In the grand scheme of things, then £1390 for a vintage, mid 60’s, Epiphone Olympic, is certainly more in the land of affordable – It probably won’t appeal to the collector wanting a pure vintage thoroughbred, that might well end up as a case queen – But for the player requiring a cool, affordable and playable vintage guitar then read on – In no particular order I’ve listed a host of details below :-
- The Epiphone Olympic is effectively the close cousin to the Gibson Melody Maker – Both are about as simplistic as it gets from the Kalamazoo gang
- Whole guitar weighs a touch under 6lbs – Yes 6lbs
- No neck/headstock breaks or any other structural repair work – Yet sometime in the past the body and neck have received a clear ‘overspray’ top coat – Who knows why – The original faded cherry finish is still correct, but now sits below the overspray – The overspray is thin and clear – Certainly not tacky or anything nasty – The pics certainly don’t reflect this and even an initial inspection might not reveal anything – The cherry nitro finish has faded, as they do, but look under the single ply scratchplate and you can still see the original pre-fade colour
- Original 6 on a plate Kluson Deluxe tuners
- Replaced wrapover bridge/tailpiece – Note compensated fixed saddles for a plain 3rd – Hence ‘improved’ intonation
- Original single ply scratchplate with E logo
- Rounded C neck profile – measures .812″ around the top nut end and fills out to .975″ at the 12th fret – 60’s slim at the top nut end, but more comfortable girth as you move up the fingerboard
- Re-fret with medium/jumbo frets – Frets are clean + polished
- No nail wear on the fingerboard
- Note the dealer decal on the rear of the headstock – have to assume this is the original dealer who sold the guitar back in the 60’s – Nice but of nostalgia
Now to the interesting bit and to me this is what makes this Epi so attractive – The factory single coil pick-ups on both the Melody Maker and Olympics tend to be weak, thin and weedy – This pick-up has been changed to a hand wound Curtis Novak MM90 – Check out his web site and in particular the pick-up that now sits in this Olympic – Click here – It retains the appearance of the original single coil pick-up, but sounds and performs more like a P90 (still a single coil pick-up) – Under the ‘bonnet’ and the pick-up is physically larger, but most of the coil still sits within the original size single coil cover – It kicks out a healthy 11.59K – Growls and kicks dirt – So effectively sounds far more like an SG Junior – Try a few of those Who style big power chords, Tom Petty style riffs, simple rhythmic blues styles of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters, or even a few Green Day style punk licks and the tone is big – It possesses so much character and attitude – Trim the volume pot a touch for a more controlled and melodic voice, hence more expression as required – It certainly delivers far more than you’d probably expect – Coupled with a good refret to medium/jumbo frets and the whole playing performance is far more slick – It is not going to be an EVH speed machine, or a pure SRV blues guitar, but it is an easy guitar to handle – You don’t have to keep all your playing simplistic to get the best out of it, but in my opinion it is a guitar that is more about the song and less about ‘flashy solos’ – It is loaded with character and shows that not all desirable vintage need to have a big price tag
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.