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Wartime (?) Epiphone FT 50

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This may belong on the Epiphone section but I thought you guys might enjoy seeing it as well:

 

IMAG0188.jpg

 

 

I think this is an early 40s FT 50 (mahogany back and sides and tortoise shell binding). A guy was selling it locally for less than 2 bills so I snagged it. It has seen its days but it plays very well. Either this is pre-thrust rod or just did not receive that option. It probably has a steel reinforcement judging from the weight and the fact that the neck is straight. The only structural repairs it needs are some braces reglued and the e and g nut slot filled just a bit. It is original except for the tuning keys and 2 of the bridge pins.

 

IMAG0189.jpg

 

Unfortunately the label has been badly torn. I'm not sure how exactly that happened but it is a shame you cannot see the serial number. I am going to try to clean the finish up a bit with some naptha. Hopefully the residue from those stickers comes up nice and clean.

 

I love the way this one sounds. The body is rather small so it makes a great couch picker. I fell in love with it from the first strum.

 

Zomb, can you make a guess as to what year this was made? Do you know what kind of tuning machines might have come with it?

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$200? Hoss you may have just scored the deal of the year. Pre-Gibson Epiphone flattops just don't pop up for sale too often. You are far more likely to find a 1940s Gibson than an Epiphone.

 

What I know (and it ain't much) is Epiphone began offering the FT-50 around 1941 and continued making them until 1948. As far as I know Epi suspended production of their flattops in late 1943 or 1944 and did not resume making them until after the War - if you look at the catalog entires for the flattops they are stamped discontinued for the duration.

 

One of the cool things about the FT-50 and other Epis is that during the 1940s and early 1950s their necks were often made with cherry wood.

 

I can't explain the lack of a truss rod. Epiphone started using what they called the adjustable thrust rod in 1939. So you may be right and it is one of the last made before they stopped production during the war.

 

It looks like the label is damaged to the point where you can't make out the serial number. It does look like it starts with a 1 but that ain't much help as Epi serial numbers starting with that digit run from the mid-1930s through at least the mid-1940s. The label like the one in yours was used from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s so that ain't much help either.

 

Anyway you done real good and I mean real good. I am envious.

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When I first saw it I knew I had to have it at any price. When I saw the price I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough. It has a really bluesy patina that I can't get over. I wish I had the other two bridge pins and the tuning machines but beggers can't be choosers I guess.

 

One thing that is interesting about it is the binding is really thick, so thick that if you hold the back up to a light and look through the sound hole you can see light through the binding.

 

Zomby, do you remember the FT 79 that I found a year or two ago?

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/53300-what-can-you-guys-tell-me-about-this-43-ft-79/page__p__716367__hl__f.t.-79__fromsearch__1#entry716367

Wish I could have gotten that because it was CLEAN. It was cool when the buyer posted about it a week later.

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Pre-Gibson Epi Flat-tops are indeed rare these day. It's a wonderful example of Epi's guitars from what appears to be the war-time era. Too bad about the label. I don't know of any other way to lock down the date of mfg. without a serial #. I wonder if the lack of a truss rod actually dates it to much earlier than that. Either that, or Epi, like Gibson didn't put truss rods in some of their war-time guitars due to war shortages on steel. It may remain a mystery.

 

I would also try de-natured alcohol to remove the gunk

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Cool guitar! Thanks for sharing it with us.

 

The absence of a truss rod pegs it as wartime. The War Production Board's limitation order limiting by percentage of weight how much metal a stringed instrument could have prevented Gibson, Martin, and Epi from installing metal truss rods. Gibson used a maple V reinforcement in necks while Martin used an ebony rod. I'd love to see what Epi did.

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"Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Gutiars" indicates that the FT-50 was available from 1941-up to 1949. Specs were mahogany back and sides, cherry neck with rosewood fingerboard. Great find, congrats.

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If you go to www.acousticmusic.org they have a bunch of old guitar catalogs online including a 1944 Epiphone catalog so you can check out your FT-50.

They also have a bunch of Gibson catalogs for those of you with golden oldies. It is a really cool website.

 

At this point, I don't think you neeed to be sweating that FT-79. Years back I paid $400 for mine and figured I had come away with the deal of the century but you my friend have dethroned me. As has been noted, pre-Gibson Epis are hard as heck to find and this may well be the only FT-50 you will ever run across.

 

If I had to compare pre-Gibson Epi flat tops to anything it would NYC-made Guilds which is not surprising since Al Dronge's first partner came out of Epiphone and much of Guild's Pearl Street workforce were former Epi employees who had left the company during a labor dispute.

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Here she is half clean

 

IMAG0190.jpg

 

 

Here she is finished (for now)

 

IMAG0194.jpg

 

 

Now I need to work on getting her humidified properly (pretty dry currently) and then I can see about gluing the loose braces. Thanks for the kind words, cheers!

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sorry, late to the discussion - great looking FT 50.

Epiphone used that green label only c 1940-1944. I know of another FT 50 with similiar specs, s/n 17120.

 

I figured it was from around then but never had anything locked down. Are the serial numbers usually printed on the label? If so, this one's number is long gone.

 

 

 

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