Kent Spanish 4036

Close-up #31: 1949 Kent Spanish
SN 4036

These photos of a small-body, non-cutaway electric archtop guitar I saved from various websites where it was offered (no affiliation).

The instrument doesn't show any label inside – no model name visible anywhere. The center-dip headstock shape and the metal "Epiphone" logo plate – referred to as "bikini" logo among Epi geeks for somewhat obvious reasons – identify this as a 1939 or later model. 

Kent Spansh 4036

There is a serial number stamped on the back of the headstock, in the usual place: "4036". When looking at our Registry database, electric instruments in the 4000s SN range are usually dated to the year 1940. However some (original looking) details of this guitar suggest a post-war manufacturing date: Firstly, the simple strip tuners have Phillips mounting screws – Epiphone didn't use these before 1945 as far as I can tell. 

Kent Spanish 4036

Furthermore, the pickguard sports a silver "E" logo decal – a detail not introduced before 1949. Finally and most importantly, the pickup: This rather large, metal-cased unit looks like the "Tone Spectrum" pickups found on some 1949 Zephyr Spanish and Zephyr Deluxe examples – however here in a budget version without adjustable pole pieces. 

Kent Spanish 4036

There is a model with these features in Epiphone's electric instruments catalog which was issued c. late 1949 or early 1950 (pictured below): The "Kent" was a new low-end "Electar Spanish"  model, with a 15 1/2" wide non-cutaway body, only available in the "regular" (=sunburst) finish. It had a maple top with mahogany back and sides – pressed laminated woods like with all electrics.

1949 catalog

The "Kent Spanish" first appeared in the price list of March 15, 1949: The price was $87.50. The model was rather short lived: It appeared again in the July 15, 1950 pricelist (price now $90), but was gone in the price list of November 15, 1950. Note the "discontinued" stamp across the model description in the catalog copy pictured above! 

1949 March price list Kent

So what about that rather odd SN "4036"?

The year 1949 brought significant changes to Epiphone's model lineup – and possibly it took the company a while to find out how to fit these changes into their SN systems ...

After WW2, Epiphone's discontinued low-end electric "Coronet" line had not been relaunched. By 1949 the company obviously wanted to address the low-priced market segment again – by adding the "Kent" electric line which included a Spanish, a Hawaiian and an Amplifier model. The documented 1949 Kent Spanish examples have stamped SNs in the 30xx and 40xx ranges: The logic behind this numbering system is not known (yet). Like all hollowbody electrics, by 1950 the Kent Spanish adopted the blue label formerly reserved to acoustics, with SNs starting in the 60000s.

Below the keratol-covered chipboard case that has housed the guitar for more than six decades. I guess this is a case "No. 483" which was listed at $11 in the catalog and price list.

Kent Spanish 4036

(Jan 2, 2017)