With its roots going back to as early as 1873, Epiphone, an American musical instrument brand is unarguably one of the most reputable guitar brands in the world.
With a long and exciting history in musical instrument manufacturing, Epiphone has held on to its prestige, even after Gibson purchased it in the year 1957.
Before this iconic purchase, Gibson was Epiphone’s main business rival in the archtop guitar market at the time.
Iconic players like John Lee Hooker (who used a Sheraton), Bob Dylan, Phil Upchurch, Les Paul, the Beatles, Dave Rawlings, Joe Pass, and many others have all used the Epiphone brand of guitars.
In this article, we will take a look at two major Epiphone models. This is the Casino and Sheraton. This will be an in-depth comparison of these two popular models of Epiphone.
The major difference between these two is that the Epiphone Casino is a completely hollow-body guitar while the Sheraton is a semi-hollow-body guitar.
The Casino also sounds a bit aggressive and raw while the Sheraton has a more smooth and rounded sonic edge.
About the Epiphone Casino
The Epiphone casino is a fully hollow body archtop guitar designed by Epiphone in 1961. They are produced and manufactured in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
They are ideal for stage and studio recordings. John Lennon is said to have used the three Epiphone Casinos held by the Beatles to record classics.
The Epiphone Casino offers the guitarist a transparent and ringing sound that enables overdrive if required.
Since its creation in the year 1961 by Epaminondas Stathopoulos, the Epiphone Casino has been found in the hands of great players like John Lennon, Keith Richard, George Harrison, Paul Mccartney, Howlin wolf, Brad Whitford, The Edge, The Beatles, Peter Green, and Dave Davies.
Epaminondas named the company manufacturing Epiphone after his nickname Epi and phone (meaning voice in Greek). That is an Epic voice.
The Musical instrument manufacturing company was originally established by his father Anastasios Stathopoulos in Smyrna way back in 1873 and later relocated to New York.
In Smyrna, the Ottomans Empire (now Turkey), The Greek company made unique lutes and fiddles. When they later relocated to New York, they also made banjo from a factory in Long Island City, New York.
Epaminondas after taking over from his father rebranded the company in 1928. That same year, the company commenced making guitars.
Epi later died in 1943 and his brothers Ophie and Frixo took over the company. They moved from the company to Philadelphia in 1951.
And In 1957 the Epiphone company was acquired by Gibson. The Epiphone is now utilized by various guitar brands starting with Gibson and other companies under contract with Gibson.
Nevertheless, The Epiphone is still figured out because of the hollow body of Epiphone Casinos with amazing glances found in the hands of star performers like the Beatles.
The hollow body enables the Epiphone Casino to deliver rounded and exact tones mostly found in jazz and blues. The hollow-bodied electric guitar could be said to be equivalent to a fully acoustic guitar due to its comparable clean and cordial tone.
The Epiphone Casino has nothing inside it just like the acoustic guitar. Another reason they sound bottomless. No sound hole.
About the Epiphone Sheraton
The Epiphone Sheraton is a thinline semi-hollow body guitar manufactured by Epiphone. The Epiphone Sheraton has various finishes. And all of its finishes have gold hardware, abalone, and pearloid fingerboard inlays.
The semi-hollow body guitar has two f-holes in the body which helps fight feedback. The Epiphone Sheraton also has an inner center block of maple which aids to produce thick tones.
The ornate vine inlay in the Epiphone Sheraton is similar to the original Epiphone guitar made around 1930.
Epiphone was the leading manufacturer of hollow-body and archtop guitars under the ownership of Epaminondas (Epi) Stathopoulo.
When Epi died in 1943, his brothers by name Orphie and Frixo took over the company. In 1951 Orphie and Frixo relocated the company from New York to Philadelphia in four months.
However, in 1957 the Epiphone company was bought by one of its main rivals known as Gibson. Gibson began to develop the Epiphone line of semi-hollow body guitars in 1958.
They recreated old-century archtops into Thinline. The developed Thinline electric guitar was fitted with double pickups rather than a single P-90.
Gibson kept developing the Epiphones for about two years until production shifted to Japan. In Japan major changes began to occur.
The Epiphone Sheraton is based on the Gibson ES series and is good for jazz, and blues and can also do rock styles.
John Lee Hooker, a great blues player played and cared for the Epiphone Sheraton more than any other guitar.
Unique details about the Epiphone Casino
The Epiphone casino is a fully hollow thinline-body electric guitar. The body shape is often regarded as ES-339.
Royal Tan gloss nitrocellulose, sunburst.
Glued-in mahogany neck with bound 12 Indian rosewood fretboard. Available in three colors, sunburst, turquoise, and cheer.
Double-cutaway styling, laminated-maple construction.
Pau Ferro with 22 medium jumbo frets and graph tech.
Two single-coil, P-90T and P-90R dogear classic pickups with chrome covers for the neck and bridge pickup.
Unique details about the Epiphone Sheraton
The Sheraton is a semi-hollow electric guitar.
Natural, sunburst, and cherry.
Glued in neck 5pc layered hard maple/walnut.
Double cutaway and layered maple body.
Triangle and block inlay of mother of pearl and abalone. The surface of the fretboard is bound.
Two humbuckers: proBucker 2 for the neck pickup and proBucker 3 for the bridge pickup.
Epiphone Casino vs Sheraton: Pickups
The Epiphone Casino pickup is known for its loud sound and light tones. The Casino pickups offer a preferable clean guitar sound that is better for vintage vibes.
The Sheraton pickup is great for its adequate build and design. It sustains better and offers dynamic responsiveness. The coil-splitting feature makes it better for silky smooth jazz, rock, and distortion.
Epiphone Casino vs Sheraton: Necks
The Epiphone Casino neck is best known for its rounded C-neck profile. It’s better for offering plenty of dynamic characters for jazz and blues.
The Epiphone Sheraton has a hard-layered maple material for the neck. It is stronger and more stable.
Epiphone Casino vs Sheraton: Finish
The Casino is great with its vintage looks and sunburst colour finish. The design of the Sheraton is better for its smooth and premium look.
Epiphone Casino vs Sheraton: Body
The Epiphone Casino is a fully hollow-body electric guitar. The Casino can be played unplugged without an arm because it is open. Great for practice at home.
The Epiphone Sheraton is a semi-hollow electric guitar. It is better for stage performance. The semi-acoustic feel can gain the guitar player more energy.
Brief History of Epiphone Casino and Epiphone Sheraton
The Epiphone Casino was introduced in 1961 as an alternative to the hollow body and semi-hollow body guitar that was popular in the late 1960s.
The Casino model is identical to the Gibson Es-330 but with a slight difference in body shape. The Epiphone Casino is entirely hollow.
The body of the Epiphone Casino is made out of laminated maple. The top is arch with 5-ply layered maple and the body edges are basswood.
The Casino offers more smooth and hollow tones with less sustain. However, they are prone to feedback.
The brighter P-90 pickup of the Casino is greatly better for its clean sound. It creates a far more open sound. Since the Casino was introduced in 1961, it has become the best-selling Epiphone archtop guitar.
The Casino was just one of the several new thinline archtop guitars in 1961. It is now a standard for rock and roll.
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones used the casino to record the demo for the song titled Satisfaction at chess record in Chicago.
The Epiphone Sheraton is another successful guitar designed in 1957 after Gibson purchased the company. Since then, Gibson has been manufacturing the Epiphone and Gibson in the same factory, side by side.
Due to this, the Epiphone Sheraton shares similarities with the Gibson ES-335. The pickup placement, wire configuration, and even the f-holes are comparable.
The small dissimilarity is that the ear of the Epiphone Sheraton is larger than the Gibson ES-335.
The Epiphone Sheraton and all its variations were produced after Gibson took over the company. Regardless, there are still Epiphones original.
The original Epiphone models were produced for 11 years. Between 1959 to 1970. The Sheraton guitar model Featured a Thinline body, double cutaway, and semi-hollow with a solid maple block down the centre.
They also included two New York single-coil pickups, dual knobs for volume control, and dual knobs for tone control.
In 1961 Gibson began to expand the Sheraton model and some changes were made to the Sheraton parts and materials.
The pickups are changed from the New York single coil to a mini-humbucker. The knobs for volume and tone control are made of gold Gibson bonnet.
The tuners that were originally Epiphone E tuners are Grovers now. And in addition, the new Epiphone Trem-o-tone adjustable vibrato tailpiece was introduced.
The Epiphone Sheraton model observed a lot of expansion till 1970 when production was discontinued in the U.S. and continued in Japan.
In Japan, the mini-humbucker pickups were upgraded to full-sized humbuckers. The serial number was changed, body and headstock evolved throughout the 1980s through 2002.
In 2002, production changed direction from Japan to Korea. In 2008, The serial number changed to all number types. Gibson also designed the Epiphone Sheraton I and Epiphone Sheraton II.
Serial Numbers and Factory Codes
The Epiphone serial number can be found on its label inside. The serial number can consist of both numbers and letters.
And also, with various formats. The serial number can include a space after the first digit. Let’s consider this format.
The first two digits (YY) represent the year of manufacture. Example 09. The second two digits (MM) represent the month of manufacture. Example 11.
The third two digits (FF) represent the manufacturing Factory. That is the factory code. Example 25. The remaining digits (RRRR) represent the ranking number. Example 0122.
From the example, here is what a typical Epiphone serial number looks like.
That is, the guitar was made in November 2009, factory 25, production unit 0122.
Some Asian-made (Korean, Indonesian, and Japanese) produced before 1993 and 1994 omitted this format and began with the factory codes.
It appeared FYYMMRRRRR
Another code format used on some recent Epiphone models is: FYYMRRRR
F is the factory code, YY is the year of manufacturing, and M is the month (where January =A, February = B and match =C, and so on)
An example is: S03D0263
Made in Samick Korea factory in April 2003, in unit 0263. You may need to study the following Factory Codes that begin with letters and numbers.
This list will spell out the factory and country that the Epiphone models are produced.
- EE Qingdao (China)
- F = Fujigen (Japan)
- I Saein ( Korea)
- I = (Indonesia)
- 15 = Qingdao (China) Electric models.
- 22 = Korea
The Epiphone Casino and Sheraton electric guitar are both iconic and top-class models. The Epiphone Casino is lightweight due to its fully hollow body when compared to the Sheraton model.
You may need to consider the Casino if you don’t prefer the heavy feel on your shoulder while performing with your guitar. However, the heavy weight of the Epiphone Sheraton aids its capability to sustain sound.
This makes the Epiphone Sheraton better for stage performance. The centre block inside the Sheraton is one of the factors that makes it heavy.
Nonetheless, the absence of this centre block makes the Epiphone casino less desirable for loud stage performances.
The Epiphone Casino is prone to feedback and If you play heavy rock genres, you may need to go for the Epiphone Sheraton.
Regardless, the Casino produces smooth and hollow tones. It also has unique cleans and can do a little rock distortion and overdrive.
The Epiphone Casino and Epiphone Sheraton are both guitars and machines a the same time. You may need to get both if you have the money.