Epiphone Broadway

Archtop semi-acoustic

The Epiphone Broadway acoustic, as shown in the 1954 Epiphone catalogue

The Epiphone Broadway acoustic, as shown in the 1954 Epiphone catalogue

The Epiphone Broadway was a very fine carved top acoustic guitar produced in New York (and latterly Philadelphia) by Epiphone. It first shipped in 1931.

It is now built with curly maple back and sides, hand carved and graduated top of choicest straight grained spruce and mahogany neck, to make this model a beauty in appearance as well as tone and performance

The Broadway was a large bodied instrument, 20 3/4" x 17 3/8" with some very nice ornamentation. The headstock inlays were typically mother of pearl, with several different designs used, including 'Epiphone Broadway Masterbilt' in scrolled text, the Epiphone 'i', and the ornate flower design shown here on the Broadway featured in the 1954 Epiphone catalogue. It featured large neck position markers, also pearl, starting at fret one.

Towards the end of production, the Broadway body depth was reduced. Up until mid 1966 (including in the 1966 Epiphone Catalogue) the depth at guitar rim was stated at 3 7/16". As of the October 1966 price list, this was reduced by just over half an inch to 2 7/8". The fact that this change corresponds to the peak in Broadway shipping numbers is probably no coincidence,

Epiphone Broadway1960s Gibson-built Epiphone Broadway
Model: Broadway E252
Available: 1959-1969
Pickups: Two nickel-plated mini humbuckers
Scale: 25 1/2"
Body: Maple sides and back with a maple top. 17 3/8" wide (lower bout), 20 3/4" long. 3 7/16" thick at the rim (1959-65) 2 7/8" (1966-68)
Neck: Mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard with pearl block inlays. 20 frets, body meeting the neck at the 14th fret.
Hardware: 2 volume and 2 tone controls. Tune-o-matic bridge with frequensator tailpiece.
Finishes: Shaded (Sunburst), Cherry (from 1964) or Natural

When Gibson first launched its line of Epiphone guitars in the late fifties after buying Epiphone, new instruments were typically given names (with the exception, it seems, of the Sheraton) of older Epiphone models. The new Broadway was a dual pickup electric acoustic guitar, but with the same body size and shape, the same large-size block inlays, and the same Frequensator tailpiece. Gibson settled on the original Epiphone 'i' headstock motif, used previously. A fully acoustic version was not offered.

Many of the new Epiphone models had a Gibson equivalent, and for the Epiphone Broadway, it was the Gibson ES-175D. Both were full body depth, twin pickup jazz boxes, with a maple body and mahgogany neck, and a similar level or ornamentation. Both had a free floating rosewood bridge, and rosewood fretboard. They were around the same pricepoint: in September 1963, the Broadway was $385/$405 for Shaded and Natural finishes respectively; the ES-175D slightly cheaper at $365/$380. The Broadway was a little wider bodied though, 17 3/8" versus 16 1/4" of the ES-175D, and most obviously the ES-175 had a sharp Florentine cutaway rather than the rounded Venetian cutaway of the Broadway.

In total 608 guitars were shipped from Kalamazoo during the years 1959-1969, with the peak years beingg 1966 and 1967. During the Gibson years, Epiphone just produced two full depth electric guitars: the Broadway and the Howard Roberts.

Epiphone Broadway catalogue appearances

Epiphone 1961 full line catalogue
1961 'guitars, basses, amplifiers' catalogue

Performnce to satisfy the most discriminating. A two-pickup, full-body cutaway Epiphone with extra depth of tone from a full resonant bass to a radiant treble. Two (adjustable polepiece) pickups for rhythym and lead respose have toggle switch to activate either or both.
Epiphone 1962 full line catalogue
1962 'guitars, basses, amplifiers' catalogue

A beautiful instrument with laminated arched maple top and back, matching maple rims, ivoroid binding. fast-action mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod.
Epiphone 1964 full line catalogue
1964 full line catalogue

The 1964 catalogue was the first to show the Epiphone Broadway in colour.
Epiphone 1966 full line catalogue
1966 full line catalogue

Today the electric divish guitar is found everywhere... orchestras, combos, jazz bands and as a featured solo instrument. Epiphone electric divish guitars suit the need of every player, from the top professional, to the semi-pro, to the amateur

Shipping statistics

The shipping data below shows an anomaly in the model designations in 1959. Whether this was an error in the released shipping data, or represents an actual change in model name is unclear. What's more, Cherry is only listed as a finish option in 1967. It was included in price lists as of September 1964, and as Cherry and Shaded (Sunburst) actually had the same E252 model code, they were most likely lumped together in the figures for 1964-66; there were most likely more than 24 Cherry Epiphone Broadways produced by Gibson.

1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 total
E251N 19 19
E252 68 34 32 29 43 28 43 82 92 9 9 469
E252N 7 12 12 13 15 6 28 3 96
E252 Ch. 24 24
total 87 41 44 41 56 43 49 110 119 9 9 608

The Broadway was reissued in 1997, and is a very nice guitar, though naturally without the price tag associated with the carved-top originals - currently widely available. Although broadly similar to the 1960s Kalamazoo-built original, at least in size and in terms of hardware, it was appointed more in keeping with the Emperor and Sheraton models, having their 'tree of life' headstock inlays, and 'abalone triangle in pearl' block neck position markers.

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US ebay listings

Rare 1997 Epiphone Broadway AS Peerless Korea Made with Case

Current price: $5.50
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Current price: $549.95
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Epiphone Broadway E251N Natural 1961

Current price: $3195.00
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Epiphone Broadway 1941 Tobacco Burst

Current price: $3900.00
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Time left: 25d 33m

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