Here are two examples of the Japanese made EPI Crestwood from the early 1970’s. The Epiphone ET Series guitars were solidbody guitars produced from 1970-1978 at the Matsumoku plant in Japan. In 1970, the decision was made to close down Kalamazoo production of Epiphones in favor of building them overseas in Japan. Epiphone decided to offer a new line of Japanese-built Epiphones that had more in common with other Japanese copies than previous Epiphone products.
It has always amused me that one of the great tempests in the teapot of guitardom has been the legendary “lawsuit” of the 1970s. You know, when Norlin (aka Gibson) sued Elger (aka Hoshino, aka Ibanez) in 1977 over trademark infringement based upon “copying” Gibson’s headstock design. There are tons of ironies in this story, but one of the most amusing aspects is that companies such as Gibson have been one of the most egregious copyists of its own guitars over the years. Witness the Korean-made Epiphone Firebird 500 seen here.
A couple of months ago, I received a call from a friend who runs a drum shop in Southern Illinois. He’d taken in a guitar on trade-a semi-hollow electric Epiphone was as much as he could tell me-and he needed help figuring out exactly what it was. Always up for a good guitar mystery, I eagerly accepted his request for help, and as I waited for the guitar to arrive, I began to speculate on what it might be. Maybe it was an MIJ thinline, or even a 60s Casino, ala John Lennon. My excitement grew.
These days Epiphone guitars are almost ubiquitous. If a band plays Gibson-style guitars, they’re most likely to be slinging Epis. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because the quality is pretty good, the sound is decent, the look is there, and, if some scumbag should manage to ease a case out of the back of your van when you’re looking the other way, you’re only out an Epi. In other words, the Gibson stays back at home. This is only the latest twist in a tale full of deliciously ironic symbiosis. Another turn is reflected by this extremely rare 1988 Epiphone Spotlight.
Well folks we all know what great guitars have been designed and created over the years, but there were some vessels of musical expression in the guitar world that were, lets say a stroke of mistaken genius. In this column I’ll discuss some of the mistakes that we have more or less taken for granted, and I also give some of my own mistakes that might work out for you.
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