Epiphone Casino, ’61
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Royal Tan, Serial # 30059.
Gibson purchased Epiphone, its major rival of the 1920’s and ‘30s, in 1957. Production of new Epiphones in Kalamazoo began in 1958 using a few parts left over from the old Epiphone factory (most parts had been destroyed in a suspicious fire). Familiar model names were used on many guitars in the new line including Triumph, Deluxe, Zenith, and Emperor. The electric thinline guitars (except the Emperor) had new names like the Sheraton (introduced in 1958) and the Casino (introduced in 1961).
The Casino was meant to be a counterpart to the Gibson ES-330 (introduced in 1959), and was nearly identical in every way except its cosmetic appearance. The Casino, like the ES-330, was fully hollow without a solid block running down the center of the body as on the ES-335 and Epi Sheraton. The absence of the maple center block required that the neck join the body at the 16th fret rather than the 19th.
The early Royal Tan Epiphone Casino pictured has features distinguishing it from later models. The headstock, like on all of the earliest Casinos, appears a little wider than a typical Gibson’s with slightly different top curves. By ’63 it had become more elongated and narrower by the “d” and “b” tuners. The dot fingerboard inlays on this early version would change to a wider parallelogram shape by ’62. The black plastic P-90 pickup covers were changed to metal covers by ’63. The 3-ply white-black-white pickguard remained standard until the end of the model’s original run in 1970.