2/28/2018

1967 Gibson-made Epiphone FT85 Serenader 12-String Guitar




The Epiphone Serenader 12-string was simply a rebadged, different-pickguard, different-headstock version of the more-usual Gibson B-25-12. This guitar has the tailpiece-type load, however, which is more frequently seen on slightly-earlier Gibson 12-strings. I prefer a tailpiece load on these as it keeps the feel of the guitar springier and the tone a little more forward and with more chime. Others will prefer the pin-bridge load as the tone is more familiar, mellow, and perhaps a little less bluesy/ethno-axe in character. Internally, Gibson built these guitars the same way and this one has the big, thick bridge plate and x-bracing that the pin-load versions have, too.

Presumably, I'm keeping this guitar for the time-being, as I've been trying to get back into playing 12-string for about a decade (I used to play a big, Vox-branded EKO tailpiece 12-string a lot). I'd been haggling with the previous owner for a month or so on eBay until I felt comfortable snagging it. After it arrived I gave it a neck reset, much cleaning, a fret level/dress, fully-compensated the bridge, and set it up. It plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. It's not going to wander far from standard tuning, so I have a very slinky set of strings on it gauged 22w/46w, 16/36w, 10/26w, 8/18w, 13/13, 9/9.


The only crack on the guitar is a 2" tight hairline on the back. There's plenty of use-wear, weather-check, and surface-scratching throughout, however.

Like a B-25 or LG-2, the body is 14 3/8" on the lower bout and 4 1/2" deep at the endblock. It has a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides.


The massive headstock is fitted with an equally-massive 2" nut width, 12" radius to the board, and medium-big D-shaped neck profile. The truss works well.


The frets were worn with love in the 1-5 area before my level/dress job. The jumbo frets still have a lot of life to go, however.



I love the Epi-style, non-logo pickguards from this era. They're classic and '50s-looking, whereas the Gibson-branded versions were using the cool-but-giant "countrified" latter-era 'guard shape.



You can see how I've compensated each string slot individually at the adjustable saddle.

Another nice bit about the guitar? It's 100% original save an additional strap button I added at the heel.






After lube, those monster Kluson tuner sets are going strong.








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