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Epiphone Emperor

Full-body / Thinline semi acoustic guitar

Epiphone EmperorEarly 1950s Epiphone Emperor. This image comes from the 1954 Epiphone catalogue.

The Epiphone Emperor Acoustic was a very fine carved top guitar available since 1936, and produced in New York. The electric version was not launched until 1951, and represents Epiphone's Philadelphia output. The image to the left shows the example pictured in the 1954 Epiphone catalogue. Note that this has a single body cutaway. The acoustic version was available with and without the cutaway at this time.

This superb instrument is the ultimate in electronic guitars. The Emperor has six distinctly different tonal effects derived from it's three individual pickups - all instantly produced with push-button ease! Further variations are achieved by merely adjusting the tone control - almost an unlimited choice of tone coloring!

It was certainly a very high end guitar, and had all the key features that would go on to define this model for decades to come: three pickups, gold-plated hardware; Frequensator tailpiece; rosewood fingerboard with pearl block inlays, inset with an abalone triangle design; and the famous Epiphone 'tree of life' headstock motif. There were two model designations, E111 (Blonde finish) and E112 (Shaded). These guitars had 1954 list prices of $535 (Blonde), or $510 (Shaded) - the acoustic versions were priced between $490 and $565.

The Emperor laminated neck has 72 separate precision operations by Epiphone's meticulous craftsmen

Epiphone EmperorEpiphone Emperor. This instrument is a 1966 American-made Gibson Epiphone
Model: 1951 Zephyr Emperor Vari Tone,
1952-54 Zephyr Emperor Regent,
1954-1957 Zephyr Emperor Electric,
1959-1968 Emperor E112T
Available: Manufactured in small numbers from 1951-1968.
Pickups: 1951-1961 Three gold New York pickups, 1961-1968 three gold mini humbuckers
Scale: 25 1/2"
Body: Maple sides and back with a maple or spruce top. 18 1/2" wide (lower bout), 21 3/4" long. Full depth body pre 1957 (3 1/2"), thinline (1 13/16") once Gibson took over manufacture in 1959
Neck: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard with abalone and pearl inlays. Tree of life design. 20 frets, body meeting the neck at the 14th fret
Hardware: 2 volume and 2 tone controls. Tune-o-matic bridge with frequensator tailpiece
Finishes: Natural, Shaded (burst)

This was one of the instruments that Gibson kept in production after they bought Epiphone in 1957. The Stathopoulos-Epiphone version had quite different controls, but was otherwise quite similar to the later Gibson made model, having similar dimensions, and appointments. Gibson kept the same model designation code E112, appending it with a T indicating a thin body style, and N for a Natural (Blonde) finish.

1953 Epiphone advert for the E112 Emperor, and its endorser Harry Volpe

1953 Epiphone advert for the E112 Emperor, and its endorser Harry Volpe

One production was moved to Kalamazoo, the main change was the reduction in depth from a full body to a thinline. Initially they still had the old Epiphone New York pickups, although this changed to minihumbuckers in around 1961. Some early Gibson-made Emperors also had 7-piece laminated necks; Gibson bought Epiphone's entire stock of instruments and parts and used them over several years. In 1959, the name Zephyr Emperor became just Emperor and the Epiphone Zephyr became a model in its own right.

Some of the design features (inlays, hardware etc) were also used on a dual pickup double cutaway version, the Epiphone Sheraton.

Under Gibson, the Emperor was still the most expensive Epiphone guitar, and a definite flagship model. In fact in 1963 it had a US list price of $875 - exactly the same price as the Gibson Super 400 CES - only the dual pickup Johnny Smith JS-D costing more at $895/$910 depending on finish. The 1961 Epiphone catalogue describes it as Epiphone finest electric guitar, and proudest achievement. All high end models sold in small numbers, though, and by 1963, it was available by special order only, the price lists estimated a 120 day waiting time from order to delivery.

Shipping Figures

Shipping figures are not available for the Stathopoulos-era Emperor, however they are available for the 1959-68 Kalamazoo period. As can be seen, this guitar shipped in very small numbers in the 1960s - just 66 instruments over 10 years, with peak years of 1959 and 1961. Three models are listed E112T - the standard Shaded-finish Emperor, E112TN - Natural finish, and E112TH. It is unclear what precisely this H signifies.

1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 total
E112TH 7 7
E112T 6 5 7 4 3 3 3 8 2 1 42
E112TN 4 6 2 2 3 17
total 13 9 13 6 5 6 3 8 2 1 66

Epiphone Emperor catalogue appearances

Epiphone 1961 full line catalog
1961 'guitars, basses, amplifiers' catalogue

Epiphone's finest guitar and proudest achievement - a choice of famous artists for its unrivalled tone and superb response. A thin-body, three-pickup, cutaway model it allows full fingering freedom to the 20th fret - with rhythm, lead, and special effects available at the flick of a toggle switch
Epiphone 1962 full line catalog
1962 'guitars, basses, amplifiers' catalogue

Three adjustable polepiece pickups provide perfect string balance - with master tone control and separate volume controls. Tune-O-Matic bridge and Frequensator tailpiece provide perfect intonation and frequency response
Epiphone 1964 full line catalog
1964 full line catalogue

The 1964 catalogue was the first to show the Epiphone Emperor in colour.
Epiphone 1966 full line catalog
1966 full line catalogue

Today the electric guitar is found everywhere... orchestras, combos, jazz bands and as a featured solo instrument. Epiphone electric guitars suit the need of every player, from the top professional, to the semi-pro, to the amateur.

Epiphone Emperor reissues

1982 Epiphone Emperor thinline reissue1982 Epiphone Emperor thinline reissue
1982 Epiphone Emperor full body reissue1982 Epiphone Emperor full body reissue

The Epiphone production moved to Japan in the 1970s, and tended to concentrate on entry and mid level guitars. The Emperor was, however, resurrected in the early 1980s, and two Japanese-made versions were offered from 1982: the full body Epiphone Emperor F, and thinline Emperor T (actually 5/16" deeper than the Gibson version at 2 1/8"). These guitars, though equipped with Epiphone-style hardware, such as the Frequensator tailpiece, bore less resemblance to the Stathopoulos-era guitars, and more to the Venetian cutaway Gibson archtops like the L-5CES, with their less narrow waist. The three pickups were reduced to two, the fretboard changed from rosewood to ebony. Although by no means a cheap guitar, the early 80s Epiphone was not in the same league as the high-end carved top electric acoustics of the 50s and 60s.

Today the Epiphone Emperor is still being produced in large numbers, with respectable Korean-made reproductions, including a Joe Pass signature model widely avilable.

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1953 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Vintage Archtop, Spruce Top & Case

1953 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Vintage Archtop, Spruce Top & Case

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale, a 1953 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent vintage archtop electric guitar in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. This stunning New York-made Epiphone Emperor is an exquisite and elegant archtop both acoustically and plugged in, retaining its original trio of New York humbuckers
Featuring an arched spruce top and figured curly maple back and sides, the Zephyr Emperor was the top of the line model in Epiphone's vintage archtop ... more
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Beautiful 1991 Vintage Sunburst Epiphone Emperor Electric Guitar with Case

Beautiful 1991 Vintage Sunburst Epiphone Emperor Electric Guitar with Case



This is a stunning 1991 vintage Epiphone Emperor electric guitar. This guitar has been updated with c t.s. pots, orange drop caps, switchcraft pickup selector and out jack. The picups are Seymour Duncan Jazz. Bigsby, All gold hardware, New grover tulip head tuners. manufactured in Korea
In addition to the guitar, I am also including a case to protect it. This guitar is perfect for anyone looking for a high-quality and affordable electric guitar. Its brand, Epiphone, is known for ... more
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Epiphone Emperor Swingster Semi Hollow Delta Blue Metallic Electric Guitar

Epiphone Emperor Swingster Semi Hollow Delta Blue Metallic Electric Guitar

Los Angeles, California, 900**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Epiphone Emperor Swingster Semi Hollow Delta Blue Metallic Electric Guitar
Guitar is pre-owned, tested, fully functional In slightly worn cosmetic shape, with some light scratches and couple spots with chipped paint, please see ALL pictures for details!Comes as shown, guitar only!
Please make your payment within 3 days
We want every item to get to the new owner fast and safe, so we are able to add signature confirmation of delivery and insurance for expensive items. Please, make sure ... more
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Epiphone Emperor Swingster Hollowbody Electric Guitar Trans Black

Epiphone Emperor Swingster Hollowbody Electric Guitar Trans Black

Lafayette, Louisiana, 705**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


The guitar has been sitting in the back of my closet for years. It'll need some cleaning. The bar needs to be tighten as it swings back down and the bottom two control knobs come off easily. I've tried to take pictures that best show the condition it is in. I don't have an amp to test the guitar but it should still work. This will ship out within 1 business day. You can send me your address for a more accurate shipping cost. Also if more pictures is needed just message me.
Color: Translucent... more
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1954 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent - Flame Maple Top - Vintage Archtop

1954 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent - Flame Maple Top - Vintage Archtop

Redondo Beach, California, 902**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a 1954 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent in Excellent Condition This guitar is fully functional and Sounds AMAZING !!It's All Original (except for the pickguard with was created by Kerry Char in Portland, Oregon)This Big Body guitar sounds Big whether it's plugged in or played acoustically Flame Maple TopCurly Maple Back & SidesIt has an 18-3 / 8" lower bout and 4" depthThe Nitro Sunburst is absolutely Beautiful with lovely checking25-1 / 2" ScaleThe Neck is a 5-Ply construction made of... more
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Beautiful 1991 Vintage Sunburst Epiphone Emperor Electric Guitar with Case

Beautiful 1991 Vintage Sunburst Epiphone Emperor Electric Guitar with Case

Jerseyville, Illinois, 620**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Beautiful 1991 Vintage Sunburst Epiphone Emperor Electric Guitar with Case.

Comes as pictured

Shipping will be $40 in the lower 48 states.
... more
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1951 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Varitone Archtop Vintage USA 50s Electric Guitar

1951 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Varitone Archtop Vintage USA '50s Electric Guitar

Southend-on-Sea, SS1***, UNITED KINGDOM


This 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Vari-Tone is a great example of the innovations Epiphone made in the electric guitar market. The denotations ??Zephyr?? and ??Regent?? are Epiphone lingo for an electric model with a cutaway, respectively. This instrument features three original New York pickups which can be combined into many possible combinations with the 6-button switching system. Features the original Bakelite pickup mounts, Frequensator tailpiece, compensated rosewood bridge and ... more
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Husband has a 1955 Harry Volpe Epiphone in good condition. What are they worth?


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1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

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1959 Hofner Committee

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1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

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1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

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Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

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1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.