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

Gibson Vintage Reissue Electric Guitar Strings

Gibson Vintage Reissue Strings

These Gibson strings are made to the original 1950s specifications - pure nickel with a great tone - the perfect choice for vintage Gibson (and other) guitars

Epiphone guitars for sale

1965 Epiphone Sheraton (EPE0306)


C $9811

1965 Epiphone Sheraton, Sunburst, Top of the line model, Nice feeling neck, 1 & 10 / 16 inches wide at the nut, Deluxe inlays, Gold Hardware, Two fabulous sounding mini Humbuckers, Hard to find model, Great instrument! VG , Original hard case, $7, 495 1 / 72 / 7... more

1951 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor VariTone in Natural with Original Epsilon Hardshell


C $9026

FREE SHIPPING TO THE "LOWER 48 " !CHECK OUT OUR SUPERB FEEDBACK FOR YOURSELF!CALL FOR A HANDS ON DESCRIPTION OF ALL OF OUR INSTRUMENTS!Guitars West, Inc This piece is very special to us. This 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor VariTone in Natural, serial# 63207, is from the Akira Tsumura collection. It can be found on page 41 of the limited print "Guitars: The Tsumura Collection" book by Akira Tsumira. This superb instrument is the ultimate in electronic guitars. The Emperor has SIX distinctly ... more

1967 Epiphone Casino (#EPE0270)


C $8633

1967 Epiphone Casino, Sunburst, Beautifully figured Maple back, Two powerful sounding P-90’s with Chrome covers, Double lined Kluson tuners, E Vibrola, Low action, Truly one of our finest Casinos, Excellent Condition, Non original hard case, $6, 595... more

1967 Epiphone Casino (#EPE0264)


C $6538

1967 Epiphone Casino, Tobacco Sunburst finish, Two P-90’s Pickups, Perfect frets, Nut width is 1 & 9 / 16 inches, Low action & fine sounding! There is even room to lower the bridge. It has a trapeze tail piece which is a huge improvement from the “vibrola” setup. The strap buttons are replacements. It’s got a great looking original finish. There is some light weather checking. It has a scratch by the input jack but otherwise it is in very clean condition. This fine Casino is ready to ... more

1967 Epiphone Casino Original vintage guitar (#EPE0220)


C $6538

1967 Epiphone Casino, Iced Tea Sunburst, Two P-90’s, Perfect updated guard, Trapezoid Inlays, 'e' Vibrola, EC , NHSC, $4, 995... more

1967 Epiphone Casino (#EPE0265)


C $6538

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

1987 Epiphone Casino Electric Guitar Natural Japan Terada Pre-Elitist Revolution



Up for sale, a 1987 Epiphone Casino in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Evoking John Lennon's Casino with a natural gloss finish and a lightly figured maple body, this is a rare and expertly crafted Epiphone reissue produced in Japan at the Terada factory and predating the current "Elitist" line of instruments. Faithfully replicating mid '60s spec, the P-90s have plenty of bark and growl, with a glassy, touch sensitive sound. Perfect for bold cleans or overdriven sizzle, these ... more

1964 Epiphone Casino Sunburst players grade



Up For sale is this modified 1964 Epiphone Casino. The guitars body and finish is absolutely stunning. The Guitar has had some modifications. The guitar was originally a single Pickup Guitar. At some point it had 3 p90 pickups in it then was replaced with vintage Dimarzio pickups in the Neck and Bridge position. The middle pickup was removed and the cover is still on the guitar. It has had mini toggles added for pickup selection. The tuners were upgraded to Grovers in the same period. The neck ... 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 tripod have?

Guitars and Parts for Sale

Gibson Vintage Reissue Electric Guitar Strings

Gibson Vintage Reissue Strings

These Gibson strings are made to the original 1950s specifications - pure nickel with a great tone - the perfect choice for vintage Gibson (and other) guitars

Related Forum Posts
new post

Latest Forum Posts
new post



Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Google+

Other Great Sites