Arguably the most Iconic of all the Gibson made Epiphone models from the 1960’s, Keith Richards and Dave Davis were both Casino players but it would forever be known as the Beatle guitar thank to its association with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, all of whom used the Casino both live and in the studio.
Released in 1961 the Epiphone E-230 Casino was the sister instrument to the Gibson ES-330, both manufactured in the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, both models were available as a single ’T’ or double ‘TD’ variant. The fully hollow Maple laminate Thinline body had a neck joint at the 16th fret, a Mahogany neck with Rosewood fingerboard and 24 3/4” scale length with two single coil Gibson P-90 Pickups. Early examples had the same short headstock as the Gibson ES-330 but with metal ‘Bikini’ Epiphone logo, black P-90 covers and dot fingerboard inlays as the Gibson ES-330. By ’62 the headstock had the pearl inlayed Epiphone logo. ’63 would see the introduction of Nickel pickup covers, the dot fingerboard inlay would change to a single parallelogram inlay and the pickguard would transition from tortoiseshell to white. The 1964 catalog shows the Casino with the new elongated headstock, a design that would remain until 1969 when the Casino was initially discontinued. By ’65 Epiphone would reduce the nut width and hardware would become chrome plated.
For many the guitar we have here is the definitive E-230TD spec model featuring the iconic edge shaded Sunburst used by Epiphone, full 1, 11/16 nut width, Nickel hardware and short headstock. Epiphone would only produce 384 E230TD Casino in 1964 with production numbers increasing in the subsequent years thanks in part to the McCartney connection and the Beatles popularity.
The Epiphone rectangular Blue Label is still in place with its serial number - #68610 dating the guitar to ’64. The tuners have been replaced with period 3 a-side with white button tips. The instrument arrived to us with some minor separation between the main headstock and the glued on wing which our luthier has since re-glued ensuring it's nice and stable. Very much like Paul McCartney's model this one has also been fitted with a Bigsby vibrato replacing the original tailpiece. This has been done well with the additional screw holes hidden at the heel of the guitar. In addition 4 of the string retaining notches on the Bigsby have been removed to simplify restringing.
The electronic are all correct with 4 CTS pots dating to ’64 (with most of the week codes obscured but one displaying the 20th week), two Sprague Black Beauty capacitors, Switchcraft input and switch. The loom appears untouched and all intact, the P-90 pickups are strong and measure 7.88K in the neck and 7.92 in the bridge. The bridge is a wired ABR-1 (wire removed) and nylon saddles typical of the period. Knobs are the gold reflector variety used by Epiphone. Frets are original with the binding nibs intact, the frets do show some wear, especially in the first position but the guitar plays well. The pickguard and bracket is missing but we think it looks all the better for it giving the guitar a real McCartney vibe. The neck is comfortable with the standard all-important 1, 11/16” nut width, and the oval C profile slightly slimmer than you would associate with a ’64 style Gibson neck which tapers nicely up to the body join.
The guitar is in great condition with only minor wear to its finish. The top has a couple of small nicks on the treble horn and light finish checking to the lacquer. The headstock has some minor edge wear and the neck has a few nicks and bumps, likely from resting against an amp. The back is clean with only some light buckle marks.
The guitar sounds great, it has a loud acoustic voice and plugged in the P-90s do that magical thing that P-90's do. There's enough power to give any amp a push whilst retaining the clear and toppy treble with a thick mid-rich warmth. Depending how the volume and tone controls are set it can sound gritty or sweet. With edge-of-break-up to full on fuzzed out tones the Bigsby is a prerequisite helping keep the lively guitar in check and wrangle any feedback.
The guitar comes with a Rosetti Case, potentially the case originally sold with the guitar with Rosetti being the Epiphone distributor in the UK in 1964. The case is in fair condition having seen better days, but the guitar fits it well.