The Epiphone Sheraton guitar is a thinline, hollowbody, jazz-style guitar produced by Gibson USA from 1958 through 2011 under the Epiphone name. In its incarnations as the Sheraton prototype/Century, Sheraton, Sheraton II and Sheraton Elitist, it has used four distinctly different styles of pickups, each with its own unique tonal characteristics.
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Prototype Sheraton/Century Model
The prototype Epiphone Sheraton model, essentially a double-cutaway reworking of Epiphone's Century thinline hollowbody archtop, similar in appearance to the Gibson ES-335, was introduced in 1958, shortly after Gibson acquired the Epiphone company in 1957. The guitar featured a single P-90 pickup in the neck position, but unlike the Gibson "dog-ear" P-90s of the period, the Sheraton's P-90 was a thinner model from the pre-Gibson days with a nickel cover and set into the body of the guitar with a mounting ring rather than attached to the soundboard. This P-90 produced the thin, somewhat noisy, tone commonly associated with P-90s.
The regular Sheraton model, introduced in 1959, featured two Gibson New York model mini humbucking pickups rather than the single pickup of the prototype model. The New York with its humbucking design was significantly quieter than the P-90s; however, due to its smaller size, the tone was much brighter and fuller than the P-90, yet quite different from the fat, dark, tone associated with Gibson's other contemporary humbucking pickup, the patent-applied-for, better known as the PAF.
The Sheraton II was introduced in 1994 and featured two PAF-style humbucking pickups in place of the New York mini humbuckers on the original. These pickups helped the Sheraton II produce what has come to be described as the "classic" Gibson sound. The PAF is constructed from two separate coils of 42-gauge wire wrapped around a bobbin 5,000 times in opposite directions with an alnico bar magnet at the base. The the hum-cancelling characteristics of the dual coils and the impedance produced by the thick windings produces a quiet, full, mellow, almost dark tone.
The latest model Sheraton, dubbed the Elitist, was introduced in 2004. This model marked a return to the New York-style mini humbuckers of the original Sheraton model (though this time they are Epiphone's 60 NYT and 60 NYR models), with the same bright, full tone. Mark Starlin, a reviewer for the guitar website "Better Guitar," in particular has praise for the bridge pickup which manages to produce clearly defined notes even at higher volumes, a notable feat for a hollowbody guitar.
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