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Epi Masterbilt Slotted Headstock 12 fret Dating the guitar

#1 User is offline   Wizard1 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:31 AM

I have a very nice Epiphone Masterbilt acoustic i don't seem to be able to find out any information about at all. Came with the Epi soft/hard zippered case. This guitar has 2 different #'s in side it along with the model.
Model AJ500RCSNS
Serial # on inner label GR-05040180
# on end of neck inside guitar is, 0503190120

This is a slotted headstock with neck joint at 12th fret. Appears to be Spruce Top with Indian Rosewood back and sides. I am interested in knowing point of manufacture, date of manufacture, and any other pertinent info about what seems to be a particularly rare model. I have not been able to find any information about this online at all so any accurate assistance would be greatly appreciated. It sounds like a grand piano, a truly magnificent guitar that plays effortlessly with an amazing array of tone available.
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#2 User is offline   Dodger11 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:55 AM

View PostWizard1, on 10 January 2018 - 07:31 AM, said:

I have a very nice Epiphone Masterbilt acoustic i don't seem to be able to find out any information about at all. Came with the Epi soft/hard zippered case. This guitar has 2 different #'s in side it along with the model.
Model AJ500RCSNS
Serial # on inner label GR-05040180
# on end of neck inside guitar is, 0503190120

This is a slotted headstock with neck joint at 12th fret. Appears to be Spruce Top with Indian Rosewood back and sides. I am interested in knowing point of manufacture, date of manufacture, and any other pertinent info about what seems to be a particularly rare model. I have not been able to find any information about this online at all so any accurate assistance would be greatly appreciated. It sounds like a grand piano, a truly magnificent guitar that plays effortlessly with an amazing array of tone available.


just from what I've learned from others on this site I think the GR is Grand Rewards factory in China and the guitar was built in April 2005 (the 0504 at the start. I remember some other members enthusing about their 12 fret Masterbilts and they seemed to be a well sought after model that sounded great...
EJ160E, AJ100, LP100
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#3 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:12 PM

View PostWizard1, on 10 January 2018 - 07:31 AM, said:

Appears to be Spruce Top with Indian Rosewood back and sides.


That will have a cedar top, I believe, with rosewood back and sides. Yeah, those 12-fret slot-heads really have the volume and tone! Largely a result of the bridge placement, I'm told....

View PostWizard1, on 10 January 2018 - 07:31 AM, said:

I am interested in knowing point of manufacture, date of manufacture, and any other pertinent info about what seems to be a particularly rare model. I have not been able to find any information about this online at all so any accurate assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Dodger's right - it came out of the Grand Reward factory in China - a highly respected plant. It's a 2005.

Congrats on a great Epi!
2011 Guild F50R burst
2002 Guild JF30-12 burst 


2008 Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500RAVS


2012 Epiphone Lennon EJ-160E VS


1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string sunburst

2012 Epiphone Dot CH

2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

Yamaha Motif XS7

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#4 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:15 PM

View PostWizard1, on 10 January 2018 - 07:31 AM, said:

....Model AJ500RCSNS....


The "RC" stands for rosewood, cedar. The "NS" is natural satin. The extra "S" is for slot-head, I guess. Posted Image
2011 Guild F50R burst
2002 Guild JF30-12 burst 


2008 Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500RAVS


2012 Epiphone Lennon EJ-160E VS


1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string sunburst

2012 Epiphone Dot CH

2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

Yamaha Motif XS7

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#5 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:26 PM

The 12 fret AJ500RC is a great guitar. Congratulations on finding one!

It seems inspired by Gibson's Roy Smeck Radio Grande model, which was made from 1964-1939. Back then, Smeck was a popular artist known as the "Wizard of the Strings," and was an early and influential Gibson endorser, sort of the way Les Paul was in the '50s. Like the AJ500 RC, the Radio Grande was a 12-fret rosewood dreadnaught, but with a spruce top, solid headstock, and short scale (your Epi is long scale). A bigger difference is that the Smeck was set up for Hawaiian style playing, where the guitar is in a horizontal position in your lap or on a stand, like the lap steels used often in Country music. Over the years, players modified the neck and nut so they could be played Spanish style (vertically and against your body, like the majority of acoustic and electric guitars). Renowned for their tone and power, the modified Radio Grande became quite collectible and expensive over the years, along with its sibling, the Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe, which was mahogany. It was great that Epiphone gave us a model inspired by this terrific, rare old Gibson (to my knowledge, Epiphone never built any guitar with similar specs in the thirties or after, even).

I have one myself, and I have to say its one of my very favorite guitars (and I have five Masterbilt, four Elitist, and eleven Gibson acoustics). It compares very favorably to my Gibson Stage Deluxe Rosewood, which is Gibson's Radio Grande inspired 12-fret model. By the way, Gibson calls the Stage Deluxe Rosewood "The Grand Piano of Acoustics," just as you described your AJ500RC! The AJ500RC and the Stage Deluxe Rosewood have somehat different sonic pallets, owing to the differences between the AJ500RC's cedar top and the Gibson's Adirondack Red Spruce top, combined with the scale length differences (Gibson=short, Epiphone=long) and internal bracing differences, etc. But, both are very articulate, dynamic, and powerful (though the cedar top tends to create more natural compression when the AJ500RC is strummed hard). Both also have nice full necks and vintage-inspired appointments like the inlays. The slot head of the AJ500RC adds to its retro appeal, too, and makes it very unique in the Epiphone/Gibson world, as its scarcely used by either.

As Cougar pointed out, much of the tone of a 12-fret is due to its bridge placement. To maintain the correct scale length (which is the distance between nut and saddle), the bridge is located further away from the soundhole than on a 14-fret model, and more into the fattest part of the top. Subsequently, more string energy is transferred there when the guitar is played, resulting in the extra volume, dynamics, and beautiful, fat tones.

Speaking of the bridge, one thing to watch out for is for it lifting. These models are prone to this, so be on the lookout. I wouldn't hesitate to have mine fixed by a qualified luthier at the first sign.

It's great that you got yours with the foam case, too. My guitar didn't come with one. At first (2004 ish?), all the Masterbilts came with a case, but Epiphone later phased this out to keep prices from increasing. I bought mine after they stopped including the case with the guitar, so I had to track one down afterwards.

I hope you enjoy your 12 fret AJ500RC. It's a very special model, and hard to come by on the used market. I doubt many were made, and those of us who have them tend to hold on to them!

Red 333

This post has been edited by Red 333: 11 January 2018 - 02:28 PM

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#6 User is offline   DennisB643 

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 10:01 AM

Well said Red and spot on about the issues with the bridge lifting...well worth the repair.

btw...You wouldn't have a Elite J-200 you'r be willing to part with would you?
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500PNS
Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RE
Epiphone DR-100
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Epiphone EL-00 Pro
Martin D-41
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#7 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 01:32 PM

Dennis, I do have one, but aren't inclined to part with it, especially with the price of a Gibby. It's really a terrific sounding guitar. I'll keep you in mind though if I am ever ready to part with it. I think the Elitist J-200 and the AJ500RCS are at the top of the Epiphone acoustic list (that I've played) in the last twenty years (though I just got a roundhole Masterbilt Century DeLuxe that I'm falling in love with, too!).

Not an acoustic, but how about a Broadway? I have one if those that needs a home.

Red 333

This post has been edited by Red 333: 13 January 2018 - 01:39 PM

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#8 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 01:56 PM

View PostRed 333, on 11 January 2018 - 02:26 PM, said:

....I have one myself, and I have to say its one of my very favorite guitars (and I have five Masterbilt, four Elitist, and eleven Gibson acoustics).....


Eleven Gibsons! I still don't have one. I was close recently with a studio deluxe Songwriter 12-string, but it was delivered with a large crack on the soundboard and I had to return it for a refund. Still looking. I've sold off most of my Masterbilts to fund a couple super-nice Guild 6 and 12 strings, and perhaps a future Gibbie. My RC was also an '05. I've whittled down to a burst EF-500 RAVS Masterbilt (also an '05 out of Grand Reward), which is not only pretty, but I swear in the same sonic neighborhood as the RC, even with its little OM body....

Posted Image
2011 Guild F50R burst
2002 Guild JF30-12 burst 


2008 Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500RAVS


2012 Epiphone Lennon EJ-160E VS


1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string sunburst

2012 Epiphone Dot CH

2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

Yamaha Motif XS7

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#9 User is offline   DennisB643 

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 02:37 PM

Thanks Red much appreciated!
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500PNS
Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RE
Epiphone DR-100
Epiphone Dobro
Epiphone EL-00 Pro
Martin D-41
Fender Stratocaster
Nouveau Gibson NV-12
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#10 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 05:01 PM

View PostCougar, on 13 January 2018 - 01:56 PM, said:

...I've whittled down to a burst EF-500 RAVS Masterbilt (also an '05 out of Grand Reward)....


It's an '08 out of Grand Reward. I had it wrong on my list... Posted Image
2011 Guild F50R burst
2002 Guild JF30-12 burst 


2008 Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500RAVS


2012 Epiphone Lennon EJ-160E VS


1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string sunburst

2012 Epiphone Dot CH

2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

Yamaha Motif XS7

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