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1939 Epiphone Emperor Masterbilt
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Serial #: 15747, white Masterbilt label.
Body size at lower bout: 18 3/8" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .90/.98
Materials: Highly figured tiger flame maple back, sides and neck; hand carved solid spruce top; 7-piece maple-walnut neck; 7-ply ivoroid body binding; triple-bound heel cap, neck binding, f-holes and head stock; solid rosewood fingerboard with "split-block" mother of pearl inlay; ornate pearl tree-of-life peghead inlay.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes 16X1 Epsilon-logo tuners, Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece; adjustable compensated rosewood bridge, triple bound swirl tortoise pickguard, adjustable truss rod at fingerboard extension.
Notes: Massive. Rich. Commanding. The experience of playing a genuine prewar Epiphone Emperor is not soon forgotten. Built to lay an unshakable foundation for the most raucous horn section, the Emperor produces a rich, buttery pulse like no other. But the big guitar is not merely a rhythm machine. It's lightly carved soundboard ranges effortlessly through the range of the fretboard with brilliant clarity and projection. Small wonder many players to this day regard the Epiphone Emperor as the finest big band guitar of all time.
This handsome instrument is a rare example of a prewar Masterbilt Emperor, the glory of the Epiphone line. Distinctive prewar features include the large cello style soundholes, segmented fingerboard inlays, and pearl triangle inlaid above the nut. This striking example would have been one of the first built with the symmetrical center-dip headstock, and its 'four leaf' tree-of-life inlay. Body and neck show extravagantly figured fiddleback maple, and the solid Adirondack soundboard is carved to exceptionally fine tolerances. Original gold hardware includes the Pat. Pending Frequensator tailpiece, serial numbered solid rosewood bridge, and a freshly replated Pat. Pending Frequensator tailpiece.
Carefully maintained, this gleaming guitar is free of pick, buckle or fingerboard wear, and shows only a bit of older thumbwear in the first position. The ornate 9-ply body binding is original and tight to the body, the tailpiece is solid at the bend, and the bridge has ample adjustment room in either direction. The original sunburst finish is subtly shaded, and protected by an older clear vintage lacquer overspray, now sufficiently aged to show some light scattered checking on the soundboard.
The multi-bound 1 11/16" fingerboard has smooth low action over fine pro frets, and the gentle C neck is solid and comfy, neither clubby nor veed in profile. Remarkably, this massive 18 3/8" body, second only to the Stromberg Master 400 in size, weighs in at a mere 6 lb. 3 oz. The lightly carved, well aged tonewood combined with years of careful play combine to produce an instrument of surpassing volume and rich, cavernous resonance. The mids and lows are buttery and clear, and the high register is brilliant with natural reverb. And volume, projection and dynamic range to humble the proudest horn section.
One of our most requested models, this is our first prewar Emperor in many a moon, and comes complete with its original top-line Epiphone brown pigskin fitted hard shell case. One only: call now.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.