The Epiphone Company released its Casino model in 1958, which was just a year after the company was acquired by the Chicago Music Company, Gibson’s parent corporation at the time. It took until 1964 for the guitar to become the favored model of some of the biggest superstars of rock and roll. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones played one of the ringing, hollow-body models during the group’s American tour in ’64. Paul McCartney bought one that year, as well, and used it during the recording sessions for the Beatles Rubber Soul album.
While all members of the Beatles used a Casino at one time or another, John Lennon became most enthusiastic about the model. He used it to record every Beatles album after Rubber Soul and during his solo career, as well. Lennon played his Casino on the group’s third world tour, and it was featured on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is a perfect example of the guitar’s ability to produce clean, crisp arpeggios. When the Fab Four played their final public concert in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966, Lennon’s Casino was there.
The Casino was preferred by John Lennon for a couple of reasons. First, he loved its bright, clear tone. Second, he was one of the first to see the advantages of a hollow-body guitar in the era of amplification. Blues players of the day who wanted to use an electric guitar preferred a semi-hollow body because its volume could be turned up to cut through the chaos of the noisiest club without fear of the instrument producing feedback through its body or howling through its amps.
Lennon, along with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, felt that feedback could be a desirable sound for modern audiences. The Casino’s hollow body with traditional F-holes made it the perfect choice for creating a new tone. Casinos also came equipped with a 16-fret neck and extra string tension that made its sound unique and appealing.
When Lennon prepared to record the White Album, he gave his Casino a complete makeover. He had the pickguard removed and the body sanded down until it was bare wood. Then, two coats of clear lacquer were applied. The updated Casino was first used in public when the Beatles made a live promotional video for “Revolution.”
The Casino’s special sound can be heard on many classic Beatles tunes including, “I Want You,” “Across the Universe,” and “Get Back.” Lennon played it during the group’s farewell “Let it Be” concert, which was filmed on the roof of the Apple Corp. building in London.
After the Beatles disbanded, John continued to use his Casino on projects like the “Live Peace in Toronto” concert. He never seemed to tire of the brilliant tone he could produce with this much-loved guitar.
If you have a dream of playing like John Lennon, you’ll want to reproduce that bright tone as closely as possible. You can also turn to several highly recommended guitar lesson systems to help you acquire the necessary skills. With determination and practice, you can develop a signature sound of your own.