Originally Posted by BMW Kurt
Pretty much what our tour guide told us.
That being said, I didn't want to start a rag war! Epiphone construction seems to follow the cheap labor trail. I have a Japanese made Epiphone FT-133 from the 70's. Great guitar and I play it as much as my Martin. If I remember correctly Epis were made in Korea and then facilities moved to China. They are great guitars for the price and 99% of us do not need to spend $4K on a guitar. When I was younger I thought that if I bought a Strat I would sound like Clapton and if I bought a 335 I would sound like B. B. King. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.
I think it really depends on the guitar you're looking at as well. The Les Paul is their top of the line guitar now. There's a lot of labor that goes into them and the price emulates this. Most of the Custom Shop guitars are overpriced and sold to people who collect the signatures and aren't players. I wish their Gibson's Custom Shop was more like Fenders A' la Carte Custom Shop.
Gibson USA still has a lot of good deal though. The Melody Maker was always overlooked. The Junior and Special were always good deals. The old Les Paul Studio as well was under $1000. They have all been discontinued as of 2013. The low end studio was replaced by the LPJ which isn't bad. I think the SG's are a good deal overall though. A Standard is $1299 msrp with a street price around $1000. Much more reasonable then the Les Paul Standard.
Epiphone also makes some really good guitars. I kinda wish they didn't make Gibson clones. They have had a long history and their own guitars that are as good as anyone else's guitars. The Elite models like the Casino and I think ES335 Dot aren't made in China but rather Japan. They are made at the same place the Gretsch Pro's are made, Terada of Japan. They're supposed to be top notch. I want to get a Gretsch Pro Jet