Casino & 330: the Players

Discussion in 'Epiphone Guitars' started by RadioFM74, Apr 23, 2020.

  1. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    The Casino has been my idée fixe of late. I’ve been tweaking mine – I’m not finished yet, but Oh! the rewards of careful maintenance and attentive knob turning. And while doing so, I’ve gone pretty deep into Casino history. Apart from the thrills of determining the year of transition from “arrowhead” to "€ logo" truss rod cover :D I’ve done some research about the players who adopted the Casino as their guitar of choice (or the 330: it was the same guitar apart from aesthetic appointments).

    This thread is about them. They’re not many, but they contributed great guitar playing over the years. I’ll tell about the players I’ve found in successive installments, and anyone who wants to contribute a name – famous or obscure – or better still a video, is welcome.

    In time, we’ll get to John, Paul, George, Weller and The Edge… but I’ll start from the jazzers.
     
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  2. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    It is kind of a paradox that 330s / Casinos have not been very successful as jazz guitars. They’re very comfortable. They look the part. Most importantly, sonically they are perfect for the genre: they have the delightfully short sustain that only a hollowbody can give, and the P-90s have bite will still being very warm. Even the overwound P-90s on mine, which I’ll swap out eventually, are capable of a wonderful bop tone with some careful knob turning.

    Still the fact is there: there has been only one big jazz name to my knowledge to use the 330 in stock form, and that’s Grant Green in the first part of his career (approximately ’61-’64). A master of groove, phrasing and – yes – tone. From his first date as a leader:



    The other major player to have embraced the 330 is Emily Remler. A purist would not include her in this thread – her 330 had humbuckers on it – but it is unthinkable to write about 330s & jazz and omit a reference to her. She was an incredible player and musician, and I am certain that she would have attained the status of “one of the greatest” in the eye of the general public had she not be taken from us so soon. Love you Emily, wherever you may be.





    If you know of more Casino/330-toting jazzers, please include a video below! Next up: bluesmen …
     
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  3. Cozmik Cowboy

    Cozmik Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    Well, to perhaps jump the gun a tad, for 40 years I've thought that the recipe for perfect blues tone is nothing more nor less than a '59 ES-330-TD, a cord, a Super Reverb, and the fingers of Dick Vonachen (of Chicago's Vanessa Davis Band).

    As for me, for the same span of time I have considered the first major iteration of the 330/Casino (before the neck/body joint was moved) to be the pinnacle of electric guitar design; give me a choice between a '59 330 & a '59 LP and the 330 wins hand down (well, okay, you got me there; I'd actually take the Paul - so I could sell it, pay off the mortgage, and then buy a '59 330 (and every other guitar I want......)

    I really wish, when I worked at (oh, the shame of it!) Guitar Center in "83-'84, I had been a good enough liar to afford the $125 I could gotten that '59 330 for.......................

    Full disclosure: I spent '80-'81 as VDB's stage man/monitor mixer - and I spent every second I could playing Dick's; even wrote (accidentally) one of the 2 songs I've finished on it.
     
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  4. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    Wonderful post! And yes, I’d pick a Casino/330 every day of the week over a Les Paul or a 335, and it’s right up there with strats, teles and big acoustic archtops in my personal guitar design Pantheon. Not that I’d refuse a gifted Lester or SG ;D

    Perhaps, as a transition to the “bluesmen” chapter, you’d like to share your favorite video of Dick Vonachen playing his 330? I confess to not knowing him and I’ll look him up, but I’d really like to have your pick on this thread!
     
  5. Cozmik Cowboy

    Cozmik Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    Alas, by the time I got hired he'd mostly switched to an "The SG Firebrand" and later a 335, a Peavy amp of some flavor (it being a Peavy, I have suppressed the memory of the model), a chorus _always_ dimed, and a Morley Power Wah; I only got to hear him at his best 2 or 3 times when the mood struck him - and man those nights were pure magic! I'm afraid the only vids I know of, he's playing the SG/Peavy/stompboxes rig.
     
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  6. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    Here we go with the Bluesmen (and -women) in 330/Casino history. And as with the jazzers, there are not very many high profile musicians. Still, it’s an interesting list!

    Apart from Grant Green, who has been mentioned already, and is one of the bluesiest jazz guitarists ever, Slim Harpo is undoubtedly the bluesman most associated with the 330. So much so that Gibson considered reissuing a “62 Slim Harpo ES-330”. It’s difficult to pinpoint a tune where he played his 330… he always had sidemen and was mostly the singer/harmonica player. Still here are two 1966 tunes from him and likely there’s a 330 somewhere in the mix.

    [​IMG]





    Phillip Walker had a lifelong association with the 330, and could play some mean blues on it too!



    Howlin Wolf made a famous photoshoot with a Casino and reportedly played it in the 60s, but I have been unable to find more about that. Ditto for B.B. King: he reportedly played one in the late ‘60s, and “Thrill is Gone” is rumored to have been recorded with one, but I have found no footage of him playing anything other than a 3X5 in that period.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While not strictly a bluesman, Brian Jones sure played the blues on his Casino at the Ed Sullivan show!

     
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  7. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    And with that, we move to more modern bluesmen … or rockers who play the blues!

    Gary Clark Jr. nowadays plays mostly an SG and a strat, but he is very much associated with the Casino. Two of my favorites, one cleaner, one more on the fuzzy side:





    John Mayer has been seen on and off with 330s/Casinos and when he does touch one, something good tends to follow:



    And here (the good take is at minute 6.00)… not really blues, but a bluesy vibe and a very nice solo



    Less widely known but absolutely worth mentioning…

    Tommy Harkenrider, who plays many guitars but loves his 330 (couldn’t find a vid of him performing with it tho…) and Charles Weal.



    If you got more, post ‘em!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
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  8. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    My attention has been draw to this fine gentleman. A great addition to this thread!



    More to come!
     
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  9. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    It looks like the band's parents threw a party and forced them to play. The drummer is having fun, but the rest of them are all business. Nevertheless, the picking is good.
     
  10. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    I’d say they’re grooving with class ;D
    And groove they do, undeniably! The interplay is crazy! Anyway…
     
  11. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    A new chapter in the series: British Invasion!

    ’64 was a bit of a magic year for the Epi Casino.

    Dave Davies famously used in on All day and all of the night (apparently it was a rather brief flirt):



    Keef was perhaps the first high profile endorser of the Casino in Brit rock, so much so that Rosetti (the UK distributor) tried to make a profit out of the situation with a goofy AD mis-spelling the name.

    [​IMG] ¨

    [​IMG]

    The guitar can be heard in ’64 and ’65 records of the Stones.



    There is some controversy as to whether it (or the Les Paul) was the “Satisfaction” guitar, but I’ve read that it’s the Casino on such classic sides as “It’s all over now” or “19th Nervous Breakdown”. Keef apparently stopped using the Casino for feedback issues but this did not deter him from using a 330 a few years laters for Stones in the Park…



    Brian Jones also used 330s and Casinos on and off as shown above.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
  12. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    The Beatles endorsed the Casino a bit later, but it was a longer and more high-profile love affair. Paul got his in December ’64 and played his first lead guitar breaks in the Help! record already. He still has his old trusty one – a ’62 model – and it’s reportedly his #1 electric guitar (“if I had to pick one it’d be this one”).

    [​IMG]

    When I think of rock and Casinos, Macca’s fiery solos are usually what comes to mind. These two are among my favorite short as they are (George on strat in the background isn’t shabby either…):





    George and John got theirs at the start of ’66, and used them on the Beatles’ last tour.

    [​IMG]

    George kept his for life, but recorded his most wonderful lead guitar parts on other guitars (Ricks, Gretsches, Strat, SG, Les Paul, Tele). John played his almost exclusively in the remaining Beatles years, and kept using it beyond that. He left behind some great fingerpicking (Dear Prudence), rhythm guitar, and not a few great lead parts, from the brutally fuzzy to the funnily jazzy (yes the solo on Honey Pie is his)







    Next “players” installment will cover more recent rockers. If you have anything more to contribute, fire away!
     
  13. Jimbeau

    Jimbeau New Member

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    Great thread! I'm the proud owner of a John Lennon "1965" Casino, which is my favourite guitar (second one I've owned). It does indeed make a great blues guitar.

    I suspect the Casino Brian Jones is playing in that clip is probably Keith's. As you mention, Keith played one quite a bit through the early years of the Stones (check out the film "Charlie is My Darling" which is from their 1965(?) tour of Ireland, I believe). Also, if you notice, the cable from the Casino Brian is playing in that clip, appears to be running over to Keith's side of the stage.

    And more modern-day players, yes, Paul Weller, the Edge. Let's not forget Thom York of Radiohead. I've seen Steve Earle play a Casino. Jeff Tweedy has been known to sport a single-pickup model.

    One thing I've always wondered: Players have been known to ditch the Casino/330 because of feedback issues at high volume. And yet other players, like the ones you/I mentioned above, seem to play at high volumes with little problem - other than sometimes getting some nice "musical" feedback, which is quite nice in the right place. How do they do this? I've heard stories of stuffing foam in the cavity, etc. Or maybe it's just knowing where to be and how to stand on stage to avoid bad feedback. Does anyone have any documented explanations of how some of these players may deal with the "problem"?

    Cheers
     
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  14. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    Hey Jimbeau welcome to the Forum and thanks for stopping by! There will be more instalments about more contemporary players.

    As to your question re:feedback, I suspect that placement is key, and also that the amount of gain is key. Before COVID I took my Casino at rehearsal and the room was so arranged that I was playing facing my amp. As soon as we went into some Santana the guitar would HOWL – and we were not playing loud – but then go quiet again as soon as I stepped sideways.
     
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  15. Jimbeau

    Jimbeau New Member

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    Thanks. Yes, I think placement is a big part of it. Looking forward to the next installment. Cheers.
     
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  16. J Andranian

    J Andranian New Member

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    Great idea for a thread! Thoroughly enjoying it so far. I’m a Riviera player myself but break out a Elitist Casino I own from time to time— pardon me but I’ve Bigsby’d them both.:)

    Is it too early to consider a more “modern” player— Neal Halstead of slowdive? I put “modern” in quotation marks because he’s adopted the Casino in the band’s second life (2014-) but plays it heavily. It is his main stage player at this point. Slowdive has been massively influential in the alt-indie scene as one of the acknowledged founders of the “shoegaze” genre. At one point they were called “the poor man’s Pink Floyd” (the debt they owe to the Beatles and British Psychedelia is apparent). I’ll cut it short— Neal Halstead from slowdive:

     
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  17. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Member

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    Hey welcome to the forum! It’s never too late or early to contribute to this thread with anything! Great addition. I’ve lots to do but you reminded me that it’s time to move this thread on… watch this space!

    Again, welcome and thanks for the fine addition.

    PS: I’ll find it in me to forgive you for the Bigsbys :)
     
  18. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    :hmm:
    Claims to have 2 Epis, but doesn't show pics.
    :dunno:
     
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  19. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    Yes, peculiar indeed. If only there were a way to fix this problem :hmm:
     
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  20. J Andranian

    J Andranian New Member

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    So that’s how it’s got to be?

    I actually own four Epis, a Peerless Casino, an Elitist Casino, a Terada Riviera, and a ‘65 Broadway. But now for the heresy/apostasy— my main player is a ‘68 Ric 370.

    The Casinos are up at my practice space and the Broadway is at my luthier’s. I promise to take a picture in a week or two when I have them all back together!

    i treat my guitars like I do my kids— I figure no one really cares about ‘em apart from me, so I don’t usually share pics unless asked...
     
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