There are some guitars that are very traditional, and others that are more maverick in their innovative approach. Often, the best are those that walk the tightrope between these two different schools. The Epiphone FT-350SCE Min-ETune is a guitar that does just that. Though it is built around a fairly traditional, dreadnought acoustic guitar, it has a few unique technological twists to make a very unique instrument.
The guitar features a dreadnought-sized body, with an elegant cutaway. The dreadnought has, in the years since its appearance in the ‘30s, established itself as the most popular of all acoustic guitar types. Bigger than a parlour and smaller than a jumbo, it was easy to manage physically, but still had full tone and great projection. This made it a very versatile performer, in a wide variety of guitar-styles. On the FT-350SCE, this versatility is extended with a cutaway, aiding access to the upper frets.
The FT-350’s body is built using two of the most popular of tonewoods (and one of the best tonewood combinations…): spruce and mahogany. The solid spruce top used here delivers plenty of the sweet, lively tone, and bell-like clarity for which it is famed. The mahogany back and sides, meanwhile, underpin this with richer, warmer tone, whilst adding volume and projection. The combination of these woods with a dreadnought body size results in tone that is very balanced, and capable of fitting nearly all playing styles and genres, from simple strumming to complex picking.
The neck is made using three-piece hard maple with volute. This is shaped to a SlimTaper profile, with a rosewood fingerboard. To the rear of the headstock, things take an altogether less traditional turn, however. Here, the very clever Min-ETune self-tuning system is fitted. This array of motorised tuning heads is rigged with pitch sensing technology. The player switches it on, strums the open strings a few times, and the tuners move until the guitar is perfectly in tune. The process takes seconds. With sixteen different tuning presets, experimenting with alternate tunings, or switching tunings mid-performances is a breeze.
At the bridge, a Shadow Nanoflex pickup is fitted. This simple transducer sits discretely under the saddle, with a jack socket in the guitar’s endpin / strap button. It is rigged via a Shadow Performer preamp, which provides a 2-band EQ, Dynamics control, Phase switch, volume and mute button. These ensure that the FT-350 sounds great when plugged-in, too.
The Epiphone FT-350SCE Min-ETune is a great marriage of traditional design, technology, and value. Acoustically, it has superb tone and plays beautifully (as it does when amplified). Aesthetically, it looks great, too. The addition of the Min-ETune system adds cutting edge technology that makes both regular playing, and experimentation more convenient. All of this is provided at a surprisingly affordable price.
Manufacturer Epiphone Model FT-350SCE Back and Side Material Mahogany Top Material Solid Spruce Neck Material Three-piece hard maple neck with volute Fingerboard Material Rosewood Bridge Rosewood No. of Frets 20 Position Inlays Dot Pickguard Tortoiseshell Active/Passive Active Pickups Shadow Nanoflex Preamp Performer Controls Two-band EQ, Dynamics control, Phase, Mute Special Electronics Min-ETune tuning system Finish Wine Red
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