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Gibson/Epiphone Spotlight Info needed... Rare or oddball...perhaps a bit of both.

#1 User is offline   Dawgupp 

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 10:09 PM

Hey All,

Off the wall question of the day...

I have a Gibson/Epiphone Nouveau Spotlight. It appears all original including the black EMG pickups, black Steinberger bridge without a whammy bar, black tuners and is the natural wood top with a neck through design. It's kinda heavy but the sustain is amazing & the guitar is simple in its layout. Uncomplicated is good. And it is in amazing condition... [thumbup]

I have been told these were manufactured in late 1988 perhaps into early 1989, overseas (Japan I believe) and assembled here at Gibson Nashville. Urban legend has it that PRS sued Gibson because of the similarities and Gibson figured why bother so production ceased at about 100 to 150 guitars. They came in black or white as well as the natural wood top...any serial number that was on it was possibly a sticker because I can't find a thing and I don't want to take the guitar apart. The guitar came with a Gibson "chainsaw" case, no paper work or manuals or anything at all, not a surprise considering its age.

I took it to a recent vintage guitar show up in Santa Monica. Lots of interest because of the chainsaw case but when I told them it wasn't a Les Paul and was a Spotlight all I got were blank stares and "huh?". Lots of people wanted to see it and only one dealer seemed to have any idea what it was.

I have found little of anything on them other than a small bit of info at MyRareGuitars.com. The guitar at myrareguitars looks exactly as mine does. I tried downloading a picture of my guitar but had no luck. Apparently I am computer challenged...anyway any help or info that someone can provide would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks ahead of time!

Jay in the OC

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#2 User is offline   animalfarm 

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 10:40 PM

Of course, seeing Pics would help greatly!!! I just added a "POSTING PICTURES"
section at the top of the "Do-it-Yourself" Thread in the Epiphone Lounge. 2 entries,
both use Photobucket. Try giving it a look-over, maybe it'll help. I use photobucket,
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#3 User is offline   midiman56 

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 11:18 PM

Now this one is interesting ...

Toi begin with, I have no first-hand knowledge of this guitar whatsoever, but since I am always intrigued by guitars I jnow nothing about, I did a little net-digging myself. You're right, Dawg ... there is not a lot of info to be found on this guitar ...

To begin with, the story about PRS sueing Gibson over this guitar seems to be the straight scoop. One look at the Spotlight and it's pretty easy to see why:

Posted Image
Posted Image

The Achilles' Heel of this guitar seems to have been the Steinberger designed trem system. A very nice design manufactured by Honer but out of such cheap pot metal that one or two deep bends would pretty much destroy it. If your guitar still has the original trem, Dawg ... then you have a rare bird, indeed! Here's a picture of it along with the EMG-designed pickups:

Posted Image

The fretboard was apparently carbon reinforced with MOP chevrons ... nice looking and should be good and strong:

Posted Image

The body is reported to be a solid piece of mahogany, but as I said, I can neither conform nor deny. Looks good in this pic though:

Posted Image

So ... that's all I know. Hope this helps. I enjoyed just learning about another of Epi's cool, albeit short-lived guitars!

Jim
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#4 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:06 PM

View PostDawgupp, on 09 September 2010 - 10:09 PM, said:

…black Steinberger bridge without a whammy bar



A beauty [smile]

Just FYI: For the missing whammy bar you can easily get a replacement. Timm Small (luthier) sells whammy bars for the Steinberger R-Trem on ebay, and these are exactly the same. They fit perfectly, I've tested it.

Regarding the possible problems of the KB-Trem (which is not built by Hohner, they just have been another licensee): I've developed a repair solution for these trems, so if your's has the "bent posts syndrome", it can quickly be fixed.

If you're interested to read more, there is a long thread about your guitar's sister, the trem and the fix on the GearPage

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#5 User is offline   RobinTheHood 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:25 PM

View Postmidiman56, on 09 September 2010 - 11:18 PM, said:

The fretboard was apparently carbon reinforced with MOP chevrons ... nice looking and should be good and strong:

The same synthetic fretboard, chevron inlays, KB Tremolo and EMG Select pickups are on the Epiphone X-1000 superstrat. The X-1000 ran from 1986-1989, so the approximate year of this guitar is correct.

The X-1000's were made in Korea. Since these have the (almost) exact same hardware on them, I'd bet they were most likely made in Korea as well. I could be wrong, but were talking about less than a handfull of guitar models with the same specialized hardware. Its unlikely they were made in different countries.

Here is the Epiphone Spotlight Facebook page. They say Korea as well.
Spotlight Facebook

Oops...its the Google cached page. Sorry. Still works though.

As far as the years they made them, the Facebook page says:
1986=Gibson
1987-89=Epiphone

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#6 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 03:47 PM

View PostRTH, on 13 September 2010 - 12:25 PM, said:

The X-1000's were made in Korea. Since these have the (almost) exact same hardware on them, I'd bet they were most likely made in Korea as well. I could be wrong, but were talking about less than a handfull of guitar models with the same specialized hardware. Its unlikely they were made in different countries.



Well, the guitar I've used for my KB trem research is a Gibson U2, made in USA. It's this one:

Posted Image

So the hardware alone isn't necessarily an indicator. But generally speaking, I think you're right. The KB trem is using some parts which are also used on the Steinberger R-Trem. The R-Trem is used on all the Steinberger Spirit GT and GU guitars, as well as on the Hohner headless. Both, Steinberger Spirit and Hohner headless guitars were (are) made in Korea. Considering the fact that the KB and the R-Trem are low-cost versions of Steinberger trems, this sounds plausible.

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#7 User is offline   RobinTheHood 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 04:02 PM

Apples and Oranges.

Were not talking about one piece of similar hardware, though. There is no way Gibson/Epiphone is/was going to make the same composite fretboards and custom inlays in two different countries. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of making a guitar on a budget. Besides, Epiphone wasnt making guitars in Japan for the U.S. market in the late 80's.

Your Gibson U2 is the equivalent to the Epiphone S-900 - which were also make in Korea.
Nice guitar BTW.
What is the price on one of those these days?...considering you can find one.

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#8 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 04:29 PM

View PostRTH, on 13 September 2010 - 04:02 PM, said:

Apples and Oranges.

Were not talking about one piece of similar hardware, though.


Apart from that, we don't even have the same understanding of "hardware" ;)
Actually I was just talking about the KB trem/locking nut combo. Sorry, if I misunderstood your posting.


View PostRTH, on 13 September 2010 - 04:02 PM, said:

Nice guitar BTW.
What is the price on one of those these days?...considering you can find one.


Well, they are really rare (some have a FR instead), but doesn't have much impact on the price. Few people want a Gibson that looks like a (Power)Strat. I paid 600 Euro, yet not knowing that I would have a lot of work with the trem.

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#9 User is offline   RobinTheHood 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 04:52 PM

Heh. Yeah, I guess the fretboard and inlays arent considered hardware. My bad.[blush]
I guess thats what happens when I respond to threads from work.


$600 and still a lot of work to be done? Ouch! I hope it is worth it. I really like the superstrats by Epiphone. I can only imagine the Gibsons are even better. You never see them for sale. I see S-series, Pros and i-series all the time.
Well, she's a beauty. Hold on to her!

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#10 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 05:05 PM

View PostRTH, on 13 September 2010 - 04:52 PM, said:

$600 and still a lot of work to be done?


No, that were 600 Euro. That's about $770. And the work I had to do led to the repair solution I found, and meanwhile there are almost 50 guitars worldwide which have been fixed and revived this way. Many Epiphones among them (the majority). So I think, it was worth it.

View PostRTH, on 13 September 2010 - 04:52 PM, said:

Well, she's a beauty. Hold on to her!


Well, too late. I gave it to my son for successfully finishing school. But it stays within the family [smile]

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#11 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:58 PM

Gibson supposedly made some Nouveaus in 1987 but nobody I know has ever seen one. Before the end of the year they were making them under the Epiphone banner. I believe they were made in the Samick Factory in Korea but could be wrong about that. I am pretty sure they were out of production by 1990.
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#12 User is offline   Anubis 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 11:41 PM

View Postmidiman56, on 09 September 2010 - 11:18 PM, said:


The Achilles' Heel of this guitar seems to have been the Steinberger designed trem system. A very nice design manufactured by Honer but out of such cheap pot metal :o
Posted Image



Not entirely accurate. It is (somewhat) well documented that the design flaw of this tremolo system was actually that the pedestals attached to the base plate got bent by the force exerted upon them by the posts. Because the thread on the posts was too short and did not securely screw into the (very solid) base plate. Here'sa link to the fix.
I recently bought a metallic black 1988 Epi S800 with this same exact tremolo system. After 22 years the posts were leaning forward at almost a 45 degree angle! I'll make it short here because I'm going to post a separate saga about my fix. The saddles in my guitar were half way broken off so I just snapped them clean off and then screwed the original posts securely into the base plate(see attachment). A brutish, risky, move but it worked flawlessly. Now they're sticking straight up and now the unit is rock solid as it should have been from the factory. Thanks for pointing out that these were made by Hohner. Very intriguing.

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#13 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 02:00 AM

View PostAnubis, on 13 September 2010 - 11:41 PM, said:

Not entirely accurate.


Well, this applies here, too ;)
Hummer, is that you?


View PostAnubis, on 13 September 2010 - 11:41 PM, said:

It is (somewhat) well documented that the design flaw of this tremolo system was actually that the pedestals attached to the base plate got bent by the force exerted upon them by the posts. Because the thread on the posts was too short and did not securely screw into the (very solid) base plate. Here'sa link to the fix.


Obiously my fix description has become public domain now, being ripped off my website.

View PostAnubis, on 13 September 2010 - 11:41 PM, said:

The saddles in my guitar were half way broken off so I just snapped them clean off and then screwed the original posts securely into the base plate(see attachment). A brutish, risky, move but it worked flawlessly. Now they're sticking straight up and now the unit is rock solid as it should have been from the factory.


This is not a recommendable fix. May be that I've explained to you before, but anyway:

What you did here was offsetting the whole "geometry". The upper (movable) part of the trem sits about 4 mm lower than before. This has the following consequences:

- the trem spring in the base is either no longer straight (bent), or it doesn't sit correctly fixed in the corresponding lever
- the string action is lowered to that amount. You need to compensate these 4 mm by raising the saddles accordingly, and this height maxes out their adjustment range
- at least up-bending using the trem is either impossible or extremely limited now, because the trem head soon hits the base

So if you actually want to use the trem, this "fix" doesn't fix it. You may do it this way, if you want to turn the trem into a kind of fixed bridge.

Here is a photo of a KB trem I've refurbished. Can you see what would happen if you make the post 4 mm shorter? The moving bridge part sits completely on the base:

Posted Image


View PostAnubis, on 13 September 2010 - 11:41 PM, said:

Thanks for pointing out that these were made by Hohner. Very intriguing.


As I said, they aren't. Epiphone and Hohner just got them from the same source.

Bernd
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#14 User is offline   bigneil 

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 12:47 PM

I have one too! here my one is the natural CMT finish aswell, but with chrome hardware (non steinberger) it is not all original because i bought it in a right mess, and made it my project. The original pups were totaly jiggered as was most of the wiring and pots, the set up was dreadful, the volume and tone knobs were missing and so was the whammy bar.

I replaced the pups with kent armstrongs and replaced one of the pick up surrounds. and set about trying to find parts that were as close to the originals as possible. still haven't found a truss rod cover.

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#15 User is offline   Lance (Too Many Guitars) 

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 05:20 PM

It's good to see that talk about Epiphone Spotlights are back in forums. If anyone has one of these fine guitars (with the Steinberger Trem) do yourself a favor and talk to Bernd and buy his posts that fix the old bent ones. With minor modifaction (a little fileing and tapping) your guitar will be better that new! I personally purchased 3 sets! (I need 3 more lol)

I own 5, yes 5 Spotlights, all with the Steinberger Trem, (two black, one white, one red, and one that was sanded down when I bought it.) When I get some free time I'll get around to making all of them fully operational. I have a few torn down for repairs (electrical), but I have two with new pickups (Seymour JB & Jazz in one and one with Seymour Blackouts), and the rest are stock.

Bernd I will get off of my A** and finish my guitars so if you still want those other Trems after you can email me.

Oh I DIG that Gibson you have in the pics, I have the Epiphone S900 version of it, fun guitar.

If anyone else has one of these guitars and wants info of just to chat, let me know, it was an obsession of mine for quite some time (no sh*t I own 5!),
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#16 User is offline   Lance (Too Many Guitars) 

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:14 PM

Here are a few pics for the doubtful. I know I need to get to work, I've been traveling sooooooo much for work!

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#17 User is offline   Gordy01 

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:56 PM

Cool thread! Those are nice looking guitars.
I like the neck through design. First time I've ever heard of this guitar.
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#18 User is offline   Be.eM 

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 03:47 AM

View PostLance (Too Many Guitars), on 06 October 2010 - 05:20 PM, said:

Bernd I will get off of my A** and finish my guitars so if you still want those other Trems after you can email me.



Hi Lance,

those trems have been waiting for my treatment for about 20-25 years. I guess some more weeks won't make a big difference ;)
Yes, I'm still interested in the rest of the package.

Best regards,
Bernd
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#19 User is offline   bigneil 

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 05:52 AM

View PostLance (Too Many Guitars), on 06 October 2010 - 06:14 PM, said:

Here are a few pics for the doubtful. I know I need to get to work, I've been traveling sooooooo much for work!


Where did you find them all? . I really like the metallic red one, never seen that before.
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#20 User is offline   Lance (Too Many Guitars) 

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:56 AM

I've purchased all of them on either Ebay or Craigslist. The Red one was my first, it has a SD JB& Jazz pickup set, and sounds great!
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