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1992 Epiphone Imperial Series '39 Emperor Reissue
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Serial #G920066, white Imperial series label
Body size at lower bout: 18 1/2". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Materials: Spectacularly figured bookmatched fiddleback flame maple back and sides; handcarved bookmatched quartersawn solid spruce top; 7-piece maple-walnut neck; 9-ply ivoroid body binding; triple-bound heel cap, f holes and head stock; 5 -ply neck binding; rosewood fingerboard with "v-block" mother of pearl and abalone inlay; ornate pearl tree-of-life peghead inlay.
Hardware: Gold hardware includes Frequensator tailpiece and sealed tuners with Epi style keys. Triple bound leopard shell tortoise shell pickguard, adjustable rosewood bridge, bone nut, adjustable truss rod under fingerboard extension. Kent Armstrong floating PAF pickup with 1/4" jack attached to guard.
Notes: When Epiphone introduced it's flagship Emperor model late in 1935, it was the largest factory production archtop on the market, with it's massive 18 1/2" lower bout even outsizing Gibson's Super 400. For some two decades the Emperor reigned supreme among big band guitarists requiring full-bore projection and cutting power. But by the time Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957, electric instruments had overtaken the acoustic behemoths in popularity, and the full-bodied Emperor disappeared from the catalog forever.
With just one small exception. In 1992, executives of Gibson's Epiphone division decided to strut their stuff with the rollout of an ultra-premium line called the Imperial Series. The Imperial Series was built of all solid highly figured carved woods, premium bindings and finish, and crafted in the prestigious Fujigen workshop in Japan, rather than the Korean factories of the regular product line. Premium touches on the Emperor Reissue included the prewar asymmetrical headstock and triple bound soundholes. Finding tonewood big enough for the 18 1/2" body was hard enough, but the escalating value of the yen grounded the project barely off the launch pad. By the end of '92 only 36 examples had been produced, with another 7 or 8 eked out the following year. Though limited in number, the Imperial Series instruments brought new prestige to the Epiphone line, and have been avidly sought after by players and collectors ever since.
This handsome example was built from exquistely flamed fiddleback maple, and some phenomenally close grained spruce, richly interlaced with attractive crossgrain silk. The instrument has been kept in immaculate condition, without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, and all gold harware in gleaming shape. Action is smooth and low over fine original frets, neck profile is a traditional medium C, comfy in the hand. Tone is warm and woody, with plenty of bark and headroom to burn. A plus is the floating Kent Armstrong Handmade PAF pickup, with a 1/4" jack, both suspended from the pickguard.
We're not holding our breath for another reissue of these beauties anytime soon, and you shouldn't either. One only, call now.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as required; 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-.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 deluxe Epiphone hardshell case.