Vintage Guitar and Bass forum

Help.. [ epiphone olympic special ]

Help.. [ epiphone olympic special ]
« on: July 19, 2010, 08:43:37 PM »
I think my guitar is a 3/4 size Epiphone Olympic. When I bought it in 1980, I was told that it was made in 1963 but the serial number stamped on the back of the neck is 320060 which I read somewhere dates it to 1965 - after they'd stopped making 3/4 size guitars :-). It's got a few scars from before I got it but just superficial, only problem is that the pickup has packed in. Anyone got any ideas on whether I should try and get the pickup rewound, or whether it'd be best to get a new pickup put on there. If anyone has any ideas about age and value I'd welcome that as well.


  • *****
  • 3068
    • View Profile
Epiphone Olympic
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 12:17:55 AM »
Hi Al,
well, it is a nice old guitar, but I don't think it's a '63.
Is yours 22 3/4" scale rather than 24 3/4"? They had the same body and neck sizes according to the catalogues, just a slightly shorter scale.
You are right that the serial number suggests 1965, and to me it looks more like a mid 1960s Epiphone Olympic Special, particularly this one in the 1966 Epiphone catalogue - the same body shape. Notice the earlier body shape in the 1964 Epiphone catalogue - different to yours.
Another thing you can do is take the controls off, and try and read the pot codes - if the dates are visible it might also give another piece of evidence.
Here are the Epiphone Olympic shipping figures by the way - they were 1960s Epiphones best seller.
I'd get the pickup rewound personally

« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 08:27:37 PM »
Hi Jules,
The neck is 243/4" long, The fretboard is only 18" :-). When I bought it someone had just brought it in from the states - all we knew was that it was an epiphone and sounded good. You're right the body does look like an Olympic special - I thought I'd read that they only did a double pickup version which was what threw me. Got any ideas how much it might cost to get the pickup rewound (and where would be best to get it done) , and what the guitar might be worth.
I've mostly been playing acoustic, (well with the pickup being bust), and have a nice L'Arrivee parlour guitar for that, but I need to play the epiphone again. My friends keep telling me I should get a new pickup put on it as they're loads better - but it sounded fine to me when it was working.

Dave W

  • ****
  • 433
    • View Profile
Help.. [ epiphone olympic special ]
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2010, 01:41:44 AM »
The scale length is what matters, not the fretboard length. What's the distance from the nut to the twelfth fret? Measure from the fretboard side of the nut to the top center of the 12th fret and multiply by two to get the uncompensated scale length. Gibson varied that over the years but if your measurement is 12 5/16" to 12 3/8", then you have a regular 24 3/4" nominal Gibson scale length. If it's only about 11 3/8" then you have a short scale (so-called 3/4 scale).


  • *****
  • 3068
    • View Profile
Pickup rewinding
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2010, 10:09:09 AM »
There are a few companies that do pickup rewinds in the UK. Type it into google, they all seem to be much the same pricewise.
I've only used Aaron Armstrong. Prices are typically £30-£60 depending on exactly what pickup it is, etc.

Thanks again
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2010, 06:30:55 PM »
Thanks Dave the distance from the nut to 12th fret is 12 5/16" which I guess means it's full-sized :-)
Jules, thanks again for the assistance. I'll google some more. I did find this, but it sounds as though it's broken:



  • ***
  • 145
    • View Profile
Help.. [ epiphone olympic special ]
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2010, 08:01:09 PM »
Might be worth picking that up or another like it.

Hard to know without seeing it in the flesh, but I'd guess the pickup on yours could have been replaced anyway- note the holes showing the magnets...pretty sure that's not original on these guitars. Either way it wouldn't affect the value much, and would be easy to replace

Nice piece though- value? Somewhere around £500 I'd have thought.

Help.. [ epiphone olympic special ]
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 07:46:30 PM »
I think I'll watch out for another pickup similar to the one in the link and check out getting this one rewound as well.

« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2010, 09:09:12 PM »
Just a belated update. As the guitar didn't have an original pickup and I couldn't find an original(and no guarantee that an original would sound any good), I sent to the US and got one made. It's a perfect fit and sounds good. When Dave Wilson, the guitar tech, was fitting it he discovered that the pickup that was in there was an old Fender Tele pickup that had been cut down and had an extra piece of plastic glued on to make it fit. He also thinks the bridge may not be original as it was made in Germany :-)
However, it's now a nice sounding guitar when you plug it in - as well as being incredibly loud and sweet(for a solid bodied guitar) when  it's not plugged in.
Some more pics but they're rather large images. :-)


Recent posts on vintage guitar and bass

1970 Rosetti Epiphone guitar catalogScan of 1970 Epiphone guitar catalogue produced by Rosetti for the UK market. Undated but most likely from mid-late 1970, this was the first UK catalogue to show the new range of Japanese (Matsumoku) Epiphone guitars. Interestingly, these pages show the Epiphone solid bodies with a single-sided Fender-style headstock layout - a feature quickly replaced with a typical two-sided Epiphone headstock almost immediately. Epiphone electric guitars: 9520, 9525; bass guitars: 9521, 9526; acoustic guitars: 6730, 6830, 6834
1971 A World of Guitars by Rosetti catalogueScan of 1971 Rosetti catalogue (UK) featuring guitars from from numerous manufacturers worldwide: guitars by Epiphone, Hagstrom, Levin, Hoyer, Egmond, Eros, Moridaira, Kiso-Suzuki, Schaller, and Tatra.
1971 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1971 Selmer guitar catalogue showing the range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Gibson, Yamaha, Selmer, Hofner and Suzuki. 1960s Selmer had always placed Hofner at the front end of their catalogues, no doubt these were the better sellers - but into the 1970s Hofner were slipping somewhat and only appear at the tail end of this publication, pride of place going to Gibson, and to a lesser extent Yamaha. In fact this is the last Selmer catalogue to include the many Hofner hollow bodies (Committee, President, Senator etc) that had defined the companies output for so many years - to be replaced in the 1972 catalogue by generic solid body 'copies' of Gibson and Fender models. A number of new Gibson models are included for the first time: the SG-100 and SG-200 six string guitars and the SB-300 and SB-400 basses.
1968 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1968/1969 Selmer guitar catalogue (printed July 1968), showing the entire range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Hofner, Gibson, Selmer and Giannini. Selmer were the exclusive United Kingdom distributors of Hofner and Gibson at the time, and this catalogue contains a total of 18 electric guitars, 7 bass guitars, 37 acoustics, and 2 Hawaiian guitars - all produced outside the UK and imported by Selmer, with UK prices included in guineas. This catalogue saw the (re-)introduction of the late sixties Gibson Les Paul Custom and Les Paul Standard (see page 69) and the short-lived Hofner Club 70. Other electric models include: HOFNER ELECTRICS: Committee, Verithin 66, Ambassador, President, Senator, Galaxie, HOFNER BASSES: Violin bass, Verithin bass, Senator bass, Professional bass GIBSON ELECTRICS: Barney Kessel, ES-330TD, ES-335TD, ES-345TD, ES-175D, ES-125CD, SG Standard, SG Junior, SG Special GIBSON BASSES: EB-0, EB-2, EB-3 - plus a LOT of acoustics branded Gibson, Hofner, Selmer and Giannini
1961 Hofner Colorama IHofner Colorama was the name UK distributor Selmer gave to a series of solid and semi-solid guitars built by Hofner for distribution in the UK. The construction and specifications of the guitars varied over the period of production, but by 1961 it was a totally solid, double cutaway instrument, with a set neck, translucent cherry finish, six-in-a-row headstock, and Hofner Diamond logo pickups. Available as a single or dual pickup guitar, this sngle pickup version would have been sold in mainland Europe as the Hofner 161.
1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)Commodore was a brand applied to a series of guitars produced in Japan at the well-respected Matsumoku plant from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s - and sold primarily (perhaps exclusively?) in the United Kingdom. The models bearing the Commodore name were all guitars available from different distributors with different branding. Although there may have been some minor changes in appointments (specifically headstock branding) most had the same basic bodies, hardware and construction. Equivalent models to the Commodore N25 (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) include the Aria 5102T, Conrad 5102T(?), Electra 2221, Lyle 5102T, Ventura V-1001, Univox Coily - and most famously the Epiphone 5102T / Epiphone EA-250.
1960 Hofner Colorama IIThe Hofner Colorama was the name given by Selmer to a series of solid (and semi-solid) body Hofner guitars distributed in the United Kingdom between 1958 and 1965. The Colorama name actually applied to some quite different guitars over the period, but in 1960 it was a very light, semi-solid, set necked guitar with one (Colorama I) or two (Colorama II, as seen here) Toaster pickups. Although an entry-level guitar, it was very well-built, and a fine playing guitar; certainly a step up (at least in terms of craftsmanship) from many of the Colorama guitars that would follow, and a good deal of the guitars available in Britain circa 1960.
1971 Epiphone 1820 (ET-280) bassBy the end of the 1960s, a decision had been made to move Epiphone guitar production from the USA (at the Kalamazoo plant where Gibson guitars were made), to Matsumoto in Japan, creating a line of guitars and basses significantly less expensive than the USA-built models (actually less than half the price). The Matsumoku factory had been producing guitars for export for some time, but the 1820 bass (alongside a number of guitar models and the 5120 electric acoustic bass) were the first Epiphone models to be made there. These new Epiphones were based on existing Matsumoku guitars, sharing body shapes, and hardware, but the Epiphone line was somewhat upgraded, with inlaid logos and a 2x2 peghead configuration. Over the course of the 70s, the Japanese output improved dramatically, and in many ways these early 70s models are a low point for the brand. Having said this, there are a lot worse guitars out there, and as well as being historically important, the 1820 bass can certainly provide the goods when required.
1981 Gibson MarauderProduction of Bill Lawrence's Gibson Marauder began in 1974, with production peaking in 1978. But by 1980 the model was officially discontinued, though very small numbers slipped out as late as spring 1981. Over 7000 examples shipped between 1974 and 1979, and although no totals are available for 1980 and 1981, it is unlikely production reached three figures in either of these years. These final Marauders were all assembled at the Gibson Nashville plant, and had some nice features not available through the later years of production, such as a rosewood fretboard, and in this case, an opaque 'Devil Red' finish. It's a great looking and fine playing guitar!