Epiphone USA Collection E230TD Casino: What is it?
The Epiphone Casino was an icon of the 60s and the return of a US-built model is huge. Wielded by the likes of Lennon/McCartney, Keith Richards, Dave Davies et al, it is one of the most important electric guitars in pop culture. The lists of minds it has blown is endless.
In 2021, it retains that sense of wonder for those contemporaneously weaned on the British Invasion and 60s rock ’n’ roll, and for those of us who wish we had been. The 2021 Casino will give many players a Proustian rush, but it’s not strictly a replica of any particular edition of the Casino. It has the black plastic-covered dog-ear P-90s and short-style headstock of the original 1961 model but has its successors pearloid parallelogram fret markers.
It arrives with a Gibson ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge and trapeze-style tailpiece with a three-striped bar design. Its three-ply white pickguard is branded with a silver ‘E’ logo, helping to distinguish the Casino from the closely related Gibson ES-330. The burst pattern is also a tell-tale sign that this is an Epiphone, whose dark colours stick closer to the rim than on its Gibson counterpart, making the ‘burst pattern all the more noticeable here than on a comparable ES model.
We’ve got a layered maple and poplar body, with no centre block, a set mahogany neck in a medium C profile topped with an Indian rosewood fingerboard and the aforementioned parallelogram inlays.
There are 22 medium-jumbo frets but good luck reaching up past the 17th fret; with the neck joining the body at the 16th fret, the Casino positions itself as something of the rhythm guitar specialist, or a guitar that is at least mindful that there is little money to be had at the dusty end of the fretboard. Keep your solos to the 5s, 7s and 8s and you’ll be just fine.
Of course, no centre block is going to cause a problem for many a player who intends on taking their instrument into a high-volume, high-gain environment. But that’s not really what the Casino was designed for and being careful with your stage position can ameliorate some of those feedback issues.
The Gibson USA P-90s are controlled by two volume and two tone knobs, with a three-way toggle pickup selector mounted adjacent to the bridge. The circuit is hand-wired and comprises braided shielding wire and orange drop capacitors, while the 1/4” output jack is mounted on the top of the body down by the tailpiece.
Epiphone USA Collection E230TD Casino: Performance and verdict
The Casino arrives beautifully set up. We mentioned that upper-fret access is a little limited and so it is only fair to note that the Casino is more than accommodating everywhere else on the neck. Besides, if you really want to get up there you’ll find a way; the best players always do.
The neck profile is extremely inviting. It’s very comfortable for fretting chords but with the medium-jumbo frets, the 12” fingerboard radius and the generous binding, the invitation is on offer to get creative with your lead playing and bend those strings with abandon.
While it makes its name with the burgeoning rock ’n’ roll scene, the Stones and the Beatles and all those cats, the Casino makes an exceptional blues or jazz guitar. The P-90s have a little devilment in them, even if they might be set a little far from the strings for some players liking, especially if some spiky grit is required, but that is an easy fix with a shim.
That bridge pickup still has plenty of sting in it, trebly heat that thickens up nicely when you roll back the tone control. The positioning of the three-way toggle switch might take a bit of adjustment if you are more accustomed to finding it mounted on the guitar’s shoulder, but the flip side of that equation is that it’s easily accessible for adjusting mid-song.
There are so many sweet spots with the Casino voice. At the neck pickup, it makes an impeccable platform for jazz comping and articulating note-busy phrases. There’s something alive and a little volatile about a fully hollow electric. When used for rock ’n’ roll, the threat of feedback squeal gives it a little sense of danger, but if avoided, its bright, aerated tones are impossible not to like.
It’s a beautiful instrument, easy on the ear and eye alike. Naturally, not everyone who picks up a Casino can be as cool as 1960s Keith Richards but it’ll definitely make you cooler for sure.
MusicRadar verdict: A classic hollowbody electric that helped make the 60s swing remains every bit as relevant and thrilling today, with a range of superb blues, jazz and rock ’n’ roll tones, and a great neck.
Epiphone USA Collection E230TD Casino: The web says
"The Casino is a very well-built example of its breed. It looks great and sounds epic, even with those low-slung pickups (which some prefer as they can sound sweeter that way), and would suit almost any situation. All that aside, we’re delighted Gibson is once again building top-quality Epiphone-branded guitars in the USA."
Epiphone USA Collection E230TD Casino: Hands-on demos
Epiphone USA Collection E230TD Casino: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Nashville, Tennessee
- TYPE: Double-cutaway hollowbody electric
- BODY: Maple-poplar-maple laminate
- NECK: Mahogany, medium C profile, glued-in
- SCALE LENGTH: 624mm (24.56”)
- NUT: Bone
- FINGERBOARD: Indian rosewood, bound with pearloid parallelograms
- FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
- HARDWARE: Epiphone tune-o-matic bridge and trapeze tailpiece, enclosed tuners with round buttons – nickel plated
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm
- ELECTRICS: 2x Gibson P-90 ‘dogear’ pickups, twin volume and tone controls, 3-way selector, orange drop capacitors
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.54/5.6
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: None
- LEFTHANDERS: Yes, £2,399
- FINISHES: Vintage Burst (as reviewed), Royal Tan
- CONTACT: Epiphone