FT#1 9155

Close-up #19: 1935 FT #1 SN 9155

This guitar was auctioned in 2011, that's where the pics are from. It is a rather plain flattop guitar which obviously lost its pickguard at some pint in its life – the area is covered by some kind of sparkly material in the picture above.

The headstock has a squarish shape reminding of models made by Martin & Co – sporting an Epiphone Masterbilt banner decal commonly seen on the Olympic archtop model of the 1933–35 era.

FT#1 9155

The view through the round, bound soundhole reveals an unusual label, reading "Model F T #1" and "No. 9155". What we see here is actually a Long Island type label – with the lower part of the paper cleanly cut off ... whatever the reason. SN 9155 indicates a 1935 manufacturing date.

FT#1 955

While Epiphone's 1934 catalog didn't list any flattop guitars, the 1936 catalog introduced three new models: FT 27 (pictured below), FT 37 and FT 75 – "FT" for "flattop" and the figure for the price. To reflect the price in the model name was a new scheme for Epiphone – maybe no coincidence that competitor Gibson had already gone that route with models such as L-50, L-75 and Super 400.

An "FT #1" never appeared in any catalog ...

1936 catalog FT 27

... but in Fisch/Fred 1996, p160, we find the info that the earliest FT 27 examples were labeled like that. Bingo!

(Possibly early FT 37 and FT 75 were accordingly labeled FT #2 and FT #3, however we have no documented evidence for this; interestingly, Epiphone Mandocello models were cataloged as "No. 1", "No. 2" and "No 3" – but no examples documented yet.)

This guitar's spruce top obviously had a small teardrop-shape pickguard – no idea if original or not. The FT model pictures in the 1936 catalog show the distinctive, somewhat squarish pickguard which extends along the fretboard – the classic Epiphone pickguard shape used on most FT models from 1936 into the 1950s (and beyond).

FT#1 9155

The plain strip tuners, supposedly made by Waverly, are the same as used on other low-end Epis, although black buttons are rather uncommon. Note the wallhanger hook in the top – a practical but non-original feature I guess ;-) ...

FT#1 9155

Back, sides and neck are mahogany. The back has no binding.

Note that the neck is actually two-piece, although without any decorative, contrasting centerstripe(s) which are typical for higher Epiphone models. An October 1940 article in the magazine "Oil Power" (reproduced in Fisch/Fred 1996, p81–84) elaborated on Epiphone's neck construction: "The neck is formed from long, wooden blocks taken from the kiln in halves and glued together with the grain of the woods in opposition. Thus the grain of one half counteracts the other half to eliminate the effect of warpage on the instrument's tone."

So much regarding the virtues of multi-piece necks – ironically exactly by fall 1940 Epiphone started to use one-piece cherry necks on their lower models ...

FT#1 9155

(Nov 13, 2016)