The aggressive expansion of the Epiphone brand is one of the biggest guitar stories of 2020. New electric and acoustic guitars have been flying out off the production line at a breathtaking pace, with many offering a spec and build to challenge their pricier siblings in the Gibson US line.
We have seen the generously spec'd Prophecy series take care of the metal-heads, the quite stunning 1959 Les Paul Standard bringing some Burst chic to the line, while only yesterday saw the arrival the new Coronet, Wilshire, and Crestwood, plus the high-end Inspired by Gibson line, featuring ES-335 and ES-339 electrics and some of the nicest Epiphone acoustics we have seen.
Well, as Jimmy Cricket used to say, there's more: with two new takes on Epiphone 60s classics – the Casino in three new Worn finishes, and the Riviera.
Let's look at the Casino. The build is largely as you would expect, with a 5-ply maple hollowbody, a set mahogany neck carved into a 60s C-profile, 24.724" scale, an Indian laurel fingerboard with a 12" radius and 22 medium jumbo frets and Trapezoid inlay, with a classy LockTone Tune-O-Mati bridge and Diamond Trapeze tailpiece.
As for pickups, you've got a pair of Pro P-90s in the neck and bridge, with a volume and tone control each, CTS pots and all the bright chime you need for running through McCartney's Taxman solo. The street price is a svelte £399 / $449.
But what about those Worn finishes? Olive Drab, Ebony and Denim Blue... Very cool. Check them out above. Look closely and you can see that these matte finishes show a little of the maple's grain underneath. And if you have ever coveted the Gibson Chris Cornell Tribute ES-335, this would make a mighty fine wallet-friendly alternative.
Now, the Riveria. This, too, is a hollowbody electric, same Casino body shape, and similarly made its pop-culture debut just as the 60s was about to swing. Obviously, it is a similar guitar to the Casino but with some key differences – most notably the pickups.
Here, you've got a pair of Epiphone Pro mini humbuckers in the neck and bridge. The tailpiece, meanwhile, is a cool Frequensator design, which dates back to the 30s and has been seen on a number of jazz boxes over the years. Epiphone is offering the Riviera in Sparkling Burgundy and Royal Tan, street price a very respectable £599 / $649.
These are not on the Epiphone website just yet, but are with retailers. Now, what's next, Epiphone?