Limited-Edition of John Lennon’s Beloved Guitar, the 1961 Epiphone Casino
December 4, 2011 by Dana Feldman
by Dana Feldman
Epiphone has launched the Epiphone 1961 Anniversary Casino marking a historical milestone in musical history. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of John Lennon’s legendary classic song “Imagine” as well as the 50th Anniversary of the release of one of Lennon’s favorite of guitars – The 1961 Epiphone Casino guitar. Lennon died at the young age of just forty years-old on December 8th, 1980.
It all began back in 1964 when The Beatles were already famous. One day Paul McCartney went shopping for a new guitar and discovered the Casino. It wasn’t long after that John Lennon and George Harrison followed suit and bought their own. They performed with their Casinos on stage and at Abbey Road throughout their careers. It can be heard on several legendary recordings including the 1967 classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” indelibly leaving an imprint on the landscape of music forever.
Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, Paul Weller of the Jam, and Noel Gallagher of Oasis are just a few of the players who made great records with Casinos. In 1961 the Casino sold for around $300. Today these original pieces can be valued at up to $15,000.
First released in 1961, the Epiphone Casino has been the go to guitar for music legends from Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Paul Weller, Dwight Yoakam, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood. It seems fitting to honor the 50th anniversary of the very first ever 1961 Casino in style and so Epiphone is proud to be doing just that by re-releasing the original model so that music lovers can purchase a piece of musical history. Per Jim Rosenberg, President of Epiphone Guitars, “The first Casino was made in 1961 so Epiphone has released the limited-edition 1961 Casino reissue to celebrate the 50 years of music making history.”
To celebrate the five decades of rock ‘n’ roll made with these guitars, Epiphone has produced a total of just 1,961 of these new limited-edition Epiphone 1961 Anniversary Casinos and all have many of the features which were discontinued after the original Casino’s first year of production. Each comes with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, thus enhancing the value, appeal and collectability of the guitar. These exclusive works of musical art are currently available at authorized Epiphone retailers worldwide for the U.S. MSRP of $1,332 (Trapeze tailpiece) and $1,415 (Tremotone™) while supplies last.
Rosenberg adds, “Arguably our most famous model, the Epiphone Casino has embodied everything rock ‘n’ roll for fifty years.” He goes on further saying of this limited-edition version, “The release of the 1961 Anniversary Edition delivers the classic performance of the original, along with the details that made this groundbreaking axe the choice of some of music’s guitar legends.”
The original included a classic vintage style which made it appealing visually, and unique to this original model, and never again available after 1961, were several unique features. Making that particular model a stand-out and must-have for musicians worldwide, the triangle metal logo badge on the headstock, “Dot” fingerboard inlays, a blank two-ply “bullet” trussrod cover, a tortoise-colored pick guard with foil “E”, and black dog-ear P-90 pickups.
So any of the lucky 1,961 buyers will be getting these reproduced features for a one-of-a-kind retro look which was not found on any of the guitars produced after 1961. Also included are the “burst” patterns on the front and back, a neck joint at the 16th fret (instead of the 17th), Wilkinson™ vintage-style tuners with small plastic buttons, and the historically accurate rectangle “blue label” inside the sound hole. It is safe to say that no detail of the original has been overlooked. Even the minutest of details have been added including the original U.S.A. made black P90s, which offer a stellar combination of high output and biting treble response, vintage two-conductor, braided, shielded wiring and black plastic covers and a Switchcraft™ three-way toggle and quarter inch output jack.
The Casino is also rare in that it is completely hollow allowing its unique signature sound which was made famous by The Beatles. The body is made of five-layer Maple/Birch with a solid Mahogany SlimTaper™ neck, attached using the traditional mortise and tenon neck joint, hand-fitted and glued to the body. Hardware includes a tune-o-matic bridge and the choice of either a Trapeze tailpiece or Epiphone’s new reissue of the original Tremotone™ vibrato. Each comes in an original-style hard case with gray exterior and blue plush interior.
An ideal guitar for both stage and studio, they can be heard on classic recordings of the twentieth century from the Beatles to the Beach Boys. Rosenberg, “We’re proud to offer musicians the opportunity to once again experience what makes one of Epiphone’s most versatile guitars so special.” Calling this an iconic guitar, “It has been a favorite of legends including the Beatles’ John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.”
Epiphone instruments and accessories are known globally for offering the very best in quality, value and performance. They are headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and are a part of Gibson.