Other Guitars

Epiphone Elitist Byrdland


I got this guitar last week. I always wanted a Byrdland after seeing Ted Nugent back in the early 80's. He's a master of controlled musical feedback and his main instruments are Gibson Byrdlands. Gibson Byrdlands sell for about $10,000. so they cost a bit too much for me. They are expensive because they feature a carved spruce top.

I found a listing for an Epiphone Elitist Byrdland made by Terada in near mint condition which I ended up buying. As most of you guys know, Terada is making the new Gretsch guitars, so the quality on this is quite good.

Here are some pictures:


Flame maple back. It's flame maple on the inside as well so I'm not sure if the back is laminated or not.


It's a short scale guitar.


I would guess it was laminated - be very surprised if the back wasn't. I had a Gibson Byrdland about thirty years ago. Used to gig with it too. I traded it for my first Gretsch, a '64 6120. The Gretsch was the start of a long term love affair with Gretsch, and the 6120 in particular.


Nice. Congrats on a sharp looking guitar. It is a bit different than Ted's in that his Byrdlands are Florentine cut but that's splitting hairs.


I have a blonde '76 venetian cutaway in NM condition, was my 2nd or 3rd expensive guitar buy...

That being said, I have handled and played the Terada like yours, ... very nice.

The whole history of the guitar is great, then add the ability to hold piano style chord voicings...it is unique.


I love that guitar and Congratulations for the acquisition. Nice looks and sounds great....I played in in NYC at 30st Guitars. I know the top is laminate and think the back and sides are as well.


I have an Epiphone Elite Broadway which is a similar spec guitar.

The tops on these Elite Epiphones are solid spruce. I'm not sure about the back and sides being lam or not but they are ridiculously flamey and yes the flame is on the inside as well as the outside. The spruce top on mine has the lines so close together that you can't count them. Must have come from a 500 year old tree.

I wanted a big acoustic/electric jazz box similar to a Gibson L-5 without the Gibson price tag. This one fits the bill. I swapped out the stock pickups for Fralin Unbucker and they sound perfect for what I do.


Another Elitist Broadway owner here. The official specs for both the Byrdland and the Broadway say "Solid spruce top, AAA maple back and sides." I would think that if the sides and backs were solid, they would be touted as such, so I've always assumed they are laminated. But they sound so good, I honestly don't care.

Here's a link to all the specs for the Elitist series.


My recollection was that the top is solid but not carved. The rest of the body lam.

The top is steam pressed into the desired shape, then jigged until stable. After that, it is fitted to body with additional woodworking.

The one I handled, I say again, was very nice.


Beautiful guitar sir!

The last one i played was 67 Gibson,wine red, Florentine cutaway,lovely it was too,pricey though. But i really liked the 23.5 scale.


Speaking about Florentines ,,

Here's a Geetar' I saw at The SF Bay Area World Guitar Show that was one of the Holy Grails, for sure :)


What was unusual too, is that it had a Varitone.


Does the Epi Byrdland also feature the narrower 1 5/8" nut width of the Gibson Byrdland or does it have the more normal wider 1.68 width? The wider nut width IMO would make the short scale much easier to play. Beautiful guitar by the way....


I actually like the idea of a steam pressed solid spruce top over a carved one. A carved top is more labor intensive and costly...but it cuts through the grain more and is more subject to human error in thicknessing.

The argument for a carved top has always been that at carved top retains it's arch over steam pressed better...but I haven't experience that at all and I believe bracing makes up most of that.

I'd love to try a Byrdland but the short scale and narrow neck make me nervous. I played a John Lennon model Rickenbacker and I couldn't play it because of the tiny scale with my sausage fingers.


I'll measure the neck by tomorrow (I have to find my ruler or tape measure). I have trouble with narrow necks but I didn't have trouble with this so it might be wider than the Gibson version.


I just measured the width at the nut. It is the same as my White Falcon and is also the same as my Gibson Korina Futura that has a fairly big 50's neck. If you want, I can measure at another part of the neck.

Gibson has used the Futura name on different guitars, so if you're wondering which one I mean, it's this one:


The Korina shimmers in the light. Gibson is no longer using Korina which is a shame. It's a beautiful wood.


I should also mention that there is an Epiphone Elitist Byrdland with a Gibson-shaped headstock. I'm assuming that it was made for the Japanese market. Neck width could be different on that.


Does the Epi Byrdland also feature the narrower 1 5/8" nut width of the Gibson Byrdland or does it have the more normal wider 1.68 width? The wider nut width IMO would make the short scale much easier to play. Beautiful guitar by the way....

– Gretschadelphia

See the link in my earlier post --- the Elitist Byrdland has the 1.68 nut width.


It seems Gibson USA is doing pressed tops rather than carving them now.


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