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 1941 Epiphone Spartan "Natural"

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Serial #: 16945, green New York label Body size at lower bout: 16 3/8" Scale length: 25 1/2"

Finish: Blonde finish, nitrocellulose lacquer type

Materials: Hand carved solid spruce top; solid Primavera back and sides; one piece mahogany neck; Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with pearl inlay; 7-ply body binding, bound fingerboard and headstock; original bone nut.

Hardware: 100% original hardware includes original Brazilian rosewood bridge, original Epi nickel trapeze tailpiece; original epsilon logo 16X1 nickel tuners; original firestripe tortoise pickguard

Notes: In 1939 Epiphone introduced their natural finish as a premium option for the Emperor and Deluxe models only. Two years later, with great fanfare, the blonde finish made its debut in this model year for the rest of the line. The Spartan was Epi's top-line 16" guitar, and the only one offered in this era with all solid, carved construction, including the back and sides. To highlight the new finish, the Spartan body was converted from black walnut to primavera wood (white mahogany) a rare and eyecatching figured tonewood from the tropics.

With a finish described as "satin blonde" in Epiphone ads of the day, this rare example is the only natural finish Spartan we have found to date. The present guitar is remarkable in a number of other respects as well. First, the body is bound with a full *seven* plies of binding, an upmarket feature otherwise seen only on the Emperor or Deluxe models. Secondly, the tuners are the 16x1 epsilon logo models, as found on no other 16" Epi. In lieu of binding, the inside of the soundholes are coated with an opaque white pigment. Finally and most strikingly, the overall condition of this guitar is simply astounding. All hardware is original and gleaming, and the label is still bright white. The original brown wrinkle hardshell case looks virtually untouched. And incredibly, the amber blonde finish has survived without so much as a scratch, or even the sort of typical weather checking virtually universal in instruments of this age. In short, the guitar has remained in essentially new old stock condition, and we have never seen another even close to it.

(One clue to the uncannily pristine condition of the instrument may be its binding. For a few years in the early 40's, Epi used bindings made of pyralin, a decorative plastic often seen in table radios and other household objects of the day. Unlike nitrocellulose, pyralin is not subject to the decomposition and outgassing that causes the plating corrosion and finish damage so common in older guitars.)

The original firestripe pickguard is in perfect condition, as is the Brazilian rosewood bridge, complete with serial # stamped in the base. The carved spruce top is nicely quartersawn, and the label has a 'natural' designation after the model name, another feature unique in our experience. The action is smooth and low over fine original frets, and the long-scale 25 1/2" neck has a comfy profile with a nicely radiused Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with 1 11/16" nut. The 16" body is particularly comfortable under the arm, and the voice has exceptional volume and cutting power, clear and balanced with pronounced natural reverb in the upper register. Apart from a routine setup, and a small piece of binding on the peghead, our only job on this guitar was resealing a bit of separation at the ends of the back centerseam. If there is a finer original example of this rare model (or any other New York Epiphone) anywhere in the world, we will be simply astounded.

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; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" 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.

Case: Original Epiphone plushlined hardshell case.




















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