Still Relevant And Going Strong
“’If You Love Me Like You Say,’ just about brings tears to the eyes with terrific controlled feedback, killer tone from his Casino (with Bigsby!), and of course, Clark’s locked-in band.” – From Epiphone.com News about the sound of blues rocker Gary Clark, Jr.
The Epiphone Casino™ Archtop is closely associated with the legendary sound of the early Beatles. That was over 40 years ago. Nevertheless, this classic but affordable hollow-body electric remains an industry favorite with many players.
A Little Bit About The Casino
Though Epiphone’s merger with Gibson in 1957 was historic, it’s the Casino™ that put the company on the map, so to speak. Back in the early 60s, when solid body axes just started taking over the world, the Casino™ held its ground as a preferred instrument and then some.
Released in 1961, the Casino™ archtop looked like the cousin of the Gibson ES-335. The two seemed to have a similar body and neck. However, while the Gibson model may have had more gravitas with professional six-stringers at the time, Epiphone’s Casino™ became a runaway hit when players saw them in the hands of the Beatles.
The Epiphone website explains, “By 1964, the Beatles were stars and when Paul McCartney went shopping for a new guitar that could feed back, he reached for a Casino. John Lennon and George Harrison soon bought their own and used their Casinos on stage and at Abbey Road throughout the band’s career.”
Those legendary Liverpudlians used a Casino™ when they recorded the monumental “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. For those who are keeping a tally, the Beach Boys also used Casinos™ here and there on their colossally important “Pet Sounds” collection.
Casino Specifications: The Neck
The Casino™ archtop sports a mahogany neck, 24.75″ scale and 22 medium jumbo frets with a Slim Taper™ “D” profile. Width at the nut is 1.68″. The fingerboard is rosewood.
There’s no bolt-on connection here – this is Gibson/Epiphone territory – which means the Casino™ has a glued neck joint. Adding to the guitar’s vintage authenticity is the characteristic Epiphone shaped headstock, familiar logo and white parallelogram fret-markers.
Body, Pick-ups And Bridge
The hollow body Casino™ is constructed of “5-ply maple with basswood top bracing,” which provides plenty of rich tone and biting feedback.
As for pick-ups, the Casino™ is loaded with Epiphone single coils, a P-90T and a P-90R. Tones are mixed and matched by way of four control knobs and a toggle switch.
For aggressive pickers and strummers, the Casino™ is a cinch to stay in tune with a LockTone™ Tune-o-Matic bridge and trapeze tailpiece.
The Casino™ is a cut above Ibanez Artcore instruments, which are fine electric hollow bodies but don’t offer the same chunkiness when called upon, like the Epiphone. Though it has nuances of being a jazz box, the Casino™ can and has rocked out with the best of them.
Other Notable Artists Who Use A Casino
Epiphone points out online that “Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, Paul Weller of the Jam, and Noel Gallagher of Oasis are just a few of the players who have made great records with Casinos.”
Lately, bluesman Gary Clark, Jr., has been blazing away with his cherry Casino™ Archtop, just one of many in his collection.
Considering the astronomical cost of guitars with similar pedigrees, the Epiphone Casino™ is a steal at around $599. Matched with the right amp, the sky is the limit with the Epiphone Casino™ archtop. Make mine cherry red, with a white pick guard.