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1954 Epiphone Emperor Cutaway
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Serial #: 68908
Body size at lower bout: 18 1/2" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut: 1 11/16"
Materials: Highly figured solid bubble maple back; solid tiger maple neck and sides; solid carved quartersawn bookmatched spruce top; 7-piece tiger maple neck; 13-ply body binding; triple-bound heel cap, neck binding, f-holes and head stock; solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with "split-block" mother of pearl and abalone inlay; ornate pearl tree-of-life peghead inlay.
Hardware: Original gold Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece and hex-key truss rod. Vintage correct triple bound firestripe pickguard, gold Kluson Sealfast 16X1 tuners, adjustable compensated ebony bridge. Gold DeArmond 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup with volume control and 1/4" jack.
Notes: The glory of the Epiphone line, the Emperor was introduced in 1935 as the largest and most costly instrument the company ever made. Epiphone produced several prototype cutaway examples as early as 1941 but for reasons unknown, waited until 1949 to add them to the regular catalog, almost a decade after Gibson started offering the cutaway Super 400. The Epiphone Emperor Cutaway (also called the "Emperor Regent"), had a run of just seven years until the company was purchased by Gibson. As a consequence, the Emperor Cutaway remains one of the rarest and most desirable guitars of the classic era.
Not only is the massive 18 1/2" lower bout larger than the Gibson Super 400, but the cutaway is several frets deeper as well, extending the useful range of the fingerboard. (Though bigger in the lower bout than the Super 400, the Emperor is paradoxically more comfortable to hold, however, as the upper bout is a full inch smaller than its Gibson counterpart, and the waist is narrower as well.)
The back of this spectacular instrument is carved of rare bubble (or blister) maple, with neck and sides of deep tiger flame. The grain pattern of the bookmatched, quatersawn spruce is exceptionally tight: this top came from a really big tree. The instrument is lavished with an incredible 13(!) plies of binding, and the peghead features the graceful tree-of-life inlay, with the truss rod located conveniently above the nut.
After Epiphone's purchase by Gibson, Epis sent back for factory refurbishment went right to Kalamazoo, and this fine example apparently made the journey as well. The vintage nitro sunburst finish is in the Gibson style, and the tuners were upgraded to Kluson Sealfasts at the time as well. The instrument has been maintained in fine condition, with its original gold Frequensator tailpiece, and a handsome bound firestripe tortoise pickguard, hand crafted from an original template. The tiger maple neck is intensely flamed, and an original DeArmond 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup is fitted to the neck as well, with a guard mounted volume control, and 1/4" jack mounted in the conventional side position.
Apart from a small patch of finish wear below the treble soundhole, the instrument shows few signs of play, no apparent cracks, and remarkably little checking. With its massive acoustic voice, the guitar has a deep, resonant voice, with pronounced natural reverb, and excellent projection. The parallel braced soundboard is hand-graduated, and the neck profile has a classic gentle C contour, with excellent original fretwork and smooth low action over a fresh, high-precision setup.
The original brown Lifton case has a fascinating touch: an original 50's era sticker from the Berklee School of Music in Boston. An instrument of exceptional rarity, performance, and appeal, this guitar is a outstanding opportunity for the serious player. 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. Action is 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with medium gauge .013 phosphor bronze strings.
Case: Original Epiphone deluxe brown arched plush lined hardshell case.