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Epiphone Caballero FT-30


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I've looked all over with very little (and somewhat confusing) success.  I have a Caballero that belonged to an uncle...he passed away in early '64, before I was born.  I'm told that it was maybe a '61 or so, but haven't been able to confirm that.  The serial number is on a blue tag; 140112.  All that I've read is that the year can't really be determined by a serial number search, and that six-digit serial numbers are even harder to track.  Does anyone have a better search connection than I have and be able to shed some light on my search?   Many thanks.

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Edited by johnny_mac
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The FT30 Caballero was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That was back when the Gibson Company and their sister brand were both made in the same Kalamazoo, Michigan plan side by side of one another.  The FT30 Caballero was very very similar to the Gibson LG0 model.  Both were ladder braced and had solid mahogany tops and mahogany sides and backs.  I’ve heard definitively if the backs and sides were solid mahogany or laminated mahogany, but the tops on both are solid mahogany.  (I believe a later imported reissue of the Caballero had a laminated mahogany top.  There was also a FT120 Caballero that was imported that bears no resemblance to the Kalamazoo made FT30 Caballero.  Gibson also concurrently made a LG-1 in sunburst that was sunburst with a spruce top, and a LG2 in sunburst with a spruce top that was X braced and a LG3 in natural that otherwise mirrored the LG2.  Each in the numbering system cost a bit more.  Epiphone meanwhile had a model that mirrored the LG2 and the LG3, but no equivalent to the LG1 to my remembrance.   Somewhere the LG1 and LG2 were replaced by identical models both called the B25 or B25N (for Natural) maybe with more reddish sides and backs.

The headstock on the FT30 Caballero differed from the Gibson LG0 headstock to align with Epiphone’s headstock design.  Both were marketed as Student guitars meaning relatively inexpensive Epiphone and Gibson models.   For a period both had plastic bridges that often broke and owners replaced them with wooden saddles.  Plastic bridges were phased out of production because of the breakage problem.   As the models were low end Gibson models neither has a high collectibility price.  I estimate the FT30 Caballero or a Gibson LG0 today  probably sells in the ballpark range for about $600 to $900 depending on its condition.  Some guitarists are known to prefer the FT Caballero model over the LG0 version, claiming the Epiphone version is better for blues playing.  I own a 1965 FT30 Caballero in my collection and have to admit I prefer it over the LG0, also…although why I can’t put my finger on.

For a little more info, check the 2023 Vintage Guitar Guide or George Gruhn’s Vintage Guitar Guide…but neither provide much more info than I just gave.  The 2023 Vibtage Guitar Guide, though will provide a current price range from research rather than the ballpark price range I estimated.

Maybe someone else will provide more info or clarify some specifics.  You could also call George Gruhn’s Guitars in Nashville and ask for some general things about the guitar.  They are the gurus of used and vintage guitars.

I hope this helps.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 


 

 

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That does help a great deal...thank you! I'll follow up on those leads.

I also found in their attic my father's old guitar that was given to him by his parents in '51 - '52 .   Probably just a catalog guitar, but I had new strings put on it and worked on for what ailed it.  It sounds decent for a 70+ year old guitar that spent 30 or more years in an attic!

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I haven't been able to find a brand on it (doubtful that there is one).  My dad's parents definitely wouldn't have had money to buy anything more than the cheapest thing that they could find! ha!  This picture is the best that I could come up with, and the quality isn't great, as I had to resize the pic to fit the attachment size limit.  The finish was already wearing off, and more came off when the folks who worked on it rubbed it down to hydrate it (I think that's the process...I'm definitely not one to speak with certainty on that).  My dad was excited to see it back in working order, although he doesn't play at all.  It is a nice heirloom, whether or not it is worth a dime.  If I'm able to search it over and find a brand I will let you know for sure.

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