When Gibson bought Epiphone in 1957 their original hope was to get more guitars into stores by making two different brands.  They started by taking all the parts from the Epiphone plant and built guitars with them.  The guitars were essentially Gibsons with a different name on the headstock and slightly different cosmetics.  As a result you could buy a standard Gibson J-45 or an Epiphone Texan and the only differences were the name, cosmetics and a slightly longer scale length for the Texan (25.5").

By 1970 the Asian made guitars were selling like hot cakes and Gibson needed a way in.  They decided to discontinue making American Epiphones and instead slap the Epiphone name on a bunch of junk from Asia.  Which is probably why you feel the way you do about Epiphones.  But- the Asian made ones are getting better.  Go check them out.  They are good deals.  But we don't want to see pictures of good deals here.  We want to see rare and cool vintage American stuff.  Enter the 1967 Epiphone Casino- essentially a Gibson ES-330.


I bought this from a dude in Florence, Alabama that had preciously owned a musical instrument store of some kind but had unfortunately gone out of business a couple years back.  He kept some of the cool stuff that he had bought over the years and stored it in his basement.  He was ready to let a couple pieces go and this was one of them.


The Epiphone Casino is a fully hollow bodied thinline archtop that features two Gibson P-90 single coil pickups.  All structural features are identical to the Gibson ES-330.  The only differences between the two models are the name, cosmetics and tailpiece.  This one features the Epiphone Trem-O-Tone roller vibrato but you can also find the Frequensator tailpieces on them.  Unfortunately mine is missing the Rosewood piece that fits between the two bars.  


I am impressed with 330s and Casinos mostly because of how they play- and I mean strictly how it feels when I play it.  Don't get me wrong, the tone is fantastic, but for some reason the way this thing feels sitting on my couch noodling away at some blues scales is like no other.  I don't get this feeling when I am playing a 335.  I love 335s but given the choice, I would pick a Casino or 330 any day.  

The biggest differences to me are the solid block down the center of the 335 as well as extra few frets clear of the body.  The Casino/330 is fully hollow and much lighter.  The neck joins the body at the 14th fret instead of the 19th like a 35.  The package just makes for a comfortable playing experience that I find much more enjoyable than a 35.  I can get along with both humbuckers and P-90s but I tend to prefer P-90s.

John Lennon and George Harrison both bought 1965 Epiphone Casinos in response to Paul McCartney buying one a couple of months before.  Apparently John couldn't find a finish that he liked on his so he had it sanded down and refinished- twice.  He also did away with the pickguard and original tuners.  I like mine the way it is so I probably won't be refinishing it.

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