While Epiphone’s archtop guitar line would give Gibson a run for their money, the flat-top line was lacking in a guitar at the top of the food chain. Gibson’s big fancy J-200 model was the target to beat. The good folks at Epiphone decided their new model would be called the FT-210 (10 more than the J-200!) Deluxe Cutaway. The lower bout was a monsterous 17 3/8″ wide and the back and sides were curly Maple. The head stock and fretboard inlays could be spotted from a mile away. The cutaway added access to the fretboard that would accommodate a much wider range of playing styles. Sadly, management issues plagued the company during the 1950s and very few of these were built.
The FT-210 featured not only a cutaway but also an individually inlayed and compensated rosewood saddle. Many of these guitars had the saddle slot routed in favor of a solid saddle but this one was spared of that fate. The model also featured multiple layers of binding all over the guitar which was unfortunately prone to shrinking and cracking. The pickguards were notorious for shrinking and falling off.
The folks at Epiphone decided to use a ladder style bracing to provide structural integrity to the top. This was very common for Epiphone throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It was likely a cost saving measure although it may have contributed to the relative unpopularity of the line when compared to Martin and Gibson. It may be true that the designers figured that many of the players would be mounting a pickup in the guitar to play live. Ladder bracing would be preferrable in this case since it would make the guitar less prone to feedback at high stage volumes. Whatever the reason, the tone of this guitar is very distinct. It’s loud and has a plucky, archtop kind of feel to it. It currently needs a neck reset to lower the action but is still fun to play in the first position.