This is an early example of an Epiphone Emperor with a natural (or blonde) finish, which Epiphone offered as an option starting in 1939. That same year Epiphone changed the headstock design from the previous asymmetrical shape to a symmetrical, center dip style and introduced their signature enclosed tuners embossed with the Epiphone “E” logo.
This Emperor belonged to Rome Johnson, who sang and played rhythm guitar in the Son of the Pioneers from the early 1970s through 1983 when he retired. The guitar comes with a custom-made tooled-leather case featuring elaborate Western patterns and the name “Sons of the Pioneers” carved in an old West font. Other distinctive features include a slanted rectangular mother-of-pearl inlay on the rear headstock (instead of the usual diamond shape) and a small triangular inlay above but not touching the nut like on earlier examples.
Serial number: 15765
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with three mahogany center strips
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, gold-plated Frequensator
Tuners: Gold-plated Epiphone “E” with marbeloid buttons