Introduced in June 1931, the Deluxe was designed to compete with the Gibson L-5. Both guitars carried a $275 price tag and the De Luxe Masterbilt remained Epiphone’s flagship model from 1931 until late 1935, when the Emperor was introduced.
Measuring 16 3/8 inches across, the body was slightly wider than Gibson’s L-5!
The asymmetrical headstock had a bevelled, multi-layer plastic overlay that was bound at the back and inlaid with flowers, vines and the model name, which appeared on a pearl banner.
The neck was constructed from maple with two dark wood centre strips, while the 20-fret rosewood fingerboard caried a series of mother-of-pearl, diamond and triangle-shaped inlays.
Details included unbound, three-segment f-holes, black and white trapezoidal purfling around the top and gold-plated hardware. Note the open gear Grover G-98 tuners. The elevated, single-bound pickguard is missing.
Epiphone De Luxe Masterbilt
Images courtesy of Arlan Ettinger of Guernsey Auctions and photographer Paul Schraub
This 1940 Epiphone DeLuxe (below) was made in New York City. It has a spruce top, 17 3/8-inch maple back and sides and a laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard. Details include five-ply celluloid binding, gold-plated hardware.