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1945 Epiphone Emperor
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Serial #: 52836, blue NY label
Body size at lower bout: 18 1/2" Body depth: 3 1/4" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .89/1.02
Materials: Hand graduated solid bookmatched spruce top; bookmatched bubble maple back; curly maple sides and neck; solid ebony fingerboard with "split-block" mother of pearl and abalone inlay; 7-ply body binding; triple-bound heel cap, neck binding, f-holes and head stock; ornate pearl tree-of-life peghead inlay.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece; epsilon-logo 16X1 tuners; hex-key truss rod at fingerboard extension; original Epiphone bound firestripe tortoise shell pickguard. Period compensated adjustable compensated ebony bridge.
Notes: Of the figured maple tonewood available today, curly maple is by far the most common. Quilted maple is scarcer, and premium priced for presentation instruments like the Gibson Citation. Rarest of all is bubble or blister maple, once featured prominently on top-shelf prewar models, but rarely seen on instruments built after the early '50s.
The pinnacle of the Epiphone line, the Emperor was the largest and most costly instrument produced in the New York factory. With its massive 18 1/2" lower bout, this top-of-the-line instrument remains the largest archtop to be built in a production factory. Yet due to its slightly smaller upper bout, many players find the Emperor body markedly easier to hold than the somewhat bulkier Super 400.
This striking postwar Emperor is crafted of the most extravagant tonewood imaginable, from its finely grained hand graduated spruce soundboard, tiger maple sides and neck, and rare, intensely figured solid bubble maple back. Maintained in gleaming condition, the instrument has all original gold hardware, including the 16:1 epsilon logo tuners, Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece, and original bound tortoise pickguard with epsilon logo.
The multi-ply binding is all tight to the body, with a few tiny shims, and the tailpiece is solid at the bend. Body and neck are free of cracks, with the back centerseam soundly resealed. The warmly ambered true lacquer finish is all consistent, and shows some age: it appears that some clear lacquer overspray has been applied at some point in the past. The rare original pickguard was once installed for left hand play, and has been re-positioned accordingly, with the small previous mounting holes filled and retouched at the waist.
The multi-ply curly maple neck has a solid medium C profile, with a dark ebony fingerboard and abalone and pearl split-block inlays, and fine pro fretwork with smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup. The compensated ebony bridge is of later vintage, and has plenty of clearance for precise action adjustment either up or down.
It is well accepted that the noncutaway models deliver the ultimate in tone and volume, with the appealing depth and woodiness only the massive super jumbo body can deliver. The very pinnacle of the Epiphone catalog, the Emperor is substantially rarer than its Gibson counterpart, and rivaled only by the D'Angelico New Yorker or Stromberg Master 400 in acoustic projection and cutting power.
Like the other top builders, Epiphone reserved its most spectacular tonewood for its natural finished instruments, which represented a fraction of the production of the sunburst models, and were premium priced accordingly. The very top of the rock, and rare opportunity for the demanding player or serious collector alike. One only: call now.
Setup: 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. Strung with fresh medium gauge phosphor roundwound strings.