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Old 09-05-2022, 01:02 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Default My 1951 Epiphone Kent



Although I have mentioned in other unrelated threads, I've had this guitar for awhile, and I wanted to play it a bit before I actually posted a NGD about it. It's my 1951 Epiphone Kent. And it has a bit of a unique story.

This guitar was completely rebuilt by luthier Gary Zimnicki https://zimnicki.com/ and here is a description from when I purchased it...

Some of the interesting points of the restoration include:

- Complete strip of the finish. The new finish is Nitrocellulose and will age like the original with no dampening of the sound.

- Neck off and reset. The fretboard was planed to remove divots, all frets replaced with the finest German Silver Fret Wire available. The frets are the same gauge and profile as original. The truss rod was relaxed, the neck trued and set at the perfect angle.

- It is equipped with open tuning machines just like the originals. The original tuners were severely worn and replaced with reproduction Relic three on a plate models with ivory butter-bean knobs. They use the same holes and it is a transparent change that are superior in operation.

- Every part that was possible to be reused was. Bracketry, the tailpiece, the bridge, the headstock emblem, pickup cover, even the E from the original pickguard was steamed off and reused to make this as close to a new vintage guitar as possible. Any parts that could not be reused were bought new as close as possible to original, or failing that, hand made.

- The Epiphone single coil pickup was rebuilt to the highest possible standards. The pickup was completely redone using the existing components but with the best Oxygen Free Copper wire applied identically. The internals were shielded using copper foil for noise rejection. A braided and shielded lead wire was used. The pots remain original as do all other components, with all solder joints refreshed for a secure and reliable performance. The bezel of the pickup was originally black bakelite. These over the years shrink and crack. Using the original for a model, a new flamed Maple black stained bezel was hand made for it.

- The original pick guard was severely warped and disintegrating. The reproduction retains the original brackets and E but is on a new tortoise shell piece of the highest grade possible. This time consuming component was hand-made and bound by Gary for this guitar.

- The binding is all new. Vintage Epiphone binding turns yellow, cracks and frequently comes loose. This guitar had all those defects and thus has been completely rebound.

The goal of this project was to take a 70 year old guitar with a crack free body and bring it back to as new condition or better, while retaining the vibe of the original instrument. I think all of that was achieved. The action and play is better than you will get with an untouched guitar. The finish is striking.


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Well I've been taking this guitar to gigs and running it through my Grace Alix preamp into my Schertler JAM 200. And last week I put an Origin Effects Revival trem into that mix which simulates an early sixties brown era Fender amp, and bias modulated trem.

It took a few gigs on it to find that I like Thomastik .013 roundwounds. This string gauge and type feels similar enough to the tension and type of strings that I use on my gigging acoustics, which makes switching guitars during a performance feel very natural. When I started uot with this guitar I tried .011 flats on it, and it was just too loose feeling.

The fingerboard with it's new fretwork feels fantastic. The german silver frets are dressed and polished to perfection, and the fingerboard feels perfectly level which I love! The action is set up to the same height as my gigging acoustics.

The neck on this thing is pretty big, and it has quite a pronounced V. I don't love it, and I don't hate it. It takes a bit getting used to, because my favorite neck shape is a medium to slightly bigger C shape. After a fews songs though I adapt to it.

The reason I bought this guitar, is that I wanted an electric archtop type sound for a few songs I do, and I really liked that it had a bridge position pickup.

In the past, archtops neck pickups really didn't do it for what I wanted to hear. The pickup on this guitar has a unique quality that I really like. It's full sounding but not too thick and it has a slight midrange nasal quality that I sounds quite unique! I've had people come up from out of the audience and tell me how good this guitar sounds.

What really took me by surprise is that I like the acoustic tone, as this was a bottom of the line 50's Epiphone Archtop, and features laminated woods so I didn't know what to expect. Here's a little clip of the acoustic sound blended with my Gibson F5G mandolin...

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Old 09-06-2022, 12:08 PM
Al Mojo Al Mojo is offline
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Wow! Congrats on this project - Epiphones from this period with NY pickups sound so good and are quite a value. And there is something about single bridge pickup guitars that's irresistible!
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Old 09-06-2022, 12:23 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Mojo View Post
Wow! Congrats on this project - Epiphones from this period with NY pickups sound so good and are quite a value. And there is something about single bridge pickup guitars that's irresistible!
Thank you! Funny thing, all I know about archtops you could fit on the head of needle so to say, so I wasn't aware that there were so many archtops having single bridge pickups, as I always thought most shipped with neck pickups. But since I got this one, I've seen quite a few more.

I didn't say it above, but I was also glad to find an archtop with a small body (15" lower bout), as most of the time I play this electric and don't need the big acoustic tone/volume.

And speaking of the electric tone, I can believe the range of the tone pot on this guitar, it is ridiculously useable, much more than most of my electrics.
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Old 09-14-2022, 11:19 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is online now
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What a cool guitar, Daniel! A real piece of history, now restored! I enjoyed your recording, too! It sounds great!

- Glenn
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Old 09-14-2022, 01:31 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Originally Posted by Glennwillow View Post
What a cool guitar, Daniel! A real piece of history, now restored! I enjoyed your recording, too! It sounds great!

- Glenn
Thanks Glenn, the guy that did the work makes some beautiful guitars, so I feel fortunate to have chanced into this little restoration that he did. I watched this guitar for many months on Reverb, and the guy just couldn't sell it, so I finally said what the heck, if I don't like the sound of it, I can surely mod it to get it there, fortunately I didn't have too Now I need to find a proper case for it, which is hard, because of it's slightly odd dimensions.

The song I wrote as a guitar/mandolin duet to perform with my good friend Ryan that I gig with occasionally. We still haven't played it out live yet, but on the next gig we will probably bust it out.
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Old 09-15-2022, 09:13 AM
Al Mojo Al Mojo is offline
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FYI Cedar Creek will make a custom fitted hard case for your Kent at about the same price as a standard case model.
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Old 08-14-2023, 05:54 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Mojo View Post
FYI Cedar Creek will make a custom fitted hard case for your Kent at about the same price as a standard case model.
I just saw this and I am very familiar with Cedar Creek as I own two of their cases. But their prices are way higher than standard factory cases. I just paid $850 for a Les Paul sized case that the already had a pattern for!

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Old 08-14-2023, 07:17 PM
fpuhan fpuhan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockabilly69 View Post
Thank you! Funny thing, all I know about archtops you could fit on the head of needle so to say, so I wasn't aware that there were so many archtops having single bridge pickups, as I always thought most shipped with neck pickups. But since I got this one, I've seen quite a few more.
I've always believed my 1957 Gibson ES-225t was a bit of an anomaly, as its single pickup is neither bridge nor neck. I believe it wasn't accepted very well, which led Gibson to build the ES-225d that had two pickup.

I've put this one through some pretty intense paces, and it's always come through with shining colors.

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Old 08-15-2023, 09:58 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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That guitar looks great, and the work to restore it to use makes me feel good just to read it.

Thanks for sharing both with us, and I'll bet your audience feel that too!
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Old 08-15-2023, 01:07 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fpuhan View Post
I've always believed my 1957 Gibson ES-225t was a bit of an anomaly, as its single pickup is neither bridge nor neck.
I played an older Gibson ES330 that had the P90 mounted in the middle like that and I loved the tone!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
That guitar looks great, and the work to restore it to use makes me feel good just to read it.

Thanks for sharing both with us, and I'll bet your audience feel that too!
Thanks Frank, since I bought the guitar second hand, I just learned about the guy, Gary Zimnicki, who restored the guitar through the seller, but I would sure like to meet him and tell him how great of a job he did. I love that's there's people out there who do this kind of work, I surely appreciate his efforts!!!
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