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  #1  
Old 07-20-2023, 05:11 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Default Can it be...? (Epiphone content)

Those of you who frequent the Archtop subforum may recall the long-standing rumor that Epiphone realized their mistake with the circa-2015 Masterbilt Century series and, when they were pulled from the market (after only about 18 months of production), they were to be replaced with a Chinese-made, all-carved line of historically-accurate instruments based on New York-era designs and priced to compete with Loar/Eastman. Unfortunately they chose to take a different direction, initially emphasizing their gee-I-wish-I-could-afford-a-Gibson designs and '60s-inspired flattops and, more recently, their vintage-style Pac-Rim electrics (Coronet/Wilshire/Crestwood solids, Riviera/Casino/Sheraton semis, Newport/Embassy basses) intended to compete with Gretsch in the "affordable nostalgia" market...

While the dreams of many a fellow Forumite may never come to full fruition, at least one member of the stillborn Epiphone historic archtop line has finally made it to production status as part of their 150th Anniversary Series, suggesting that there may in fact have been a more comprehensive lineup in development at some point:



https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...ntique-natural

But for the single-bar Blackstone-style tailpiece (why they didn't use the Frequensator featured on the current Broadway and Sheraton - as well as the original Deluxe - is beyond me) this one's a fair rendition of a mildly-modded circa-1953 Zephyr Deluxe Regent, right down to the New York-style deep cutaway and white truss-rod cover (the vintage-style 5-piece maple/mahogany neck doesn't show clearly in the photo), and at $1299 w/HSC (the latter a modern design, rather than the vintage-influenced version offered with the Masterbilts - which I would have preferred) priced in the same general ballpark as the all-laminated Eastman jazzboxes and Guild's Newark St. hollowbodies - here's hoping it enjoys a successful enough run to become a permanent part of the Epi line...

FYI those of us whose memories of the marque began with the Kalamazoo days haven't been forgotten, with a reissue of the uber-rare cherry/Tremotone Sheraton (also $1299 w/HSC) complementing the Frequensator versions in blonde and sunburst:



https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...-guitar-cherry

Based on the Loar LH-600's features/price I see no reason Epi shouldn't be able to produce a David Rawlings-style, all-carved small-body Olympic for the same $1299 w/HSC as the electric Anniversary jazzboxes - we can only hope...
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Old 07-20-2023, 05:36 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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Interesting. Very interesting. Maybe this will get traction and Epiphone will become more interested in archtops. Saying that, the parent company (Gibson) seems to have no interest in archtops anymore, the closest thing in their catalog being the ESS 335 and its variants, and the Casino.

As great as Gibson (and Epiphone) flattops and semi and solid-bodies can be, when I think Gibson and Epiphone, I think acoustic archtop. Thatís what made them unique over the decades. Flattop? Martin and its imitators have that market covered and have for a long time (yes, the J45 is great).

Gibson and Epiphone should be able to turn out a modern acoustic Triumph, Blackstone, or L50 or L48 and make a profit selling them around the $2000 mark. Electric wise, the ES 125 TC was a huge seller, and it deserves a revival as does the full depth 125.

Enough of my ranting. Iím happy to see these Epiphones. I just wish Gibson/Epiphone would get back into the low to mid tier archtops.
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Old 07-20-2023, 06:08 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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The good news is that I admire the gesture in producing this model. The bad news is that I think I'm set for electric hollow-body archtops. I still look at them, but I think I have that area covered with instruments I have.

Not in the marketing game, but a lot of the market to this observer seems to be devoted to offering "you don't have a guitar in that niche yet" instruments. And for many electric and acoustic players and example of "you don't have this yet" is an archtop. Maybe folks are still satisfying that urge with other types of instruments, I just don't know.

Like Steve I can't tell why they didn't do a "Dave Rawlings" model (endorsed or not) some years back.
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Old 07-20-2023, 09:37 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
...Gibson and Epiphone should be able to turn out a modern acoustic Triumph, Blackstone, or L-50 or L-48 and make a profit selling them around the $2000 mark. Electric wise, the ES-125TC was a huge seller, and it deserves a revival as does the full depth 125.

Enough of my ranting. I’m happy to see these Epiphones. I just wish Gibson/Epiphone would get back into the low to mid-tier archtops.
In order:
  • Speaking as the former owner of a '46 Blackstone I agree with the $2K+/- figure for a carved guitar: Eastman's AR610 17-incher (a modern-day rendition of the circa-1950 spruce/mahogany Epiphone Devon) and the Loar LH-700 (a near dead-ringer for a Mother Maybelle/Eddie Lang L-5) both sell for similar money so it can be done, and I'd love to see it happen - but with Godin's Kingpin and CW II (the closest contemporary equivalents to the ES-125 and ES-125TDC) selling for around $800 and $900 respectively it'll be hard to justify anything over $1K for an L-48 style all-laminated archtop regardless of maker, especially since the all-acoustic 5th Avenue sold for around $500-600 brand-new before it was discontinued a few years ago;
  • If you recall, Gibson's last attempt to get back into the archtop market (excluding Custom Shop examples of the L-5 and Super 400) was with a pressed-wood instrument tagged well in excess of $6K, about $1K more than what you would have paid for an all-carved luthier-built 17" jazzbox from Mark Campellone or Stephen Holst at the time - considering the last time I saw them advertised they were being blown out for around $3500 (and overpriced at that, considering what similar money could get you from Eastman), with the possible exception of a small run of Citations at around $35K each I doubt Gibson is going to stick their neck out again, and if we're going to see any archtops coming out of that camp they're almost certainly going to bear the Epiphone name...
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Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
The good news is that I admire the gesture in producing this model. The bad news is that I think I'm set for electric hollow-body archtops. I still look at them, but I think I have that area covered with instruments I have...

Like Steve I can't tell why they didn't do a "Dave Rawlings" model (endorsed or not) some years back.
FWIW Epiphone did in fact produce a small-body Olympic as part of the Masterbilt Century series, but like the rest of the line it was neither fish nor fowl; I played one at Sam Ash (along with the rest of the lineup) and found it thin and nasal, lacking the distinctive punch and cut of the genuine article and probably one of the worst guitars in toto that I've ever played - small wonder they were being blown out at ridiculous prices (at cost TMK in the case of the Zenith and Deluxe)...

Frankly, I only wish Epiphone had produced both models pictured above sooner - I'm also in good shape in both the semi-hollow and full-hollow departments, and as I've developed a distinct preference for three-pickup guitars (and TMK they're not likely to offer either the full-depth New York or thinline Kalamazoo versions of the 18" Emperor Zephyr Regent) they wouldn't be seeing much active play time...

On the other hand, if Epiphone ever decided to go ahead with their plans to market a line of all-carved acoustics to compete with the Loar and Eastman offerings, I don't think it would take much persuasion for me to lay down the aforementioned $2K or so for a New York-style 17" comp box - especially if they were to hit Eastman's AR610 head-on with a Devon reissue...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 07-20-2023 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 07-23-2023, 12:30 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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Thatís a fair take on where Gibson is, Steve, and on where they could position Epiphone. It just saddens me that they canít get the Bozeman division to add a couple of archtops to the lineup instead of the umpteen different versions of the J45, magnificent instrument that it is notwithstanding.

I never played one of those $6K pressed wood items (canít even remember the model name). Maybe theyíre worth seeking out on the used market, but not for $6K. You can get a number of decent vintage fully carved instruments at that price. I think L50s are going for around $2500 these days. That said, pressed wood instruments can sound good. Iíve had a couple of Harmony Montereys over the years (one was absolutely mint) and they had a wonderful sound; plenty of bark, but with some sweetness, similar to a 000 or OM.
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Old 07-26-2023, 09:39 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
...I never played one of those $6K pressed wood items (canít even remember the model name). Maybe theyíre worth seeking out on the used market, but not for $6K....
Here's a couple of examples currently for sale in the $4K range, and, if you check the price comparison list, as recently as 3-4 years ago very good examples could be had for $2K, excellent-to-mint on either side of $3K - more in line with what an all-solid non-carved archtop from a first-line maker should command, and had they tagged it as an L-50-CES at $3K new IMO they could have sold a whole bunch of them:



https://reverb.com/p/gibson-solid-fo...wbody-venetian
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Old 07-27-2023, 07:20 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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"and had they tagged it as an L-50-CES at $3K new IMO they could have sold a whole bunch of them:



https://reverb.com/p/gibson-solid-fo...wbody-venetian[/QUOTE]

Agreed. I like the simplicity of the thing. It actually reminds me of an ES 350 a la Barney Kessel. (Of course Gibson went on to offer the obscenely priced, $10K as I recall, ES 350T Chuck Berry tribute. Still, that was probably much cheaper than a real deal vintage 350T).

I dunno. Is a pressed wood archtop THAT much more expensive to produce than a Les Paul or an ES 335? I mean I love my LP and it's basically a solid body archtop. it shouldn't be hard to for Gibson to offer archtops that mirror the LP price and feature range, low to high. I guess they've crunched the numbers and don't see a business case. Unfortunate, but there's still the vintage market...
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