Sunday, September 22, 2013

The first appearance of the Epiphone Texan - c.1958

These guitars baffled me for some time with their odd features.  I tried to get my hands on one but I just couldn't find an early example.  This 1958 Texan ended up coming to me.

What makes these so special

is the fact that they are an enduring example of Epiphone and Gibson history.  The body and the neck on the early Texans were made in 2 different factories.  When Epiphone sold to Gibson they shipped all the leftover parts to Philadelphia to Kalamazoo.  Gibson began building guitars out of them using everything they could.  This guitar uses two parts from Philadelphia and the rest from Kalamazoo.

The first part from Philadelphia is the mostly finished neck.  The back of the neck shows off the 5 piece laminate construction and subtle V shape found on 1950s era Epiphones.  It appears that Epiphone used Mahogany-Maple-Mahogany for the main neck structure and glued Walnut wings on the sides of the headstock.  The thrust rod cover is direct from Epiphone as well housing the hex nut on the end of the rod.  These covers must have run out early because many of the Philadelphia necked texans have a plastic cover that was most likely made by Gibson.  It's rare to find these with the shaped brass cover.

The second part that Gibson decided to re-use from Philadelphia is the laminate, unkerfed lining.  I had heard stories of solid lined Texans but I had never seen it up close.  My 1954 Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway has the same lining so it must have been in the parts shipment from Epiphone.  

The tone

One major tonal difference in these Texans and a similar year J-45/50 is the fact that these necks are designed for a longer scale length.  A longer scale length means that the strings have to be tighter in order to sound the same note.  A higher string tension generally results in 2 things: a slightly stiffer feel and a bit more volume.  

If you haven't played many late 50s J Gibsons then this difference will be unnoticeable.  Even if you have played a lot of them the feel and tone is very familiar.  The biggest difference in player experience is the smaller nut width and subtle V shaped neck.  I found the neck to be very comfortable but a bit smaller than what I'm used too.

Is a buyout era Epiphone Texan for you?

If you interest in vintage guitars find its roots in history, design and the search for great tone then they definitely deserve a hard look.  I joke with friends about how having an American made Epiphone is the quickest test for people who like guitars.  The majority of players will see the name one the headstock and associate it with the current day market.  That guy will keep on walking and buy him a Taylor.  But every once in a while this guitar will stop someone in their tracks and make him question whether it was made in New York, Philadelphia or Kalamazoo.

Do you have one of these that you would like to sell?  I'm looking for another.  Please email me about what you have for sale.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1961 Silvertone 1446L

One of the greatest guitars Harmony (Silvertone) ever made was the 1446L commonly referred to as the "Chris Isaak" model.  Chris posed with this model for a couple of advertisements and also named an album "Silvertone."  What makes this guitar special is a combination of dashing looks, Gibson made and Seth Lover designed mini-humbuckers used only on this model and the Bigby vibrato.

The Gibson made miniature humbuckers really are the big attraction to this guitar.  If you want a guitar with these pickups you must buy this model or find some loose pups for sale (good luck!!).  Early production 1446 pickups came with the same "Patent Applied For" stickers as the highly sought after "PAF" pickups that came in 1957-1960 Les Pauls.  The PAFs in those Les Pauls are worth about $2000 each in good shape.  I think the 1446L is very undervalued at $1500 for one in great condition from a big vintage dealer.

The rest of the electronics are good, solid American made just like what came in an LP from that time period.  It has the same setup as well with two pickups, 2 volume and 2 tone knobs, and a 3 way switch.  The whole guitar just seems so solid even though it was manufactured by a budget company.  

I'm a big fan of the Bigsby B3 vibrato that came on these guitars.  The subtle, wavy, almost dreamy vibrato is a lot of fun to play around with.  I naturally lean towards blues licks when I'm playing so I haven't sought after guitars with vibratos.  I did seek out these pickups and I'm glad I was introduced to a good solid vibrato as a result.

If there was one drawback to this guitar it would be in the neck construction.  It does have a truss rod but doesn't taper in width from the heel to the nut.  It seems a little "cheap" at first but I got used to it very quickly and grew to really like it.  The nut width is small but I haven't measured it.

Bottom line:

This is a professional grade vintage instrument at a "prosumer" grade price.  It has the tone and feel of the early 1960s and the looks certainly don't disappoint.  This model shows no sign of declining in popularity and therefore value so it would likely be a good investment as well.  However, because of the nut width and neck construction this guitar may not be the answer for the player looking to own just one guitar.  

Do you have one of these that you would like to sell?  I'm looking for another.  Please email me about what you have for sale.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

1954 Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway

Here's a rare bird!

Epiphone's Deluxe Cutaway

Here's a very cool 1954 Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway.  This was Epiphone's competition to the Gibson J-200 and was actually 3/8" wider at 17 3/8" at the lower bout.  This ladder braced, long scale flat-top featured flame Maple back and sides and beautiful inlays on the neck and headstock.  The compensated Rosewood saddle would not have been my choice but is certainly an interesting addition by Epiphone.


This flat-top derives much of it's construction and aesthetics from Epiphone's line of archtop guitars.  The arched back of laminated flame Maple lends a punchy response when plucked and strummed.  The large, ladder braced top adds a dark and open timbre with medium volume.  

The compensated Rosewood saddle attempts to improve intonation problems with straight saddles.  This guitar currently needs a neck reset so I can't remark how much it helps.  Theoretically, the compensation is a good idea.  The Rosewood, however, doesn't seem to transfer vibrations to the top as well as a traditional bone saddle.  

Do you have one of these that you would like to sell?  I'm looking for another.  Please email me about what you have for sale.