1963 Epiphone Century, Royal Burgundy

By Gibson

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Super clean and rare 1963 Epiphone Century in Royal Burgundy finish. For years the Century has been a sleeper model in the historic Epiphone range but recently having been brought to prominence by James Bay and his synonymous use of a 1966 example they have become hard to come by. This one is in fantastic original condition an has all the desirable 60’s Epiphone attributes with its short headstock and full width nut. With only 169 produced in 1963 it is rare to find examples as well preserved as this one.

The Century title has been used by Epiphone since the late 1930’s. Initially it was used as part a series of instruments sold within Epiphone’s Electar range of amplified instruments. These sets, as they were sold, included a lapsteel, Banjo, Mandolin and Elecro-Spanish guitar, they were sold with or without the amplifier. The Century range was priced between the Zenith and Coronet line ups in the range. The electro-Spanish Century guitar started life in 1939 as a full depth, 14 1/2” archtop with a simple blade pickup fitted in the bridge position. The 40’s and early 50’s would see the model, like the rest of the Epiphone lineup, evolve as players requirements dictated. It continued to be produced by the company throughout the Stathopoulos-era up and to the purchase of Epiphone by Gibson in 1957. Once production had moved to Kalamazoo in 1957, the Century was reborn as a thinline archtop with specs that corresponded with the Gibson ES-125T. Sharing similar construction, appointments and features as the ES-125T but with a longer 25 1/2” scale length it initially was fitted with the Epiphone ’New York’ pickups and Bikini Badge logo before shifting to the elegant Epiphone Script logo and a single Gibson P-90 pickup. Sunburst was the offered finish option until 1961 when the Royal Burgundy finish would be added to the catalog. The Century remained a solid selling guitar for Epiphone throughout the 1960’s with a total of 2228 sold in 10 years.

Dating to 1963, this guitar would be one of the final examples to retain the desirable short, dipped Epiphone headstock. The guitar features a fully hollow, thinline body with a laminate Maple-Poplar-Maple construction and two unbound F-holes. A solid Honduran Mahogany neck with a dark unbound Rosewood fingerboard and dot inlay position markers. A gold script Epiphone logo is silkscreened to the headstock front. Tuners are the correct Kluson three-a-side units with, we suspect, replaced buttons. Electronically a single P-90 pickup in the neck position is wired to a single volume and tone control. By 1963 the pickguard had changed from tortoiseshell to a three-ply white-black-white with the trademark, and often missing Epiphone epsilon. The bridge is the simple intonated Rosewood variety used by both Epiphone and Gibson throughout this period. The guitar has remained in excellently preserved condition with its original Royal Burgundy finish retaining a high gloss with negligible fade. There is minimal lacquer checking and aside from light handling and play marks, little to detract from the appearance of a well cared for instrument. The original P-90 measures a healthy 7.94K. The neck has a comfortable medium oval profile with a depth of 21.97mm at the 1st fret with a generous 42.8mm nut width.

A fantastic guitar to play and surprisingly versatile given the relative limitations of a single pickup. Strung with 11 gauge, round wound strings there is an eagerness to the acoustic tone and when plugged in single notes have a woody bark when pushed yet maintains a smooth warmth when strummed.

The guitar weighs a featherweight 5.4lbs and comes with the correct Gibson Challenge case in excellent condition.