For your consideration:
- This stunning 1939 Epiphone Triumph. Serial Number: 14999.
- Asking $3000 cash / $3050 credit card
- Contact: vicwong at gmail dot com
This is a wonderful example of a classic New York handmade Epiphone Archtop from the big band era, back when they were a real competitor to Gibson and not just their budget Asia-made lineup. With 17.5″ lower bout, it’s big. This was when luthiers experimented with larger bodies to project over blaring horns and swinging rhythm sections.
The Triumph is among the premium models that Epiphone manufactured at the time, just behind the Broadway model, but fancier than the lower-end models like the Olympic and Zenith. If you’d like to see a catalog from the era here’s one from Felix’s amazing Epiphone site: http://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/docs/1939_cat.pdf
When I take this guitar out, people always think it’s brand new and are shocked to find that it’s almost 80. There have been no cracks or repairs. Its finish is still unmarred and shiny. Even the case barely has a scratch on it. The neck is straight, frets are level, and it plays beautifully.
The guitar is outfitted with a hand-wound Kent Armstrong 2-D floating micro-humbucker. This is one of the few pickups that can fit the neck profile. Stealth thumbwheel volume and tone knobs have been installed under the pickguard. Super discreet, but right there when you need them. It’s ready to play out. Great care was taken to avoid adding new holes to the guitar during these installs.
Most of the parts are original, but there have been a couple of modifications due to common problems with Epiphones of this age. The binding was replaced in 2008. The original Frequensator tailpiece seam started to come apart, so it has been replaced with a reproduction. The original pickguard has also started to crack and “weep” an oily substance. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the nitro-cellulose materials used from that time. The original tailpiece is included, should you choose to have it repaired (archtop.com does these restorations). The original pickguard is also included, though from what I hear, there’s not much one can to to reverse the deterioration on them.
Bonus: The original case includes an unused set of c. 1939 Epiphone Strings and the original price tag: $125!
I love this guitar, but I haven’t been playing it as often due to a glut of archtops in my household. Time to pass it on to someone who will use it!