EPIPHONE | SOLID BODY GUITARS

Vintage Epiphone solid body guitars

Electric guitars manufactured by Epiphone

Epiphone guitar manufacture can be spit into four main phases: (i) Stathopoulos family, 1873-1957, (ii) CMI/Gibson, 1957-1969, (iii) Norlin (Matsumoku, Japan), 1970-1985, (iv) Gibson Guitar Corporation, 1986-date. Solid body guitars had been available from Gibson and Fender through the 1950s, but the only Epiphone electric guitars produced prior to 1957 were electric acoustics, typically full body jazz guitars.

USA Epiphone solid body guitars

When Gibson owner CMI bought Epiphone in 1957, they also bought tooling, unfinished guitars and a lot of parts. Epiphone solid body production did not start until two years after the take-over, with the first two models (Coronet and Crestwood Custom) shipped from the Gibson Kalamazoo plant in 1959. These guitars were joined by the Olympic and Wilshire a year later, and the Crestwood Deluxe in 1963. These guitars used much of the same woods, construction methods and hardware as the Gibson models that were produced side-by-side in Kalamazoo. As mentioned, Gibson inherited numerous Epiphone parts, and many early examples were fitted with Epiphone New York pickups, headstock badges and Epiphone knobs.

In terms of design, the Gibson-made Epiphone solid body guitars were quite unique. There were two versions, the first was a compact guitar with deep, symmetrical cutaways and large symmetrical pickguard - built between 1959 and 1962. From 1963 the guitars were lengthened, specifically with a new 'batwing' headstock, but also loosing it's symmetry, with the stubby cutaways, longer on top, and almost non-existent on the bottom.

1962 Epiphone Coronet with the early symmetrical body shape. Image Heritage auctions

1965 Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe with the better known asymmetrical design. Image Heritage auctions

From the 1966 Epiphone catalogue - A natural development of the electric guitar was the solid body instrument... both guitar and bass. Contributing no acoustics of it's own, it's music is all produced by the pickups and the amplifier. This instrument was becoming popular with artists in the late forties and early fifties/ then, the age of "Rock and Roll" came into being and for music with a beat, the solid body had no equal. It is now used as a lead guitar in combos and bands across the country, and is uniquely a product of the age of electronics. Epiphone is proud to present solid body instruments that offer the depth, the sharp treble, the biting tone and the virility that all guitarists seek from a solid body instrument.

Gibson vs Epiphone

In terms of construction and specifications, the Epiphone solid bodies were more or less analogous to the Gibson SG and Melody Maker guitars. They had the same basic construction: mahogany bodies and necks, with a (usually) rosewood fretboard, and the same translucent Cherry finish. They were wired more or less the same and listed at more or less the same prices. Actually, where there was a difference, the Epiphones tended to be the higher priced of the two. The table below compares the different models.

Epiphone modelEquivalent Gibson model
modelspecifications1963 pricemodelspecifications1963 price
Epiphone Olympic 1 or 2 PU-380 pickup $139.50, $169.50 double pickup Gibson Melody Maker 1 or 2 PU-380 pickup $119.50, $155 double pickup
Epiphone Olympic Special 1 PU-380 pickup $119.50 Gibson Melody Maker 1 PU-380 pickup $119.50
Epiphone Coronet 1 P90 $162.50, 189 with vibrola Gibson SG Junior (TV) 1 P90 $155
Epiphone Wilshire 2 P90 or 2 mini humbuckers $249.50, $277 with vibrola Gibson SG Special 2 P90 $225
Epiphone Crestwood Custom 2 mini humbuckers, tremotone vibrola $345 Gibson SG Standard* 2 humbuckers $310
Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe 3 mini humbuckers, ebony fretboard, nickel plated hardware $450 Gibson SG Custom* 3 humbuckers, ebony fretboard, gold plated hardware $450

* SG Standard and Custom were still officially called Les Paul Standard and Custom at this point, though would be renamed shortly afterwards

Japanese Epiphone solid body guitars

In the late 1960s, American guitar manufacturers were in financial trouble. Imported Japanese guitars were consistently undercutting the US built ones, with quality improving all the time. So in 1969, Epiphone production ceased at Kalamazoo, being replaced by a series of guitars built by Aria in the Matsumoku plant in Japan. These guitars were loosely based on the US models, but at a significantly lower price.

The first guitar was the 1802T debuting in 1970. This was fairly quickly renamed the ET-270, with newer models ET-275 and ET-278 added to the line in 1972, and the ET-290 added in 1973.

1976 price lists show new models, the ET-276, and ET-285. In 1977 the Scroll series was launched (SC-350, SC-450, SC-550, later SCIIB), followed by the Genesis series in 1979 (Standard, Deluxe and Custom).

American-built Epiphone guitars had a brief revival in 1983, with the American series: Challenger, Corvus, Spirit, Special. These models were quickly discontinued, being rebranded as Gibson guitars, to be replaced by the Wilshire II, Wilshire III and Crestwood II in 1984 - once more made in Japan.

Once Norlin sold out to the current owners (Gibson Guitar Corporation), Epiphone guitar manufacture was firmly based in Asia, specifically Korea and China. Today, the Epiphone guitar range is more popular than ever, selling lower priced versions of many USA-built Gibson models in large numbers.


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 Coronet Original Cherry Finish Vintage Electric Guitar w / HSC

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, 91506, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

£2351

1965 Epiphone Coronet Vintage Electric Guitar In Excellent Overall Condition With Normal Wear (See All Photos) Original Cherry Finish Shows Some Finish Checking With Some Marks And Small Dings (Please See Photos) All Original No Repairs, Cracks, Or Issues Whatsoever Rosewood Fingerboard Original Single P90 Pickup Original Hardwear Shows Some Tarnish Original Frets Are In Very Good Condition Professionally Set Up With Light Gauge Strings And Plays Great With A Low Action And A Straight Neck Comes... more

1970’s Epiphone Crestwood Wilshire ET-275 Electric Guitar Sunburst

GULF SHORES, ALABAMA, 36542, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$150

My wife just purchased this guitar for me for my 60th Birthday. I told her I wanted to learn to play guitar and she thought this would be a great guitar for me? I will be looking for a acoustic guitar (not looking for trades) all I’m looking to do is hopefully get her / my money back. I know very little about guitars so please look at the photos and I posted the description from the auction she won. This guitar is beautiful and in my opinion in great condition. Shipping is to the lower 48 ... more

Epiphone Olympic Electric Guitar 1963 Vintage Melody Maker

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, 87505, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1499

Epiphone Olympic Vintage 1963 Electric Guitar Made in USASame as Gibson Melody Maker of the same year only with way cooler original tortoise pickguardGood vintage condition with common signs of age and use Finish checking, dings, nicks and normal handling / playing marks Straight neck with functional truss rodAverage fret wear, mostly on the first fewResonant and very lightSerial number 146061I see no cracks or signs of repairs The knobs look to be newer ones, otherwise the guitar appears to be ... more

Super Cool Vintage 1963 Epiphone Olympic Electric Guitar in Case

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, ARKANSAS, 71913, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$499

* P A W N S H O P * G U I T A R S * Serving The World With Quality Vintage and Used Gear!- Up for sale is a Super Cool Vintage 1963 Epiphone Olympic Electric Guitar in Case- weighs 6 0 lbs - Nice light guitar, plays and sounds great with replacement soap bar pickup- has a lot of play wear, dings and hazing, with a small amount of checking, all around guitar body, edges, front, & back, and around head stock, front, & back- the guitar has the average play and travel wear of a 56 year old guitar- ... more

1959 Epiphone Coronet, Rare original Black finish (#EPE0236)

LOVELAND, OHIO, 45140, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $14782

1959 Epiphone Coronet, Rare original Black finish, Thick Slab body, New York pickup, Stud tail piece, Great full feeling “V” neck, One Owner, Finest example we have ever encountered, Excellent condition with original soft case, $10, 995 “We professionally clean setup & pro pack for safe transit to your door! Your business would be appreciated ”... more

1961 USA EPIPHONE CASINO GUITAR MAESTRO VIBROLA NICKEL RARE LEFTY CRESTWOOD 1962

PLANO, TEXAS, 75025, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$595

USA SHIPPING ONLY. ALL AUCTIONS PAYPAL ONLY, WILL SHIP TO YOUR PAYPAL MATCHING ADDRESS ONLY, NO ALTERNATE SHIP ADDRESS. WINNING BIDDER TO PAY WITHIN 3 DAYS OF AUCTION CLOSE. ANY NEW EBAYERS ( LESS THAN 5 POSITIVE TRANSACTIONS) EMAIL ME BEFORE BIDDING, OR YOUR BID WILL BE CANCELLED. TEXAS RESIDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO PAY 8 25% SALES TAX. PLEASE ASK ALL QUESTIONS EARLY…SOMETIMES I AM REQUIRED TO BE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.... more

Epiphone Olympic 1960’s

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, 85013, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1299

A 1960’s Epiphone Olympic in good condition for its age. The guitar head and neck crack, that was professionally repaired by J&M Guitar, it was also routed out for a hambucker, but the original pickups have been put back in, and a new pick guard was made to look like the original. The control knobs are not original, and the guitar has its share of dings and scratches, but nothing out of the ordinary for a 50-year-old Guitar. Plays and sounds great, has minimal fret wear, and does not include a... more

1966 Epiphone Crestwood Custom - Hang Tags, Receipt, Gibson-made SG Wilshire

LAKE STEVENS, WASHINGTON, 98258, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3599

Up for sale is this fabulously minty 1966 Epiphone Crestwood Custom, complete with vintage sales receipt, warranty card, and hang tag--all with matching serial numbers.   I also have two digital pictures of the original owner playing this guitar in the 1970s. This guitar was purchased by Mr. Ralph Guerriero of Harwood Heights, Illinois for the sum of $236 25 from Tinucci’s Music Center in Elmwood Park, Illinois. At the end of the 1950s, the Epiphone company was purchased by Gibson, one of ... more

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bluesboybrown Comment left 28th April 2013 20:08:06 reply
Hey, I need an epiphone solid body vibrola, the early style also used on the SG special. Cash waiting. Any heads up welcome
faversham Comment left 3rd March 2012 10:10:38 reply
Looking for orig. 1961-63 molded Epi gray tolex/blue interior case(s) for my (2) '61 Wilshires.

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

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