Epiphone was acquired by Gibson in 1957 and, until Norlin’s purchase of Gibson in 1969, Epiphone instruments were effectively equivalent but parallel to Gibsons, built by the same people on the same workshop benches.
The fully-hollowbodied Casino was launched in April ’61 as the close analogue of the ES330, which Gibson had launched in 1959. This example from pre-April ’61, is early enough to sport the metal plate headstock logo, also worn by the best Epiphone Coronets of the period (themselves the analogue of Gibson’s Les Paul Junior and fantastic, if slightly less pretty, guitars).
Given my love of early, single-pickup 330’s, I wanted to buy a sunburst brother for my blonde ’60 ES330TN and cherry ’61 ES330TC to ‘complete the set’. Gibson ES330T’s are quite common and every bit as good but (I thought) maybe a little boring.
I didn’t even realise single-pickup Casinos existed until I stumbled across a picture of one on the web a few years back, and as soon as I saw it I realised it would be a much more interesting way of completing my little family. Research suggest it’s very rare. If anyone else has one, please send me pix of yours to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several years of not very energetic searching and this one came up. It’s in really, really good shape, all original including its fantastic grey and cream case with midnight blue plush lining. No strap button on the neck heel, nor has there ever been any hole for one. Like my 330’s, it plays great. If anything, it’s slightly livelier than the 330’s both acoustically and amplified. A really good buy, especially as it was a birthday present to myself!