After 140 Years, there are more than a few classic Epiphone models – here are five
You may have already heard that that 2013 marks 140 years since Epiphone began. The idea of a guitar brand of this age is mind-boggling (is there an older guitar company?)
For a brand to last this long, it must have been doing something right, and a cursory glance over its back-catalogue reveals countless classic Epiphone models.
Here, we take a look at five of them…
Whilst there are a number of classic Epiphone guitars from before Gibson bought the brand, many of its most famous instruments date to the period just after Gibson took over.
The Epiphone Sheraton is one such model. Developed in 1958, in parallel with the Gibson ES-335 (The Dot), it shared the same semi-hollow body. This had the rounded, double-cutaway, with a solid mahogany block down the centre, and hollow ‘wings’ made of laminated maple.
The neck was a mahogany glued-in type. The early models, before 1960, featured Epiphone’s New York Pickups (single-coils similar to P90s). Between 1960 and 1970, these were swapped mini-humbuckers.
Nowadays, the Sheraton II features traditional humbuckers and swaps the frequensator bridge for a locktone bridge and stopbar tailpiece.
Conceived shortly after the Sheraton, in 1961, the Casino was another one of the Epiphone models to have a Gibson ‘twin’ (in this case, the ES-330).
Unlike its sibling, the Casino was a true hollow-body guitar. Constructed with laminated maple, it is a louder and lighter guitar, but more prone to feedback.
Initially, the guitar was available with a single dog-ear P90, or two P90s. Over the years, the model has featured trapeze bridges, frequensator bridges, Bigsbys and even vibrolas.
The guitars rich, clean tone and characteristic growl has seen the Casino become a favourite of Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Paul McCartney, with its most famous advocate, perhaps, John Lennon.
Jack Casady Bass
Despite a surprisingly low price tag, this classic bass model is a favourite among all levels of player. It was the result of a collaborative process between Epiphone and the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna bassist.
The result is a 4-string hollow body design that aims to match the response of an acoustic bass.
A considerable amount of time was spent on the electronics. The passive JCB-1 Electar, Low-impedance humbucker pickup provides the most natural tone possible, and is wired via a 3-position Varitone control.
These elements combine to produce an incredibly pure tone. There are countless famous players who have a Jack Casady in their rig (Mani from The Stone Roses’ picked one up from our Stockport branch to play with Primal Scream, not too long ago).
The Wilshire has had a bit of a ‘renaissance’ of late. Originally, this was one of a handful of Epiphone models built in Kalamazoo in the period following the Gibson takeover – it was first produced in 1960. As such, vintage examples represent some of finest solid body Epiphones ever made.
The model was designed to compete with the Stratocaster, by offering a solid-body model with similar upper-fret access. In typical Gibson fashion, it featured a solid mahogany body, with a mahogany set-neck. Early models were equipped with 2 P90s, though in ’63 these changed to mini humbuckers. Modern Wilshires feature standard humbuckers, however.
The Wilshire has featured Tune-o-matic bridge types, Bigsbys and vintage-style tremolos over the years, but its instantly recognisable styling has remained.
The Wilshire has found favour with an army of new fans (most notably My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero), in no small part due to its unique styling, comfortable design, and distinctive, powerful tone.
Les Paul Standard
Yes, I know that this is a cheaper alternative to Gibson’s all-conquering model, but hear me out. In recent years, Epiphone has become far better known for its more affordable equivalents of Gibson ‘full fat’ models and the Les Paul Standard is undoubtedly one of the most popular.
Why? It offers a great spec, highly playable instrument that retains many of the key elements of a Gibson, but at a far more affordable price. A solid mahogany body is paired with a maple top, glued-in mahogany neck and of course, two meaty humbuckers.
As a result, it provides plenty of Les Paul tone at a fraction of the cost. As Epiphone models go, this one has quite possibly sent more players on their way to rock stardom than any other (Noel Gallagher played one in the early days of Oasis, for example).
For putting classic tone within the reach of mortals, it deserves its place in a list of classic Epiphones.
For a full range of Epiphone models, see our online store. Call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420) for more information about any of the above guitars.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.