The Epiphone Sheraton and that gorgeous Vampire Weekend guitar tone

Columbia University graduates, Vampire Weekend are one of a seemingly endless stream of bands to have come from nowhere and gained huge popularity almost overnight, and long before they did anything as mundane as release an album, thanks to the internet. In Vampire Weekend’s case, it was indie music blog, Stereogum that played a crucial role.

For once, the hype surrounding the band was justified by its eponymously-titled debut album which, for me, is one of the best albums of the year so far. And not just me. Uncut’s John Mulvey said in his review: ‘when you’ve heard these songs more than once, it’s hard to shake them out of your head.’

That’s certainly true of tracks like Walcott and I Stand Corrected, both of which are more conventional than other tracks on the album but none the less enjoyable for that. The inclusion of beautiful orchestral strings adds to the rich tapestry, but it’s that wonderful guitar tone that time and again, track after track, adds something special to the album.

Vampire Weekend combines the band’s much-documented blend of Afro beats and pop melodies with smart, intelligent lyrics in which the band occasionally come across as trying a little too hard to be clever.

Oxford Comma, the second track on the album, is a case in point. Lead vocalist and guitar player, Ezra Koenig, explained the song in an interview: “Part of the idea of Oxford Comma is the idea of grammar as this obviously construct that a categorical imperative because it’s so specific to the English language. It’s kind of linguistic imperialism.” See what I mean?

We can forgive Ezra his verbosity, however, because as well as fronting a band which has produced a great album, he plays an Epiphone, a Sheraton II to be precise, as you can see from the pictures.

Vampire Weekend have been busy touring over the summer and at the end of June played two terrific sets at the Glastonbury festival.

Click on the video below to see and hear Vampire Weekend play Oxford Comma at Glastonbury.

Epiphone Sheraton

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0002GZQGU” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41xwGHv01zL.jpg” width=”224″]The Epiphone Sheraton was one of the first Epiphone electric guitars to be made following the purchase of the company by Gibson, appearing a year after the Casino in 1959. The Epiphone Sheraton is a double-cut thinline, semi-hollow-bodied guitar with twin humbuckers.

Check out the Epiphone Sheraton II Archtop Electric Guitar at Amazon

The Sheraton’s body was based on Gibson’s ES-335 and had the same twin rounded horns and the electronics in the same place. One key difference between the ES-335 and the Epiphone Sheraton was the tailpiece. The Gibson used a stop, or sometimes a vibrato, tailpiece, while the Sheraton employed a Frequensator. The Frequensator allows for longer bass strings and shorter treble strings, though this arrangement is sometimes reversed by guitar players. The other difference was the fretboard inlay: the Sheraton had a block and triangle inlay.

Later, the company introduced the Epiphone Sheraton II which swapped the Frequensator for a stop tailpiece. This version became much more popular than the original Sheraton. Both guitars were notable for being played by blues legend John Lee Hooker. Epiphone introduced a John Lee Hooker signature model shortly before the great man’s death in 2000. This guitar along with Epiphone’s other Sheraton II models now has a black on orange/yellow sunburst colouring rather than the black on deep red colour of the original Sheraton and Sheraton II.

Other notable Sheraton fans include Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, and the guitar which Epiphone custom-made for him, the Supernova, is closely based on the Sheraton and the Epiphone Dot.

The Sheraton II is still in production but the original Sheraton hasn’t been made for several years and is now pretty rare. The current Sheraton II has a laminated maple body, three piece maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. It still features those lovely twin humbuckers.

Know anyone who has an original Sheraton? Ever played one yourself? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add the details to the article.

Check out the Epiphone Sheraton II Archtop Electric Guitar at Amazon