Museum: Other Acoustic Guitars

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1930 Epiphone #4

Serial # 407. Not much is known about the Epiphone #4 and other numbered-models built in the very early 1930's. We suspect the number series replaced the Recording models (A through E) that were built in the late 1920's, but preceded the Masterbuilt models introduced shortly thereafter. There aren't many of these instruments documented, and comparable guitars are hard to find, but through the study of this particular example its becomes evident that Epiphone was working on modernizing the steel string guitar, and this instrument represents a step in the process. The instrument features a pressed spruce top with flat-top style X bracing, pin bridge and bridgeplate, pressed maple back and sides, and a 25.4" scale modern neck with a 1-11/16" nutwidth. With equal parts flattop and archtop, the guitar has a sound unlike anything else we've played. It's dark and resonant, like a lightly built flat-top, but has the quicker attack and roundness of notes more often associated with archtop guitars. The bass strings shudder nicely under a heavy attack, with a lively back that sounds best when kept away from your belly -- like most lightly built carved instruments. Treble notes ring full and thick and are remarkably balanced. The decay is more archtop than flat-top, which predisposes the guitar to syncopated rhythms and melody.
Completely refinished, a few repaired top cracks, plugged hole in bass-side waist, tuners replaced a few times, replaced nut, saddle, frets, and bridge-pins. Ebony fingerboard with slotted diamond inlays, three-piece maple neck with incredibly comfortable rounded V carve, engraved headstock overlay. Rosewood bridge is likely a replacement but might be original, original spruce bridge plate. No side or back cracks, excellent neck angle, perfect in-shop setup and action, strung with nickel-wound 12's. Maple bridge plate patch, bone saddle, and Stewart-Macdonald Golden Age tuners installed in our shop. A rare and interesting piece, with excellent playability and very fine tone.
With hardshell case

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