Epiphone Explorer Review: An Affordable Explorer

epiphone explorer

The Epiphone Explorer is the affordable version of this revolutionary electric guitar design, that was initially released in the ’50s. Over the years Gibson has released a number of different Epiphone Explorer models, through the Epiphone brand. This is a way to get your hands into a guitar with the iconic explorer body at an affordable price.

The Gibson Explorer is one of the most iconic electric guitar shapes ever created, and due to the high demand, Epiphone has released a number of Explorer models over the years.

There are very few electric guitars that can make people turn their heads, and the Epiphone Explorer is one of those. 

The history behind the Epiphone Explorer

U2’s guitarist Edge using a Gibson Explorer

Gibson released the first Gibson Explorer in 1958. Originally made out of korina wood, known for being lightweight, and made the Explorer very comfortable to play. The choice of korina is believed to be related to the shape of the guitar. Since it was much larger than any other Gibson model, the korina wood made the guitar lighter, and more comfortable to play over long periods of time.

The early Gibson Explorers are highly sought after and are among one of the most iconic models ever produced by Gibson. 

Due to its popularity, Gibson decided to produce a similar model for its Epiphone line. The Epiphone Explorer features a mahogany body, dual humbucker, and the iconic explorer design that we have come to love.

Epiphone Explorer Models

Over the years Epiphone has released several Epiphone Explorer models, with different colors, materials, and pickups. Some of these models try to mimic the classic design of the vintage Gibson Explorers, while others are more geared towards metal, and heavy metal. The pickups on these models also vary. Here are the main Epiphone Explorer models available:

  • Epiphone ‘58 Explorer (discontinued)
  • Epiphone ‘84 Explorer (discontinued)
  • Epiphone ‘58 Goth Explorer (discontinued)
  • Epiphone Jason Hook Signature M-4 Explorer (discontinued)
  • Epiphone Explorer
  • Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura
  • Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer
  • Epiphone Lzzy Hale Signature Explorer

Epiphone ‘58 Explorer

The Epiphone ‘58 Explorer was available in two different finishes. The natural finish, and black. This model tried to recapture the beauty and the sound of the original Gibson Explorer while retaining its iconic look. It used some of the same materials available on the original Gibson Explorers like the korina wood. 

This is one of the most desired Epiphone Explorer models, due to the quality of the materials used. A korina body, with a mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard. It comes fitted with the Alnico classic humbuckers. It came in two finishes: natural and ebony.

The Epiphone ‘58 Explorer has since been discontinued, but you can still find some of these models for sale on Reverb and eBay.

Epiphone ‘84 Explorer 

The Epiphone ‘84 Explorer is geared towards the more heavy distortion, with the EMG 81 and Emg 85 pickups. It came in two colors, alpine white and ebony. It featured a mahogany body and neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. You may be able to find this model on secondhand websites like Reverb.

Epiphone ‘58 Goth Explorer

The Epiphone ‘58 Goth Explorer was discontinued in 2019, and it had pretty much the same specs as the regular Epiphone Explorer. However, this model had a different look, as it was totally black. It also featured a kill switch. This model can only be bought secondhand since it was discontinued. You may be able to find a used Epiphone ‘58 Goth Explorer on Reverb.

Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura

The Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura is another interesting higher-end model, within the Epiphone Explorer range. It features the classic mahogany body that is so characteristic of the Epiphone Explorer models, and it comes with two Fishman Fluence Proprietary humbuckers. These are versatile pickups and are a clear improvement from the standard Epiphone Probuckers.

You might want to consider this model, not only for the design but also for its finish. It comes with Grover locking rotomatic tuners, that will easily keep it in tune. The Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura comes in 3 different finishes: purple tiger, yellow tiger, and black.

Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer

The Epiphone Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer is one of the two signature Epiphone explorer models currently available.

The Epiphone Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer features a Floyd Rose, 24 frets, Grover automatic tuners, and comes in galaktikon burst, which looks terrific. Overall this is one of the most premium Epiphone Explorer models, for those of you interested in shredding.

Epiphone Lzzy Hale Signature Explorer

This white and gold Epiphone Explorer signature model is one of the most premium versions of the Epiphone Explorer. It comes in white, and with gold hardware. It also comes with a gold pickguard. The main difference besides the looks is the pickups. The Epiphone Lzzy Hale Signature Explorer comes with Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers. It also comes with Grover mini rotomatic tuners.

Epiphone Explorer 

Around the same time, Epiphone released the ‘58 Explorer there was already an Epiphone Explorer model available. However, the difference between the two models was the wood used in the body. The standard Epiphone Explorer used a laminated mahogany and alder body. It was also available in different finishes such as alpine white, and red.

The most recent Epiphone Explorer, which is currently the only standard model in production features a graphite nut, rosewood fingerboard, and a mahogany body. It comes in an ebony finish, and it is the only finish available. Some of the features include Grover tuners, and it comes with the Epiphone Probuckers pickups.

Epiphone Explorer Price

epiphone explorer

Epiphone has released a number of Explorer models over the years, and since then some have been discontinued. Here are the ones currently under production:

The classic Epiphone Explorer model can only be found in ebony, and the prices start at $649. The Epiphone Lzzy Hale Signature Explorer costs $849. 

As for the Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura the price is $899. Lastly, we have the Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer, it will set you back $799.

Used and older models

You can also find plenty of used and other models online. Reverb has a great selection of the older Epiphone Explorer models, and you will also find lots of these on eBay. 

Their prices vary quite a bit, but if you are on a budget, you can probably get your hands on one of these older models for around $400. If you can, try to find the ‘58 models that come with the korina, those are very collectible, and tend to go up in price.

Advantages of Epiphone Explorer

The Epiphone Explorer allows you to have an electric guitar with a unique design that stands out at an affordable price. Whether you choose the standard model or one of the signature models you will be pleased with the build quality and the components. 

If you are on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Epiphone Explorer in ebony gloss finish for $649. It is a great model with good-sounding pickups and Epiphone quality. 

However, if you can consider one of the signature models available, or the Epiphone Explorer Prophecy Extura these are definitely worth the extra money. As they come with better tuners and better pickups, and the overall built quality is superior.

The Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer that comes fitted with the Gibson USA Burstbuckers, is a great value for money, considering it is only $799. These are great-sounding humbuckers, that are extremely versatile. 

If you are also considering a Floyd Rose in your explorer, the Epiphone Brendon Small “GhostHorse” Explorer seems to be the best choice. Even if you go for the standard Epiphone Explorer model you can always replace the Epiphone Probuckers, for better-sounding pickups later on. 

This is important if you want to have a more unique sound, that matches the style you are playing.

Disadvantages of Epiphone Explorer

One of the biggest disadvantages of the Epiphone Explorer is the shape. Not everyone feels comfortable playing over long periods of time. If you need to go from gig to gig frequently, this might not be the best guitar. Since its design is bulkier and heavier to carry around.

Therefore if you need to carry the guitar constantly, you might prefer a more lightweight model, that is easy to carry. The case that comes with the Epiphone Explorer is also quite big, and therefore it is not the best thing to carry around every day.

The verdict

Overall any of the Epiphone Explorer models are great sounding electric guitars for the price. It will allow you to play anything from jazz to heavy metal while sounding great. The design of the Epiphone Explorer is certainly unique, and one of the best things about this model.

If you like the Explorer, make sure you consider the Epiphone Explorer. It is a great electric guitar model, that will remain one of the most popular exotic electric guitar designs for years to come.

Considering the price, you are getting a great-sounding guitar with an exotic design at a very affordable price. 

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