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Comparing the Epiphone Casino, Sheraton and Dot 335 - Nick from Gibson at Nevada Music UK.
|Period||1959 - 1970|
|Pickup(s)||2 New York mini-humbuckers|
|Natural, Sunburst, Cherry|
The Epiphone Sheraton is a thinline semi-hollow body electric guitar. Though the Sheraton and all its variations were introduced under the ownership of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, Epiphone is the exclusive manufacturer.
Under the ownership of Epaminondas ("Epi") Stathopoulo, Epiphone was a leading manufacturer of hollow-body and archtop guitars. Epiphone's guitars were of such high quality that they rivaled Gibson's hollow-body guitars. Until 1957, Epiphone was one of Gibson's fiercest competitors. Epi Stathopoulos died in 1943. Control of the company went to his brothers, Orphie and Frixo. In 1951, a four month long strike forced a relocation of Epiphone from New York to Philadelphia. The company was bought out by their main rival, Gibson in 1957. In 1958, Gibson began to expand upon its Epiphone line of semi-hollow guitars. They reworked Epiphone's old Century archtop into a thinline electric fitted with a single P-90. This was followed by the introduction of a twin-pickup, double-cut thinline semi-hollowbody, the Sheraton. The original Gibson-made Epiphone Sheratons were up until 1970, when production moved to Japan, and major design changes began to occur.
Gibson used the same body for the Sheraton as it was using for its new ES-335, ES-345, and ES-355 models. It featured the same double rounded horns, and had similarly placed electronics. The Sheraton was fitted with a set glued-in neck, in accordance with Gibson's standard practice. Distinguishing characteristics of the Sheraton included its multiple body binding (like that of its top of the line Gibson cousin, the ES-355); its Frequensator tail piece; and its headstock and fretboard inlays. Unlike any of the semi-hollowbodies in the Gibson line, the Sheraton's headstock featured Epiphone's traditional fancy vine (or "tree of life") inlay on its headstock, while its fretboard featured a block and triangle (or "V") inlay of mother-of-pearl and abalone, as well as binding on the fretboard's surface, inset slightly from the outer edges.
1958 Epiphone Sheraton introduction specs: Thin body, double cutaway, semi-hollow with solid maple block down center; 2 Epiphone "New York" (single coil) pickups; 2 volume and 2 tone controls with white 'carousel' knobs, and a pickup selector switch; tune-o-matic bridge with no retainer wire; gold plated metal parts; Frequensator tailpiece or Bigsby vibrato; bound tortoise-shell pickguard; Epiphone 'E' tuners; multiple bound top and back; single bound rosewood fingerboard; abalone/pearl block "V" fingerboard inlays, neck joins body at 19th fret, 5-piece neck (from remaining Epiphone-built inventory) has a "V" chunky back shape; tree of life pearl peghead design; sunburst or natural finish. 1961 Sheraton specs: Parts begin to change to Gibson-made parts. The pickups are changed from the New York single coils to mini-humbuckers, knobs become gold gibson bonnet knobs, tuners become Grovers. Serial number now pressed into the back of the peghead between the D and G tuners, in addition to being on the blue Epiphone label in the bass "f" hole. The new Epiphone "Trem-o-tone" adjustable vibrato tailpiece is introduced. 1962 Sheraton specs: Production changes from NY-made Epi necks to Gibson-made mahogany necks. Cherry red finish introduced (this will remain the rarest Sheraton finish throughout Gibson's production period of the 1960s). "Epiphone" script inlay on headstock becomes more streamlined in appearance. 1963 Sheraton specs: Peghead shape becomes more elongated. Binding on fretboard moves to outer edges (no longer inset). 1965 Sheraton specs: Sunburst finish becomes more two-tone (tobacco to amber). Late 60's to 1970: Neck width narrows to 1 9/16", as on many Gibson-made guitars of the era.
Sheraton production totals (data from 1961 to 1970 only): Cherry - 53 Cherry w/vibrato - 20 Natural - 59 Natural w/vibrato - 49 Sunburst - 243 Sunburst w/vibrato - 197
In 1970, production ceases in U.S., and begins in Japan. Mini-humbucking pickups are discontinued on the Sheraton, changing to standard full-sized humbuckers; serial numbering system changes. Body and headstock shapes begin to evolve, as they will continue to do throughout the 1980s onward into the 2000s, as production also shifts from Japan to Korea. Superior Korean build manufactured only up until 2006. To tell if its Korean built, it will have the following prefix: I=Saein, S=Samick, U=Unsung, and R or P=Peerless.
|Epiphone Sheraton II|
|Neck||three piece maple|
|Ebony, Natural, Vintage Sunburst|
The Epiphone Sheraton II was later introduced and featured only one major difference. The Frequensator tail piece was now replaced by a fixed stop bar. The Sheraton II became much more popular than the original. Epiphone's high end guitars, the elitist line, includes a Sheraton. Unlike the "regular" line Sheraton with its full-size Gibson-style humbuckers, it features the New York mini humbuckers of the original Sheraton (later used on several Gibsons, but originally an Epiphone-specific transducer). Currently original Sheratons are rare, but Sheraton II's are still in production and are readily available. The most recently manufactured Sheratons were John Lee Hooker signature models. Recently the vintage sunburst finish that many Sheratons are made in has changed colour from a black on deep red colour (shown right) to a black on orange-yellow colour.
The Sheraton was used by Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher. A Sheraton variant, the Noel Gallagher Supernova, was produced for him and was made available to the public with a Union Jack, Manchester City blue, Cherry Red or Black Ebony finish. Brian Aubert, frontman for the Silversun Pickups, has a modified Sheraton with silver hardware. Furthermore, the Epiphone Sheraton 2 has been used by Kings of Leon lead guitarist Matthew Followill. Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend plays a Sheraton II almost exclusively. Also, Ted Leo of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists used one for many years. Most notably, the Sheraton and Sheraton II were the main guitars used by blues legend John Lee Hooker. Epiphone introduced a signature John Lee Hooker Sheraton and Sheraton II in 2000, the year before his death.
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