Epiphone Dot Archtop Review | A Player’s Take on a Vintage Axe

Epiphone Dot Archtop electric guitar review

The Epiphone Dot Archtop, first manufactured in the 1990’s, is a more affordable version of the Gibson ES-335 “Dot”. For those beginner guitarist looking for a beautiful, semi-hollow body electric guitar, this Epiphone Dot Archtop review will interest you.

In a nutshell, there is no better semi-hollow body electric guitar that will beat the Epiphone Dot for the price. It is an excellent guitar in its own right even though Epiphone modeled it after the more expensive ES-335.

The Gibson ES-335 was first introduced in 1958 as the world’s first semi-hollow body electric and quickly because a popular guitar for those playing rock and roll. Many people know this guitar as “Lucille”, the trademark guitar for famous blues guitarist B.B. King.

Just as I shared in the Epiphone Les Paul review, Epiphone has taken the Gibson model and created a more affordable (but still good quality) electric guitar.

Epiphone Dot Archtop Review

The design of the Epiphone Dot Archtop is like that of its older Gibson brother with only a few slight differences. A body that can be paradoxically described as both slim and jumbo is accented by two humbucking pickups and vintage top hat controls. Both guitars boast a mahogany neck and a beautiful rosewood fingerboard.

[Editor’s note: this article was first published incorrectly stating that the Gibson ES-335 was made using all solid wood. Based on reader comments, this has been changed] Interestingly, both guitars are manufactured using laminate wood and a solid, mahogany center block.

Thankfully, the quality manufacture of the Epiphone Dot Archtop compensates for laminate wood in this case because the guitar still sounds excellent.

Epiphone Dot Electronics

As I said above, the Epiphone Dot sports two humbucker pickups, which is what is expected with this type of guitar. Epiphone uses their Alnico Classic humbucker pickups which for an entry-level guitar are actually quite nice. The sound you can get through a sound system is impressive.

You can control each of these pickups individually with the tone and volume knobs (4 total) which are the fun vintage top-hat style. A 3-way selector switch allows you to switch pickup configurations.

Opposite from most guitars, the Epiphone Dot Archtop has its output jack positioned on the guitar face which may seem weird at first but it’s actually a pretty cool look when you’re playing on stage.

Epiphone Dot Playability

What sets the Epiphone Dot Archtop apart as an excellent beginner electric guitar is that it plays marvelously. This is because the action is low and the neck is smooth.

I have never had any buzz with this guitar and it feels great in my hands. There’s something about playing a Dot that makes me want to try out a new lick or run a nice scale. It just sounds nice and I barely need to press down on the frets.

Overall Impression of the Dot

While it’s not the cheapest entry-level electric guitar on the market, the Epiphone Dot Archtop is certainly one of the best values.

I love playing the guitar!  Mostly because, it sounds like a guitar that costs twice as much. Best of all, it has a unique and beautiful look that turns head whether it’s on stage or hanging on your wall.

In conclusion, this guitar isn’t just for beginners, it’s a high-quality electric that will make even a veteran player want to pick it up and strum.

7 thoughts on “Epiphone Dot Archtop Review | A Player’s Take on a Vintage Axe

  1. If you are going to do a comparison it would help if you knew the most basic facts about the guitars as the Gibson ES-335 is made of laminated woods as well.

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for the clarification here. Honest mistake here born of the fact that I have never personally owned a Gibson ES-335.

      I’ve made corrections and appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

  2. Hi Josh,
    My first guitar is the Yamaha 112V after reading your review (thanks!) among others as well, very versatile guitar, quite happy with it as a learning guitar. I also have an old no-name acoustic that I’ve played around with for several years. Now I’m looking for a more jazzy/twangy guitar, I’m eyeing the Epi ES-339 (like the Dot but slightly smaller body, I think). Reviews say these semi-hollowbody guitars tend to have higher action.

    What’s your take on this? Would these be difficult to play for beginners like me? I’ve no luck finding one in brick-mortar stores around my town.

    1. Responding on the DOT,it is a beautiful guitar,mine had a great sound and the action was nice and low with no buzz wherever part of the neck you played,mine had a beautiful black finish.my mistake was that i got rid of it,but i traded it in for a les paul.hopefully some day i will get another one.

  3. The stock pickups on the Epiphone Dot 335 are absolutely terrible. They are dull and lifeless IMO. Everything else, especially the neck is great. I traded out the stock Humbuckers with a pair of Gibson P94 pickups and it has made all the difference. If you but this guitar be prepared to swap out the stock pickups but it is well worth it.

  4. I myself for what it’s worth am on my second dot, my red is better pickup wise and yes had to do some adjustments to the bridge
    now it stays intune even on a chill night outside!
    Glad to see there are others that give it a shot!

  5. I disagree with the opinion that the Dot is a good beginner’s guitar. It is a good guitar for any guitarist, no matter how long they have played or what their skill level is. I had been playing guitar 25 years before I got my Dot. It may be an entry level instrument, but it is by no means a beginner’s guitar. Besides, I don’t know if I would recommend a semi-hollowbody to a kid as their first guitar. If they are young and still have small bodies, the large size of the 335 style guitars might be too big for them. They are a bit more fragile than a typical Fender. I would recommend a Squier Telecaster to a young guitar player because it is so simple and durable. The Dot is a little bit more high maintenance and fussy, but if you know how to make sure everything is working properly, they can be reliable. They are absolutely good enough to play in a recording studio or on stage. Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and formerly of Kyuss sometimes plays a black Dot on stage. He said he likes the sound of the Dot better than the sound of the Gibson ES-335 because the Epiphone’s pickups are muddier. Speaking of pickups, a previous owner of my Dot replaced the stock pickups with Seymour Duncan ’59s. I am sure I would have been happy with the stock Epiphone pickups but damn do those Duncans sound good. It sounds nearly perfect to me, so I am glad they put these pickups in it. The previous owner also added a Bigsby vibrato system, which I rarely even touch but it sure does make the guitar look cool. The Dot is a fantastic guitar for any guitar player of any age, skill level, and no matter how long they have been playing. I am thrilled with mine. If I had known how much I ended up liking the 335 I would have bought one 20 years ago. They are amazing guitars.

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