Epiphone Byrdland

The Epiphone Byrdland, part of Epiphone’s Elitist range of guitars, is a stunningly beautiful archtop hollow-body electric guitar that was born to play jazz.

Originally designed and built by Gibson in 1955, the Epiphone Byrdland takes its name from its two designers, jazz guitarists, Billy Bird and Hank Garland.

The current incarnation of the Byrdland has a single Venetian cutaway, the same as the original Gibson Byrdland. Gibson modified the cutaway between 1961 and 1968, using the deeper and more rounded Florentine cutaway.

The carved solid spruce top is complemented by AAA flame Maple sides and back. The maple/rosewood neck is a five-peice job, having been three-piece on the original Gibson model between 1955 and around 1965. Fingerboard is ebony with trapezoidal inlays and the nut is bone. Tuners are Grover with Imperial buttons, which really look the part in 24K gold.

Down at the other end, the neck is set at the 24th fret, and the rhythm and treble humbuckers each have volume and tone control pots. There’s also a three-way pick-up selector, making it easy to switch between rhythm, treble, and both pick-ups. And the lovely 34K gold tailpiece and black scratchplate look perfect next to the carved spruce top.

Click here to see Epiphone Byrdland guitars currently listed on Amazon

The Byrdland has been available in a number of finishes over the years, including Natural, Sunburst, Wine Red, VIntage Cherry Sunburst, and Ebony. The Epiphone Elitist Byrdland is available only in Natural.

Interviewed in 2004 by Epiphone, The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn described his Epiphone Byrdland as ‘a beautiful guitar, probably the most beautiful guitar I’ve seen in my life! The, wood, the gold hardware and pickups, made with Japanese precision, it’s just gorgeous’ High praise, indeed.


  1. Andre Weigand says:

    Like many others you describe the Epiphone Byrdland as a guitar with a carved solid spruce top. But in fact, this guitar has a laminated top, be it that there are only two layers and their grains run in the same direction, one is 4 mm thick, the other 1 mm. This is confirmed by Gibson/Epiphone. They sent me the following statement:

    Is it a carved top in the same sence that the original Gibson Byrdlands were?…No. If it were, the price would have to be significantly higher and no longer fill the role of a high quality affordable alternative in the market place.

    It is also not a laminate top in the classic sence. The industry standard of veneer material is about .025”(.635mm). Laminate tops are generally 5-ply with cross grain orientation, which get the thickness to about .125”, which is pretty standards thickness for musical instruments. This makes for a strong, durable and attracting top or back plate for a musical instrument, but are not particularly designed to enhance the tone of the instrument..

    The Elitist might better be described and a “Hybrid” top, as it is certainly not a laminate top by industry norms. By using 4mm spruce as partially pressed, partially sculpted top, with the addition of the 1mm parallel grain veneer to add strength and rigidity, you get the best of both schools of construction. The nearly solid top with the supporting veneer which has the same grain orientation allows for much better top movement and tone, while maintaining durability and affordability.

    I have an Elite Byrdland, and indeed, it is a very fine instrument, but I couldn’t resist telling you about the top.

    Andre Weigand, Warnsveld, The Netherlands

  2. John Bernays says:

    I find your “Blog?” great! I play a 1998 Eptphone Emperor-Regent, Natural. Now, the Guitar has been played & Loved in My Hands & Other Jazz Guitarists are Always Encouraged to Play her…now, I am wondering, the TOP is SO VERY GREAT SOUNDING, and folks like GEOFF LUTTREL at SF Guitarworks & Gary Brawley at Real Guitars (Where I Bought her) In SF say “This Guitar Sounds Much Better that most Epiphones!” Of course, 1998 is a KOREA-Peerless mfg. but COULD it have the HYBRED TOP as described Above, as a Guitar Builder once went all ENTHUSED trying to explain the UNIQUE method of SAW CUT used in the TOP after pointing out the DIMPLE by the Floating Bridge & the TIGHT GRAIN of the Spruce Top…
    I use Daddario EJ-17 Bronze strings with the ACTION set EXTREMELY LOW, and play through a “CLEAN” Street Cube, or a Micro Cube. (At Home I Use a FENDER Pro-Jr. with EMINENCE “Little Buddy” Spkr.
    I really love the Big Fat Sound, & with 2 Knobs on Guitar & Two on Amp I can get ANY TONE + SUSTAIN while I cmb my Hair & Pick my Nose, to the VAST AMUSEMENT of fans! (Started playing in ’58) TNX

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