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1990s Epiphone by Gibson Emperor Archtop w/ 57 Classic PAFs & Case, Japan


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Up for sale, a circa 1990s Epiphone by Gibson Emperor archtop in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with a hardshell case. This Epiphone is a rare model, produced in small quantities in Japan, featuring a spruce top, maple back and sides, and the original Gibson '57 Classic PAF humbucker pair. Acoustically, this archtop has the immediate, lively natural acoustic quality emblematic of the percussive cut and clarity associated with the spruce/maple tonewood pairing. The lower bout measures 16" across, and the body depth is 2 3/4".

The genuine USA-made Gibson '57 Classic PAF humbucker pair has Alnico II magnet construction, and these pickups are wax-potted to eliminate unwanted microphonics. Yielding a certain mellowness from the 12-54 flatwound strings, the bridge pickup offers more midrange emphasis and treble sparkle, while the neck humbucker has a round, sweet quality that retains good clarity for complex chord voicings. This Emperor weighs only 6lbs 2oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with low action and accurate intonation.

The three-piece lightly figured maple neck has a slender C-shaped profile carve with moderate shoulders and a fast feel, measuring .820” deep at the 1st fret and .935” at the 9th. The slab rosewood fretboard boasts cream multi-ply binding, pearloid block inlay, and stock medium jumbo fretwire. The frets have good meat with well-rounded crowns and their full factory height, showing virtually no wear. This guitar plays cleanly up the 24 3/4“  scale with a straight neck and a responsive, optimally-adjusted truss rod. The stock bone nut measures a full 1 11/16” in width, and the headstock sports the Epiphone by Gibson logo and tree of life inlay. The original Schaller-style tuners are present, turning smoothly and holding pitch as they should, and the small "Made in Japan" foil sticker is also intact.

All of the electronics work as they should, with a three-way pickup selector switch and dedicated Volume and Tone knobs for each Gibson '57 Classic humbucker (the small PAF waterslide decals have fallen off, but their outlines are still faintly present). Due to off-gassing of the original pickguard, there is wear through the plating across the pickup covers, and the gold trapeze tailpiece is a modern replacement. The original carved dark rosewood bridge with compensated saddle and inlaid feet rounds out the hardware. The original "Epiphone by Gibson" orange oval label is visible through the bass-side F hole.

The gloss Tobacco Sunburst finish is framed by multi-ply binding and highlights prominent, tight bookmatched tiger flame figuring on the maple back, and broader flame on the rims. There is light pick scuffing on the treble side of the strum path, and cosmetic wear is otherwise limited to a few minor dings and light finish scratches on the body as a whole, largely clustered on the upper bout on the back. The gloss on the neck profile is nigh-flawless.

A black tolex hardshell case is included.