1953 Epiphone Century Archtop

This is a beautiful natural blond 1953 Epiphone Century Archtop. This guitar was made in the Epiphone plant in Queens, NY – the same place where Les Paul created “The Log” in 1940, which was his crowning contribution to inventing the electric guitar as we know it.

I bought this guitar from Rivington Guitars in New York City. Here’s a picture I took of it on the counter in the store before they packaged it up.

This guitar is in fantastic condition and just an absolute joy to play. It’s set up with 10s and plays beautifully. It has great low action, and a fantastic! neck. It’s just a joy to play, and the big body gives it super mojo to play. It’s a robust and beautiful clean or a just monster dirty. The pickup on this guitar is what is called a New York Pickup. It’s the pickups they used in the Queens plant for these pre-gibson electric archtops. It’s a single coil pickup wound sideways. It has a unique sound – an even and subtle sound. Many say it is the pre-cursor to the P90 – but I need to learn more about what is meant by that. This guitar has a rosewood fretboard and headstock. It has a trapeze tailpiece and octagonal volume and tone controls with peaked facets. It’s just a great look.

Everything is original on this guitar except the pick guard and the strap button. The strap button broke when shipping me the guitar. We put a new one on. The old one is in the case and will stay with the guitar. The pick guard came off of a 1950s Harmony. It gives the guitar a great unique look. There is a tiny corner of the pick guard that is broken, just as it meets the pickup. It’s like just centimeter of the corner.   The biggest thing missing would probably be the brand plate from the headstock. These guitars had a bikini style brand plate, and you can see on the guitar where it once was. You can find these for sale from this era of Epiphone, as they came off pretty easily.

All the electronics work well, our luthier cleaned the pots and dated them to the late 40s. All original and working wonderfully well.

The serial number is written on the back wall in side the guitar, which Epiphone did up until the mid 1950s, when they then switched to using a label. This guitar is just a beautiful authentic piece of American guitar history, as well as a super great player (could be your main gigging instrument if you’re professional player).  For its combination of those two things, I would rate it at the top of any vintage instrument I have owned.

Review of a 52/53 Epiphone Century Archtop by Dave Simpson: