In 1957 Gibson purchased New York City's "Epiphone Guitar Company" and moved production to Kalamazoo, Michigan.
With plans to expand retail distribution by differentiating Epiphone dealers from Gibson dealers, Gibson began production of a new line of 'Kalamazoo-made and designed' Epiphones in 1959.
For over a decade, Epiphone solid body guitars and basses were produced right alongside Gibsons.
These Epiphone guitars represented some of the highest quality and best sounding instruments of their generation.
They provided unique shapes, pickup arrangements, and tonal signatures not seen on comparable Gibson models of the day.
Under appreciated at the time of their release, numerous artists through the years have recognized the unique appeal of these guitars.
"Jimi Hendrix", "Johnny Winter", "Wayne Kramer" and "Steve Marriot" are but a few of the artists that have embraced the tone and build quality of these Kalamazoo built Epiphones.
One such Epiphone instrument was the "Epiphone 1966 Wilshire Electric Guitar".
Like an "Gibson SG" guitar, the Wilshire's double cutaway Mahogany body with a glued-in Mahogany neck that joins the body at the 22nd fret gives you ultimate upper fret access.
Lightweight and comfortable, the "Epiphone Worn 1866 Wilshire Electric Guitar" has excellent resonance and natural acoustic tone - even unplugged! Featuring Epiphone's LockTone tune-o-matic/stopbar combination, the transfer of string vibration is improved even more giving this guitar excellent sustain and clarity.
But here's what separates the "Epiphone Worn 1866 Wilshire Electric Guitar" from the "Gibson SG".
Wayne Kramer with his Epiphone Wilshire from MC5 at Beat Club in 1972
Most early Epiphone guitars including the "Epiphone Worn 1966 Wilshire with Tremotone Electric Guitar" were equipped with mini-humbucking pickups and Epiphone carries on this tradition.
With its smaller size, narrow magnetic field and unique design combination, the mini-humbucker produces bright and focused output while retaining famous humbucker 'hum-free' performance.
They feature adjustable pole pieces, enamel wire, bar ceramic magnets and rounded nickel plated covers set in black mounting ring with height adjustment screws.
Rosewood with mother-of-pearl Dot inlays
Bridge Volume, Neck Volume, Bridge Tone, Neck Tone, 3-way pickup selector (toggle)
Premium Die-Cast, 14:1 ratio
Aged Cherry (AC), Worn Cherry (WC), Worn Black (WK)
MC5: Dennis Thompson, Wayne Kramer with his Epiphone Wilshire, Fred 'Sonic' Smith and Rob Tyner at Beat Club in 1972
"Epiphone Worn 1966 Wilshire" is wonderfully light, about half the weight of "Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar".
The nut looks like bone and is well cut and finished with no signs of string binding.
The frets are well fitted and crowned, with no sharp ends and there is no fret buzz with a reasonably low action.
The switches and pots all feel positive and are well fitted with no crackles.
The jack socket is a very firm fit.
The sound is good, like a clearer version of an "Gibson SG" or "Gibson Les Paul", with quite a bite if you hit the strings hard.
The body is obviously made of three pieces of wood and little attempt has been made to find three reasonably matched pieces.
There is a slight cosmetic flaw in the wood just by the bridge pickup which really should have been picked up before manufacture.
The pickup pole pieces don't quite line up with the holes in the pickup covers meaning that the poles are not quite central.
The piece of wood grafted onto the headstock to make up the length is obviously a different grain (or wood type) and colour and the finish accentuates it.
To sum up, I think the "Epiphone Worn 1966 Wilshire" is an excellent guitar for a very low price which is slightly let down by a few minor cosmetic problems. It's a keeper for me though, I just love that shape.