Gibson Guitars purchased it’s chief rival, Epiphone, in the early 60s. Immediately they began using the name as their subsidiary brand, although these earliest Gibson-made Epiphones were built here in Kalamazoo in the same factory with the same tooling by the same workers… in essence, they are Gibson guitars with the Epiphone name and headstock, and boy do they sound like it!
This FT-45, or Cortez, is a small-body flat top built here in Kalamazoo, which is nearly identical to a Gibson B-25, save for the headstock.. Features-wise it sports a solid x-braced spruce top, composite bridge, and an adjustable ceramic saddle. It’s finished in a light sunburst and sports a tortoise shell pickguard, and bound top and bottom. The neck is straight and narrow, with a profile that is perfectly suited for players with smaller hands.
Sound-wise, this box has a sweet and full tone with a very powerful and warm mid-range and not-too-much bass. The notes ring out wonderfully and you can tell this is a 49-year-old solid top. There is some checking in the paint which is to be expected from a guitar of this vintage, and there is some general scratching on the back. Two very small holes were drilled in the top and bridge, but they are hardly noticeable. The neck feels flawless and aside from one missing pearloid dot, it is. This is a great, sweet-playing Kalamazoo-made small-body that is ready to be taken home.