Epiphone recreates a Beatles classic: John Lennon''s Casino
Guitar for the Fabs
Many pickers my age started playing guitar because of The Beatles. Even if we have gone down different musical roads, we can still look back at how cool we thought those four lads from Liverpool were. There’s even a whole book devoted to just their gear (Beatles Gear by Andy Babiuk). Several of their instruments became very popular because of their association with The Beatles, particularly the iconic Hofner Beatle Bass, The Gretsch Country Gentleman, the Rickenbacker 325 and 360/12 and, of course, Vox amps. There are a few other instruments that while not quite as “iconic” as those mentioned above, were nevertheless well known because of The Beatles: the Epiphone Texan, the Rickenbacker 4001 bass and—last but not least—the Epiphone Casino.
Paul McCartney got his Casino in 1964 and used it beautifully, playing the solo on “Ticket To Ride.” John and George got theirs in 1966. George played his some but moved on to other guitars. Lennon on the other hand seems to have really bonded with his. He had it painted “psychedelic” then later had it stripped down to natural. Personally, I think the stripped one looked really cool when they played the roof concert. I should also say that I own a Gibson ES-330, which is basically the same P-90 pickup hollowbody as the Casino, so I am familiar with this sort of guitar.
Epiphone makes at least four models of the Casino: from the Archtop Collection, the basic Casino and the Elitist Casino; and from the Historical Collection, the “Inspired By” John Lennon Casino (this one), and the “Inspired By” John Lennon Revolution. I owned a John Lennon signature Casino for a while but found that the neck was slightly too small for my comfort. The IBJL (“Inspired By” John Lennon) Casino actually has a neck very much like my ES-330; a nice rounded old-style Gibson shape, very comfy. It features USA-made Gibson P-90s, laminated maple/ birch body with laminated maple top. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard (1.62" at the nut), and the standard 24.75" scale length.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Casino (or 330) it’s important to say that this is a hollowbody. Unlike the ES-335, which has a center block that runs through the body, this is fully hollow, so feedback can be more likely. My ES-330 howls like mad with roundwound strings on it, so I use it with flatwounds, which are a bit more feedback proof, and I play jazz with it. Our review Casino is slightly more heavily built than my 330, and so seems a bit less susceptible to feedback. Because it’s a hollowbody you should expect less sustain as well.
Don’t Let Me Down
The IBJL Casino comes in two-tone sunburst, and the Revolution model has a natural finish. It’s a nice looking guitar and definitely has that classic look. P-90s are big single-coil pickups, which can buzz at times but have a wonderful, airy almost-acoustic quality when played clean—and they’re hot enough to sound cool distorted with plenty of treble bite when needed. For many, P-90s are the best pickups around, as they easily fit into most any style of music. The Casino does have some sweet tones and a really breathy, near-acoustic quality at low volumes. When cranked up it did get more difficult to escape the feedback, but by just backing down the volume on the guitar a bit I was able to still crank it and get rid of the unwanted howls. The bridge setting with distortion can really sizzle, and sounded bluesy and real good.
Another nice thing is that being a hollowbody, the Casino is much lighter than its 335 cousin. One of the things I like about these is that if you pop some flatwound strings on ‘em, they do make a wonderful jazz box, being thin-bodied and having the strings much closer to the body than a standard archtop. You can stay comfortable if, like me, you like to rest your forearm on the guitar as you would on a solidbody. With an archtop, the strings are too high off the top for that type of hand position. So, if you’re a Strat player who wants a fat jazz tone and an easy switch, this could be a great guitar for you.
The Final Mojo
The “Inspired By” John Lennon Casino is a darn nice axe. Like many guitars, it does need a basic setup from your local repair shop … nothing unusual, but for best playability I would suggest it. Did I mention it has quite a nice hardshell case? Tone-wise, I would rate this at 4.5 stars for its great tones. If someone ever invents a humbucker that actually sounds like a P-90 they’ll be a winner, but meanwhile these Gibson P-90 pickups have tone to the bone and you won’t need to swap them out for anything else. The two-tone finish is vintage looking, but I do prefer the more refined look of a smoother transition from dark to light—but that’s just a nitpick and this finish looks true to the original. So, bottom line? Great vintage rock or blues tones and nice woody jazz tones. This might not be your number one guitar, but it would be an excellent number two guitar.
you’re looking for a nice playing, lightweight axe with some great tones.
you need a high volume feedback-free axe with high fret access.
MSRP $1665 Street $999 - Epiphone - epiphone.com
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.