Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1967 Epiphone Casino

Until 1957, Epiphone was an independent New York instrument company, founded and run by the Stathopoulos family. Epiphone built high quality guitars (arch top and flat top), mandolins, banjos, upright basses and violins, and the company was the main competitor to Gibson, until Gibson bought out the Epiphone company in 1957.

Gibson took all of the remaining parts from New York and began building Epiphone instruments side by side with Gibson's in the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, MI until 1970. This move was a stroke of brilliance on the part of Gibson; in a way to open up more dealerships and sell more instruments, Epiphones (many of which mirror Gibson models) could be sold through other dealers at a slightly lower price than the Gibson branded instruments, and not violate dealer agreements.

The Epiphone Casino mirrors Gibson's ES-330 model, and while it looks similar to the semi-hollow guitars (ES-335, ES-345, ES-355) this model is fully hollow, and has a neck that joins the body at the 14th fret. Other subtle differences are the longer Epiphone headstock (early Casino's such as McCartney's have a short headstock), and ultra-cool trapezoid inlays.

The Casino found its way into the hands of many major players of the British Invasion; while the model is most famously associated John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, Casinos were also spotted in the hands of Keith Richards and Dave Davies. Paul McCartney has stated many times that his Casino is his favorite electric guitar (and it's heard in glorious fashion on tracks such as his solo played on The Beatles "Taxman", and his solo "Oo You".) The image of John Lennon with his stripped finish Casino (which was originally sunburst) is virtually synonymous with late period Beatles and early solo period John.

The vibrato arm is not original to this guitar, and unfortunately it lost its pickguard at some point.

Production of Epiphone guitars moved to Japan in 1970, essentially ending the era of this fine American name.

images courtesy of the author; c2012 Derek See.

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