The Casino is probably the best-known guitar by Epiphone, and the only model for which their version was actually more popular than Gibson’s. When Gibson bought out Epiphone back in 1957, they intended to use their former competitor’s brand as a way of selling alternative versions of their popular models. The Wilshire was their version of the SG, the Rivera was Epiphone’s take on the ES-335, and the Casino was the Epiphone version of the ES-330-it was virtually identical to the Gibson hollow body.
Contrary to the ES-335 which has the same shape and depth, the ES-330 is fully hollow and doesn’t have a center block. This is what makes the main difference in sound between the two, adding a lot more wood and wool to the mix. As a consequence, the ES-330 was also more prone to feedback, which is why it didn’t become too popular. Other differences include the shorter neck and the P90 pickups.
But the Casino has become a legend, mostly thanks to the heavy use it got from Britain’s best bands of the sixties: Keith Richards had a very early model with black pickup covers and the Tremotone vibrato, McCartney had a transition model with the old large headstock and chrome pickup covers, Harrison and Lennon has the later version with a smaller headstock. Exposed as it was in the hands of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Casino was turned into a classic guitar for pop, rock, jazz-and even blues between the hands of Gary Clark Jr.
This very clean 1963 is a great example of a nice transition model with the chrome dog-ear pickup covers and the large square headstock. Its sunburst is still very vibrant and a few notes played on it are enough to understand why all those bands have chosen that model.