1945 Epiphone "Emperor"

Epi’s flagship model at 18 1/2” wide, beautifully flamed woods on its back, sides, and neck, and the highest degree of ornamentation applied throughout... deliberately outsizing and outshining the main competition; the Gibson Super 400.

The name Epiphone today is less collectible than Gibson, and thus guitar prices are less inflated. You can get a marvellous Emperor for half the price of a Super 400. The reasons for this hower is not in the (evidently high) quality of the instrument. Mainly for historical reasons Epiphone is not so popular today as it was at the time it was made. First and foremost because of the bankrupcy, which ended the original Epiphone company in 1957 (production had already moved away from NY since 1953, which most would regard the end of the Epi era). Although after a takeover Gibson continued to make Epiphone guitars in Kalamazoo, these instruments are not of the same level as the pre-57 Epi’s and usually also considered inferior to the comparable Gibson models made in the Kalamazoo factory at the same time. Up to this date,  Gibson uses the Epiphone brand name on their imported instruments, some of which are quite good - but nonetheless affordable Gibson knockoffs rather than based on the 50s Epiphones.

The guitar has been used intensively, and turned almost a pumpkin amber orange in the process. It literally was played to pieces when I got it, and since then wholly restored. It is easy to comprehend why it was played so much, it just sounds so immense. Thunderous basses, that typical swing era midrange, ringing highs.

Has a nice very modern feeling neck profile. Since the guard was already cut, I reinstalled a floating DeArmond Rhythm Chief Model 1000. Came with the real pigskin leather case too.

Coming back to this stellar instrument; it bears serial number 52834 and originally was owned by Frank Markowski, who for decades was the musical director of the Ed Sullivan TV Show. Like many pro-players, Mr. Markowski asked for two long bales on the Frequensator tailpiece so that he could use his own brand strings. At the time not all brands were long enough to work with the Frequenstator.

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