The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Archtops

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 11-06-2020, 02:43 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 10,617
Default Keep the drool towels handy...

I was surfing the net and I came across this beauty - the uber-rare Epiphone Emperor Concert:











Yes folks, that's a genuine 1949 New York original in dead-mint condition - a near-twin to Johnny Smith's personal guitar, and one of only three known to exist; here's the back story:

https://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/closeup28.html

Had the "classical archtop" school not essentially crashed after WW II (a result of Segovia's 1928 American debut and the subsequent adoption of the Spanish-style guitar as the concert-hall standard, as well as changing postwar musical tastes), I could easily see one of these as a virtuoso soloist's instrument...
__________________
"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
- Mark Twain
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 11-06-2020, 06:23 PM
Richard Mott Richard Mott is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 269
Default

Steve, now THAT is an amazing instrument! How modern the sound hole looks—never seen one remotely like that. Let us know if you ever get to play and how it sounds!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-06-2020, 08:54 PM
DCCougar DCCougar is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,624
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
I was surfing the net and I came across this beauty - the uber-rare Epiphone Emperor Concert...
Wow! Pretty amazing! Looks like Guild copied those fret markers.
__________________
Cougar's Soundcloud page
2018 Guild F-512 Sunburst
2011 Guild F-50R Sunburst
2002 Guild JF30-12 Sunburst
2018 Gibson Songwriter Rosewood Burst Ltd. Ed. 12-string

1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string
2012 Epiphone Dot CH

2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

2013 Yamaha Motif XS7
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-06-2020, 09:09 PM
mc1 mc1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: nova scotia
Posts: 14,019
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
I was surfing the net and I came across this beauty - the uber-rare Epiphone Emperor Concert:

Yes folks, that's a genuine 1949 New York original in dead-mint condition - a near-twin to Johnny Smith's personal guitar, and one of only three known to exist; here's the back story:

https://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/closeup28.html

Had the "classical archtop" school not essentially crashed after WW II (a result of Segovia's 1928 American debut and the subsequent adoption of the Spanish-style guitar as the concert-hall standard, as well as changing postwar musical tastes), I could easily see one of these as a virtuoso soloist's instrument...
Looks big!

Bit of a bittersweet ending to that story:
Quote:
It was always treated as 'sacred' in our family so it's only been played a handful of times and has been in its original case pretty much the whole time.
I'm intrigued by what you refer to as the "classical archtop" school. Who were members of that academy?
__________________
2008 Zagerized/Torrefied Esteban DeLuxe Custom Special with built-in permanent 24/7 tonerite, and extra-extra soft fret wire.
Taylor Gigbag and Martin Strings and Jimmy Hendrix pick.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-06-2020, 10:13 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 10,617
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCCougar View Post
Wow! Pretty amazing! Looks like Guild copied those fret markers.
A little bit of New York guitar history, lore, and general gossip - all true in this case and stated as briefly as possible - is that Guild was in fact formed as a result of the gradual disintegration of the original Epiphone operation in the early 1950's, in the wake of Frixo Stathopoulo's acrimonious departure and Orphie's unwillingness to acquiesce to employee demands for unionization; when Alfred Dronge founded the Guild operation in lower Manhattan in 1952 he took many of the local Italian craftsmen with him (several others jumped ship to Gretsch and Favilla), adopting the brand name as much an evocation of the European roots of his workers as a not-too-thinly veiled social statement. Inasmuch as they specialized in jazzboxes (acoustic and electric) for the first few years of production, it's no surprise the earliest Guild instruments bore a strong resemblance to their Epiphone forbears - in a later day their use of the center-dip headstock, aforementioned inlay, and body profiles (especially on their early 17" archtops) would have been considered lawsuit-worthy...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mc1 View Post
Looks big!

Bit of a bittersweet ending to that story:

I'm intrigued by what you refer to as the "classical archtop" school. Who were members of that academy?
That's an 18-3/8" body, the largest factory archtop ever produced (Elmer and Charles Stromberg's small-shop operation produced the 19" Master 400, acknowledged by many Big-Band players as the loudest acoustic guitar in creation, and the preferred instrument of the legendary Freddie Green), but with some subtle body-contour modifications (suggested by Johnny Smith) that distinguish it immediately from its standard f-hole contemporary in a side-by-side comparison. I played my share of New York Emperors back in the early-70's, when nobody wanted them and good examples could be had for $500 (I was in college then and couldn't float the cash...) - big, full, powerful, with a velvety richness to the bass and midrange not commonly found in the smaller sizes - and if they're any example I suspect this one is really special: comparable volume, but more sustain and sweetness to the treble register; as I stated, a true virtuoso instrument for those with the technique to bring out its best - shame none of us will ever get the chance to hear it...

In answer to your question, most contemporary players are unaware that there was an entire school of "classical archtop" guitar that flourished from about 1925-1940, and upon which Mel Bay based his well-known method; when I was learning in the early-60's the method books bore a statement that they were in fact designed and intended "to place the plectrum guitar in the same class as the violin, piano, and other 'legitimate' instruments" (and if you've never hung around in certain so-called "serious" music circles it's difficult to imagine the pejorative attitude directed toward the guitar, even in its "classical" incarnation)...

By way of background, in its original form the classical-archtop movement drew from the earlier American school of (fingerstyle) classical guitar exemplified by the likes of William Foden, Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, et al. (rather than that of Segovia and his Spanish contemporaries, which would become the accepted concert style and instrument), as well as the parlor, "light classical," and vaudeville music of late-19th/early 20th century America. In addition to transcriptions of well-known classical repertoire, a number of guitarists of the day produced original compositions in a late-Romantic style - music which, while largely out of fashion today, still retains its technical and artistic merit nine decades later. Bear in mind that the original L-5 archtop guitar was in fact envisioned as a "classical" instrument both tonally and visually, intended as a part of the mandolin orchestras of the late-vaudeville era and designed for hall-filling acoustic projection in the days before electronic amplification; were it not for Segovia's sensational American debut in 1928, the plectrum-style archtop guitar - with its violin-family looks and construction - may well have become the accepted "classical" guitar...

If you're interested there are a number of recordings of these period pieces on YouTube, either in the original (by the likes of Harry Volpe, Al Hendrickson, et al.) or re-recorded by contemporary revivalists; in addition, you might also want to check out some of the work of Eddie Lang (both solo and with Joe Venuti on violin), Carl Kress and Dick McDonough, Tony Mottola (when he was a teenage whiz kid), and George Van Eps, among others. Finally, there's an excellent collection published by Mel Bay, entitled Masters of the Plectrum Guitar which, should you be intrigued enough to investigate this style further, will definitely keep you busy for a while - and give you a taste of what might have been...
__________________
"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
- Mark Twain

Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 11-08-2020 at 09:57 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-06-2020, 10:43 PM
mc1 mc1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: nova scotia
Posts: 14,019
Default

Thank You, Steve, for the lengthy reply. I understand what you mean now. I'm a fan of Eddie Lang and Tony Mottola, etc. I just think of them as jazz guitar pioneers (is that the name of an Eddie Lang CD I have?) Maybe its Jazz Guitar Virtuoso. Something like that. Time to dig it out.
__________________
2008 Zagerized/Torrefied Esteban DeLuxe Custom Special with built-in permanent 24/7 tonerite, and extra-extra soft fret wire.
Taylor Gigbag and Martin Strings and Jimmy Hendrix pick.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-06-2020, 11:21 PM
The Growler The Growler is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 7,706
Default

Very nice. What a beautiful guitar.

Thanks for the pictures and the detailed background.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-06-2020, 11:45 PM
billyg's Avatar
billyg billyg is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Germantown, TN - outside of Memphis
Posts: 725
Default

Enjoyed the information. Always learn great stuff from your posts.
__________________
===
"Don't let your baby down" Storm Windows, John Prine
'66 Gibson J-200, '55 J50, JB Model 1; Martin D76, MC-DSM; Micheletti Osprey Rigid Rim; Collings OM2H, Stehr GA; GR Bear OM C; Rainsong P12; Gretsch HOF Country Gent; Gibson ES-165; CP Thornton Improv; Veillette Flyer 14; Anderson Crowdster++ ....
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-07-2020, 04:29 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Huntington Station, New York
Posts: 6,647
Default And it came in Sunburst too!

Steve,
When I saw this posting the first thing that came to mind was that I'd never seen anything like that before.

The second thing was that a FB acquaintance, Mike Thompson, has a staggering collection of Gibson archtops, and somehow may not be aware of this model........silly me.......

Here's his:



Best,
Howard
__________________
My New Website!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-07-2020, 07:29 AM
Dave Richard Dave Richard is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Central Vermont
Posts: 33
Default

Great post, Steve, your discussions of archtop history(especially regarding Epiphone) are always interesting.
This model is fascinating to me, because it's Jonny Smith's and Epiphones version of a 'round' hole archtop, but retaining the standard tone-bar placement('splayed parallel'), and shaping the centered soundhole to fit. My early '30's Epiphone Spartan round-hole, has reverse splayed tone-bars(opposite of a standard f-hole model), to clear the soundhole, resulting in the tone bars coming closer together under the bridge. IMO, the tone & volume are lacking(compared to my other f-hole Epis), and I believe it's because of the bracing arrangement. Gibson used the same arrangement on some of the earliest scroll '0' models, too.
So I've been intrigued by this particular, very rare, Epi model, and would love to hear how it sounds!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-07-2020, 09:27 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 10,617
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
Steve,
When I saw this posting the first thing that came to mind was that I'd never seen anything like that before.

The second thing was that a FB acquaintance, Mike Thompson, has a staggering collection of Gibson archtops, and somehow may not be aware of this model........silly me.......

Here's his:



Best,
Howard
Good morning, Howard - a little good news to brighten your (and your friend's) day:

Although it's well-known that Gibson produced Epiphone instruments with original New York parts as late as the end of 1963, the instrument in the photo is most emphatically not one of them; in fact, not only was it not made by Gibson, but it happens to be the sole documented sunburst example of the Epi Emperor Concert (#58825 dating to 1949) and possibly the only one released to the general public (Johnny Smith's was custom-built to order, and the blonde example above was a gift to an Epiphone employee from the Stathopoulo family) - in a word, your bud is in possession of one of the all-time Holy Grail guitars for any archtop collector...

If you have personal access to this unique instrument, I think most (if not all) of us would be interested in an OGD (old guitar day) hands-on evaluation/play test along with some additional photos; absent that, if you coud arrange for the owner to do the same for (with his permission) reposting here on the AGF Archtop subforum, I believe it would be greatly appreciated by all...

Let us know how it goes...
__________________
"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
- Mark Twain
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-07-2020, 10:02 AM
mc1 mc1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: nova scotia
Posts: 14,019
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
...it happens to be the sole documented sunburst example of the Epi Emperor Concert (#58825 dating to 1949) and possibly the only one released to the general public (Johnny Smith's was custom-built to order, and the blonde example above was a gift to an Epiphone employee from the Stathopoulo family) - [I]in a word, your bud is in possession of one of the all-time Holy Grail guitars for any archtop collector
...
I found a couple of links with a few pictures of this guitar. Looks like it was sold at auction in 2014:
http://guernseys.com/v2/artistry_guitar.html

Some nice shots here:
https://mellowmarty.tumblr.com/post/...ert-arch#notes
__________________
2008 Zagerized/Torrefied Esteban DeLuxe Custom Special with built-in permanent 24/7 tonerite, and extra-extra soft fret wire.
Taylor Gigbag and Martin Strings and Jimmy Hendrix pick.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-07-2020, 10:38 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Huntington Station, New York
Posts: 6,647
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Good morning, Howard - a little good news to brighten your (and your friend's) day:

Although it's well-known that Gibson produced Epiphone instruments with original New York parts as late as the end of 1963, the instrument in the photo is most emphatically not one of them; in fact, not only was it not made by Gibson, but it happens to be the sole documented sunburst example of the Epi Emperor Concert (#58825 dating to 1949) and possibly the only one released to the general public (Johnny Smith's was custom-built to order, and the blonde example above was a gift to an Epiphone employee from the Stathopoulo family) - in a word, your bud is in possession of one of the all-time Holy Grail guitars for any archtop collector...

If you have personal access to this unique instrument, I think most (if not all) of us would be interested in an OGD (old guitar day) hands-on evaluation/play test along with some additional photos; absent that, if you coud arrange for the owner to do the same for (with his permission) reposting here on the AGF Archtop subforum, I believe it would be greatly appreciated by all...

Let us know how it goes...
Hi Steve,
I was clumsy in my post. He has a monstrous Gibson Archtop collection, but I assumed heíd be interested in the guitar you posted.

He owns that Sunburst Epiphone.

I can try to see if heíll do a recording with it.

Iíll try to get him involved here. If youíre on Facebook his name is Mike Thompson, and he may live in Japan....

Howard
__________________
My New Website!
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-07-2020, 11:01 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Huntington Station, New York
Posts: 6,647
Default

Steve,
For those who can access it, hereís Mike Thompsonís FB link. Prepare to be overwhelmed.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001245716570

Howard
__________________
My New Website!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-07-2020, 11:46 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 10,617
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
...I can try to see if heíll do a recording with it.

Iíll try to get him involved here. If youíre on Facebook his name is Mike Thompson, and he may live in Japan...
Thanks, Howard - looking forward to it...
__________________
"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
- Mark Twain
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Archtops

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=