3/15/2017

1949 Epiphone Byron Archtop Guitar





This is a customer's guitar that was in for some rehab and I found a very nice writeup on the model featuring a guitar only 19 serial numbers off from this fellow over at the NY Epiphone Registry -- which also places the year of birth for this one at 1949. I'm much more familiar with 1930s Epis and upon finding-out that this model was a replacement for the Olympic, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It has a similar vibe to the earlier Olympics and features a quite tight 8 3/8" waist with a 15 1/4" lower bout. Let's just call the outline "suggestive."

Materials include a solid spruce top and laminate mahogany (4-ply) back and sides. The neck is 3-piece mahogany/walnut(?)/mahogany and the board and bridge are both Brazilian rosewood. It has the old-style "under the fretboard" trussrod access (a bother), a long 25 1/2" scale length, a 1 5/8" nut width, and a medium (but fast) V-shaped neck profile. The sunburst looks great and the back and sides are finished in a deep red-brown to contrast with the thick, cream binding.

Work included a lot of fuss with the seams which essentially created a "neck reset" at the same time. After that I replaced some awful cheap tuners with some old 50s Harmony-style ones (which at least look the part), gave it a fret level/dress, repaired a damaged saddle (its slots were cut down a lot), and installed new adjuster threads and nuts in the bridge base. Setup is on-the-dot at 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA and I have it strung with 12s. She's hot to trot, for sure, and has that punchy, swinging Epi sound that's very, very driving.


The guitar is mostly original, though the tailpiece and tuners are replacements and the old bridge topper/saddle has been recut a little over the years. It's also missing its pickguard.


Rosewood headstock veneer and bone nut...




This bridge came glued to the top. Boy, that drives me nuts. The original threaded posts were also on it but the adjuster wheels were long gone. I installed new posts and hex-nut adjusters and then repaired some damage to the bridge top/saddle itself.





The 50s Harmony-style tuners from my bins aren't correct but they're at least in the right visual category.







The guitar came with an endpin jack installed through the tailpiece but it was not hooked-up to anything. I had a single small-dot K&K pickup in one of my drawers and I installed that gratis for the owner. He has a few other plugged-in Epis and I think having one without the big sensor K&Ks will give him another option that will work really well for applications where the usual K&K big sensor units might be prone to feedback. It also -- as usual -- sounds excellent.

1 comment:

David Richard said...

Very nice, I'm nuts about old Epiphones. That one reads like it was a challenge, in the seam repairs.