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History on Epiphone FT-140?


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My parents bought a used Epiphone FT-140 for me for Christmas 16 years ago (my first guitar) and as I was changing the strings tonight, the nut broke to reveal wood that looked significantly older than 16 years. So...now I'm interested. I've gleaned some information about this model, but I'm looking for some specifics (construction, average price new, how many were sold, other players' experience with them, etc).

 

This is the guitar I cut my teeth on, and consequently is the standard that I measure everything against. It's been a real trooper and has really good tone...I even felt a bit guilty when I purchased my Martin D-28...kind of like I was cheating on the Epi...

 

Anyway - any information the forum could pass along would be greatly appreciated....

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My parents bought a used Epiphone FT-140 for me for Christmas 16 years ago (my first guitar) and as I was changing the strings tonight' date=' the nut broke to reveal wood that looked significantly older than 16 years. So...now I'm interested. I've gleaned some information about this model, but I'm looking for some specifics (construction, average price new, how many were sold, other players' experience with them, etc).

 

This is the guitar I cut my teeth on, and consequently is the standard that I measure everything against. It's been a real trooper and has really good tone...I even felt a bit guilty when I purchased my Martin D-28...kind of like I was cheating on the Epi...

 

Anyway - any information the forum could pass along would be greatly appreciated....[/quote']

 

The FT-140 was introduced in 1979 and was part of the third and final wave of Matsumoku(Aria)-made Japanese Epiphones along with the Presentation and Nova lines and it stuck around for a couple of years until about 1981 or so...in 1983 all of the Japanese-made Epiphones with the exception of the up-market set-neck arch top line were discontinued with new product lines moved to Samick in Korea for production. The Matsumoku set neck arch top line moved to Korea and Samick in 1986. I'm not familiar with that particular model but for the most part these acoustics were bolt-on neck-ed (though some have a heeled neck that appears to be a set neck but is actually a bolt-on), completely laminated-bodied acoustics that maybe weren't the best acoustics ever made but weren't the worst either. I think it needs to be understood that at the time Japanese guitars ran the entire spectrum from very impressive (the early Tokai Love Rocks and Springy Sounds and Burney Les Pauls) to quite respectable (The set neck Epiphone arch tops from Matsumoku) to the quite viable and utilitarian (these Epiphones and other Japanese lines such as the red label Nippon Gakki Yamahas and Ibanez) to complete crap (the dozens of cheap brands such as Checkmate and Teisco del Ray). As such, this line was a viable and sound choice for a mid-level hobbyist instrument . What I have a slight problem with is that often these instruments are offered for ridiculously high amounts on places such as E Bay because there's a false perception that old equates to valuable and while there were some exceptional Japanese guitars from this era the majority including these Epiphones were at more the middle of that spectrum. Even though I own three of these instruments, I don't believe they're worth more than perhaps $200 when beyond that figure very good acoustic guitars with true set necks and a minimum of a solid wood top can be had. If you already own the guitar this isn't an issue but to pay beyond a couple hundred for these isn't a wise expenditure. Some of the FT bolt-on neck acoustics were susceptible to neck block issues (the glue drying out) resulting in the collapse of the neck which caused body damage in some cases. This didn't always occur (None of my bolt-on FT's have demonstrated any of these conditions) but problem does seem to be somewhat common. If you like the guitar, and the guitar is playable and has personal history then nothing else matters and that guitar is in deed worth as much as any guitar might be worth to you. Good luck.

 

...and Al's your uncle.

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  • 11 years later...

I have a mint FT-140 which I bought new.   The serial number is F750807 JAPAN   I think this shows that it was manufactured in 1975 which tallies with when I bought it.

 I bought it in 1976 in a Guitar shop in Station Road , Redcar , UK  to the best of my recollection.   I have looked after it carefully and always kept it in a case when not playing it.  It had minimum playing from 1986 onwards as I had young family from then onwards and I diverted to electric guitars and then classical models, but I still like to play it now as I have more time available.  

There are only a few marks on it, I think only I would know where they are they are so small.  

Its not a Martin but I think its still maturing. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/18/2008 at 9:05 PM, Guest said:
Quote
My parents bought a used Epiphone FT-140 for me for Christmas 16 years ago (my first guitar) and as I was changing the strings tonight' date=' the nut broke to reveal wood that looked significantly older than 16 years. So...now I'm interested. I've gleaned some information about this model, but I'm looking for some specifics (construction, average price new, how many were sold, other players' experience with them, etc).

 

This is the guitar I cut my teeth on, and consequently is the standard that I measure everything against. It's been a real trooper and has really good tone...I even felt a bit guilty when I purchased my Martin D-28...kind of like I was cheating on the Epi...

 

Anyway - any information the forum could pass along would be greatly appreciated....[/quote']

 

The FT-140 was introduced in 1979 and was part of the third and final wave of Matsumoku(Aria)-made Japanese Epiphones along with the Presentation and Nova lines and it stuck around for a couple of years until about 1981 or so...in 1983 all of the Japanese-made Epiphones with the exception of the up-market set-neck arch top line were discontinued with new product lines moved to Samick in Korea for production. The Matsumoku set neck arch top line moved to Korea and Samick in 1986. I'm not familiar with that particular model but for the most part these acoustics were bolt-on neck-ed (though some have a heeled neck that appears to be a set neck but is actually a bolt-on), completely laminated-bodied acoustics that maybe weren't the best acoustics ever made but weren't the worst either. I think it needs to be understood that at the time Japanese guitars ran the entire spectrum from very impressive (the early Tokai Love Rocks and Springy Sounds and Burney Les Pauls) to quite respectable (The set neck Epiphone arch tops from Matsumoku) to the quite viable and utilitarian (these Epiphones and other Japanese lines such as the red label Nippon Gakki Yamahas and Ibanez) to complete crap (the dozens of cheap brands such as Checkmate and Teisco del Ray). As such, this line was a viable and sound choice for a mid-level hobbyist instrument . What I have a slight problem with is that often these instruments are offered for ridiculously high amounts on places such as E Bay because there's a false perception that old equates to valuable and while there were some exceptional Japanese guitars from this era the majority including these Epiphones were at more the middle of that spectrum. Even though I own three of these instruments, I don't believe they're worth more than perhaps $200 when beyond that figure very good acoustic guitars with true set necks and a minimum of a solid wood top can be had. If you already own the guitar this isn't an issue but to pay beyond a couple hundred for these isn't a wise expenditure. Some of the FT bolt-on neck acoustics were susceptible to neck block issues (the glue drying out) resulting in the collapse of the neck which caused body damage in some cases. This didn't always occur (None of my bolt-on FT's have demonstrated any of these conditions) but problem does seem to be somewhat common. If you like the guitar, and the guitar is playable and has personal history then nothing else matters and that guitar is in deed worth as much as any guitar might be worth to you. Good luck.

 

...and Al's your uncle.

I think I used to know this guy...

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  • 1 year later...

My dad performed his whole life and the last 15yrs played a FT 140. He added a pickup and large metal antique Grover tuners that looked great .He passed away from cancer and was then inducted into the blue grass hall of fame in Dunlap TN. He could have played anything but he wouldn’t play anything but his FT. When he passed his wife gave me this guitar. I had played it on and off but never appreciated it. I have 32 guitars. Martin HD-28, Taylor’s ,Gibsons among a few and although those are much better guitars and sound much better NONE of them play as well as this FT-140. It’s magical and when it’s amped up it’s an even playing field. Anyone who plays it can’t keep there hands off of it :)......anyway rattling on but thanks for letting me remember some good times with my dad.

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  • 2 months later...

My first guitar was something similar - a Gibson LG-0 - made in Kalamazoo - Nov 1970,  and while I was never a great player, barely a player - I loved that little guitar. ( Cost me new, with case :   $125 !!    Sometime later,  I owed a friend $90 I didn't have, so I used the guitar to settle my debt  ( in 1971 ) i figured i could pick up another in due time.  BTW - he still has it ! 

So fast forward : Fenders, Epiphones,  a few others along the way. All electrics. So I want to repurchase something similar to the LG-0 without breaking the bank.

THIS one looks to be very similar - although my research has led me to believe the Epi equivalent to the LG-0 might have been the Epiphone Caballero. I could be happy with this FT-140 .....  but will it love me BACK ?

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Fortunately for you, the LG-0 and the Epiphone FT-30 Caballero (you are correct about it being the equivalent model) are inexpensive by vintage guitar standards. Prices have gone up recently, but you can do pretty well for $1,000. An FT-140 will be very different than what you had. Also pay attention to the 70s, Japanese-made Epiphone FT-130 El Caballero - the name is similar, but the guitar is very different.

A few years ago, Epiphone produced a 50th Anniversary Caballero that will be less expensive than a vintage example.

If you had a 1970 LG-0, it likely had a spruce top instead of a mahogany top that the model had for most of its production. This modern Epiphone version has spruce instead of mahogany.

If you are interested in a vintage Caballero, I can give you the information for one in excellent condition that I have actually had hands on. I don't know the price, but I believe it was a 1966 model. It still has the original plastic bridge, which most people choose to replace.

A similar (and even less expensive) vintage model is the Gibson B-15, which replaced the LG-0. The specs are very similar, but it loses the binding and has a narrow, Melody Maker-style headstock.

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I had a '65 Caballero for a bit, traded it for an AC15 that i later sold i think to fund my j45- and the wheel keeps spinning! I then bought the reissue caballero and while it didn't have the broken in sound, playability was miles away better than the narrowest nut i've ever played. 

nostalgia can be a tricky thing and you may realize your teenage hands have turned into mitts- tricky on some of those late-60s gibsons. good entry into the vintage world in my experience, but there's a reason they're sometimes priced a lot lower than ones from the early 60s

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  • 4 months later...

Recently picked up an Epiphone FT-140. Checked with Gibson and the reply about the serial number was that they didn't keep good records back then, so unsure about age etc. 

I took it to a guitar shop to adjust a couple of things and they guessed 1972-1974. It looks brand new. 

However, I notice many photos with the Epiphone stylized "E" on the pick guard. This one does not have that. Does the missing "E" indicate anything??? 

The guitar is from the Made in Japan Norlin era, according to the sticker inside the body.

Serial: 11791135

Edited by Chris Kelsall
Correct spelling.
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  • 2 months later...

I bought an old MIJ Epiphone a few years ago for £35. It needed work on the neck and block. I found a procedure for re-gluing the block and making my own shims and now I love the guitar. The label and serial nr. has been removed but after comparing my guitar to every FT picture on the web, I've decided it must be a FT-140. I would love to have a copy label fitted though. Could anyone send me a picture of their label without the strings, to (jayare_@hotmail.com) ? Mine is pre Norlin ie blue label.

I have a thing about 70's guitars and bikes. Just bought a CF Mountain (famous Martin copy) but it too has had all labels and serial numbers removed. Defacing a guitar should be punishable by law!

Edited by Jayare
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