1964 Epiphone (Gibson) FT-79N Texan Slope Dreadnought Guitar

I've worked on a bunch of old Epiphone Texans. This one happens to be a local customer's guitar and it was in for a "setup and crack repair" but wound-up getting a neck reset, fret level/dress, new saddle, and some fill for the crack that had opened-up a little above its old repairs on the back. Now that it's buttoned-up it's quite a fun instrument to play and it has a punchy, woody, thunky sort-of tone that sounds very '60s Gibson (fat, woody bottom!) but with a bit more snap from the long scale length.

I also appreciate the neat "Epiphone" pickguard shape and the Epi-style board inlay, too. Otherwise it looks about the same and is built about the same as a Gibson J-50 from the same time. Yes -- this is an Epiphone from when these were built right alongside Gibsons in Kalamazoo.

1960-1964 are popular years for these guitars and their Gibson counterparts, too, because the necks are not yet the very-slim, quick, rock-n-roll necks they would verge towards starting in '65. I actually like those better if what I'm doing is just flatpicked backup chords all night long, but a guitar like this is a much better option if you play a variety of styles -- flatpicked lead, fingerpicking, strumming, all of "the stuff."

In the tonal landscape, this guitar sits at the "tubbiest-sounding" point for Gibson design. Coming out of the mids-thick, stiffer (and taller) bracing of the '50s which suited the country-western and blues-fingerpicker sound, the late '50s and early '60s guitars got a lot lighter in the bracing and as a result sound fatter and warmer but lose some top-end chime and upper-mids definition. They become much-better chord-strumming instruments and they have the sound most folksies are looking for from a Gibson. The longer scale length (which = more tension per a given note) ramps-up the sustain and some of the mids-punch on this Epiphone version, though, but it's still a bottom-end-heavy instrument.

These guitars also sound a lot better out front than they do from behind, where they often sound a little muffled and "thin" from the player's perspective.

Normal J-50 specs are extant aside from the scale length change and trim changes -- it's got a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back, possibly ply mahogany sides, mahogany neck, and rosewood board and bridge. The original adjustable bridge (possibly a bolted plastic one) was removed and replaced by someone else a while back. The replacement is not too authentic and a bit oversized but it works swell and looks good enough for me to take home and strum! The tuners are also older replacement Grovers.


Unknown said…
I believe my brother got this for $165 at Wurlitzers in Boston about 1964 or 65. I grew up with a B-25 Gibson, so this was a step up for me. I got well into the 80's without an adjustment before things...came unglued? It recorded well and was my only acoustic for a long time. Different luthiers have worked on it over the years. The original bridge was some phenolic plastic thing that was not particularly pleasing to look at, however there was a stone or ceramic saddle in it that made for a tremendously bright and chimey tone that jake mentions. One shop arbitrarily, against my wishes, replaced it with the current bridge and saddle. Although more pleasing to the eye, it was left with the "tubby" mid-rangey tone that Jake refers to. I have now gifted it to my son as the narrow neck seems too confining for my antique nubby arthritic fingers, but this was/is a gem of a workhorse that still sounds pretty good compared to some of the higher dollar guitars I have owned.