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EPIPHONE | SOLID BODY GUITARS | OLYMPIC

Epiphone Olympic

SB722 solid-body guitar. Single or double pickup (SB722D)

Epiphone Olympic

The Epiphone Olympic was the entry level CMI/Gibson-made Epiphone solid body - also the best selling of all 1960s Epiphone solids. In fact the Olympic, and the very similar Olympic Special don't represent just one guitar - the design changed (somewhat confusingly) several times over the nine years of production, though the basic specifications did not. Vintage Epiphone Olympic guitars are just as collectable (though not as highly priced) as other USA-built Epiphone models, especially instruments with the earlier body styles.

The Epiphone solid-body range could be directly correlated to the Gibson solid-body range sharing many features: hardware, pickup configurations, body and neck woods, construction and controls. They were all made at Gibson's Kalamazoo factory, so this is not surprising. The Olympic corresponds to the Gibson Melody Maker, both fitted with identical hardware, built with the same construction, the same design (until 1963) and having the same price tag. Both single-pickup instruments cost $149.50 in 1/10/66, double pickup models cost $179.50. The only real way to tell these guitars apart was the headstock shape and branding.

Epiphone Olympic body styles

Like the Melody Maker, the Olympic started out with a Les Paul style single cutaway body (see the 1961 Epiphone Catalogue), both models changing to the same double-cutaway design, most-likely in late 1961 (see the 1962 Epiphone Catalogue). The two superb examples shown below come from 1961 and 1963 respectively, before changing again in late 1963.

Image Heritage auctions Image Heritage auctions

Prior to mid/late 1963, all other Epiphone solid body guitars and basses had the same almost-symmetrical body style. The Olympic was very much the exception. Then in 1963, the (now) better-known non-symmetrical body style (with 'batwing' headstock) was introduced to all models, including the Olympic. But the 'old' (double cutaway) Olympic continued, as a single pickup guitar only, with the name Olympic Special. The only difference between a 1962 single pickup Olympic and a 1963 Olympic special was the date it was built! The Melody Maker ultimately changed body style too, (though not until 1966) when it became another guitar in the SG line.

For the rest of the decade, the Olympic kept the same familiar 'Epiphone' body style of the rest of the solid body series, though the Olympic special did change cutaway shape everso subtley.

Image Heritage auctions

Of course, the changes in body style made for a very different looking instrument, but more importantly, a very different playing instrument. The first, single cutaway had quite limited neck access and only 19 frets. The neck joined the body at the 12th fret, making access to the highest notes quite tricky. The second double cutaway version had a 22 fret neck, joining the body at the 16th fret. Note how much further forward on the body the bridge is in this second version. It is overall a longer guitar. Finally, the last style has a neck/body join at the 21st fret, giving by far the best access to the top end of the fretboard. With the extra headstock length, this version had, by far, the longest total length.

Epiphone Olympic and Olympic Double specifications

The Epiphone Olympic was Epiphone's best selling (Kalamazoo-built) guitar, shipping almost 10,000 instruments between 1960 and 1969. Of course there were several variants in specification, with single (SB722) and dual (SB722D) pickups, with and without a vibrola, and (between 1960 and 1963) 3/4 scale (SB722 3/4) student models, just like the Gibson Melody Makers - though the Gibson student model remained in production right through the decade. For a break-down of the production stats, and comparison, see the Epiphone Olympic shipping totals and Gibson Melody Maker shipping totals.

The specifications for the different models are summarised in the table below.

ModelOlympic SB722Olympic Double SB722DOlympic SB722 3/4
Available1960-19691960-19691960-1963
PickupsOne Melody Maker style PU380 single coil pickupTwo Melody Maker style PU380 single coil pickupsOne Melody Maker style PU380 single coil pickup
Scale24 3/4"24 3/4"22 3/4"
BodySolid mahogany.
1960-1961 Les Paul style single cutaway: 12 3/4" wide, 17 1/4" long, 1 3/8" thick
1961-1963 Les Paul style double cutaway: 12 3/4" wide, 17 1/4" long, 1 3/8" thick
1963-1969 Wilshire / Crestwood style double cutaway: 12 3/4" wide, 15 5/8" long, 1 3/8" thick
NeckOne-piece mahogany, rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays. No binding. Early models had a double sided headstock, changing around late 1963 to the Epiphone batwing one-sided headstock
Frets19 (1960-61)
22 (1962-69)
19 (1960-61)
22 (1962-69)
19
Hardware1 volume and 1 tone controls. Metal offset bridge with optional vibrola tailpiece. Plastic enclosed strip tuners.2 volume and 2 tone controls. Metal offset bridge with optional vibrola tailpiece. Plastic enclosed strip tuners.1 volume and 1 tone controls. Plastic enclosed strip tuners.
FinishesCherry, Sunburst and custom colours: Sunset Yellow, California Coral, Pacific Blue

Epiphone Olympic catalogue appearances

Epiphone 1961 full line catalog
1961 full line catalogue

Body is solid mahogany with attractive shell celluloid pickguard. Mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod.
Epiphone 1962 full line catalog
1962 full line catalogue

It provides big performance for students and professionals, too - at a very affordable price.
Epiphone 1964 full line catalog
1964 full line catalogue

The Olympic shown in this catalogue still has the old symmetrical Epiphone body style - unlike the other solid-bodies which are all shown with the 'new' style
Epiphone 1966 full line catalog
1966 full line catalogue

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

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Epiphone Olympic for sale

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Rare Epiphone Olympic Solid Body Electric 1967

Rare Epiphone Olympic Solid Body Electric 1967

Danbury, Connecticut, 068**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3195

Rare Epiphone Olympic Solid Body Electric 1967
This fine guitar is a wonderful example of Epiphone and Gibson craftsmanship. This guitar has low action and great tone and sound
It is in great condition for its age.
There is some checking on the lower bout and a few minor dings, which is normal for a 57 year old instrument.
This guitar is ready to be played!
The Epiphone Olympic was the entry level CMI / Gibson-made Epiphone solid body and was the best selling of all 1960s ... more
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Epiphone by Gibson SB-722D Olympic 1961 Sunburst "Melody Maker"

Epiphone by Gibson SB-722D Olympic 1961 Sunburst "Melody Maker"

Brooklyn, New York, 112**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4500


This Epiphone Olympic was made in the USA in 1961. Most Epiphone models made by Gibson differed from the Gibson counterparts, but the Olympic from 1961 is pretty much identical to the Gibson Melody Maker, with the only real differences being the logo and the headstock shape. This example is all original and in very clean condition. It has been pro-setup in our store. It comes with a non original hard case
If you have any questions, please message us
We ship Worldwide! Message ... more
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Vintage USA Epiphone 1960s Olympic Special Electric Guitar.  READ DESCRIPTION

Vintage USA Epiphone 1960's Olympic Special Electric Guitar. READ DESCRIPTION

Indianapolis, Indiana, 462**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$103

This auction is for a vintage 1960s Epiphone Olympic Special guitar. I'm not sure of the exact year but from what I've read this style was introduced in 1964 and discontinued in the late 60s early 70s. The serial number is 501401. It was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan alongside Gibson models and is basically the same guitar as a Gibson Melody Maker
The guitar is in good overall shape but needs some TLC. The previous owner removed the Vibrola tree, is it included, just not on the guitar as I... more
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Vintage 1965 Epiphone Olympic Single Electric Guitar

Vintage 1965 Epiphone Olympic Single Electric Guitar

Cleveland, Ohio, 441**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1450

Here is a 1965 Epiphone Olympic single electric guitar, made in the USA. The serial # is 5171XX. This beauty is in excellent condition. It was refinished in the original color. It was professionally done and looks original. All the parts are original. The neck is straight with good action. The frets are in great shape. All of the electronics work as they should. Included is a hard shell gig bag. This is a great guitar for any player or collector!
Please feel free to ask me any ... more
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1965 EPIPHONE von GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - 41 mm - JOAN JETT MODELL

1965 EPIPHONE von GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - 41 mm - JOAN JETT MODELL

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1179

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
* SOLD AS IS - NO RETURNS... more
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1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA

Köln, 50***, GERMANY

€1350

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
* SOLD AS IS - NO RETURNS
... more
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1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA

1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€2222


EPIPHONE OLYMPICmade in USA by GIBSON / 1969BODY MATERIALMAHOGANY - a stop tail piece was installedNECKMAHOGANYFINGERBOARDROSEWOODINLAYSDOTSPICKGUARDoriginal, wornFRETSare in good shapeTUNERSNEW tunersPICKUPS1 original singel cpoil & 1 Peavey humbucker was installedCONTROLS1 volume, 1 tone, 3 way selector , all new partsBRIDGEchrome tunematic styleOTHER PARTSnew pot knobsFINISHES2 tone sunburst, has laqur checking and wear
ATTENTION! OVER 1000 more ... more
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Vintage 1966 Epiphone USA SB722 Olympic I Cherry w / HSC, Kalamazoo, Batwing

Vintage 1966 Epiphone USA SB722 Olympic I Cherry w / HSC, Kalamazoo, Batwing

Leeds, LS11***, UNITED KINGDOM

£2385

Vintage 1966 Epiphone USA SB722 Olympic I Cherry w / HSC, Kalamazoo, Batwing
Presenting an exceptionally well-maintained vintage 1966 Kalamazoo Factory-made Epiphone Olympic I in a striking Cherry stain finish, accompanied by a rosewood fretboard and "Batwing" 6-in-line headstock. A modern, fitted Epiphone branded hard case is included.
Originally introduced in 1960 as an affordable option akin to Gibson??s Melody Maker, the Olympic underwent a revamp in 1963, bringing it in line with ... more
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1969 Epiphone Olympic USA

1969 Epiphone Olympic USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1690

1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA :
* body & neck only
* needs parts... more
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1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - JOAN JETT MODEL

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - JOAN JETT MODEL

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€1295

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
ATTENTION! OVER 1000 more
GUITARS-BASSES-AMPS-PARTS
in our OTHER AUCTIONS !!!
CHECK OUR SHOP OUT -------------->>>>>
... more
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DEFEKT Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special Aged Classic White Gloss Gigbag

DEFEKT Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special Aged Classic White Gloss Gigbag

Schongau, 86***, GERMANY

€300

Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special ACW - defekt!
Special Editon Solid Body E-Gitarre! Epiphone Artist Series Korpus: Mahagoni Griffbrett / Hals: Lorbeer / Mahagoni Tonabnehmer: PowerHammer PRO Humbucker (H) Farbe & Finish: Aged Classic White, Aged Gloss Inklusive Premium Epiphone Gigbag Epiphone Artist Series, Korpus: Mahagoni, Griffbrett / Hals: Lorbeer / Mahagoni, Tonabnehmer: PowerHammer PRO Humbucker (H), Farbe & Finish: Aged... more
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1969 Epiphone Olympic - Made in USA

1969 Epiphone Olympic - Made in USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1950

EPIPHONE OLYMPICmade in USA by GIBSON / 1969BODY MATERIALMAHOGANY - a stop tail piece was installedNECKMAHOGANYFINGERBOARDROSEWOODINLAYSDOTSPICKGUARDoriginal, wornFRETSare in good shapeTUNERSNEW tunersPICKUPS1 original singel cpoil & 1 Peavey humbucker was installedCONTROLS1 volume, 1 tone, 3 way selector , all new partsBRIDGEchrome tunematic styleOTHER PARTSnew pot knobsFINISHES2 tone sunburst, has laqur checking and wear... more
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1966 Epiphone USA (Kalamazoo) Olympic Single Cherry Red

1966 Epiphone USA (Kalamazoo) Olympic Single Cherry Red

Nottingham, NG1***, UNITED KINGDOM

£1995

Epiphone USA Olympic model electric guitar, dating from 1966
Built while Epiphone was still under Gibson's stewardship and sharing a factory, the Olympic was produced as an equivalent to the Les Paul Junior / Melody maker as a student model
Despite the student model designation, make no mistake that this is a full fat Gibson-made 60s solidbody electric. Free of breaks and retaining its original, beautifully-checked Cherry Red finish. Despite being a '66 slimmer nut model, it features a... more
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1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA

Köln, 50***, GERMANY

€1350

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
* SOLD AS IS - NO RETURNS
... more
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Find more Epiphone Olympic for sale at vintageguitarsforsale.co

There are 4 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Olympian Comment left 1st February 2013 19:07:22 reply
There was a time, not so very long ago when you could not give these away.... now they are vintage and collectable everything's changed. I sold one to my bro for 35 bucks and he didn't want to pay that... but he did. I'd give him that 35 back in a second :(
William Comment left 10th January 2013 08:08:22 reply
I have and have had since mid 60's this exact make and model Epiphone , just had it in the shop for new strings, the owner was surprised, and said I should have it appraised, any suggestions as to where I can have this done. I Live in Washington state. It has 1 vol / 1 tone, Vibrola tail piece. see model in this photo in your add. A perfect match, including case.
Ryan Davies Comment left 3rd October 2012 21:09:32 reply
I would like to buy a epiphone olympic single pickup pickguard just like the one on ebay. i do not have a ebay account. I would like to know where I could buy one.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 3rd October 2012 21:09:19 reply
hey Ryan - you should sign up for ebay - assuming you want an original. Ebay is the absolute BEST place to get original vintage guitar parts at reasonable prices. If you want a repro, try pickguard heaven or one of the many other online sources

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1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

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

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

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)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

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.