In any case, the result was ironically a new—and no doubt rare—“American-made” Epiphone! The shape of this guitar is suspiciously like that of the brash young guitarmaker from Maryland named Paul Reed Smith, which were just beginning to make some waves at the time.The Spotlights have neck-through-body construction, with mahogany necks and bodies, capped with a gorgeous carved quilted maple top.
Somewhere between the manufacture and finishing, these became the Epiphone Spotlight series.
Maybe they got cold feet about the sleight of hand.
Turns out that sometime after Norlin’s sale of Gibson to its current owners, someone hatched the plot to produce the Nouveau series.
In the late ‘80s Japan was still regarded as a prime source of budget guitars (this was about to end).
Date format is usually M-D-YY and often features the woodworker’s initials as well.
1954-1959: Same as above, only the format is M-YY, leaving out the day. March 1962 to 1965: Dark blue or red ink stamps below the truss rod adjustment at the neck butt. The “XX” does not refer to the day; it is a code for the neck type (e.g. The “W” stands for neck width: “A” is the narrower, “B” is normal width, and “C” wider and “D”, though rarely seen, is the widest.Since the neck is only a component of the guitar, it could have been produced a number of years before the actual instrument was assembled, hence the date on the neck is not necessarily the production date of the whole guitar.On early ’50s Stratocaster guitars serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate.The Gibson Nouveaus were going to consist of parts made in Japan—neck and body—and assembled and finished in Nashville.This would, of course, technically keep them “American made.” This was not uncommon back then; Kramer seems to have specialized in the practice.Pickups were EMG Selects, serviceable if not exceptional, hooked up one volume and one tone, the latter with a push-pull coil tap pot.