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can anyone tell me how rare is a 1956 harry volpe epiphone?


sixstringplayer

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i have scoured the net and havnt found too much info on my family heirloom givin to me from my father which was my grandfathers. ](*,) its a 1956 harry volpe epiphone. im not looking to sell...its going to my son in the event of my death. i play and so does he. im just trying to know more history on this guitar. the only thing i have seen and found on it was on the website archtop.com and it stated thats its a rare guitar. if anyone could give me more info on it i would love to hear it. i know its authentic. i did find a site that had serial numbers of epi's. it has a white label with blue border inside the guitar that states the model and serial number. the model is volpe and the serial number is 69031 and its made in new york. thanks for any infoo:)

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yes' date=' thats the only site i have found with this guitar,.. and yes, its exactly like that one. the serial numbers are very close. im so curious to the history on it. i cant seem to get too much info. [/quote']

 

Well, just reading that one site, I understand another reason why it's not for sale. You have a gem on your hands and it certainly is a special thing to be passed through the family. If I come across anything I will certainly get back to you.

 

I am not an epi expert, but there are some people here that know their stuff, so you may be in luck.

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Have only seen one in 40+ years of playing. It's currently in a local music store in a wall mounted walnut and glass case, alarmed, about 8 feet up the wall, with a signe that states what it is and NOT FOR SALE in about 6 inch letters. I've asked the owner of the shop what it's worth and his response was "more than I make in a year"

 

I tell you bro, that's one fine looking guitar. I imagine it plays well too. Congrats, I doubt you'll find out a whole lot more about it without talking with some real experts. I hope you keep it in a very safe place.

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i have scoured the net and havnt found too much info on my family heirloom givin to me from my father which was my grandfathers. ](*' date=') its a 1956 harry volpe epiphone. im not looking to sell...its going to my son in the event of my death. i play and so does he. im just trying to know more history on this guitar. the only thing i have seen and found on it was on the website archtop.com and it stated thats its a rare guitar. if anyone could give me more info on it i would love to hear it. i know its authentic. i did find a site that had serial numbers of epi's. it has a white label with blue border inside the guitar that states the model and serial number. the model is volpe and the serial number is 69031 and its made in new york. thanks for any infoo:) [/quote']

 

I have the book now ; Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo .

In it are the ranges of serial numbers of some NYC Epiphones, up until Gibson bought them out.

 

The Harry Volpe serial numbers (mentioned in this book) are 69114 and 69307,

and they were made in '55, so it seems like the serial number on your grandfather's

is pretty close to those.

 

Yes it is a rare guitar. It was a laminated non cutaway, single pickup guitar,

available in sunburst for $129.50 (E-721) and blonde (E-722)for $139.50.

Apparently this was Epiphone's least expensive guitar, targetted for novice guitarists.

 

The unique thing about the Harry Volpe guitar is the extra spacing between the strings(wider

neck width) which was the result of the guitarist's style of playing (finger style picking)

and an attempt to market it to the novice player, some who may have bigger fingers.

 

The contract was signed and the guitars came out in '55. He got royalties for about a year

and a half , then the royalty payments stopped in '57 when Gibson bought them out

and it was discontinued at that point.

 

( He was also associated with John D'Angelico in NYC.

For a while Volpe was associated with Gibson and their L5/Super 400,

then he endorsed Gretsch's Synchromatic 400.

Apparently he "designed" a guitar for Epiphone, but it is not known what

came out of that, as the company was sold shortly after.)

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Based on the serial number and that of the one posted on the Internet that I noted earlier, you would seem to have a 1955. I found another site with the same guy (serial #69041) and he has a short audio and video clip of the guitar - http://www.dreamguitars.com/sold/Epiphone_Harry_Volpe_1955_69041.htm

 

Here's an ebay listing, but it doesn't look like yours so I wouldn't put much stock in the write up.

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/1955-56-Epiphone-Harry-Volpe-Signature-Archtop-Guitar_W0QQitemZ250289921856QQihZ015QQcategoryZ118979QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

 

Some info on Harry Volpe

 

http://classicjazzguitar.com/artists/artists_page.jsp?artist=37

 

 

Just an interesting Epi history site

 

http://www.therocknrollspot.com/control.php?p=128

 

I'm probably coming up with things you've already found, but I am into searching about this guitar.

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Some info on Harry Volpe

 

http://classicjazzguitar.com/artists/artists_page.jsp?artist=37

 

 

Just an interesting Epi history site

 

http://www.therocknrollspot.com/control.php?p=128

 

 

So apparently he taught?... Johnny Smith, the jazz guitarist.

Johnny Smith was well known for his "Moonlight in Vermont" jazz soloing

was also involved with Gibson's Johnny Smith (L5) model in the 60s.

 

According to my book on Epiphone NYC...... J. Smith asked the Epiphone luthiers

to build him "one-of-a-kind" (18 inch lower bout), based on his specifications. This was his ownly

tie to Epiphone. He also had a Deluxe and an Emperor, both were non-cutaways.

J. Smith also mentions that the Frequensator was a bit of a marketing gimmick that

forced you to use Epiphone strings because the strings were so long on the bass side.

 

So Johnny Smith, decided to use TWO of the longer string units so he could experiment

with other strings from different manufacturers.

 

Just goes to show you that no matter what kind of obstacles manufacturers put in your way,

there is always a work around..such as...

 

get some brass rod, bend it in a vise the same length as the bass side, thread

it and you got a regular unstaggered length frequensator.

 

Apparently Johnny Smiths Epiphone Emperor was stolen during a break in one of

his sets at NBC, and he never saw it again, so John D'Angelco made him a new

one in 1950.

 

Johnny Smith goes on to say that his beloved Emperor was made from aged and

not kiln dried woods and the tone was so well balanced that the competitions

L5/Super 400 couldn't hold a candle to it.

 

Such was the craftsmanship of the original NYC Epiphone company.

Such a shame that it all went downhill from there..and I'm sure you all

know what I'm talking about.

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So apparently he taught?... Johnny Smith' date=' the jazz guitarist.

Johnny Smith was well known for his "Moonlight in Vermont" jazz soloing

was also involved with Gibson's Johnny Smith (L5) model in the 60s.

 

[/quote']

 

I guess that is one of the main reasons he's known in the jazz world. He apparently taught a number of jazz artist when he had his store. It's an interesting read when you find the information. You can almost get something like a family tree that leads you to various roots. I know nothing about jazz artist so all that I read really doesn't have the importance that it would for someone well versed in jazz history.

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I guess that is one of the main reasons he's known in the jazz world. He apparently taught a number of jazz artist when he had his store. It's an interesting read when you find the information. You can almost get something like a family tree that leads you to various roots. I know nothing about jazz artist so all that I read really doesn't have the importance that it would for someone well versed in jazz history.

 

George Van Eps is probably the most famous guitar player associated with

Epiphone. He is also known as the "father of the 7 string guitar" and derived

his own tuning.. aking a 6 string and eliminating the high E string, to get BGDAEA.

 

I think that brought about his own (EBGDAEA?) tuning. He also had a secondary

tuning as well.

He is also known for the "Van Eps string damper", although

Scotty Moore (who played a Super 400 for Presley) had his own version of that

as well.

 

Epi Stathopolo took a Deluxe and had to make the neck wider to open up the string spacing as

the low A has wider excursions than the low E.

 

Epi made 3 of these 7 string guitars for Van Eps before Epi died. One was the modified

neck grafted onto a body that was made by his great-great grandfather, a guitar

that was 175 years old. I wonder what happened to that particular Epiphone and

how much it would be worth on the vintage museum piece or collector's market

today? Apparently the Stathopoulos family had built guitars in Greece going back

200 yrs! (early 1800s or late 1700s). Van Eps goes on to say in this book that

Epi was a fastidious man and a nitpicker and that's why his guitars could be said

as the best in the world at the time. During WWII when other companies were

still producing guitars out of whatever quality of wood was available..Epi would

have none of that..he actually SHUT DOWN PRODUCTION of Epiphones until the

good wood was readily available..no compromises..that is analogous to the

famous violin makers in the 17th century.

 

 

 

Van Eps shared a very close relationship with Epi Stathopoulo until Epi's

untimely death in '43.

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Have only seen one in 40+ years of playing. It's currently in a local music store in a wall mounted walnut and glass case' date=' alarmed, about 8 feet up the wall, with a signe that states what it is and NOT FOR SALE in about 6 inch letters. I've asked the owner of the shop what it's worth and his response was "more than I make in a year"

 

I tell you bro, that's one fine looking guitar. I imagine it plays well too. Congrats, I doubt you'll find out a whole lot more about it without talking with some real experts. I hope you keep it in a very safe place.[/quote']I highly doubt they go for big bucks, probably be lucky to fetch $1200.

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I highly doubt they go for big bucks' date=' probably be lucky to fetch $1200.[/quote']

 

 

Based on what I found, it is really hard to tell. I read one bit of information from someone that was selling one and they may have been building it up. I also saw some that appeared to be claiming that the guitar being sold was a Harry Volpe and I don't believe they were.

 

I sent an e-mail to a collector to see what I can find, but even if I get an answer, it probably won't be until later in the week.

 

As for the value to sixstring, I think it's safe to say - priceless.

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Based on what I found' date=' it is really hard to tell. I read one bit of information from someone that was selling one and they may have been building it up. I also saw some that appeared to be claiming that the guitar being sold was a Harry Volpe and I don't believe they were.

 

I sent an e-mail to a collector to see what I can find, but even if I get an answer, it probably won't be until later in the week.

 

As for the value to sixstring, I think it's safe to say - priceless.[/quote']

 

Well it is a guitar that was built to sell at a lower price. A Deluxe Regent (cutaway) typically in those

days '54/55 (if you could still get one from Epiphone) was well over $500 and

an Emperor Regent (cutaway)..($565 or more) They weren't exactly cheap in the

mid to late 50s. Harry Volpe, George Van Eps, Tony Mottola, Joe Pass, Les Paul, Johnny Smith,

Al Caiola and some others..all made some of their fame on those beautiful archtop

Epiphones with that unique tone.

 

If it were mine, I'd kept it in the family and write it into my will that this

(fairly rare)guitar should never be sold. Passed down through

the family, grandfather to father to son to grandson etc. There are some

things that are priceless and the little money that you get for it would be

quickly spent and forgotten ..but that guitar icon (which is part of history now)

is gone forever from the family.

..and Epi isn't around to make any more ..<sad/crying "smiley" would go here>

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I highly doubt they go for big bucks' date=' probably be lucky to fetch $1200.[/quote']

 

Ermmm maybe $1500...but what do you reckon a 2002 Epiphone Les Paul with a Tone Pros bridge signed by Bob Skippy, Heliman, Gregzy and that Guild X 750 character would be worth these days?...I mean, if you could get the signatures to disappear...sorta like Epiphone did...

 

By 1955 Epiphone was in shambles and production was hodge podge and helter skelter at best and I don't believe there was any production in 1956 (there wasn't even a physical address for Epiphone in 1956) so the guitar would have to have been made in 1955 at the latest. These were pretty low /entry level instruments, maybe in the range of a Gibson ES-125. I think the big mistakes people make about "vintage" guitars is that all old guitars are valuable and that being rare adds even more to that value. Usually, but not always, the valuable guitar today was always something special. This isn't the case with Epiphone 60's models like the FT-79 Texans or the E-230TD Casinos which were a mid range acoustic and a student/budget model thin line hollow body electric but the greater part of those guitar's premium today is artist association... which is a very important part of a guitar eventually being valuable and I'm not talking about these dodgy "signature models" and "limited editions" that are produced as "collectibles"from jump.

 

In those days a prominent artist went to a factory, often as part of an endorsement deal, and had a truly custom instrument produced, not some hokey POS standard production guitar with a fugly finish and a name on the truss rod cover. These custom instruments were usually top quality manufacture and materials which made them special from the beginning. But that goes to another point. One-off guitars don't usually have the value of a guitar with truly limited production and huge demand such as the 1958-1960 Gibson Les Paul Models though even these guitars weren't sought after for some time after their production ceased. In the case of the Volpe models I think they were a last gasp by Epiphone which was in its death throes at that point but there's no great demand for them and they're not renown for their workmanship or materials. They were entry level instruments to begin with, there's no artist association and therefore no demand for them even though you don't come across them every day. The vintage market is quirky and volatile and it has its holy grails and its niche collector items but simply being old and/or rare is no guarantee of premium...but I am holding on to my pre(Iraq)-war Estebans just in case...oh, and by the way, Epiphone stopped making guitars in New York about 1952 with the later production being made with a different work force, tooling and materials in Philadelphia.

 

Nelson

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The vintage market is quirky and volatile and it has its holy grails and its niche collector items but simply being old and/or rare is no guarantee of premium...

 

Nelson

 

Hey now!! I am old and rare...some may even say musty and smelly at times, but my wife thinks I am priceless...well maybe not worth any price offered?

I have an old Winston 60s flat top that isn't worth 20 bucks I bet...but to me it is priceless. Sixstring just enjoy your family heirloom and play it every now and then, bet someone looking down on you will smile.

Capt

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Well the Harry Volpe may have been an entry level guitar, but it certainly wasn't what you would call

the cheapest either...that was the "Byron" archtop at $70 produced up until '49/50 and apparently

one was made in '55. Orphie did shut down the main 14th street factory and some limited production

was still carried on15th street, such as fingerboard, but most of the tooling got moved to Phili as

you mentioned.

 

Continental tried to salvage the failing business, but it was to no use . The Harry Volpe was one of

the "new" models introduced in those years as well as a new line of amplifiers. However, it's not

clear what happened in '56 as the business deal between Orphie and Continental came to an end.

Orphie took control of the business again,but there was very little production and no listings for

the company in business directories in 1956 as well as no advertising. At that point he was liquidating

much of the tooling to Gretsch and Guild, top carving machinery supplying his competitors

with both tooling and know-how. ..which was not the smartest thing to do while trying to restart the

business again. ( Herb Sunshine also went over to Guild later on. )

 

Frixo came back from his failed business and worked as a tool & die worker for Bendix in NJ. They

were making plans to rescuscitate the company now in it's death throes, but Frixo suffered a

massive brain hemorrhage and died shortly after in Jan '57. After that Orphie contacted Ted McCarty of

Gibson and the rest is history..so ended 84 yrs of tradition. .."the world's largest producer of first grade

fretted instruments sold out for a pittance to "the world's greatest guitar factory".

 

Apparently some of the luthiers moved over to Guild and continued at least for a few more years in

building quality archtops there as well as classical and flat top guitars, which Epiphone also produced,

but in limited numbers.

 

Dring the early years Epi when produced banjos, they were top quality and very ornately decorated,

surpassing Vega and other banjo producers.

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thanks for all the info guys: ;)/ im glad to know all the history i have learned for you. like i said, im not looking to sell it, ever, because it is priceless to me and my family. i learned how to play on this guitar and so has my son. its very priceless to us. my grandfather palyed it in church before he gave it to my dad. i was just curious about the history of the guitar. any other info would be great but i am very satified so far. :) at least i know what it is and what era and all that good stuff. my son is 22 and has vowed to never sell it. again, thanks so much for all your input as it so very much appreciated=d> !

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Ermmm maybe $1500...but what do you reckon a 2002 Epiphone Les Paul with a Tone Pros bridge signed by Bob Skippy' date=' Heliman, Gregzy and that Guild X 750 character would be worth these days?...I mean, if you could get the signatures to disappear...sorta like Epiphone did... [/quote']Man...I'd pay big bucks fer that there guitar!

:-k :- :-k

 

Now...onto more importants things, are you the full Nelson or are you a half Nelson?

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Man...I'd pay big bucks fer that there guitar!

:-k :- :-k

 

Now...onto more importants things' date=' are you the full Nelson or are you a half Nelson?

 

 

 

[/quote']

 

Technically I'm a quarter Nelson but I'm very good at making do with what I have and I have been compared with that British naval great Lord Horatio Nelson but these days I feel more like Ozzie Nelson....or Emmanuel Goldstein if you get my drift...

 

 

 

"I have always been a quarter of an hour before my time, and it has made a man of me."

 

 

Nelson

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