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Epiphone ft-134

#1 User is offline   chriss 

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:44 AM

I bought this guitar recently for about 125 dollars. It had a slight buzz in it, I found a loose nut under the saddle fixed it and viola. It sang. I have seen alot of skeptical praise of these guitars. I think it's wonderful. When you play a chord every note is distinct and crystal clear. It plays blues like a pro...and some one of note here said, they'll never sound as good as a Masterbilt. Well I own a Masterbilt and the ft-134 outshines it. It's a 000 body size, adjustable bridge, neck bolted on and in near pristine condition. Action is a bit high, but I'm working on that. I mainly wrote to find more about this guitar on google I find nothing.

#2 User is offline   TommyK 

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:58 AM

Here is >>>>>>TommyK's Handy Dandy Loose Neck Block Treatise<<<<<<<<

It will show the mode of failure that, among other things, leads to high action. Not sayin' this is your cause of High Action, but for a Norlin built FT, it's the first thing to check and correct. The above treatise will show you how I fixed mine.

Does yours have a blue or tan label?

Pictures, pictures, we always want pictures.
~~~~~~~
"Fair" is never "Even" --- me again.
"... and Bob's your uncle," --- TWilson
"The closer you get to civilization, the less civilized humans become" --- me again.
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that the Ark was built by a lone amateur and the Titanic by a staff of highly educated, highly trained engineers." ... Jimmy John's.

Guitars = Chick Magnet
Guitar Hero = Guy Magnet
You do the math.

"If you've got time to breathe, you've got time for music," Briscoe Darling
"If it ain't got a hole, it ain't got no soul," me, TommyK

#3 User is offline   chriss 

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:24 AM

I don't have pics at the moment, but the guitar at this link looks identical. http://www.guitar-mu...R-WITH-CASE-WEE

It does have a blue label, the owner I bought it from seems to think it was made in 1970, but if the numbers for the ft-series are sequential ft 120 being around 1970 and ft 135 being around 1974 that puts this one at ft-134. It's just such a mystery guitar, I can find tons about every model around it but that one. The action is maybe, maybe just over a 1/4th an inch at the 12th fret. The neck looks straight, I think it was just maybe designed with high saddle. I think if I replace the saddle it will be fine. The guitar was in near pristine condition. It has very nice tuners, that I see in the mid to high range models of that time, enclosed metal, no plastic. Also the headstock has Epiphone written in pearloid instead of the usual gold. I adore the sound of this guitar. So clear, but poking around some other blogs. I have found that if these japanese ft series age very well, ie starting with a very flat sound and becoming very rich. After reading that, that was the word i was looking for, the sound is very texture. The new masterbilt I have has good protection, perfection intonation, but just no character. This lil ft just has such rich layers of sound, possibly from the aging.

#4 User is offline   chriss 

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:30 AM

Ack spelling errors... I assume it was made in 73....textured sound and masterbilt has good projection...

Anywho... the label thing... it has a blue label on the back where the neck attached but has a brown label on the interior.

#5 User is offline   Ship of fools 

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 12:49 PM

The FT-134 was produced starting in 73 and made up to 75, but with the brownish label I would think yours came later 74/75 from Korea and not Japan. They were considered to be a student model and some pretty heavy duty bracing compared to their counterparts and I think they were a all laminate instrument. So as TommyK has pointed out we need pictures which can be done through something like www.Photbucket.com its free and easy to use.Ship..... oh and pics of the labels would help a lot inside and on the back.

#6 User is offline   chriss 

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 04:53 AM

I will get pics up this weekend. Thank you for the information Ship of Fools. If it's a student size guitar, it has a normal size neck and fretting. I have let about 5 other people play it and they all agree it's the best sounding acoustic of that size they've ever played. I'm really excited about it. BTW when I was mentioned the label colors. I was doing it for memory, not with the guitar in front of me. The back label on the neck is brown, with the epiphone serial no. of 920823. and the interior label is blue made in japan ft-134.

#7 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 08:49 AM

[quote name='chriss]poking around some other blogs. I have found that if these japanese ft series age very well' date=' ie starting with a very flat sound and becoming very rich. After reading that, that was the word i was looking for, the sound is very texture. The new masterbilt I have has good protection, perfection intonation, but just no character. This lil ft just has such rich layers of sound, possibly from the aging.[/quote']

First, Congrats on yer new to you guitar. And give yerself a bit of credit Hoss. No guitar plays blues like a pro. I betcha I can pick it up and hold it to my ear and not hear a thing. It is you making a joyful noise.

Not sure what blogs you have been looking at but if the guitar does have a laminate top as someone has suggested, than it ain't gonna change much with age. Decades down the road it will pretty much sould like it did when new.

That does not mean it is not a sweet sounding and playing geetar - just that laminate guitars do not age like those made of solid woods.
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#8 User is offline   Ship of fools 

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 03:35 AM

Hey Chriss student guitar is not the size, it just means its not one of their high end guitars and the blue label inside means MIJ, were as a brown label inside would mean Korean made.So enjoy her and play the living daylights out of her and she'll be good to you and make some beautiful noise.Ship

#9 User is offline   TommyK 

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 01:40 PM

Quote

I don't have pics at the moment, but the guitar at this link looks identical. http://www.guitar-mu...R-WITH-CASE-WEE

It does have a blue label, the owner I bought it from seems to think it was made in 1970, but if the numbers for the ft-series are sequential ft 120 being around 1970 and ft 135 being around 1974 that puts this one at ft-134. It's just such a mystery guitar, I can find tons about every model around it but that one. The action is maybe, maybe just over a 1/4th an inch at the 12th fret. The neck looks straight, I think it was just maybe designed with high saddle. I think if I replace the saddle it will be fine. The guitar was in near pristine condition. It has very nice tuners, that I see in the mid to high range models of that time, enclosed metal, no plastic. Also the headstock has Epiphone written in pearloid instead of the usual gold. I adore the sound of this guitar. So clear, but poking around some other blogs. I have found that if these japanese ft series age very well, ie starting with a very flat sound and becoming very rich. After reading that, that was the word i was looking for, the sound is very texture. The new masterbilt I have has good protection, perfection intonation, but just no character. This lil ft just has such rich layers of sound, possibly from the aging.



I think you're a bit confused Chriss. The model numbers have nothing to do with year of production. Compare to the model number, Pontiac G6. It was made, maybe still made, over a number of years. There were companion models like a G4, I think that was made at the same time, but was a bit different model.

FT120 is an old Epiphone was a vintage model designation, along with FT100, FT110 Frontier, used prior to Gibson, et. al. (Chicago Music Instrument Co.) to an Ecuadorian company known as Norlin.

Here is Larens's rendering of the Epiphone / NOrlin history:

Quote

1957- Chicago Musical Instrument (CMI) purchases Epiphone (announced May 10, 1957). It had previously acquired Gibson in the spring of 1944.

December 19, 1969- ECL Industries Inc. ( "Ecuadorian Company Limited"-incorporated in Delaware and a U.S. subsidiary of a Panamanian corporation of the same name)officially takes over CMI. Norlin is an amalgamation of the first syllable of ECL's chairman's first name, Norton Stevens and the last syllable of CMI's president M.H. Berlin's last name.

1970- ECL's U.S. operation becomes "Norlin Industries Inc." and the Panamanian corporation becomes "Norlin Corporation". CMI remains a subsidiary of the U.S. operation.

August 1970- Epiphone production in Kalamazoo is halted. Domestic Epiphone guitars are still shipped into early 1971.

1971- Beginning in the spring of 1971, Norlin imports Matsumoku/Aria-made models from Japan which have been re-branded as Epiphones. These models use the familiar blue "Kalamazoo"-type Epiphone interior labels and early models make use of actual left-over Kalamazoo labels bearing the "Union Made" designation. The first year (1971) the model nomenclature was carried-over from the Aria models. In 1972 new model designations using the alpha prefixes "FT", "EA" and "ET" were used on these imported Epiphones.

1972- A merger of Norlin Industries Inc. and CMI operations creates "Norlin Music Inc." A few years later the name was again changed back to "Norlin Industries Inc.

1975- Matsumoku begins production of a Japan-exclusive line of higher-end Epiphones. These at first are sold only in Japan but by 1979 the arch top line is distributed world-wide.

1975- Norlin opens the Nashville operation producing the higher volume instruments such as the Les Paul models while the Kalamazoo operation, now antiquated, continues making the lower volume models. By 1977 the corporate center of Gibson's universe was Nashville. Epiphone corporate operations are moved to Lincolnwood, Illinois. At about this point Epiphone began using the "Norlin" square label replacing the blue K-Zoo-type label. The higher-end line of Matsumoku-made Epiphone labels continue to reference "Epiphone/Kalamazoo"

June 1979- Norlin merges Gibson Inc. into Norlin Industries Inc. and Gibson ceases to exist as a manufacturing operation becoming only a brand name as Epiphone had previously become.

1979/1980- The "FT" acoustic line is replaced by the "PR" Presentation line of acoustics. The "PR" series continues production in Korea after production is moved there in 1983.

July 1983- he decision to close the Kalamazoo factory is made and a year later in September,1984 operations ceased in Kalamazoo. For the last year of operation the Kalamazoo factory diversified into making things like clock cases, water bed frames and conversion van parts to keep the employees working.

1983- Most Epiphone guitar production is moved to Korea and contracted out to Samick. Matsumoku continues to make the higher-end line of Epiphone instruments in Japan. Some Epiphone instruments at this point in time are also made in Taiwan and Indonesia

January 15,1986- "Gibson Guitar Corp." is created when Henry Juszkiwwicz, David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski purchases Norlin's fretted instrument division. GGC later becomes Gibson Musical Instruments (GMI).

1985/1986- While Henry J and company were negotiating for the Gibson name, three former Gibson employees, Jim Deurloo, Marvin Lamb and J.P. Moats were working their own deal to take over the former Gibson factory at 225 Parsons Street in K-Zoo and begin making "Heritage" guitars.

June, 1989- Gibson opens up their Bozeman, Montana acoustic operation Gibson having previously used the Nashville factory whose climate was determined to be unsuited for acoustic production.


Hopes that clears some things up regarding dates and such. For more fascinating information check out " Gibson Guitars: 100 Of An American Icon" by Walter Carter.

If I were one to wager, my bet would be that the PR-720S, the subject of the original post, was made by Samick and dates to September of 1991.

Have to go mend my nets and tend my lines.


Larens


We can infer from this that since this Epi has a blue label, it is probably 1975 or older. If it has a square tan label it is probably 1975 or newer.

The serial number on your 134 is meaningless. These were issued in anything but a serial fashion. Description and inspection is the only way to get a 'rough' idea of age.

This site has a listing of model numbers and names and their ages.

http://www.provide.n...h/epiphone.html

Note that he lists the numeric portion of the model number first, followed by the prefixes.. I don't know why. FT120 was resurrected in 1979, but bore little resemblence to the vintage FT120. The FT models also carried vintage model names like "Texan" and "Caballero", although not universally applied

Generally speaking,

FT13X was a 000 sized guit tar. tight wasted, some call a finger picker. I'm fairly certain the FT120 fell in this category. aka "Caballero" These all had "adjustable necks", i.e. bolt-on. Top of the line of this style was the FT330 with fixed neck

FT14X was a full sized, square shouldered dreadnaught. aka "Texan"

FT15X Was a full sized square shouldered dreadnaught, but a bit fancier. aka "Texan" Two upper levels of this style was the FT350, fixed neck and FT550, fixed neck and three piece back, a real looker.

FT16X Was a full sized square shouldered dreadnaught 12 string. aka "Bard" Also available in upper levels.

The "X"s were substituted with various digits from ) to 7 or higher. All FT14X's were similar, except for bling level. In some cases a higher digit, e.g. 0 vs 5 indicated a higher level of bling, but this does not hold perfectly true.

One not on the above site is the

FT570 Was a Super Jumber like an SJ200 with large lower bout. aka "Sheraton" No, not an arch top, but a flat top borrowing an erstwhile arch top name.

Check out the 1974 catalog here: http://www.matsumoku...catalog_th.html

Note there is no FT140, nor FT147. These were later introduced models. the FT140 being a bit plainer. Not sure what the 147 looked like.
~~~~~~~
"Fair" is never "Even" --- me again.
"... and Bob's your uncle," --- TWilson
"The closer you get to civilization, the less civilized humans become" --- me again.
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that the Ark was built by a lone amateur and the Titanic by a staff of highly educated, highly trained engineers." ... Jimmy John's.

Guitars = Chick Magnet
Guitar Hero = Guy Magnet
You do the math.

"If you've got time to breathe, you've got time for music," Briscoe Darling
"If it ain't got a hole, it ain't got no soul," me, TommyK

#10 User is offline   MickeyNJ 

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:48 PM

Chriss, Congrats on your Epi purchase. Wow…TommyK, once again a wealth of information. You helped me date my FT-165 Bard a few months back which is now at the luthiers getting a bone nut and saddle, shim and setup. He’s a young guy and suggested a double wide bone saddle to replace the adjustable metal inlay. I’ll of course keep the inlay for future restoration but though I give it a try. I’ll post some pics when I get it back.

#11 User is offline   Ship of fools 

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 04:03 AM

MickeyNJ, don't and I repeat DON'T get a double wide bone saddle. It would serve you well to have the unit taken out and have it refilled with rosewood and have a new saddle slot routted out instead. You are going to experieince some not great intonation the way he suggested, so either fix a new bone saddle into the old unit which can be done with someone who has worked on them before or as I suggested fill it in and start from there and you will get the correct ( as much as possible ) intonation up the fingerboard. That is a lzy mans way of fixing that problem.Ship

#12 User is offline   MickeyNJ 

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 11:59 AM

ouch...or should I say Oh Ship!!!. I will call tomorrow to talk to him about this. I hope I'm not too late, it's supposed to be done by this weekend. I am very new to all this so I appreciate any and all input. Thanks Ship

#13 User is offline   TommyK 

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 01:26 PM

Go ahead and let him do the wide saddle. It's not like it's undoable. I've heard some who love the upgrade. Only you can say for sure.
~~~~~~~
"Fair" is never "Even" --- me again.
"... and Bob's your uncle," --- TWilson
"The closer you get to civilization, the less civilized humans become" --- me again.
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that the Ark was built by a lone amateur and the Titanic by a staff of highly educated, highly trained engineers." ... Jimmy John's.

Guitars = Chick Magnet
Guitar Hero = Guy Magnet
You do the math.

"If you've got time to breathe, you've got time for music," Briscoe Darling
"If it ain't got a hole, it ain't got no soul," me, TommyK

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