The Epiphone Frontier FT-110 was launched alongside a number of other Epiphone acoustic guitars in 1958 with production lasting a full decade through to 1969. All of these Epiphone guitars were produced at the legendary Kalamazoo Michigan plant in the USA. This was a fine guitar, and until 1963 (with the arrival of the Epiphone Excellente), top of the Epiphone flat top range. It had a large 16 1/4" wide x 20 1/4" long body, with a depth of 4 7/8" and a scale of 25 1/2". It didn't ship in especially huge numbers, just 1629 instruments over ten years, but this was often the case with more expensive guitar models. It was available from the start in both Natural and Shaded (Sunburst) finishes. The Epiphone Frontier had a 1965 list price of $290.
One spectacular feature of this guitar was the pickguard. Initially the Frontier was given the standard Epiphone flat-top pickguard (see the example on page 14 of the 1961 Epiphone catalog here), but by 1962, the model was given a new larger guard, appropriate to the 'Frontier' name, with engraved lasso and cactus design. This was fitted to all Frontiers during the mid 1960s, though towards the end of production (at least from 1966) this became stock on Shaded-finished examples only; FT-110N Natural finish guitars reverted to the earlier style standard plain pickguard.
As with many Gibson-era Epiphone guitars, the model code had previously applied to an earlier flat top - though not the Frontier name. The 1942-1957 pre-Gibson Epiphone FT-110 did share the same fretboard and headstock inlays with the Gibson version, and many unused FT-110 necks were included in the deal when Gibson-owner CMI bought Epiphone in 1957. Gibson were fitting these necks from the New York plant onto its Kalamazoo Epiphones as late as 1962.
The images below show two versions of the Frontier. Above is a typical 1964 guitar with large pickguard and adjustable saddle. Below is an early example, still using up pre-Gibson Epiphone parts (this is an old-stock 'New York' neck). Note the larger headstock, old-style Epiphone logo, plain scratchplate and non-adjustable bridge.
1964 Epiphone Frontier Image Heritage auctions
Late 1950s Epiphone Frontier Image Heritage auctions
The Epiphone Frontier was described as follows in the 1962 Epiphone catalog
A total of 1629 Epiphone Frontiers 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.
|FT-110N Frontier Natural||1||5||16||20||95||61||120||87||60||39||72||576|
There have been several limited reissues of the Epiphone Frontier, mostly true to the mid-1960s version, with lasso and cactus scratchplate. Most recently Epiphone released a mid-priced Masterbilt Frontier which has received good reviews. Some really nice Frontiers have also shipped From Gibson's Bozeman Montana plant.