Figure 1 – The John Lennon 1965 Casino
In the 1960s Epiphone Casinos were ‘in’. And John Lennon wasn’t the only Beatles to own one. In fact Paul McCartney and George Harrison both had Casinos, as did Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. But it was Lennon who became most associated with the instrument, most famously playing it on the infamous rooftop appearance of 1969.
Fast forward to November 1997, and a team from Epiphone visit “The Dakota” in New York to examine John’s Casino. They took measurements of the neck and body, studied the components and photographed everything, in order to create a guitar as close to Lennons original as was possible to acheive.
As a result and in cooperation with Yoko Ono, Epiphone proudly introduced the Limited Edition John Lennon “Revolution” and “1965” Casinos.
The “John Lennon 1965 Casino” is a reproduction of the guitar as John originally purchased it with the sunburst finish and stock hardware.
The “John Lennon Revolution Casino” is a reproduction of the “stripped” guitar featuring one coat of nitro-cellulose lacquer, gold Grover tuners and no pickguard.
Epiphone is, of course, owned by Gibson, and in the sixties guitars by both brands were very similar, and were made side by side in the factory at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Read more about the 1960s Epiphone Casino. Gibson had strict product licensing arrangment that limited the number of dealers stocking Gibsons, and the Epiphone brand was a way to increase sales without breaking these deals.
These Lennon reissues are incredible guitars; manufactured to the standards of the 1960s originals. Just 1,965 instruments have been made, each numbered. A portion of the proceeds from each sale was donated to “The BMI Foundation, Inc. for John Lennon Scholarship fund” which supports music education
Original body shape and materials- Mid 60s Kalamazoo Specifications
- Nitro Cellulose lacquer finish
- One-piece Mahogany neck
- Rosewood fingerboard with pearloid, parallelogram fret markers, binding over fret-ends
- Neck joint at 16th fret
- 24.750″ scale
- Mother-of-pearl headstock logo – 17 degree pitch
- “Gibson USA- factory” electronics and hardware
- Nickel plated, Alnico-V p-90s with original pole spacing
- Switchcraft, 3-way toggle with old style black washer
- Nickel ABR bridge with nylon saddles
- Vintage style case with shroud
Figure 2 – The Beatles perform on the roof of the Apple building, Jan 1969. Note John’s Epiphone Casino is now stripped down to a natural wood finish
The Casino was very similar to the Gibson ES-330TD. Today Epiphone produce some very nice Casinos, some cheap, and some quite expensive – but all terrific instruments. If you want to play a semi-acoustic guitar, you should certainly try one out!