Gibson to make sloped dovewing headstocks standard on Epiphone guitars

(Image credit: Epiphone)

In a move that would bring Epiphone's electric guitar designs further in line with parent company Gibson, the hugely popular sloped dovewing headstock is to be rolled out as standard.

Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian was replying to a comment on his Instagram post of yesterday, 12 September, when he confirmed – or let slip – that the move was underway. 

Gueikian was in Nashville, going through the archives, and posted a picture of all kinds of vintage Gibson and Epiphone ephemera, including a rubber knee rest strip for a Flying-V, an ES-295 pickguard, some switch covers. In the mix were Epiphone sloped dovewing headstock schematics with vine inlay, as seen on vintage Sheratons. 

When Chris Woodhead, guitarist/vocalist in Philadelphia-based rock band Old Arrows, commented that all Epiphones should come with that headstock shape, Gueikian simply replied "It's coming."

For many Epiphone fans, this was the news they have been waiting to hear. The "sloped dovewing" headstock has, of course, made a reappearance over the years. The 100th Anniversary Les Paul had one. Vintage reproductions of the Casino have one, and 2019 models such as the DC Pro and Vivian Campbell signature Les Paul have had them. 

The "sloped dovewing" headstock silhouette certainly looks cleaner. And just as importantly, a move away from the more figured but blockier Epiphone headstock that has been standard across most Epiphone models sees the brand align more aesthetically with Gibson's "open-book" headstocks. 

Some have said that in doing so they are damaging their parent brand Gibson by offering a guitar with much of its DNA at a lower price, but there is enough difference to separate them – and giving people what they want always makes good business sense. Moreover, the Flying V and Explorer headstocks were always very similar, and that never harmed the brand.

This business model has worked for Fender, who have imbued their entry-level Squier junior brand with many a touch of vintage Leo design magic, and have celebrated their heritage across more affordable lines such as the Mexican-built Player series. 

In an age where Gibson are ever more aggressive in defending their brand, doing likewise might seem like the smart play to make. 

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.

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