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Not sure if you can really tell much from the serial number but if that is a blue label reading both Kalamazoo and Made in Japan it means the guitar was built in Japan between 1971 and 1975. I gather that the Epiphones of this period bore little resemblance to anything either Epiphone or Gibson had built but were pretty much re-badged Arias or others built in the same factory.

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I had one of these 120's and from the research I came up with this was the time that Epiphone first started shipping from Japan, as they shut down production in the USA they send left-over label's to Japan just to use them up. So some had white labels and some had blue labels, they where all made in Japan but with label's of different color's. If I remember correctly the blue labeled one's where the earlier produced one's so it's some where in the early 70's likely.

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It is impossible to come up with an exact age. The small "Kalamazoo, Michigan" (not "made in") labels were a nearly identical copy of Made in Kalamzoo, Michigan labels which preceded it.


This link is to a discussion I rescued from a older Epiphone Forum board.:

Brief History of Epiphone.

From the label and model number we can deduce it was made between Spring/Summer 1972 through sometime in 1975. That's as close as we can get. The serial number on the serial number plates were anything but serial.


This particular style of label began life as a pastel blue. Exposure to sunlight has faded some to near white and /or green.



This vintage of flat top had a tendency to have it's neck block break loose, raising action to sky high levels, eventually damaging the top. This is a tutorial of how I fixed my FT145SB. It shows the type of damage that can happen if the brokenness is allowed to progress.


Fixing a Broke Neck FT, Norlin.

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I have an FT140, I think it dates from around 76-78, but that's just my guess from reading internet stuff.



I think my one may be starting to develop a similar neck pocket problem, I have had to pack the back of the neck pocket with some pieces of thick card to get a better angle on the neck and I noticed that the soundboard has started to bulge up between the neck pocket and the sound hole and a little to either side.





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Yup, BigNeil, your FT140's Neck block has definitely broken loose.


See my fix:

Fixing a Broke Neck FT, Norlin.


If you don't fix it, it will get worse and may severely damage the guitar's top.


It's an easy fix if you're handy with woodworking tools. If not, have a budy who is do it who is handy with woodworking tools. You should be able to get it fixed for pizza and a six pack of beers. Just hold off on 'payment' until the thing is glued back to normal.


Once the neck block is secure, you may still need to shim the neck to get decent action, but it should not continue to move.

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Furthermore, while the first purchase of this FT140 could have been in the late 70's, it was manufactured no earlier than 1972 and later than 1975.


Probably more like 73-ish to 74-ish, but that's just a hunch.

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  • 1 month later...

thanks for the info Tommy. here is an update, So I took the stings off, then the neck off, and while I was investigating I realised that I did indeed have the classic FT neck break, on reaching inside the soundhole to have a feel around, the internal cross piece that sits behind the neck pocket was loose and no longer holding the sound board,


exactly like these photo's from the other thread,,,







However mine wasn't as far gone as either of the cases on your other thread, so I decided to have a go at fixing it myself using wood glue, two G clamps, and a plank of wood.


I decided to do something with my horribly worn fretboard too and carefully sanded off all that nasty black stain, and left it with a more natural look. I have treated the bare wood with several coats of linseed oil ....


kinda looks odd but it feels much nicer now, I also lightly sanded the soundboard and brought it up to a nice satin finish.


so I got it all back together this afternoon with only the slimmest of neck shims and strung it up with extra light acoustic 10's, and all seems well.


It sounds really nice ... just how I remember it sounding when I first got it (it's playing nice too)...I hadn't noticed how the sound had slowly become dull and lifeless as the neck pocket issue slowly appeared over the years.


I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your original thread because I wouldn't have known what to do about it without your pics and fix.


so here it is.


before shot of the fingerboard. (All that wear was my fingers and not someone else's)



and after





and here is a nice flat soundboard and straight neck neck join.




fingers crossed that my fix holds.

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Looks really nice man! Wish some one hadn't gorilla glued the neck-joint on mine so I could restore my FT-120 to look/play as nice as what you now have. I like the way you made the bridge match the work you done on the fingerboard, makes it pop!

Thanks Ray, I might still decide to stain it back to a darker colour but for now I am enjoying not getting black fingers when I play lol.



GORILLA GLUE [scared] [scared] That stuff is insane, never used it, but read a few stories about how badly it can go with instrument repairs.... the only way you will ever get the neck off now, is to cut it off.

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>sniff< [crying]


Does my heart good to see that a Norlin FT has been saved from the band saw.. or worse.


The worn fret board is testimony to the voice of these, mostly ill fated, guitars.


My late-great uncle had a saying, "Antiques is something that someone didn't like well enough, or something that didn't work well enough to wear it out."


I hope you play her enough to wear holes in the fretboard!

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