Epiphone joins Gibson’s Certified Vintage lineup with five holy grail models to celebrate 150 years of the brand in style

1961 Epiphone E230TD Casino
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has unveiled the latest consignment of vintage acoustic, bass, and electric guitars available direct through its Certified Vintage programme and there is a twist – they are all Epiphone. 

The final batch of vintage instruments for 2023 is all about celebrating the 150th anniversary of the now Gibson-owned brand, and comprises five classic Epiphone models from the ‘60s. 

This year has surely been the biggest in Epiphone’s history, with a number of high-profile signature guitars adding some serious competition for entry-level Gibson models, with Kirk Hammett’s Greeny Les Paul Standard – designed in collaboration with the Gibson Custom Shop – a new high-water mark in terms of spec for the brand’s Chinese-made instruments, debuting the open-book Gibson headstock on an Epiphone for the first time since the ‘80s.

In July we had the 150th Anniversary run of the Crestwood Custom, Wilshere, Sheraton and Zephyr DeLuxe Regent.

We might have asked the question of why the Epiphone Greeny Les Paul cost $1,500 (spoilers: the Gibson USA Greenybuckers have something to do with it, plus the long neck tenon build) but this Certified Vintage cache of Epiphones is where the money gets serious. 

These are for the serious collectors, and for those with a healthy budget there are some incredible instruments to be had.

Pick of the litter has to the 1961 Epiphone E230TD Casino, and it has the $25,000 price tag to match. It is an exquisite hollowbody electric, finished in Royal Tan, with the “Bikini Badge” headstock, twin dog-ear P-90 pickups and a trapeze tailpiece. 

The original guitar case might have been lost but the guitar itself is pristine with only light wear and the sort of natural lacquer checking that makes these vintage instruments desirable in the first place. That and the fact that John Lennon et al spun pop-culture on its axis when playing one.

Next up is a 1962 Epiphone FT-79N Texan acoustic guitar, priced $10,000. The slope-shouldered dreadnought is another Beatles favourite and another all-original specimen, featuring a short Kalamazoo headstock, Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a single-ply tortoiseshell guard with the Epiphone logo. It doesn’t get much cooler.

The sole solid-body electric in the collection is a ’61 Coronet that is finished in Cherry but has taken on that brown colour that comes with decades of life. It is a stripped down rock ’n’ roll machine with a single P-90 at the bridge, and it is priced at $6,500. Again, no mods to this one besides Old Father Time’s.

There’s also a ’69 Frontier, a handsome square-shouldered dread that was an antecedent of Gibson’s Hummingbird and Dove lines. Here we have it in Sunburst, with the decorative ‘Rope and Cactus’ pickguard, a Sitka spruce top and maple on the back and sides.

Where the Texan has parallelogram inlays, this one has the MOP slotted rectangles on its Indian rosewood fingerboard. It has been drilled for a second strap button but here the asking price also includes its original case. It is priced $8,500.

Finally we have a 1967 EB-232 Rivoli bass guitar in Royal Tan. It has a semi-hollow build, all laminated maple, with a maple centre block, and a single 32k ohms Gibson Sidewinder pickup at the neck position.

There’s an interesting control circuit on this bass, with a push-button Baritone switch allowing you to cut some of the bass frequencies on the fly.

This is another treasure that was found down the back of the Gibson Vault – the prospect of what else is in there boggles the mind – and it is in good condition, with only a little warping on the tortoiseshell, E-branded pickguard and the usual checking and occasional ding. It is priced $7,500.

All of these are available exclusively via Gibson so head there for more pics and details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.