The Epiphone Texan was a model of jumbo flat top acoustic guitar, produced at Gibson's Kalamazoo plant between 1959 and 1969, shipping 7949 guitars in this 10 year period. The Texan was perhaps the best known of all Epiphone acoustic guitars, largely thanks to Beatle Paul McCartney who played the model during performances of Yesterday when the band played live in the mid-1960s. When Gibson took over production of the Epiphone brand in 1957, numerous older pre-Gibson guitars were revived, however many new models also appeared, often directly comparable to existing Gibson models. Becoming a Gibson stockist at this time was not easy, and there would be competition amongst dealers to win such a contract. By launching the Epiphone line, Gibson-owner CMI had the chance to increase their number of dealers, without diluting the exclusivity awarded to existing stockists. For more about the relationship between the Epiphone and Gibson brands in the 1960s, see this article on Gibson/Epiphone product alignment. The Texan was analogous to the Gibson J-45. Actually, pre-Gibson Epiphone had used the model code FT-79 previously, however that guitar, although sharing some of the same ornamentation, bore little resemblance to the Kalamazoo-era Texan, and never used the Texan name.
The Texan had a 16 1/4" wide x 20 1/4" long body, with a depth of 4 7/8", a rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays, 25 1/2" scale (compared to the 24 3/4" scale / dot inlays of the J-45) and 20 frets.
1968 Epiphone Texan Image Heritage auctions
The Epiphone Texan was described as follows in the 1962 Epiphone catalog
It was available in Natural or Shaded finish, with a list price (July 1965, the peak year) of $175 for either finish - the same price as the Gibson J-45 at the same time.
A total of 7949 Epiphone Texans 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 and 1960 show no Natural finish Texans shipped. It may be that these figures are incomplete, though more likely that the guitars were lumped together for these years, and the 1959 and 1960 data is for either finish - Natural 1959 Epiphone Texans certainly exist!
|FT79 Texan Natural||116||122||318||690||786||606||454||186||181||3459|
Paul McCartney bought his Natural finished Epiphone Texan in late 1964 - a right handed model that he flipped over and strung left handed. His mid-sixties live performances with this guitar gave the model immediate attention, but he also used it widely in the studio and for writing. In September he performed a solo version of Yesterday on the Ed Sullivan show to an audience of 73 million viewers.
Other notable users include Jimi Hendrix, Graham Nash and Noel Gallagher.
From late 1970, a series of Japanese Epiphone flat tops, were sometimes given the designation Texan: the FT-145, FT-160 (Texan-12); though these were entirely different guitars to the FT-79 Texan. Typically with bolt-on neck, dot inlays and differing body dimensions. The name Texan appears on soundhole labels, but is never used in Epiphone literature, which sticks to FT-145/FT-160. These are acceptable guitars, but nowhere near as nice as the 1960s Kalamazoo-built set neck Epiphone Texan.
Due to the popularity of this model, more accurate versions have been reissued several times over the years, with production in the USA (Bozeman, Montana), Japan, and Indonesia, and some of these are really nice guitars, but nothing comes close to the feel of an original vintage Kalamazoo Texan!