Since its introduction in 1958, the Epiphone Texan has been the choice of countless musicians including Paul McCartney, Peter Frampton, Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers, Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher. In fact, McCartney wrote and recorded “Yesterday,” one of the most recorded and popular songs ever, on his 1964 Texan and still uses it on stage today. And Earnie Bailey, Nirvana’s guitar tech, said Kurt Cobain’s 1961 Texan was Cobain’s favourite acoustic guitar.
The story of the Epiphone Texan (or FT-79 as it was first known) follows a long and winding road that begins in 1942 and passes through honky tonk country, the folk revival, the British Invasion, 70s rock, New Wave, Grunge, Britpop, and Americana. Considering the many other fine acoustic instruments that share the Texan’s timeline, it could have easily wound up as a curiosity among collectors like so many other guitars from the pre-rock era. But even before Paul McCartney debuted “Yesterday” on American television playing an Epiphone Texan, it was already an acoustic guitar with a high profile thanks to the folk music revival.
The original, New York made Epiphone FT-79 is quite a different guitar. It was originally a Walnut bodied guitar. Its body was a smaller jumbo model and is comparable to the later Guild F-47 (The Guild Guitar Company was started by ex-Epiphone employees after the company left New York). After the takeover by Gibson, the FT-79 type designation was retained, but the body shape changed to one that resembled the slope-shouldered Gibson J-45, but that guitar has a shorter 24.75″ scale length, compared to the 25.5″ of the Texan.
In 1958 the Gibson-made FT-79 had ‘Texan’ added to the type name, the shape was changed as mentioned above, the epsilon ‘slashed C’ Epiphone logo was added to the pick guard and the truss rod cover, and the tuner knobs were changed to white plastic. In the late 1950s the body wood was changed to Mahogany. All Texans in these years were solid mahogany with solid sitka spruce tops. In 1962 the adjustable bridge was introduced. In 1967 the tuner knobs were changed to metal. In 1970 the original model run was discontinued.
There have since been Texan reissues including an Epiphone Elitist Texan in recent years, which is a fine guitar. But this is the real deal – an original Kalamazoo built Texan FT-79 from 1966 in all its vintage glory.
Mahogany back & sides
20-fret bound rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays
Three-per-side open back tuners with plastic buttons
16″ body width
1 9/16” nut width
This one has had a pro refret at some stage, and it is a good one. Nicely rounded medium jumbos now adorn the dark rosewood fingerboard. And there’s hardly any fret wear to be seen on the newer frets.
Two small holes have been filled and finished in the rosette on the upper side of the sound hole. Again, professional work here.
There is some light cracking and crazing of the original finish on the top. This patina is quite lovely and adds to the vintage appeal of this lovely old Texan.
And it is a delight to play. Clean and articulate top end, punchy midrange and tight Gibson-esque bass. Comfortable in all positions with a medium low action and no fret buzz anywhere.
Sure you can buy a reissue, but they don’t make ‘em like this any more.
Comes in a quality hard shell case which may or may not be its original case, with one latch broken but otherwise in good condition.