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Someone please help me date my Epiphone FT-165 Bard 12 String


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Like the subject states, I need help dating my Epiphone FT-165 Bard 12 string. From the research I've done, I think it was made in the early 70's. I'm looking for a more exact date and what factory it was made in. I've been to guitardaterproject.org, but it doesn't recognize my model or S. Number. Does anyone have any other suggestions. I looked through other forum subjects but didn't see anything. I apologize if this has been discussed before. Please send suggestions.


I also have an Epiphone FT-550, unfortunately the serial number sticker was removed - what are my options for dating this guitar?

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Early 70's is the best you can do.


From : https://store.bluebookinc.com/info/PDF/AGuitar/ASerialization.pdf


"1970-PRESENT (FOREIGN): In 1970, production of Epiphone

instruments moved to Japan. Japanese Epiphones were manufactured

between 1970 and 1983. According to author/researcher Walter

Carter, the serial numbers on these are unreliable as a usable tool for

dating models. Comparison to catalogs is one of the few means available

for dating these instruments. Earlier Kalamazoo labels were generally

orange with black printing and said "Made in Kalamazoo", while

the Japanese instruments featured blue labels which read "Epiphone of

Kalamazoo, Michigan" (note that it doesn’t say "Made in Kalamazoo",

nor does it say "Made in Japan"). Research of the model should be

more thorough than just glancing at the label. Serial numbers from

Japanese-made models are still unknown.


During the early 1980s, the Japanese production costs became pricey

due to the changing ratio of the dollar to the yen. Production then

moved to Korea where a different serialization system was used."


No indication what that 'different serialization system" was The above

link gives date / serial number info beginning in 1985, well after the

blue label was history.


The FT165 was a Japanese made model.


If you can determine from "Early" 70's, usually from personal memory or someone else's,

it is a contemporary of my FT145SB in my avatar. Blue label is also

indicative of an early 70's, Japanese FT.

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Blue label was also late Kalamazoo.


The FT550 was a Japanese Epi. Dating this model is as easy as the other Jap builds... not very accurate.


"FT" was a nomenclature Epiphone resurrected when it released it's new line of Jap built Epis.


Some pre-Japanese FTs are FT-79 Texan. (Texan was also applied to the FT145) The FT-79 was a Kalamazoo only built and worth some real green. It is sometimes known as the John Lennon model as he had one... also McCartney.


FT110 "Frontier", I believe, predated Japan as did a model with a 200 series number... I think. Don't know much about these.

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I've read so many posts on various sites about the Japan-made FTs. So many people say that they aren't great guitars, but I have to disagree - my FT550 has such a great tone and plays so easy. What's your take on this?

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My FT145SB is not a particularly valueable commodity. Owing to it's lamenate construction and under-designed neck support structure.


As such, it is difficult to monetarily justify the expense of repairing the neck deficiencies. However, mine is my first guit tar and expense was not an issue in repairing it, other than I didn't have the cash to get the job done. Even if I could find someone to do it. I held on to her, unplayable, for 20 odd years until I figured out how to repair her. The repair I did for the cost of materials, as I did the work myself. For me the cost was neglegible. For someone to hire the work done, could run... I'm guessing here a hundred bucks.


After having the work done. I dearly love to playability and tone my Japanese built FT has, not to mention her stunning looks. I would love to get a SJ sized sister to her (570), but they are kind of spendy.


The FT550 was considered a 'professional' model and therefore more desirable. They do bring a few hundred dollars when they show up on Ebay.


The 1974 catalog indicates the FT550 and FT570 have a "Fixed full heel neck...", which is a lot of verbage for 'set neck'. I'd love to get my hands on one of these to see exactly how this is constructed. I've heard they are not really a 'true' dove-tail joint neck like a Gibson but, better than the bolt-on 'adjustable neck' of the lesser models.


Bottom line, if you love the tone and playability of your FT550... then that's all that counts.

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