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1961 Epiphone Casino at Guitar Center Hollywood


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I was looking up used gear on Guitar Center's website and noticed an original 1961 Casino at the Hollywood, CA location. Hollywood is on my way home from work if I choose to go through town instead of taking freeways so I thought I would stop in to check it out. I have one of the 2011 reissues and I was curious how it stacks up to the originals. According to Epiphone only 329 Casinos were made in 1961 so I felt an excited anticipation that I was about to check out a rare item.


It felt immediately familiar when I held it. The biggest difference I noticed right away in the feel is the nitrocellulose finish on the 1961 versus the polyurethane finish on the reissues. The poly has that hard plastic feel where the nitro had more of an organic matte finish to the neck. This Casino is in immaculate shape for a 57 year old guitar. I am very happy to report that the neck shape on my reissue feels very similar to the original. I believe my reissue neck may be slightly fatter but only by .01 - .03" or so. It's hard to judge without both guitars side by side but the best news for me is that the reissues nailed the neck shape and feel. I am also very happy to report that the overall feel of the build is very similar.


There are some notable differences between the 2. The original's binding included nibs over the frets like the original Les Pauls. The original has a more solid Nashville style tuneomatic bridge without the retaining wire. The knobs and tailpiece look identical. I noticed the original has a one piece neck where the reissue has some extra pieces of wood under the nut and also at the neck cavity. My reissue also has a small post near the bridge that connects the top and the back. The original is completely hollow inside. These are just small details though. While I didn't plug the original in to anything the acoustic tone was more mellow and woody than the sharper high mids I get acoustically out of my reissue. I have to say I honestly prefer the acoustic tone of my reissue! That was a big surprise to me. Plugged in I'm not sure if the one original middle Gibson P90 sounds better than the updated Gibson P90s on the reissue. If anything the newer P90s may be wound a bit hotter but I don't think Gibson ever made a bad P90.


Overall I had a lot of fun playing a guitar I never thought I would ever see in person given how so few were produced. I also left with the knowledge that my reissue, while not a vintage made in USA model with nitro and nibs, is a well made faithful reproduction of the originals.



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I've been to that Guitar Center. It's huge and a great place to spend an afternoon when you've got nothing else to do. I was there for about 4 hours going from department to department playing with all the toys.


I was looking at those reissues in 2011. Wanted a sunburst Casino with a factory trem and that was an option with these. A sunburst Elitist Casino came my way for a good price so I got that instead and put a Bigsby B7 on it.


When I got my first MIK Casino in 2001 the pickguard "E" was lying at the bottom of the box when I first opened it.



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I bought a new Sunburst RI 1961 50th Anniv. Casino with Tremotone when they were introduced. It's far from being one of my most expensive Guitars but it is my favorite Electric Guitar. It looks great! Like the one Keef played in the early days. It plays & sounds as good or better than it looks!


Thanks for the write up. I've always wondered how it would compare.



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