The Epiphone Casino is a wonderful hollow-bodied electric guitar first made in 1958 and based on the Gibson ES-330. It’s probably most famous for being played by three Beatles between 1965 and 1967. (You can probably guess that Ringo Starr was the odd Beatle out.) In fact, John Lennon loved his so much, he used it for the rest of his time with the band, favouring it over the Rickenbacker 325 he’d been using up to that point.
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The Epiphone Casino is famed for its rich, heavy sound. However, its use of Gibson P-90 pick-ups means that the sound is thinner than that of the Gibson ES-335 which uses humbuckers. The Casino, unlike most hollow-bodied electric guitars, doesn’t have a centre block and so is lighter and louder than, say the ES-335, but also more prone to feedback.
The body of the Casino is made of laminated maple, and the neck is mahogany, although has occasionally been maple. The fretboard is either rosewood or ebony, depending on the model. The first versions of the Epiphone Casino had a spruce top but subsequent models, until 1970, had a headstock made of five laminated layers of maple, birch, maple, birch, and maple, set at a 17-degree angle. Since then, the headstock has been set at a 14-degree angle and has five layers of maple laminate.
John Lennon sanded his Epiphone Casino down, recoated it with lacquer, took the pickguard off and replaced the tuning pegs with gold Grovers, making it look like a completely different guitar. Epiphone has two John Lennon re-issues in its current range. The John Lennon 1965 Casino shows how his guitar looked before he modified it, and the John Lennon Revolution Casino sports the Beatle’s modifications. The Revolution is so-called because the modified Casino was first seen in the promo film for the Beatles song, Revolution.
Other notable Casino players are Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, The Kinks’ Dave Davies, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ronaldo, The Edge, Paul Weller, and Noel Gallager of Oasis. It has been said that the Epiphone Supernova — Gallagher’s famous Union Jack guitar — was a Casino, in fact it is a custom made guitar closer to the Sheraton and the Dot than the Casino.