bid.
But not yet! Anyone savvy with Ebay knows you don’t bid until the last 8 seconds. I’ve snagged SOOOOO many auctions this way and highly recommend it if you really want to succeed at winning auctions.
Five days later (with very few other people bidding, surprisingly) I sniped my bid in at the 5 second mark and… WON! Soon it would be winging its way to me – the guitar, the hard Epiphone case and all. I couldn’t wait!!
After purchasing, I thought I’d read up on this particular model. I found many a staunch fan, with websites tauting it’s glories left and right. There was really only one complaint I saw a couple times: the unyielding nature of the stock Bigsby bridge and subsequent intonation problems.
Raise your cups! To the WildKat pups!
The pickups are Alnico P90s. They tend towards a darker sound if anything but to my ears they sound great, though somewhat genre-specific.
I wouldn’t use them for funky chicken picking – that’s what I got my Paul Reed Smith for! But lush chords, ambient washes, country or folk rhythm backing – it’s got all that color in spades.
Some people swap ’em out for different pups, but, ya know…it’s all personal preference. I prefer to let my different guitars speak for themselves and use them where their tonal range and response are appropriate.
Taking Paws…for Potential Problems
The stock WildKat/Bigsby bridge is engineered such that the strings can rub across the bridge edges when the tremolo bar is engaged, often causing unwanted tuning maladies. I also heard a couple people say the strings got stuck in the nut when using the tremelo.
Personally, if I really wanted to go to town with the whammy I’d switch to an instrument which has a bridge set up made for that, like my EVH Wolfie, you can read about HERE.
The Bigsby trem really should only be used for slight tremolo effects, and I found that if you put new strings on with a good ‘locked tight’ method of adhering/wrapping them ’round the peg posts, you shouldn’t have an issue.
There are, however, some online colleagues that found enhanced intonational success by swapping out the regular bridge for a roller bridge – one that lets the strings sit in a rolling groove that moves along with the string when the whammy goes bammy! That usually takes care of any issue easily, tho’ to go the full Monty you could swap out for more expensive nut as well.
On the other hand, some believe that roller bridges suck up some of your tone and sustain. I can see their point, tho’ I’d have to hear both to make an informed decision.
And Thereby Hangs A Tail…
I’ll never get rid of this beauty!! I am uber-satisfied with my Tiger-Stripe Epiphone WildKat, and I’m sure you can see why.
You won’t catch me making any mods to it either, since I think they’re unnecessary if this beauty is handled well, if the strings are replaced with solid pro methods and if the trem isn’t used to play “Eruption” to Wildebeests.
“The right tool for the right job” is the germane motto here.
Many examples of it’s sound can be found on YouTube, so if the G.A.S. is starting to bubble up in you, check out the ferocious feline tones on this beast there.
If you want to join in on some purrrrfectly wild jungle tone (“You in the JUNGLE, baby!!”), cage your own right here, right now… and start pickin’!
If you decide to put on your Kat’s pajamas by clicking there like I did, let us know how you’re likin’ YOUR WildKat. We look forward every day to new G.A.S.-y tales!
‘Til then, see ya in the woodshed … and don’t forget to go…make… (Kat!) sounds!