Epiphone electric acoustics

Hollow body and semi-acoustic guitars

Image Heritage auctions

Under the ownership of the Stathopoulos family, Epiphone had a long history of producing acoustic and carved top guitars, and mandolins, and developed pickups for lap steel guitars as early as 1935. Epiphone electric Spanish guitars, however, were still some years away. In the early 1950s, Epiphone finally produced a number of full-bodied electric acoustics; very fine guitars such as the three pickup Emperor, two pickup Deluxe Electric (above), and the various versions of the Zephyr and Century. These were very nice guitars, and, in fact, the only electric guitars produced by Epiphone prior to the brand being taken over by Gibson in 1957.

These early hollow body guitars were beautifully-built, high quality instruments with fine appointments. They were fitted with Epiphone's 'New York' single coil units. These large body hollow body guitars had a great reputation amongst jazz and big band guitarists. Vintage Epiphone guitars from this pre-Gibson period are highly collectable instruments, and having only been produced in small numbers command quite high prices today. With the untimely death of Epaminondas Stathopoulos, the company lost it's direction, first relocating from New York to Philadelphia, and ultimately being absorbed by it's main competitor, Gibson. Many of the original Epiphone luthiers actually went on to work for the newly emerging Guild guitar company.

The Gibson / CMI period

When Gibson took on the Epiphone marque, they brought production from Philadelphia to their Kalamazoo plant in Michigan. They inherited all tooling, partially finished instruments and components, allowing them to continue Epiphone production. Over the next few years, Gibson relaunched many of these models, and added several more; keeping original names, and selected design features and hardware from pre-Gibson days, but the majority were given a new thinner body, in keeping with the popular Electric Spanish series guitars just launched by Gibson (ES-330, ES-335 etc).

Only one pre-Gibson model, the Epiphone Broadway kept it's original full body depth, but it was joined in 1964 by a new model, a signature guitar for jazz guitarist Howard Roberts, and then a second model the Howard Roberts Custom in 1965. Both were eventually branded Gibson (see the Gibson Howard Roberts) once Epiphone production left Kalamazoo at the end of the 1960s.

Image Heritage auctions

Guitars like the Riviera and Sheraton built reputations for themselves, but none more-so than the Casino which was favoured by, amongst others, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This was Kalamazoo-built Epiphone's best selling hollow-body, with almost 7000 guitars shipped throughout the 1960s. In terms of quality and functionality, these US Kalamazoo-built Epiphones were on par with Gibson's own output, and typically retailed at the same pricepoint.

Japanese Epiphone electric acoustics

Market pressures in the late 1960s were forcing US manufacturers to offer lower priced guitars, able to compete with Asian imports. Epiphone production continued at Kalamazoo until 1969, but the decision was finally made to realign the brand below the US-built Gibsons. This coincided with a change of ownership of Gibson - the 'Norlin period'. Production of a new line of Epiphones was awarded to Aria, who produced a new electric acoustic model at the Matsumoku plant in Japan. Epiphone model 5102T was the only semi-acoustic guitar in the line at this time, morphing into the EA250 by 1972. These models were very basic, with a bolt-on neck; a world away from the quality American guitars bearing the marque in the 1960s.

But as the seventies progressed, Matsumoku production improved. By the mid 1970s, they were able to offer set neck reissues of the older models - however at a price point that confined them to the Japanese market. Finally in 1982, the Casino, Emperor, Riviera and Sheraton were again offered in the United States, and interestingly enough, a full body depth version of the Epiphone Emperor was available again for the first time since the mid-1950s.

Asian Epiphone production has continued since this time, though moving from Japan to Korea and China. Although not in the same league as the 1950s Stathopoulos-era, or the 1960s Kalamazoo-era guitars, modern day production techniques allow the offering of consistently good quality Epiphone electric acoustics, that sell very well today.

Got an opinion on the contents of this page? Disagree with something written above? Please comment

Epiphone guitars for sale

Epiphone Century 1950s Tobacco Burst



10-1015 This is a collectors guitar. at an affordable price. If you want to own a piece of history here is your chance Fully functional, straight neck. good frets moderate checking consistent with age Comes with Hard Case Weight: 5lbs 13oz Specs Nut Width:   1 5 / 8 in (41 mm) Scale Length:  25 5 in Neck Shape:  Deep C Neck Amount of Frets: 20 Body Thickness: 3 5 in Upper Bout:   11 5 in Product Specs Condition:Excellent (Used) Brand:Epiphone Model:CenturyFinish:Tobacco ... more

1967 Epiphone Casino (#EPE0265)


C $6619

1967 Epiphone Casino, Attractive Sunburst finish, Two P-90 pickups with Chrome covers, Trapeze Tailpiece, Replaced pickguard, Great low action, Very fine instrument, Non original hard case $4, 995 Notes:The pickups are potted and it reduces feedback!... more

1966 Epiphone Sheraton



Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE 1966 Epiphone Sheraton, Cherry Red, Top of the line model, Nice full feeling neck, Deluxe inlays, Gold Hardware, Two mini Humbuckers, Rare & beautiful, EC, Original hard case, $8, 595... more

Vintage 1961 Epiphone Broadway Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar Natural



Vintage 1961 Epiphone Broadway Arch Top Electric Guitar. Has a slim neck that is super easy to get around with a comfortable, quick feel. Plays great in every position with a smooth, quick action. Original mini humbucking pickups sound fantastic. They are super warm, clear and focused with a woody, punchy attack. The neck pickup has a super fat, round tone great for jazz and blues, and the bridge pickup has a jangle that is perfect for old school rock and roll and country tones. Excellent ... more

Epiphone Casino EA-255 Casino Walnut Vintage 1970s



SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN FOR PICTURES Im selling this perfectly working 1970s Epiphone Casino in walnut finish. The guitar is structurally sound. No cracks. There is only finish wear, binding wear, and lacquer wear. Frets are in excelllent shape. Truss rod adjusts. Tone is clean and clear nice warm full tone. No buzzing, action is set up nicely ready to play. Straight neck, and tuning spot on. There is a bit of binding seperating around the neck pocket only on 1 side please see close up image. ... more

1952 Epiphone Zephyr Deluxe Regent Electric Guitar



See condition desription... more

1967 Epiphone Riviera Electric Guitar - Vintage



1967 Epiphone Riviera Guitar. Bigsby and Grover Tuners added. Refretted. Pro repaired headstock break. The repair is really well done, but nothing was done to cosmetically make it look like new. Typically finish checking and nicks and bumps. Plays and sounds incredibly! The previous owner of this guitar was Chris Scruggs of Marty Stuart’s band. If you go on the Carter Vintage Guitars YouTube page you can find a video of Chris playing this guitar when it was for sale (I bought it from Carters).... more

Vintage 1953 Epiphone Century Hollowbody Electric Guitar New York PIckup w / Case



Vintage 1953 Epiphone Century Hollowbody Electric. An early Epiphone arch top made in New York City before they were purchased by Gibson. The neck is still nice and straight and plays great all the way up and down. It has a slightly chunky profile that is just fat enough to fill up your palm without getting in your way. Has a tight, smooth action in every position. Original New York pickup sounds fantastic with a super warm, clear tone. Sounds like an old P-90 mixed with a DeArmond Gold Foil. ... more

Find more vintage guitars for sale at vintageguitarsforsale.co

There are 0 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

Comment on this article

Email address
Anti-spam question - to catch web robots
How many legs does a duck have?



Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Google+

Other Great Sites