The Epiphone FT-45 Cortez was a model of flat top acoustic guitar, produced at Gibson's Kalamazoo plant between 1959 and 1969, shipping precisely 8500 guitars over this decade. Many Epiphone guitars of this period were directly analogous to Gibson models, with similar construction and specifications (and they were built side-by-side) - effectively increasing the number of retailers stocking Kalamazoo-built guitars. The Epiphone Cortez was practically identical to the Gibson LG-2 / Gibson B-25.
The Cortez had a lot of similarities to the FT-30 Epiphone Caballero, sharing the same body dimensions (14 1/4" wide, 19" long, 4 1/2" deep); and scale of 24 3/4". The difference was the spruce top (rather than mahogany of the Caballero), with both guitars sharing a mahogany back, sides, and neck and a rosewood dot inlaid fretboard. The Caballero also had a less labour-intensive satin finish, at least in some years - see the Caballero page for more details). In the peak year of 1965, the Epiphone Cortez had a US zone 1 list price of $140 (in either Shaded or Natural finish) - slightly cheaper than the Gibson B-25 at $147.50. The similarly spec'd Caballero was listed at $115 in the same catalog.
1963 Epiphone Cortez Image Heritage auctions
The Epiphone Cortez was described as follows in the 1961 Epiphone catalog
A total of 8500 Epiphone Cortez FT-45s 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 and finish are as follows. Note 1959 through 1961 show no Natural finish FT-45s shipped, and indeed, the Natural finish was not mentioned in catalogs until 1962.
|FT45 Cortez Natural||12||238||733||1080||930||611||128||196||3928|
From late 1970, a Japanese Epiphone flat top, the FT-135 was given the designation Cortez, though this was an entirely different guitar to the FT-45, with bolt-on neck, and slightly wider (15 1/4") body. The name Cortez appears on soundhole labels, but is not used in Epiphone literature, which sticks to FT-135. These are acceptable guitars, but nowhere near as nice as the 1960s Kalamazoo-built Epiphone Cortez.