Editor’s note: Here’s the third installment of our Epiphone: 75 Years of Great Tone series. Check back again at the end of the month for our fourth installment. If you’d like to catch up with our previous installments, part I is here, and part II is here.
The back cover of the Neil Young record “Harvest” showcased a 1936 Electar Zephyr amp that was used on the album. Released in 1972, Harvest yielded a number of hits including, Heart of Gold, Old Man and Alabama, turning this recording into the best-selling album of ’72. Neil purchased the Zephyr for Jack Nitzsche, Young’s pianist/producer then with Crazy Horse.
Gibson relocated a good portion of its guitar production from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee in 1974. By 1985, the company had fallen on hard times and needed a serious infusion to rescue it from completely closing the doors. Epiphone moved into a new facility located at 1818 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN when Dave Berryman and Henry Juszkiewicz purchased Gibson in January 1986. This new team would steer Gibson and Epiphone to stratospheric success.
The Standard Series was introduced in 1988 and was a sign of Epiphone moving their production into Asia. This fresh solid state line was presented with black tolex, black metal grill and various gain stages to accommodate the needs of players. The models showcased were the EP10, EP25R, EP60R and EP25 Bass. Affordability was a key factor in the success of the Standard Series as the amp began showing up music stores around the world. In 1993 the modern Standard Series evolved with tweed cabinet covering and brown grill cloth.
Starting in 1995, the Regent Series added a new look with its cream tolex, brown grill and gold control panels. The gold metal badge was a throw-back to the Epiphone Zephyr logo used in previous years. The lineup included the Regent 20, Regent 50R, Regent 250 and Regent Bass 50. Also in the new lineup were acoustic amps featuring XLR and 1/4” inputs, on-board reverb and an anti feedback control system. Multiple speaker configurations were used in combination with solid state circuitry to create tonal characteristics tuned for acoustic guitar frequencies. The Acoustic Regent 30, Acoustic Regent 220 (shown at left) and Acoustic Regent 230, ran until 2000.
On Oct 31, 1995, Epiphone moved into its new headquarters at 645 Massman Drive, Nashville where it resides to this day.
The Electar Tube Series began production in 1996. The closed back Electar Tube 10 employed a single 6L6 while the open back Electar Tube 30 featured two EL84 power tubes and an overdrive switch. The combo line, developed under the name, Electar Labs, brought back the prominent Large E logo from the early Nat Daniel days.
Next came the EP Series outfitted in black and silver grill cloth, black tolex with a black and white control panel. The series produced guitar and bass amplifiers in this line up which included the EP800, 88R, 800B, SC28, 210, 100, 1000R, and 1000B. Most of the guitar amps were two channels, with an FX loop and spring reverb. In 2003 they changed to the Flying E logo.
The Galaxie 10 and Galaxie 25 were new designs from the Epiphone engineers and produced from 2001-2004. The Galaxie employed all tube circuitry with a vintage vibe in a compact package. The Flying E logo sat on black or blue tolex, while white piping surrounded the silver grill cloth. The offset opening was a unique characteristic and one that would be used in future offerings. The Galaxie was the first Epiphone amp to use Celestion speakers utilizing the 70/80 drivers.
Aerosmith released their 14th album, “Honkin’ On Bobo” on March 30, 2004. Recorded at the Boneyard, Joe Perry extensively used a small Epiphone amp for this return to a rock blues album that would soon be certified Gold. As a long time endorsee, Joe has had an affair with Epiphone and Gibson equipment for many years. Artists everywhere were discovering that both vintage and new Epiphone product had a certain charm and magic that was reflected in their recordings. Certain amps from the vintage era were now gaining in both reputation and their resale value.