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Is this '67' USA Riviera really the real thing...?


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I am new to this forum and joined to ask you this question, although I've visited and read here many times before.


I have an opportunity to buy a 'genuine 1967 USA' Epiphone Riviera. It's from a reputable UK high street and on-line music store, DOLPHIN and so far, what I've had a look at checks out, though I'd really appreciate the advice of the very experienced people here please.


It is a sunburst, in good condition (no serious marks, just wear and tear expected of its age) lots of ['attractive'] checking etc, with apparently mostly original bits and pieces, with the exception of:

- the frequensator tailpiece is gone (holes visible on the end by the strap pin) and replaced with stop bar (long time ago, apparently - the chrome [looks cheaper than the rest] is quite flaked)

- the mini humbuckers have been replaced with the full-sized kind (done well) - the covers on the PuPs have aged well, suggesting it too was a long time ago, but the shop are unwilling to open it up and have a look to verify what they really are (they 'suspect' the PuPs are Gibsons...!)...hmmmm...

- there is no 'E' on the white pickguard

- tuners are not 100% fantastic but look original


The serial number is on an oval sticker inside and stamped on the top rear of the headstock - it is


The shop is selling it as 1967 but the website http://www.provide.net/~cfh/epiphone.html dates Epiphones between 910000 and 999999 as being from 1968.


They were asking UK£1799 (approx US$2,925) for it but have had it in the shop for ~6 months and it is now down to £1499 (US$2,440).


Importantly, it plays beautifully and sounds very very very nice indeed (played through a Fenders Blues deville in the shop, on a quiet afternoon).


I love Rivieras and have never had a [just about] affordable opportunity like this before. I am not worried about the non-original parts and changes made, though I'd love it to be perfect..., because I really want one that playes well, but even if authentic, is this asking price too much?


Appreciate your advice, comments, abuses, etc..





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..... and so I am obviously older than I thought.... I forgot to insert the serial number: it is 954067.


Also, it comes with an Epiphone hard shell case, but not the original. This one [i haven't seen it] is about 15+ years old... apparently.


Also forgot to mention, that the guitar was sold by a bloke (an old guy, who had had the guitar for years, according to the shop..!) who brought in 2 Gibson 335s, from the 1990s and ~2000, plus this Riviera, to part exchange for a 1963 bound telecaster.





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Can't say for sure, but I don't think there's much of a market for fake, aged-40-years Epiphones.


As far as the pickups - ask again. For 1500 quid, they can undo a few screws.


For the year discrepancy, it's entirely possible he told them it was a 1967 when he brought it in, considering how long ago he bought it. Everything I know points to a 1968, but an e-mail to Gibson should clear it up.

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My only real concerns are ..........

WHY won't they let you see the back of the p'ups? That sounds as if they're trying to hide something serious.

And of course, it can never be made stock again without hundreds of dollars work, and even then, the t/piece post hole patchwork would be visible.

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According to the 2009 Guitar Blue Book, approximate values for a 1965 to 1970 Casino 6-string (in USD):

98% mint = $3,200

95% exc+ = $2700

90% exc = $2,300

80% vg+ = $1,900

70% vg = $1,600

60% g = $1,300


g or "good" condition is described thusly:


"Noticeable wear on most areas - normally this consists of some major bet buckle wear and finish deterioration, may include cracking, possible repairs or alterations. When this condition factor is encountered, normally an instrument should have all logos intact, original pickups, minor headstock damage, and perhaps a few non-serious alterations, with or without original case."


Considering that the original tailpiece and pickups are gone, holes have been drilled into the body and the PUP holes are routed out from the original mini size (both irreversible), and the fact that the shop won't let you look at the pickups, I'd say take a pass on it. The '09 BB also has descriptions of 40% (fair) and 20% (poor), both of which include non-factory alterations but are still playable. No pricing is provided at these levels because there's too much variance. I'm certainly no expert, but I'd say that particular Riviera probably falls into one of those lower categories and would have to be independently evaluated.


If it were me, I'd take $2,400 US and put it into a new or gently used 1965 JL or Revolution Casino, or $1,000 on an Elitist Casino and bank the rest or buy a nice tube amp or some other guitars if I was feeling really spendy.


Just my $0.02.


Cheers, Brian

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Hi Bluesy (can I call you that?)


I had a look at that guitar on the Dolphin (Liverpool) site and it looks like a 60's model to me.

As far as I can see, what you'd be getting is the equivalent of a '67 Gibson 335 rather than a Riviera. If it's in good condition, plays nice and sounds good then the only question for me would be "is it worth £1400.00 to me". It's obviously gonna be a players guitar rather than an investment due to the changes but you would have to consider the possibility that it might be hard to sell in the future if you needed to sell.

To be honest if it was closer to where I live I'd be interested in taking a look at it myself. Why not try making them an offer.

I agree with what BrianH wrote about values but vintage American guitars are thinner on the ground in the UK than the US and I've certainly seen Riviera's in the VG+ category offered at £2200.00 ($3500.00). Also, while the 1965 JL or Revolution Casino's are nice guitars they're not the same as a Riviera or a 335. In the end you pays your money and you takes your choice.



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Hello Chums...


Thanks for the rapid replies, all of which are informative and supportive. The last two posts by brianH and jonnyG capture a lot though - I too reckoned it's [considerably] overpriced but this is UK and they are rare enough here, particularly up North, rather than in London (.. mind you in London, they'd be priced even higher perhaps!). Plus, despite living more than half my life in Merseyside, and despite a deep-seated memory and love of the Beatles (more or less since shortly after I could first hear), I've never desired an Epiphone Casino (although frmo just up the road, Mancunian Jonny Marr almost persuaded me otherwise, some years later)!


Sure, someone has tried to make an ES 335 out of a Riviera, and irreversibly messed up a great guitar but, most importantly, it played very well and I was very pleasantly surprised how crisp, snappy, responsive it was - the neck binding had a few cracks in it but the neck itself felt almost perfect (narrow width but a substantial -for me- palmful of depth - it made me smile!)... it was one where you have a job putting it back on the rack and trudging back to work...


But is it worth £1500 to me (I still don't know.. fortunately they're closed tomorrow!)... and would I lose out big-time, if I had to or decided to sell it, (e.g., like when the next must-have utterly-unmissable once-in-a-lifetime vintage-guitar comes along?)... Yes, I reckon I'd probably lose out, maybe considerably.


BUT I am still thinking about it... although I wouldn't buy it without first getting to see what's under the pickup covers. I tried making a cash offer (!!) but they maintained that this was the min.





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