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The Epiphone range of the 1960s closely followed the Gibson guitars of the same time. From 1958 until 1969, both brands were made side by side in the same facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, using the same woods, construction methods and much of the same hardware. The Epiphone Riviera corresponds to the Gibson ES335 having the same dimensions, semi-hollow construction, and built from the same materials, but with different tailpiece, pickups and headstock. It was one of the last 1960s Epiphone models to launch, with the majority debuting in 1959 or 1960.
Like the ES335-12, the Riviera also had a 12-string version produced from 1965. 1967 was the peak year for both models (in 6 and 12 string variations) but the Gibson version heavily outsold the Epiphone; a ratio of almost 8:1 for the 335, and 5:1 for the 335-12. Interestingly enough, the Epiphone was the same price or more expensive than the Gibson. For owners CMI, offering these two equivalent products was a way of increasing the availability of Kalamazoo-made guitars; it allowed their product to be available through a wider network of dealers. However, by the end of the 1960s, the guitar market had changed, with far greater demand for student guitars, and far greater pressure to reduce production costs; producing parallel lines of almost identical instruments at very similar prices was no longer feasible, and when Norlin took over in late 1969 these Epiphones were dropped.
|Sales for the period 1962-1969|
|model||shipping total||price (1/10/66)|
|Epiphone||E360TD (Riviera)||2556||$395, $435 with tremotone vibrato|
|Gibson||ES-335TD||19222||$365, $380 cherry|
|Epiphone||E360TD 12 (Riviera 12)||446||$410, $425 cherry|
|Gibson||ES-335TD-12||2016||$410, $425 cherry|
The fact that two almost identical instrumets (335-12 and Riviera 12) at exactly the same price, should sell in such different numbers underlines the dominance of the Gibson brand even when Epiphones were made side by side in the same factory. Ironically, the 1967 publicity for the Riviera (right) claims the following...
Dealers don't push 'em a lot, celebrities don't endorse 'em lot, but Epiphone sells a lot. hmmmmmmmmmmm
No wheelin'. No dealin'. No hoopla. So why would Epiphone be one of the best selling guitars in the business?
Epiphone Riviera shipping figures
Shipping figures do not differentiate between Royal Tan and Shaded finishes, though Cherry Rivieras are listed separately. When Epiphone production started with Gibson, several specific burst finishes were named - Royal Tan was a two-colour burst, basically red to yellow. Shaded was typically three colour, black to red to yellow. It seems that by the end of the 1960s, these were all lumped together as Shaded. Model codes are as follows: TD = thinline double pickup (all models) ; V = tremotone vibrato ; C = Cherry finish ; 12 = 12 string. Guitars with no finish code will either be Shaded (Sunburst) or Royal Tan
|Epiphone Riviera E360TD||40||56||170||274||421||563||150||119||1793|
|Epiphone Riviera E360TDC||4||354||81||46||485|
|Epiphone Riviera E360TDV||97||17||19||133|
|Epiphone Riviera E360TDVC||93||40||12||145|
|Epiphone Riviera E360TD 12||2||78||183||19||2||284|
|Epiphone Riviera E360TDC 12||4||134||17||7||162|
As can be seen 1967 was the best year by far for the Riviera, with over 40% of the total production shipping that year.
Epiphone Riviera catalogue appearances
An exciting new Spanish electric guitar with double cutaway construction and two humbucking pickups. One-piece mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod joins the body at the 20th fret
The 1964 catalogue was the first to show the Epiphone Riviera in colour.
Today the electric Spanish guitar is found everywhere... orchestras, combos, jazz bands and as a featured solo instrument. Epiphone electric Spanish guitars suit the need of every player, from the top professional, to the semi-pro, to the amateur.
Epiphone Riviera original advertising
Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1964 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Epiphone advertisements
Epiphone Riviera - These are instruments that go to the top (1964)
British advertisement for Epiphone guitars - placed in UK publication Beat Instrumental by distributor Rosetti in November 1964. The guitars featured represent some of the hollow and semi-hollow gu...
Epiphone Riviera - More and More People Every Day Find Us Just That Little Bit Better - In Every Way (1966)
Epiphone (seen 'em on TV lately?). Late 1966 advert from British music magazine Beat Instrumental placed by UK Epiphone distributor Rosetti. The instruments shown were some of the more popular guit...
Epiphone Riviera - Now! The Shape of Things To Come (1967)
Epiphone ad featuring the Riveira 6 string electric
Epiphone Riviera - Is There Something Fishy About Epiphone Guitars? (1967)
Crazy 'psychedelic fish' Epiphone ad from 1967. This advertisement is quite unlike other Epiphone instruments of its time, not least for being in colour, but also instead of featuring a well regard...
Epiphone Riviera reissues
Production of the Riviera was resumed in the 1980s, and modern day Epiphone Riviera guitars are widely regard. Higher end Elitist, and signature models (Nick Valensi - The Strokes, Jorma Kaukonen - Jefferson Airplane) have also been available in limited numbers, aswell as the three-pickup P93.
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