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Epiphone FT 550

#1 User is offline   livewire 

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 01:00 PM

I recently played a 1974 Epiphone FT 550. I have always loved the Epiphone accoustic guitars!! I am considreing buying this one. I need to know how much the current value is. I feel the asking price is a bit low. It has a few scratches, but hey, it's 33 years old!! Please reply

#2 User is offline   boy.chutney 

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:40 PM

hi livewire,
there is a design problem with this model -- see this posting for details.
http://www.gibson.co...id=3&tid=154155
I can't view the pics in the posting but the description of the problem is spot on. Would like to see tommyk's fix -- tommyk are you there? -- or if anyone else has info, 'twould be welcome. thanks!
chutney boy

#3 User is offline   Guest 

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 09:54 PM

[quote name='livewire]I recently played a 1974 Epiphone FT 550. I have always loved the Epiphone accoustic guitars!! I am considreing buying this one. I need to know how much the current value is. I feel the asking price is a bit low. It has a few scratches' date=' but hey, it's 33 years old!! Please reply[/quote']

These go on E Bay from about $175 to $250 depending upon condition and sometimes they can go for even more...or even less depending upon condition and how informed the buyer is. Truth be told, any more than $175-$200 is over-priced because these things were completely laminated woods and today for even $200 you can buy a pretty good guitar with at least a solid wood top. If I recall the FT-550 was the one with the D-35-esque three piece back with a center piece of maple and the side panels of Jacaranda which is a trade name of a South American rosewood-like (though not related to rosewood) species. Again, while having an aesthetic quality, the woods are veneered laminates (plywood). The structural problem previously mentioned doesn't apply to these particular instruments since the FT-550 has a set-neck but another problem found in the set-neck models was a de-lamination (separation) of the scarf joint (joining two shorter pieces of wood to make one longer piece) at the heel of the neck. The FT-550 was made by Matsumoku (parent company of Aria Guitars) and was very near to top of the Epiphone line starting about 1973 (listing for around $300 (street-$200) in 1976) but the entire Epiphone line at this point in time was less than stellar. If reasonably priced (under $200) and the guitar checks out for the aforementioned structural issue, it may prove to be be a very enjoyable instrument but as I said, I might check out what's available for that price in a guitar with perhaps a bit less bling-factor and more construction and tonal substance. Good luck.

...and Al's your uncle.

#4 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 09:59 AM

Nice post, Uncle Al.

#5 User is offline   Chefman 

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 10:11 PM

I realize this is an old thread, but my curiosity is piqued. I was surfing around and found one of the FT-550 Excellente models listed on a website priced at $1899! I was intrigued, so I googled and found this informative thread, but if these guitars are basically plywood, what would make this particular instrument worth that much? I have seen others listed before on Ebay and other sites for about $500-600. Is this just an unscrupulous dealer trying to take advantage of someone not doing their research?
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#6 User is offline   Ship of fools 

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 09:37 AM

Daddio wrote:
Hi all, and thanks for reading. I've recently taken posession of the above instrument, and I wonder if anyone has any info on it, and if I might be able to trace the year of manufacture by using the serial #. It is in great shape, although the action is a bit high. It sounds amazing, and if it were just a little easier to play it would be perfect. I did a slight truss rod adjustment, and looking inside, there's a bolt and nut there, but it's removal (I put it back on) doesn't seem to do anything. If I could get the neck off I could shim it. The saddle (ivory) is already really low, barely above the bridge, so there doesn't seem to be a way to lower the action. Thanks for reading, and I hope there's someone who can help.

Thanks!


Serial numbers will be of no help in dating your instrument but I can tell you that the FT-550 was introduced about 1972 and was around until about 1977. It was near the top of the Epiphone acoustic line in its time but it was still an all-laminated body with (as you've discovered) a bolt-on (albeit "heeled") neck. As I recall, it had a three piece jacaranda (a rosewood-type wood)/maple/jacaranda back, jacaranda sides and a spruce top but as I said, this was a veneer over laminated wood guitar. Still, a pretty nice guitar. Vintage? Ermmm that term is really over-used and quite ambiguous but it is about thirty five years old. It was street-priced around $230 when new (listing around $300) and they probably go for around that now depending upon condition. These guitars were made in Japan by Matsumoku which was the parent company of brands like Aria and Westone. They do have a proclivity toward neck issues and while having bolt-on necks, they're still glued in so resets can be problematic and not an amateur night proposition. A bigger issue is the neck coming apart at the heel scarf/butt joint which was also common on its super jumbo-bodied sister model the FT-570. Short of a neck reset, truss rod adjustment and shaving the saddle are probably your only options for lowering the action. Even if you could remove the neck there's no way to "shim" that type of construction. Tweak the truss rod, shave the saddle (while maintaining a good "break" on the strings at the saddle), use light gauge strings and it should make playing a bit easier. The saddle probably isn't ivory and more-likely bone or a synthetic but a repair guy could probably make you a suitable replacement for a reasonable amount of money (<$40) and also get the action down a bit. The "Excellente' " name as it was pointed out, was also used on a Kalamazoo-made Epiphone square-shouldered dreadnought model, the original FT-120(The FT-120 nomenclature was also used at the time of your guitar on a low-end grand concert-sized model) which was made of Brazilian rosewood and is exceedingly rare and expensive ($12K+). Good luck with your guitar and welcome to the forum.

Larens

Topic: Someone please help me date my
Yep someone is going to get ripped if they buy it for that amount and even at 500-600 is to far out there a for what is a nice laminate guitar with a value of around $200.00 in great shape.ship

#7 User is offline   mooseguy 

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:45 PM

Hi Ship

Your reply is right on the mark-as an Excllente collector, I own both the genuine, their various reissues
and also had a 550FT. This guitar was a real disappointment and gotten rid of as soon as I could. Just a crime that Epiphone ever applied the Excellente model name to this line

Regards,

Moose

P.S. Still looking for the real thing or a Bozeman reissue and ready to buy

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#8 User is offline   Ship of fools 

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 09:10 PM

They are very pretty guitars with those three piece backs. http://www.matsumoku...s/1974/pg3.html
The
Acoustic blue book says one in excellent shape is $275-325.00 and that is at the very high end.ship

#9 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 08:54 AM

Quote

Hi Ship

Your reply is right on the mark-as an Excllente collector, I own both the genuine, their various reissues
and also had a 550FT. This guitar was a real disappointment and gotten rid of as soon as I could. Just a crime that Epiphone ever applied the Excellente model name to this line


Amen Moose.

There are times I think it is a shame that Gibson attaches model names and numbers of guitars from their past catalogs to some of their new offerings which when you look under the hood bear little resemblance to the originals.

No Excellentes but I did dig up a Kalamazo-made Frontier. Played it and liked it alot but then I saw the price tag. Forget-about-it. To console myself I scrounged up a late 1950s Harmony Sovereign jumbo. It worked out well as I like that guitar so much, I am thinking about buying the 12 string version.
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#10 User is offline   coopent 

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 02:53 AM

I have a curiosity re: what criteria is used and how it is chosen in placing value upon a Gibson built Epiphone Excellente FT-120?

#11 User is offline   TommyK 

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:21 PM

 coopent, on 25 July 2010 - 02:53 AM, said:

I have a curiosity re: what criteria is used and how it is chosen in placing value upon a Gibson built Epiphone Excellente FT-120?


Market value, and condition.

Values expressed here are guestimates by people who what people are willing to pay (market value) for these models.

The FT550 and FT120 "Excellente" are two totally different animals. The FT120 "Excellente" is highly sought after as it was one of the last guitars Epiphone built in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States before the new owners (1969-ish) of Gibson, et.al. moved Epiphone production to Japan. The company responsible for moving Epiphone production to Japan was named Norlin. The FT120, FT110 and other "FT" model numbers less than 100 were pre-Norlin. The subject of this thread FT550 was a Norlin guitar, built by Matsumoku of Japan. These Early Norlin Epiphones were re-branded Aria guitars, also built by Matsumoku, and not made of using the same fit, finish and materials of the earlier Kalamazoo built Epiphones.

Bottom line, any guitar is valued at what someone is willing to sell it for, as long as he can find a buyer at that price.

If you have a FT120 "Excellente", a pre-Norlin Epiphone, in good condition, it could command many hundreds to several thousand dollars.

btw, the above mentioned FT550 at $1899... is over priced. Listing a anything, say, on EBay is a whole lot different that getting it sold. $200 - $400 tops. You'd be money ahead buying a brand new Epiphone for that kind of money. You'd get a whole lot more guitar. But the FT550 is still nice for what it is.
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