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