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epiphone emperor ID help

Ben Pupeza

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Hi everyone, I am new to the forum and to playing guitar. My wifes grandpa passed away and he was a lifelong musician. Grandma is selling off all of the instruments and I asked her if she would give me a good deal on a guitar. She offered me oldest and most worn one for a whopping $200. It needed a bit of tlc but it plays pretty nice and I am having fun with it although I probably wouldn't know any better if it didn't.

I've been trying to id its origins. From all of the information I've found on the internet I would say its a late 70s to early 80s Matsumoku made in Japan. I know that the guitar dater doesn't work for these. The only reason I am skeptical of that is the tail piece which looks more like one found on a Joe Pass model which would make it much newer. The Matsumoku guitars had a frequensator. I considered though that It could have been replaced for whatever reason. What do you all think? I've attached some pictures. I can ad more if it would help. I'm not sure why the pics imported rotated and one came in twice.

post-90524-049921000 1519146766_thumb.jpgpost-90524-030069600 1519146741_thumb.jpgpost-90524-049921000 1519146766_thumb.jpgpost-90524-074697700 1519146783_thumb.jpgpost-90524-071374600 1519146797_thumb.jpg

post-90524-087719800 1519146712_thumb.jpg

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Hi Ben ---


Your guitar is definitely a Matsumoku-built Emperor Thinline (that's the "T" at the end of the model number). As you suspected, the original Frequensator tailpiece has been replaced.


These were made through the 80's so pinpointing the exact year isn't easy, but they are very high-quality guitars. Many rank them comparably to the Elitist series, and they have sold recently on eBay for over $1,000


Congratulations on a great guitar -- hope you enjoy it!

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hi Ben,

As said by Parabar, your emperor is a Matsumoku made model. I have a similar model and, after some reasearch on the net, I concluded it is to be dated '82 or '83.

The frequensator has been replaced while the bridge seems to be original, even if I saw many guitars with the larger type of bridge on them. Mine has the same bridge as yours.

The thinline models are evaluated a little less then their big sisters J models (those with deeper body) nevertheless they are awesome. As far as I know actual quotation are about 1500 euro for thinline and 2/300 euros more for J models

Quite cool guitar ! [thumbup]

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  • 2 years later...
On 3/4/2018 at 11:09 AM, frenchie1281734003 said:

Nice Matsumoku Epiphone Emperor you have there. The first three digits of the serial number date your guitar to December 1981.



This is quite an old thread so hopefully I will get a reply.

When you say the the first three digits, what are you referring to?  II21172 appears to start with two letters.  How does it work to decode?

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