Other Guitars

1961 Epiphone Casino at Guitar Center Hollywood

1

I was looking up used gear on Guitar Center's website and noticed an original 1961 Casino at the Hollywood, CA location. Hollywood is on my way home from work if I choose to go through town instead of taking freeways so I thought I would stop in to check it out. I have one of the 2011 reissues and I was curious how it stacks up to the originals. According to Epiphone only 329 Casinos were made in 1961 so I felt an excited anticipation that I was about to check out a rare item.

It felt immediately familiar when I held it. The biggest difference I noticed right away in the feel is the nitrocellulose finish on the 1961 versus the polyurethane finish on the reissues. The poly has that hard plastic feel where the nitro had more of an organic matte finish to the neck. This Casino is in immaculate shape for a 57 year old guitar. I am very happy to report that the neck shape on my reissue feels very similar to the original. I believe my reissue neck may be slightly fatter but only by .01 - .03" or so. It's hard to judge without both guitars side by side but the best news for me is that the reissues nailed the neck shape and feel. I am also very happy to report that the overall feel of the build is very similar.

There are some notable differences between the 2. The original's binding included nibs over the frets like the original Les Pauls. The original has a more solid Nashville style tuneomatic bridge without the retaining wire. The knobs and tailpiece look identical. I noticed the original has a one piece neck where the reissue has some extra pieces of wood under the nut and also at the neck heel. My reissue also has a small post near the bridge that connects the top and the back. These are just small details though. While I didn't plug the original in to anything the acoustic tone was more mellow and woody than the sharper high mids I get acoustically out of my reissue. I have to say I honestly prefer the acoustic tone of my reissue! That was a big surprise to me. Plugged in I'm not sure if the one original middle Gibson P90 sounds better than the updated Gibson P90s on the reissue. If anything the newer P90s may be wound a bit hotter but I don't think Gibson ever made a bad P90.

Overall I had a lot of fun playing a guitar I never thought I would ever see in person given how so few were produced. I also left with the knowledge that my reissue, while not a vintage made in USA model with nitro and nibs, is a well made faithful reproduction of the originals.

2

Thanks for a thoughtful and detailed comparison. Old P90's are a really subjective lot as time and wear seem to make a lot of difference from one pickup to the next.

4

Very cool! I love my 2006 Casino, nice to hear you compare a modern one favorably to the original. I'd be shocked if the original's pickup is as hot as mine are though. Dare I ask the listed price for this one?

5

I bought one of the '61 reissues when they came out, and between pulling the trigger and delivery, wound up talking to a custom builder who offered to build me one of my dream guitars at a price I could swing. Got an RA from MF for the Casino and sent it back without even opening the box. That was seven years ago, and I don't think any sawdust has been made yet on my custom build. Sure wish I had kept the Casino.

6

Sweet! And check out that badass old skool Acoustic amp.

Wonder if there is really any diff in sound between the P 90 located where it is or the usual neck position.

7

$3900. You can get a cherry finished double pickup '69 for two hundred less.

8

I didn't know there was a mid-mounted P90 on a Casino. I thought the only one was the ES225. I find the mid mounted pickup to be very....midrangey (duh). I actually find it to have a bit of a Strat-like "quack " like positions 2 and 4 on a 5-way switch. It's not a tone typically associated with Gibson/Epiphone.

9

They also had a few nice vintage Gretsch guitars. One was a 1966 Tennessean which felt amazing and another was a 1961 Anniversary with 2 HiLotrons.

10

I took a quick peek at their Gretsch selections; a double-cut stereo Falcon for $4500 seems like a good deal -- no rot either.

11

I bought one of the '61 reissues when they came out, and between pulling the trigger and delivery, wound up talking to a custom builder who offered to build me one of my dream guitars at a price I could swing. Got an RA from MF for the Casino and sent it back without even opening the box. That was seven years ago, and I don't think any sawdust has been made yet on my custom build. Sure wish I had kept the Casino.

– Afire

This story makes me sad and mad at the same time!

12

This story makes me sad and mad at the same time!

– BuddyHollywood

Yep. It does make me mad and sad too. Mad that my cash and parts have been sitting idle for seven years. Sad that the builder's life has been a shit show for that whole time. Guitar projects aren't my only problem. I've got so many half baked projects in various disciplines with alleged craftsmen being non-responsive with thousands of dollars worth of gold and wood it kind of makes me sick. Oh well, I remain an optimist. These projects will pan out if I'm patient enough.

13

Gorgeous Epiphone, I have owned a good number of both acoustic and electric Epiphones from the 1960's and really enjoyed them all, especially the acoustic Guitars, I've always felt that the longer headstock gives the acoustics a bit more tone. And YES.......My best Luthier is a Jazz Box builder (who is becoming more and more sought after)He is a genius in bringing gorgeous old project Guitars to life again- and an appointment only Guy to boot-- anyways....I gave him a little old 60's Gibson couch guitar to fix up for me last July and its still there, hate to bug him ( or God forbid piss him off), so here I wait--On the bright side I've got plenty others around so I guess these are "quality" problems Folks

14

The original has a more solid Nashville style tuneomatic bridge without the retaining wire.

Has there been a Nashville style bridge in '61?

15

The original has a more solid Nashville style tuneomatic bridge without the retaining wire.

Has there been a Nashville style bridge in '61?

– sascha

I'm not sure about the correct terminology. I could be wrong calling it a Nashville. Here is a closeup of the bridge.

Edit: Sorry it's upside down!

17

Looks like an original pre-wire ABR-1. "Nashville", in the context of tune-a-matics refers to the wider, bigger tune-a-matics that are open on the bottom. They didn't exist when this guitar was made.

Love the smaller headstock on that era Epiphone!

19

Here is the back of the headstock with the serial number.


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