THE EPIPHONE STRAND MANDOLIN WAS ONE of Epiphone’s classiest attempts at competing with Gibson in the marketplace for carved mandolins Ã‘ a market that had dwindled considerably since the mandolin heyday of the teens and ‘20s. Though Epiphone was serious competition in the jazz guitar field, its mandolins never really threatened Gibson’s supremacy in the mandolin world. This 2-point example with spruce top and walnut back and sides also has a bound fretboard with parallelogram pearl inlays and a delicately engraved tailpiece cover. The special “Masterbilt” label in this instrument was only used on Epiphone’s highest-quality instruments from 1931 to 1937 and this example is a professional-quality instrument in every way. In 1954, the Strand became an oval-hole instrument and stayed in production until 1957, when the company was purchased by Gibson. Interestingly, Bill Monroe is pictured with a Strand on the cover of one of his songbooks from the early ‘50s.
Track 13: Banks Of The Ohio
(from Tone Poems CD booklet, used by permission)
Photography by Eric Harger