I actually used some Higgins on my Gretsch fretboard after scraping it. There was a sort of waxy coating on the fretboard (as seen on other Electromatics and some Epiphones), but the rosewood underneath was quite nice. I put on some India Ink and it did darken quite a bit.Black Tremclad fix that up no problem.
They've done it before - bolt on neck with the ridge, and even set neck like this (you can totally see the neck joint in the pic above) though that has been more rare. At least it ain't bolt on. I agree it's stupid to have the ridge without true neck thru, but it ain't the first time and people keep buying them.You can see the ridge for the neck through in the pictures so probably; unless the line is just India ink.
They wouldn't make them if there weren't. Epiphone has been putting out quite a few runs of signature, limited and special editions that seem to be quite good.