Vintage Instruments: Electric Guitars

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1958 Stewart Oriphonic

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$1195 (CAD)
(approx. $932 USD)
In stock in Waterloo.
CMI (Gibson's parent company) acquired Epiphone in 1957 and shifted production of Epiphone-branded instruments to the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Many Epiphone employees opted to stay on the east coast and found work at the recently founded Guild Guitars factory in New Jersey. Others found themselves building instruments under the brand names of Stewart, Mansfield, Premier, and Defender, among others, for a company called United-Code. Very little information about this company is available, unfortunately, so there's little we can share about their history. John D'Angelico used bodies built by United Code for his electrics, and surely other builders did as well, but that's as far as we can take you with this history lesson.

This instrument is branded a Stewart Oriphonic. Its fully-hollow maple body has an arched top and a flat back. The mahogany one-piece neck has a very comfortable, round 50's Epiphone-like profile, a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, a short 24" scale length, and a rear-painted headstock. The single-coil pickups were likely made by Franz in New York (as were early Guild PU's) - they're very warm and rich, with a big smooth bottom end and all around fatness. As with so many vintage Epiphones, Guilds, Gretschs, and Uniteds, the binding on this instrument disintegrated and was completely replaced. The repair is somewhat rustic, but has no effect on the instrument’s structural integrity, tone, or playability. Original single-line Kluson tuners work well, brass nut and bridge top (which might be original), non-original Hofner tailpiece, non-original pickguard. Overall, a very cool vintage guitar, with great looks, tone, and 1950's USA made quality.

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