The Epiphone company had been making flat top guitars since the early 1930s but they never really seem to catch on like the Gibson and Martin made flat tops. The success of their archtop guitars wasn’t enough to overcome their management problems that arose in the mid 1950s. The Epiphone company was sold to Gibson in 1957 and Gibson saw it as an opportunity to revamp the line and sell guitars to a new audience of dealers. The leftover stock of half finished parts arrived in Kalamazoo after the sale and Gibson was not keen on wasting them.
The most popular New York made Epiphone flat-top was the FT-79 so Gibson began with that model. They wanted a flashier name so they called it the “FT-79 Texan.” They began by taking unfinished neck blanks and fitting them to their own bodies. The bodies had the same construction as the 16″ J body except they used leftover laminate laminate lining instead of kerfed lining. I call these guitars buyout era Epiphones.
The neck blanks from NY ran out around the end of 1960 so Gibson started making their own necks with Epiphone shaped headstocks. They continued making these necks with the Epiphone scale length (25 1/2″) instead of the shorter Gibson scale length (24 3/4″). In 1963, Gibson enlarged the headstock shape and it remained that way until the end of USA production for Epiphone (1969).
The Kalamazoo made USA Epiphone acoustic guitars have always been valuable guitars but have recently been gaining in popularity. The Gibson construction make them desirable but unique cosmetic features and relative rarity have boosted the demand in the vintage market. Have you had the opportunity to play one of these gems? I offer a 48 approval period on purchases so contact me if you’d like to check one out.