Most of you know that I've been pining for an Epiphone Sheraton II Pro for a while now, and y'all will probably be happy to know that you won't have to hear about that GAS anymore. My search for a used one wasn't as fruitful as I had imagined it would be. For some reason, i had it in my head that a Pro could be had used for $500-$550 on the open water, but that's mostly for older Korean ones that many are listing as Pros... Gotta be careful. I lost count of how many times I got all excited to see a 'Sheraton II Pro' on ebay or Reverb, for $475 or $500, only to see the 'Made in Korea' label on the back of the headstock, or '2003' listed as the year of manufacture. I got tired of contacting sellers to inform them of their... mistake. The ones you typically find for about $550-$580 turn out to be factory rejects (stamped ‘2nd’ or ‘Used’ on the back of the headstock). Now I know a lot of people have bought these guitars and had no issue, but every time I see one for sale, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Almost all of them say that they can’t find anything wrong with them, and under a careful visual examination, looking for dings, scratches of finish imperfections, that might be true. It’s the issues you can’t easily see that worry me. Bad fretwork, malfunctioning/broken truss rods, twisted or badly seated necks, etc., may not be immediately apparent right out of the box, and depending on your level of expertise and experience, you may not even be aware that there’s a problem until much later... if at all. Back a few years ago, I bought an Epiphone Dot that had the dread ‘2nd’ stamp (or maybe it was ‘Used’, I don’t really remember), and this guitar was just an all-around mess. It looked beautiful... Not a mark on it, and a perfect finish, but it played like a dog. I was pretty new at working on guitars, but I knew how do a do a set-up and a fret level at that time (which it badly needed) and a pickup/pot swap (dittto... it had those terrible, muddy, stock ‘CH’ pickups). The truss rod was also a little sketchy... Sometimes it would grab, sometime it wouldn’t. The nut was a little chewed up, too. In retrospect, I guess I should have returned it, but this was back in the days when trying to return an item to an ebay seller often resulted in a battle (and you had to pay return shipping). I also wanted to get the practice of ‘fixing’ all the issues the guitar had. I got it to play well, and sound good, but the truss rod was unreliable, and I think for that reason, I never bonded with it. I also wasn’t that nuts about the GFS pickups I replaced the stock ones with (they were better, but not quite what I wanted). So now, every time I see a guitar for sale with the stamp on the headstock, I’m reminded of that Dot, and move on. So after ruling out Korean Sheratons, factory seconds, and the plethora of black Sheratons on the used market (must be a popular color, but not with me), there were slim pickings left for me in the color/condition I wanted, for a price I was willing to pay (oh yeah... Not many sellers were accepting offers, either... even the ones selling seconds). Eventually, I came to the same realization that I came to when I was hunting the Squier CV... It’s just too hard to find a significant saving in the used market, and not have to settle. I’ve been looking for months, and I just keep seeing more of the above. Judging by the ‘sold’ or ‘closed’ searches I’ve done on ebay, it looks like the auctions are where the real deals are being had, but I just don’t have the time or temperament to deal with all of that. So I gave my Sweetwater rep a call to see what he could do for me, and he threw me 17% off a brand new Sheraton in wine red (my finish of choice), bringing the price down to what the factory seconds are going for. Needless to say, I took the deal. This will be arriving early next week... Just in time for my birthday! The first and last two digits of the serial number are ‘17’ which is my birthday and the rest of the numbers add up to ‘12’.