Epi D-12

This past Saturday, my neighbor was having a yard sale to hopefully get rid of some stuff, preparing for the sale of their house and having less stuff to move. One item that was sitting there that caught my eye was an acoustic guitar. Seeing that it was my daughter's birthday, and she has an interest in learning to play, my wife and I decided to get it. And seeing that it had a $7 price tag, it was a steal. My daughter already had a guitar but, the quality of it wasn't great and has a hard time staying in tune. For the most part, the guitar she has already is more of a toy. This "new" guitar is a proper starter guitar. Much better sound and playability than the "toy".

daughters guitar
daughters guitar headstock

Now, I just need to get my acoustic out, dust it off and get my fingers back in shape.

Seeing that I've mostly quit playing over the years, after playing quite a bit during my high school years and some years after, I'm quite rusty. I've got an electric (mid '90s Ibanez Talman) and an acoustic that was given to my brother and I in the very late 80s or early 90s. The acoustic was always a little curious to myself and brother as the headstock and interior label says 'Epi' as opposed to 'Epiphone'. Back then, we didn't really have the resources (or even cared enough) to research it much, just figuring that it was an Epiphone and that was it.

epi headstock 1

Today, when I dug out the guitar and was cleaning it up, curiosity hit me about it again so I hit up the intertubes. Turns out, it's not that interesting (ok, it's interesting to me...) but, I wanted to put this post together so that the next time my brother and I question it's origins, I'll actually know (and hopefully remember). It seems that these Epi branded guitars were not documented all that well or not at all. I have found a few people asking about the origins around the net. This guitar could be quite rare or it could be that just not that many of them lasted throughout the years.

To start my search, I just took a few details off of the label.

epi soundhole Turns out that Gibson parent company became the Norlin Musical Instruments in the mid 70s. Epiphone had been a part of Gibson for many years and it seems that Epi was a division of Epiphone. From what I can gather, the Epi's were lower dollar models of Epiphones and were made in Tawian, most likely at the Marina factory. The epiphonewiki states this for the Epi line of guitars:

In 1979, a new sub-budget line of acoustic flat-tops appeared briefy, bearing the "Epi" brand. These guitars were made by the Marina company in Taiwan, in the city of Chaunyin, just outside of Taoyuan. ...

via Epiphonewiki - Epi-Series Acoustics

I never paid much attention to the Gibson history but, it seems that the Norlin years were not good for Gibson and nearly went bankrupt before they were bought by the current owners in the mid 80s.

The wiki entry for my D-12 has some of the details of the guitar. Solid spruce top with rosewood sides and back with a rosewood fingerboard. Sub-budget model or not, this guitar has excellent sound quality. The majority of people who have heard it, love the sound of it. It has a very full and warm sound, with great low end and crisp brights. I normally didn't like the sound of brand new strings on it, which probably goes for most acoustics... As far as the build, well, it's lasted decently well over the past ~32 years, more about that after a couple of pictures. One thing that the wiki entry for this guitar doesn't say, is the split and matched 'Zippered' back. A few forum posts I came across did show

epi back
epi headstock 2
epi edge
epi back view
epi front view

And where is the pick guard you ask? Back in the mid 90s, my brother and Nate were heading off somewhere, and a chair got thrown on top of it. One of the legs went through the pick guard and front of the guitar. There is a brace directly under the impact point that had been broken as well. The pick guard had to come off when I went to repair the brace and I still haven't gotten a replacement pick guard for it. At least I now know that any period correct replacement for an Epiphone will be mostly correct for this.

In the end, after my research, I've determined that this guitar was pretty well what I thought it was, a low dollar Epiphone. Although, this may have been a high end model of the low dollar...

To hear this guitar, you can listen to my song Alive, not that it's much good but, this Epi is the only guitar used in the song...

Now, it's time to break the rust off my fingers and teach my daughter to rock! :-)


Jeffrey Welham

Hows it going man? im interested in that Epi D-12 if you are willing to sell. I currently have one, but unfortunately my wife dropped it trying to put it away yesterday. I know it is not that valuable of a guitar, but it holds alot of sentimental value to me. So id like to find another one. Please let me know either way. This guitar has been in the family for 25 years or so, and is my main axe. All id have to do is slap a pickguard on yours, which i have. Id be willing to offer you $150-200 for it…..thanks, Jeff

2013-04-21 10:52:50


@Jeffrey Thanks for reading. I currently have no plans on getting rid of the guitar as it has been in my family since is was new as well. Also, it may not be worth much but, it does have great sound. ;)

If my plans change, I’ll let you know.

2013-04-25 08:43:48

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