Epiphone’s 150th Anniversary models: a tribute to tradition and innovation

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Epiphone’s 150th Anniversary models: a tribute to tradition and innovation

Words by Jack O'Shea Ayres

For over a century and a half, Epiphone has been a beacon of innovation, quality and iconic sound in the world of music. 

Epiphone Anniversary models

To celebrate their remarkable 150-year journey, Epiphone is releasing a limited edition lineup of guitars which pay homage to their rich history while pushing the boundaries of modern guitar design. 

From luxury archtops to the budget rock builders and a rock icon, Epiphone’s 150 year journey of operation and exploration into quality guitars has led to four exquisite 150th Anniversary models: the Zephyr Deluxe Regent Aged Antique Natural, Sheraton 60s Cherry, the Crestwood Custom California Coral, and the Wilshire Pacific Blue. 

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Epiphone’s story began in the 1890s when founder Anastasios Stathopoulos set up shop in Turkey. Initially, the company focused on manufacturing high-quality violins, lutes, and other instruments, but as the decades passed, Epiphone’s reputation for superbly crafted instruments and innovation grew, and they ventured into the world of acoustic and electric guitars.

By the 1930s, Epiphone had established itself as a formidable competitor in the electric guitar market. Their archtops, like the legendary Emperor and Deluxe models, became favourites among jazz musicians. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that Epiphone hit its stride with iconic models like the Casino, Sheraton, Crestwood, and Wilshire. Epiphone competed directly with a big player at the time, Gibson, and in many ways Epiphone’s instruments were superior. 

Epiphone Anniversary

The Masterbilts signalled the commencement of a competitive struggle for dominance within the acoustic archtop market in the United States. This rivalry saw both American brands, Gibson and Epiphone, vying for supremacy with larger-sized instruments and impressive claims during the 1930s and extending into the 1940s, with notable models of this era including Gibson’s Super 400 and Epiphone’s Emperor.

In late 1935, Epiphone entered the electric guitar arena, initially under the Electar brand. The subsequent year, they introduced their innovative F.T. flat-top guitars. Epiphone enlisted the expertise of Herb Sunshine to pioneer these cutting-edge electric instruments. Herb, in turn, recruited Nat Daniel, who would later become renowned for his work at Danelectro, to design the required amplifiers.

Today, Epiphone remains synonymous with quality, affordability, and versatility. Their 150th Anniversary models pay tribute to this rich heritage while introducing modern features and aesthetics.

150th Anniversary Models: A Limited Edition Collection

The all-new Zephyr Deluxe is a testament to Epiphone’s commitment to the craft and innovation, with the limited edition model featuring a deep cutaway for improved upper-fret access, a multi-layer pressed maple arched top, and a 25.5” scale 5-piece maple and mahogany neck with an ebony fretboard. The real sonic magic comes from the pair of Epiphone NY Mini humbucker pickups, each equipped with individual volume and tone controls with CTS potentiometers. A 150th Anniversary decal graces the back of the headstock, marking this guitar’s place in history.

The Sheraton 60s Cherry is a stunning homage to Epiphone’s legacy. Crafted with a semi-hollowbody made from layered maple and a maple center block for feedback resistance, this guitar offers both elegance and performance. The one-piece mahogany neck features a bound Indian laurel fretboard with block mother of pearl and abalone inlays. Premium electronics include made-in-the-USA Gibson Mini humbucker pickups wired to CTS potentiometers, Orange Drop capacitors, and a Switchcraft three-way pickup selector switch. Finished in gloss Cherry with gold hardware, this Sheraton is as visually striking as it is sonically enchanting.

The Crestwood Custom California Coral harks back to its debut in 1958 when it was first introduced as the Crestwood. Renamed Crestwood Custom in 1959, it became Epiphone’s first two-pickup solid body electric guitar design. Its asymmetrical solid mahogany double-cutaway body offers unhindered upper fret access, while the mahogany neck boasts a comfortable 60s SlimTaper D profile and an Indian laurel fretboard with oval inlays. The “Batwing” headstock, Wilkinson six on a plate inline tuners with metal buttons, and a pair of made-in-the-USA Gibson Mini humbuckers connected to CTS potentiometers make this model a true celebration of vintage inspiration and modern innovation.

The Wilshire Pacific Blue adds a splash of color to the anniversary collection. Its asymmetrical-style Wilshire double-cutaway mahogany body offers exceptional upper fret access, while the mahogany neck features a comfortable 60s SlimTaper D profile and an Indian laurel fretboard with dot inlays. The “Batwing” headstock, Wilkinson six on a plate inline tuners with metal buttons, and a pair of made-in-the-USA Gibson Mini Humbuckers wired to CTS potentiometers and a Switchcraft 3-way toggle switch complete the package. The Pacific Blue finish adds a unique touch of style and character to this limited edition gem.

These 150th Anniversary models are more than just guitars; they are a celebration of Epiphone’s enduring legacy. With only 420 pieces of each model available worldwide, they are truly collector’s items. For fans and enthusiasts in Australia, the opportunity to own one of these limited edition guitars is even more exclusive, as only four of each model will be available.

Australis Music Group is proud to be part of this milestone celebration by offering these exquisite guitars to Australian musicians and collectors. As one of Australia’s leading music equipment distributors, they understand the significance of these limited edition models and are committed to making them accessible to the Australian market.

Epiphone’s 150th Anniversary models represent a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, paying homage to the brand’s storied history while incorporating modern features and aesthetics. With limited availability worldwide and an even more limited presence in Australia, these guitars are destined to become coveted collector’s items. Epiphone’s enduring legacy continues, and these guitars are a testament to 150 years of excellence in the world of music.

For local enquiries, visit Australia Music.