Epiphone Wildkat Royale – 2020 Review

Vlad
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

Semi-hollow bodies are Epiphone specialty even before Gibson bought them. Because of such a long tradition (almost 100 years), those models are both affordable and well-made in general.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Uses the Bigsby tailpiece for durability
  • Comes with the P90 pickups installed
  • Beautiful pearl white finish for better looks
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Epiphone WILDKAT Royale Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar with Bigsby Tremelo, Pearl White

PROS

  • Bigsby Tremolo bar installed
  • Affordable guitar
  • P-90 single coil pickups configuration
  • Limited Edition model with golden hardware
  • Ideal body size between Les Paul and ES-335 

CONS

  • Limited musical use
  • Questionable Quality Control

Epiphone Wildkat Royale Specs 

Type of Guitar: Semi-Acoustic Guitar

Body Size and Type: Single cutaway semi-hollow body

Number of Strings: 6-string model

Tonewood: Laminated Maple top with Mahogany sides and back

Orientation: Available only for right hand players

Neck Profile: Maple Slimtaper D neck profile with 1.68 inches wide nut 

Fretboard: Rosewood fretboard with 22 Medium jumbo frets 

Scale Length: 24.75 inches 

Bridge: Tremolo Tune-o-matic with Bigsby B70 tailpiece

Color: Pearl White (Royale), Wine Red, and Antique Natural Chrome (Ltd)

Pickup Type: Dual Alnico V P-90 Dogear Classics  pickups

Weight: 6.5 lbs approx.

Pros

Below are the main pros:

Ideal Body Size Between Les Paul and ES-335 

Wildkat has a unique trait that might be crucial for some players - body size. 

People who are interested in semi-hollow models usually buy them also because they love how big they look. So in case you also find a Les Paul to be too small for you and the ES-335 too big, you should know that Wildkat is placed somewhere in between so it may be the best choice for you. 

Limited Edition Model With Golden Hardware

This Wildkat comes in a specific limited edition style with Pearl White Gloss finish and golden hardware under the named Royale. So, if you care at least a little bit about visual appearance it will be hard not to notice how good this model looks in real life. 

This golden hardware on a white finish brings the whole instrument to another level.

Bigsby Tremolo Bar Installed

It’s not so often that you can find a tremolo bar on semi-hollow guitars, and yet, Wildkat comes equipped with the Bigsby B70 tailpiece. Tremolo bar will provide you with additional playing techniques while it will secure the overall guitar intonation when it’s not in use.

P-90 single Coil Pickups Configuration

While modern music is in deep love with humbuckers, we must say that the P-90 seems to be an optimal solution as they sound a bit more warm and pleasant when compared to the typical HH setup, especially for the genres Wildkat is intended to perform at. 

Affordable Guitar 

Epiphones are famous for making decent guitars at incredible prices and Wildkat is no different. We must say it’s one of the most beautiful guitars on the market at this price range with the sound that doesn’t fall behind the instruments two or three times more expensive.

Cons 

Below are the main cons:

Limited Musical Use

Yes, it looks gorgeous and it will look wonderful on all stage shots. But, it won’t handle distortion pedals so nicely as a solid body guitar would, especially if you turn the volume all the way up. It will generate a lot of unwanted feedback, so research before you buy one.

Questionable Quality Control

This is often the biggest problem with budget guitars. Epiphone is simply trading the quality control for the lower price so some models may come with unpolished frets or pickup sometimes may even have a significant output level difference.

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers knew that they wanted a semi-hollow body electric guitar, so it was kinda hard to find negative feedback about it. 

Most of them ended up playing it even more than they thought they would and find it a nice addition to their guitar arsenal. That being said, we couldn’t find a player who bought it as a first guitar.

They are amazed by the craftsmanship details on this guitar. They fell in love with the golden parts straight away and the paint is mostly described as sparkly and say that the Gibson ‘50s neck profile would be welcomed for this specific guitar a lot. 

The tune is reported to stay correct and stable despite the frequent use of Bigsby tremolo and the action and the bridge seem to fit most users straight from the factory setup. The sound is reported as pleasant, gentle, and mellow and it seems to be ideal for rockabilly songs.

However, some pro players report that the gold finish is falling apart very quickly, especially on the Bigsby bar so perhaps you should take care of it and monitor upon buying as we couldn’t confirm such a problem.

What Are the Components of the Epiphone Wildkat Royale? 

Epiphone Wildkat Royale Royale comes with the glossy Laminated Maple top along with Mahogany side and the backs. It has regular f-holes on the arched top and the color finish used for this specific model is Pearl White.

The neck profile is SlimTaper D and it’s made out of Maple and Rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets and 1.68” nut width and fretboard radius of 12”. The fretboard inlay is displayed in the form of dots.

Speaking of hardware, it’s equipped with a Locktone Tune-o-matic and StopBar tailpiece. Hardware is all-gold including pickup caps and the tuners are 16:1 ratio Grover. It is also equipped with the Bigsby B70 tremolo system.

What Pickups Does an Epiphone Wildkat Royale Use?

Epiphone Wildkat Royale is equipped with dual single coil Dogear Classic pickups, P-90R on the neck, and P90T on the bridge to be precise.

3-way pickup selector placed in the top corner along with both master and individual volume control and a master tone knob.

What Strings Does Epiphone Put on Epiphone Wildkat Royale?

Just like with the Gibson guitars, Epiphones are delivered with D’Addario .010-.046 string gauge sets.

What Types of Music is the Epiphone Wildkat Royale Best For?

Like all other semi-hollow guitars, Wildkat is made for vintage music. Good old rock n’ roll, surf rock, power pop - all those genres made such models popular in the first place. But, due to its softer tone nature (when compared to the solid body guitars), it may also come naturally for jazz music and even some country tracks.

In general, it may fit any music genre as long as you don’t push those pickups to the max as it may be too noisy for modern production quality standards. We find various indie bands may find the purpose for such guitars as well.

Where is the Epiphone Wildkat Royale Made?

Since 2002 all semi-hollow Epiphone guitars have been made in Epiphone's factory in Qingdao, China.

What Makes the Epiphone Wildkat Royale Stand Out From the Competition?

Epiphone Wildkat Royale feels like a unique semi-hollow guitar on the market. 

First of all, it comes with Bigsby tremolo which will allow you additional playing techniques. This may be especially crucial for those who enjoy playing leads. 

Then, regular semi-hollow guitars might be too large for some players. The body size of Wildkat is significantly smaller so you may appreciate this info. 

And the last, Wildkat Royale edition has that unique design with golden hardware on a Pearl White finish for a small price difference that many will be glad to pay. It's a well-balanced budget model that many will love.

Comparison Overview 

Let’s check how Epiphone Wildkat stands against other relevant instruments on the market:

Epiphone Casino vs Wildkat

While both Casino and Wildkat come with a P-90 pickup configuration, the Casino body type is fully hollow and the Wildkat is semi-hollow. Such difference results in Wildkat handling much better any distortion effect applied.

Let’s try to be more precise, Wildkat could play both jazz and rock n’ roll music, while Casino is prone only to jazz genres. And on top of that, Casino guitars are a bit more expensive so Wildkat is a clear winner here if you’re looking for a versatile guitar.

Epiphone Wildkat vs Ibanez Artcore

Ibanez Artcore is a hollow body guitar. It’s quite a different beast than Wildkat and the final solution will be based only on genres you’re about to play. If you plan to apply any kind of distortion, bear in mind that hollow body instruments are not so prone to such effects and it will probably resonate with a lot of unwanted feedback.

So, unless you’re all about jazz and blues, Wildkat seems to be a bit more versatile solution, especially with Bigsby tremolo. Also, if you already have a solid body guitar, perhaps having a hollow body such as Ibanez Artcore might be a better call to expand your guitar collection variety.

Epiphone Wildkat vs ES-339

Those two guitars share a lot in common - both are semi-hollow with the same scale length so the only important difference lies in pickup difference and the fact that Wildkat has a Bigsby tremolo while ES-339 comes with a fixed bridge system. Of course, such a difference also results in better sustain duration for ES-339.

That being said, we could sum it up and say that single-coiled Wildkat could be considered more as a rockabilly guitar while ES-339 could pass in some rock and blues bands because of humbucker pickup configuration.

Epiphone Wildkat vs Dot

Epiphone Dot or ES-335 is a legendary Gibson model stripped down to Epiphone’s entry-level. It has its audience and historical sound that has been proven so many times before. Nowadays Epiphone’s ES-335 version can be found at around the same price as regular Wildkat, so what’s the difference then?

It’s pretty much the same as being said about ES-339 except for one important factor. The Wildkat is significantly smaller than an Epiphone Dot so Wildkat may suit some players much better. 

Also, if you’re looking for a more subtle and warmer tone P-90 pickups will work much better for you.

Epiphone Wildkat vs Gretsch G5120

Gretsch G5120 can’t be found anymore with brand new status and in general, it’s selling for about the same price as the brand new Wildkat. That being said, it’s quite obvious that G5120 is above the Wildkats in all aspects - pickups, craftsmanship, build quality, construction, and tone 

Speaking of tone, the G5120 Gretsch isn’t just a rockabilly guitar and they are far more versatile than any semi-hollow body guitar on the market.

Conclusion 

Epiphone Wildkat seems to be an ideal middle-ground solution for all those who would like an affordable semi-hollow guitar but find typical models a bit too large. You will enjoy all the aspects - the sound, finish, tremolo, and golden hardware found on this Royale limited edition.

People Also Ask

Now that we have introduced you to the Wildkat specifications, let’s check some trivia as well. 

How Does Bigsby Tremolo Work?

Bigsby is the first success attempt at making a whammy bar. It works quite simple - you press it down and all the strings go down in pitch following your pressure. Once you release it, the strings go back to normal. When it’s idle, the Bigsby maintains the pitch intonation

What Does an F-Hole Do on a Guitar?

F-hole is designed so that the guitar can create a sound acoustically as well, not just by using electronic equipment. It has derived from the time when electric guitars weren’t considered as superior, so they had to include acoustic parts of the sound as well.

Can Epiphone Wildkat Be Played Acoustically?

Unfortunately, while you can hear a bit of the sound, those guitars aren’t loud enough so you could perform on it as you would do with a real acoustic guitar.

But, they generate more sound than the solid body so if you would like to practice unplugged, it may work.

Is the Epiphone Wildkat Hard to Play?

It all depends on your hand size. Semi-hollow body guitars are a bit larger than the solid body so you may have a struggle at first to perform like you did before, especially if you’re thinking of any technically advanced playing.

Is the Epiphone Wildkat Good For Rock?

Epiphone Wildkat has a semi-hollow body with single coil pickups. While we can’t say it’s impossible to play, it’s not the ideal choice for rock music as it will resonate a lot and on top of that create unwanted noise when dialed to the max because of its pickup behavior.

How to Care For an Epiphone Wildkat Guitar

Plain cotton cloth could be enough, but always use one cloth for cleaning and the other for polishing work. Always try to avoid using chemicals on the body because it will eventually harm the finish and for the rest of the guitar, consider using lemon oil-based fret polisher.

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.