The Guitar Gallery Forums - The Guitar Legacy of Matsumoku

Q&A, discussion, and information for the labels covered by The Guitar Gallery (Specifically and exclusively guitars made by Matsumoku up to 1987)
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jan 2006 01:13 PM 
In researching information on the ET series guitars built for Epiphone by the Matsumoku factory, I've come to find out some interesting things and I thought I'd just summarize them here:

Model descriptions:

-ET 270: Cherry red finish. The body shape which is unique to this model is a combination of a Stratocaster and a Jazzmaster/Jaguar styling elements, like a Strat with an offset waist; black pickguard - again very Strat-ish in shape, 2 pickguard mounted single coil pickups w/ black and white plastic covers, one volume, one tone, 3 way pickup selector switch, slide switch (function?); clear finish maple neck w/ 3 on a side headstock (I have seen one ET-270 w/ a strat style headstock), unbound rosewood board w/ dot inlays, chrome hardware, vibrato. Interesting combination of Fender and Gibson style elements.

-ET-280: Basically a bass version of the ET-270

The following models feature bodies modeled after the '63 - '69 solidbody models, namely the Olympics, Coronets, Wilshires and Crestwoods built by Epiphone at the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The '70s body shape is very close, but not exactly the same as the '60s shape. To say that the '70s Epis are simply bolt neck versions of the '60s designs would be inaccurate as they abandoned the "Batwing" headstock in favor of the more traditional 3 on a side style of the earlier '58 - '63 editions.

-ET 275: 3 color sunburst, black pickup rings, vibrato, chrome hardware, natural finished maple neck w/ unbound fingerboard and dot inlays.

-ET 276: Reddish brown finish, black pickguard & pickup rings, chrome hardware, wrap style combination bridge/tailpiece like a Les Paul Jr., maple neck painted to match body color w/ black binding on fingerboard and dot inlays. Mine has a one piece neck with a scarf joint at the headstock, and has standard size humbucker mounting rings.

-ET 278: Ebony finish, black pickup rings, chrome hardware, natural finish maple neck w/ bound fingerboard and dot inlays. Most had vibratos but I have one catalog pic that shows a stop tailpiece and a tunematic style bridge.

-ET-285: Basically a bass version of the ET-275; 3 color Sunburst, two pickups, 3 way switch, Volume & Tone.

-ET 290: Cherry red, or 2 color red/yellow sunburst finish (sometimes referred to as "cherryburst' or "redburst") over bookmatched flamed maple veneer, cream colored pickguard, cream pickup rings, gold hardware, stop tailpiece, tunematic style bridge bound fingerboard w/ block inlays (Interesting note on the necks: solid cherry 290s have a natural finish maple neck, but the "cherryburst" or "redburst" bodied 290s have a color matched sunburst finish on the necks).

-ET 290 N: Natural maple body (usually 3 piece), maple neck w/ maple fingerboard and abalone dot inlays, unpainted headstock face, cream colored pickguard and pickup rings, gold hardware, stop tailpiece and tunematic style bridge.

Some random thoughts and observations:

-The humbucking pickups that came on these guitars are poorly made. It goes without saying that they're microphonic, but aside from the squeal they don't sound bad. They have a certain aggressive bark to them. Luckily, wax potting is easy to do and it makes for a good rainy day project. The bobbins are glued to the baseplates, not screwed on as is the case with 99% of the humbuckers in the world. When mine first arrived, the pickup fell out while I was playing it!
If you're going to replace the pickups with other humbuckers, you'll probably have to drill an extra hole in the pickup rings -OR- find pickups that have two height adjustment srews on one side and one on the other -OR- find a way to affix the stock baseplates to the new pickups. The cutout inside the rings fit standard humbuckers, BUT the outside dimensions are larger than the standard humbucker rings! If you replace them with standard rings, you're going to end up with an unsightly gap between the rings and the pickguard. There are exceptions to this, though. I just picked up an ET-276 that has STANDARD size pickup rings which look to be stock, so measure carefully before you consider changing the rings.

- I find it interesting that each model has its own unique combination of neck features. Not particularly significant, but interesting nevertheless.

- The frets on my ET-290 were tiny, tiny, tiny! And I thought old Fenders had small frets!

- Why they chose not to put position markers on the last (21st) fret on these guitars will probably forever remain a mystery.

- The necks have a thin profile that I love because I have small hands with short stubby fingers, and because I grew up playing Univoxes and Ibanezes. The necks feel exactly like the Univox Hi-Flier, Les Paul or Badazz necks (little wonder as they were made in the same factory).

- Most of the necks are 3 piece, but some are 2 piece. Be wary when buying one with a 2 piece neck. Because the seam is right where the truss rod channel is cut, there is more risk of the glue joint failing under tension. If you're considering buying one that has the 2 piece neck and the seller says "there's a crack in the back of the neck, but it's only in the finish, not in the wood"............take a pass on it. The ET-276 I just bought has a one piece neck, but has a scarf joint halfway up the headstock.

- The tuning machines are okay if you can get them apart, tighten them with pliers and get some white lube on the gears. Be careful with the screws though, as I had two screws just break off leaving the shanks behind in the holes!

- The ET-290s have a bookmatched maple veneer on the front and back (God knows what kind of wood the rest of the body's made of) but the bookmatch seam usually doesn't run down the centerline of the guitar. I have seen pictures of some that do, but I guess those guys just got lucky.

- The pickguards are somewhat unique in that they're cut out of clear material then painted on the underside after the "E" logo is applied. The ET-290 and 290-N's pickguards are painted a cream color while the ET-275 and 278's appear to be a brighter white. The ET-270 and ET-276's pickguards are painted black, though some of these are usual three layer b/w/b plastic. There are two styles of "E" logos; one is straight and the other is canted slightly. I don't yet know which came first.

- When the models based on the '63-'69 Kalamazoo built Epi solidbodies, (specifically the ET-275, 276, 278, 290 and 290N) are listed for sale they're more often than not mislabeled with the names of the guitars they were meant to "copy". I put the word copy in quotation marks because it begs the question: Can a company copy itself? The '70's ET models had bodies that are almost the same shape as the '60s Epis. I have had occasion to compare the body shapes of the '60s set neck Kalamazoo built models side by side with the '70s bolt neck Matsumoku built models and while they are close, they're not exactly the same.
In any case, the ET series often show up on the market advertised as Olympics, Coronets, Wilshires, and most often Crestwoods. I've even seen an ET-270 advertised as a Crestwood!

More to come as I think of things.............

Last edited by Destroyer on Tue 14 Nov 2006 07:39 AM, edited 10 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jan 2006 05:31 PM 
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Joined: Mon 16 Dec 2002 09:02 AM
Posts: 676
Location: L.A., California
That answers some questions I had bouncing around in my head.

Like the ET290 is cherry red or yellow/red combo and that the solid
colored ones had maple necks like the N (natural finish) model.

And that the bursted models had matching colored necks.
Then the ET270s were the strat style with only 2 single coils
and usually a 3/3 headstock.

Good info, thanks

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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun 2007 04:51 PM 
Axe Slinger

Joined: Sun 08 Apr 2007 11:49 PM
Posts: 27
Spectacular research. That answers so many questions I had. I have an ET-278 and an ET-290.


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 Post subject: ET-270 natural finish??
PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb 2008 12:12 AM 
Prospective Member

Joined: Tue 26 Feb 2008 12:03 AM
Posts: 1
I just purchased a Epiphone ET-270 with a natural finish. I had never seen a natural finish ET-270 which makes me ask the following questions...

Could this be a red/finished 270 that someone removed the paint?

Could someone have taken the components of an ET-270 and moved to a new body?

My answer to these questions is no. Most of the electronics are here and working great including the bass boost. Original knobs, pick guard, etc... The pick-ups are not original. Also - the body is exactly the same cut, width and style of the other ET-270's I have seen.

Looks to be made in early 70's...

Anyone ever seen one in this finish?

Thanks for any info you can offer.

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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb 2008 01:52 AM 
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Joined: Sun 15 Jan 2006 04:52 PM
Posts: 2227
Location: Absolute Stupidity, Missouri
pics might help some if you can point to some.

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