Anastasios Stathopoulo was the son of a Greek timber merchant and a builder of fine lioutos (a Greek stringed instrument) mandolins lutes and violins in the latter part of the 19th century. He and his wife eventually moved their wares and their aspirations to Turkey where they set up a small instrument factory and set about starting a family.
The year 1893 brought them a beautiful son who they named Â Epimanondas (later to be known as "Epi") followed by three other unruly children, Alex, Minnie and Orpheus (later to be known as "Orphi").
1903 brought another upheaval of the Stathopoulo's family this time redirecting them and their instrument business to the lower side of Manhattan, New York. Epi and Orphi began learning their illustrious' father's craft and gained invaluable knowledge concerning the production and sale of fine instruments. Epi was just 22 years old when he was thrust into a position of great power and responsibility when his father died tragically of carcinoma of the breast. Epi's keen sense of business, in combination with his insightful knowledge of instrument design and production came together to make him a tour de force in the developing music world and subsequently, the company thrived.
By 1917 Epi had changed the name of the company to "House of Stathopoulo" and adapted the product line to reflect the needs and desires of the population which at that time had their eye on the banjo. The company rolled with the changes and continued to increase their economic base continuing to grow under the leadership of their self-named president and general manager, Epi Stathopoulo. In 1923, Epi made the final shift to the company's current name, an amalgamation between his nickname, and the Greek word for sound. And although Epi sadly passed quietly in the night during the conflagration of World War 2, the Epiphone company has continued to grow and thrive into the 21st century renown for its replica's and signature edition guitars.
The Epiphone AJ-200 SCE acoustic electric has a solid Spruce top adorned with a multi-ringed rosette, and mahogany neck back and sides. The starkness of the rosewood fingerboard is broken up by white dot-inlays and the bridge is also comprised of rosewood. The body of the guitar is sealed in a natural finish and the headstock is completed with die-cast tuners which allow for greater tuning stability. Scale length of the AJ-200 is 25.5" and the width at the nut is 1.68".
The guitar also comes stock with the Shadow Classic P4 pickup which gathers sound and vibration through an under-saddle SH095 piazzo pickup. The Shadow P4 preamp with 4-band EQ, is mounted on the side of the guitar and gives the player easy access to the master volume control, bass/mid/treble/brilliance, anti-feedback switch, low battery indicator LED, pre-wired output with 1/4" socket. The Shadow package is an electronics system often found on entry level guitars and is not intended to handle higher-volume play.
The Epiphone AJ-200 SCE is currently available for around $300 and can be purchased either on the web or through local distributors. There are some relatively decent materials utilized in the production of this model, and Epiphone is a reliable and trusted name in the guitar world, but as often occurs in guitars with the electronics included as well as on-board tuners etc. something is often lost in the quality of the instrument itself. Of note here though is the fact that Epiphone is part of the Gibson family which provides a limited lifetime warranty for the guitar.
The Epiphone AJ-200 SCE is a little difficult to strum relative to other guitars that I've played in the same price range. It just doesn't seem to have a good smooth feel and part of the problem is the action. After playing the guitar for a period of time (as well as reading some of the other reviews of this model), it seems that the guitar has action and fret buzz issues which would need to have to be ameliorated before playing, probably at your expense. And although the guitar includes the necessary electronics to play through a P.A. or amplifier, when I plugged it in it started to feedback at higher sound levels. On the bright side, the guitar does have decent resonation and good representation of the bass and mid-range values. On the whole though, there really are better values out there for the money especially if you focus on guitars that have less accessories and more attention paid to the quality of the instrument itself.