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. Here. Now.
The beauty to your left is called the “Tiger Stripe” WildKat. Epiphone manufactured this beauty sometime around 2007. When I saw this pop up on ebay, I just couldn’t stop researching it and scouring the pictures. Just look at that finish. Even in pictures it’s beautiful. In person, even better.
I’d seen numerous musician friends play a WildKat recently live on stage in some concerts, so I knew the play-ability and tone were great, and in speaking with a couple of them I’d heard that they held up well over time too.
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.
Here are the specs for the enquiring minds who want 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
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.
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. 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 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.
I’ll never get rid of this beauty!! I am uber-satisfied with my Epiphone WildKat, and you won’t catch me making any mods to it 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 try “Eruption” for cowboys. “The right tool for the right job” is a 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, so check out the ferocious feline tones on this beast, and join me….in the jungle! You in the JUNGLE, baby!!