The Epiphone Caballero was a small body flat top acoustic, made at Gibson's Kalamazoo plant alongside its Gibson-equivalent model, the LG-0. Both guitars had the same price, construction and specifications: a 14 1/4" wide x 19" long body, with a depth of 4 1/2". Mahogany top back and sides with satin finish. One piece mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard with dot position markers and 20 frets. Other than the satin finish and mahogany top, this guitar is identical to the FT-45 Epiphone Cortez. Interestingly, this satin finish was replaced with a standard high gloss-finish between 1963 and 1965 (according to Epiphone price lists), reverting back to a satin finish for 1966. This was a great little guitar, and Epiphone's best-selling acoustic in this era - but whilst the Epiphone Caballero managed a shipping total of 10217 in the period 1959-1969, almost five times as many Gibson LG-0s left the Kalamazoo plant in the same period (actually 52229).
1964 Epiphone Caballero Image Heritage auctions
The Epiphone Caballero was described as follows in the 1961 Epiphone catalog
The best selling Kalamazoo-produced Epiphone acoustic guitar. A total of 10217 Epiphone Caballeros were shipped from the Kalamazoo plant in 10 years of production, with 1965 being the peak year. The break down of shipping statistics by year are as follows.
A very similar four string Epiphone Caballero tenor guitar was available between 1963 and 1968, otherwise identical in terms of specifications and pricing. Shipping figures are as follows:
|FT28 Caballero tenor||46||89||52||48||14||1||250|
From late 1970, a Japanese Epiphone flat top, the FT-130 was given the designation Caballero, though this was an entirely different guitar to the FT-30, with bolt-on neck, spruce top and slightly wider (15 1/4") body. For some reason, the name Caballero appears on soundhole labels, but tends not to be used in Epiphone literature, which sticks to FT-130. These are acceptable guitars, but nowhere near as nice as the 1960s Kalamazoo-built FT-30. Chalk and cheese!