Help / Advice Please - Early G400R

TonyHam

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Hi I would appreciate some help from those of you with a little more knowledge and experience of old Epiphone SG G400’s than I have.

I’ve attached a few pictures to hopefully help with my questions. Incidentally, the guitar is as I bought it new in 1990, except for the tuners which I swapped for the Grovers you see on the pics around 10-11 years ago.

The serial number (9060022) suggests a build date of June ‘89 but according to epiphonewiki.org the ‘R’ variant wasn’t made until 1990. It is the correct spec for an ‘R’ and I purchased it new in the UK sometime in 1990. I have seen one other '89 (on here I think) but that had dot inlays so was likely the first, non-'R' version.

Anybody know if they were making this spec in 1989? Also should I be worried about the slightly offset first digit in the serial number sequence? - almost like an afterthought!! - I’ve not seen that on any other guitar.

If I’m understanding the serial number coding correctly this must be one of the very first G400’s made (i.e. 1989 no.22)

Finally, any opinions on what would be a fair value to put on this guitar for sale in the UK? E-bay sold prices seem to have quite a wide range - and any recommendations where best to try and sell it other than e-bay?
 

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TonyHam

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...Some more pics - would only allow me to add 10!
 

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laza616

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Amazing guitar. Its indeed 1989
I have the same year one but not the R model, only dot basic G400 one
 

everdying

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year on the serial doesn't necessarily mean it was released right away...
so 6 months from being stamped June to getting into stores in 1990 during then sounds about right.
Even up to today guys like Fender still do this... u'll get serials that say 2002 but the model was released officially in 2003 etc... this is why Fender serial dating usually says like a 02/03...instead of specifically 02.

anyway, not too bothered to check up on the value... but i wouldn't pay more than say usd500 for one...
 

TonyHam

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Many thanks for your replies.

I realised that it would take some time to get from the factory to the relative boondocks of middle England, but the nagging at the back of my mind was really the '89 manufacture date set against the offset "9" on the serial number decal and indications from elsewhere that the G400R was only made in 1990.

I've continued searching and am still unable to find many references / previous examples to ascertain values - they really do seem rarer than photos showing Prince Andrew sweating! I found a historical listing from a couple of years back on Reverb where the lister wanted £1000 (~$1500) for his '89 400R - which seemed a bit optimistic!! - and probably why it looks like it remained unsold.

Nevertheless, I'm grateful to have seen that entry as its' serial number also had an offset "9" as first digit (so appears maybe to be a trait of the time) and provides further evidence that G400Rs were in fact made from the middle of 1989 (probably June) into 1990.

I now know that this particular version is very rare but of course, just because something is rare doesn't automatically make it particularly valuable either financially or historically. However, it does look as though it might be worth a little more than the £100 (~$150) I guesstimated before the start of my research.
 

Von Trapp

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It certainly looks very nice and in great condition. Hope your not thinking of selling it.
 

everdying

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ya $150 is abit low...
considering that even mid-90s G400 can fetch $250...
so this would definitely be priced somewhere between that and however much a MIJ epi SG goes for nowadays... probably still around $700-800.
so splitting the diff, i still say $500 is a fair price.
 

TonyHam

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Not thinking of selling? - well yes I am actually.

Physical issues mean that I'm unable to play like I used to and I just can't get any enjoyment from playing anymore - just frustration. As a consequence, the guitar sits in the corner of my office in front of the small combo amp I bought at the same time, just being a dust magnet. So, as part of a New Years’ declutter resolution, I thought I'd look into selling them by giving them both a good clean and polish, restringing the guitar, taking a few pictures and start doing some research - since I haven't bought or sold a guitar in over 20 years.

I did start to waver a little when I found out how rare it was and that this range of guitars are favoured for upgrading with all sorts of mods. I'm not against modding per se, but am against unnecessary changes to historically important equipment of any kind. If this had been the case I would have thought about preserving it in some way - most likely by buying a decent hard case for it and finding somewhere suitable to store it - but that would really only delay my, or my heirs dilemma and problem when I play my final 12 bar shuffle!

If someone wants to take it on and play it as it is - that's great. However, I'm now also comfortable that even though this model / variation of guitar is pretty rare, it appears to have no great significance historically or to collectors generally. So, if someone else wants it with a view to making changes to make it a better guitar for them - that's also excellent. It's a nice guitar, but not a great one - it's certainly not perfect and can definitely be improved upon.

It's just a question now of how to proceed / where to advertise etc. Not having a decent case for it (kicking myself now for being a tight wad at the time - but in my defence I knew it would never be gigged), I'm very reluctant to ship it, so collection only will narrow the field of interest somewhat.
 

DrBGood

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A hard case is not a must. I have 8 guitars for 2 cases. Guitars get played daily, cases gather dust in a far corner.

Where do you live ?
 

Von Trapp

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Sorry to hear that. I have a friend who had this happen, great player but trouble with his hands. Hadn't seen him for like twenty years when one day he called me up out of the blue and told me this, asking if I would like to buy his guitar. Knew I loved it since that's the one he played, and I got to borrow some times, when we had a band in our teens. Done deal.

At the time I had a strat copy that I've put a lot of work and mods into. Loved it but I was one guitar too many and I knew I'd never get the money back or any sum close to what that guitar and the work I'd done was worth to me. Luckily I chanced on a post in a forum saying What cheap guitar to buy for my kid? Got hold of the guy and it sounded like the kid was really serious about playing so I said Screw that cheap guitar sh!t, he'll never find joy in that. He needs this one, and I gave it to him. Made me feel better than any amount of cash would ever have done. So, if you're not hard up on cash, pro tip: give it to a kid!
 

laza616

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Nowadays you can purchase brand new Epiphone SG standard for 444€ here in Slovakia
With the discount it was available for 412€
I didnt try them as they didnt have them physical in the store, just available in some main warehouse....
This is already a vintage guitar, its 33years old. Quality is good, i have the basic G400 with the dot fretboard, no binding, open coil humbuckers, very good finish quality
I bought mine for 165€ from Austrian old mcn who had no idea about the guitar and had it from a friend who had it hang on the wall for 32 years, rarely played it

I swapped the nut for the black Tusq as the stock nut was horrible.... I wanted to swap the bridge and tuners too but somehow i have a great tuning stability and intonation and sustain so i didnt touch it

I love that guitar! Its amazing piece

I would say 350-400 € is OK price.
 

TonyHam

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A hard case is not a must. I have 8 guitars for 2 cases. Guitars get played daily, cases gather dust in a far corner.

Where do you live ?
Yeah I know. It's just I'd hate for anything to happen to it in transit. Even though I'd wrap and pack it like an Egyptian mummy I'd hate for it to be damaged in transit. The necks in particular on these are pretty skinny and the body relatively soft. I had an original SG in the mid 70's (not new - already maybe 10 years old) and seem to remember that the body / lacquer was much tougher. Anyway, I know I wouldn't sleep at night if I tried to ship this without a decent case - and then some further packing around it. I know Epiphone ship their new stuff in cardboard boxes - but I just don't know how they sleep nights!!

To answer your question - I live about 20 mins drive from Liverpool, UK.
 
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TonyHam

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At the time I had a strat copy that I've put a lot of work and mods into. Loved it but I was one guitar too many and I knew I'd never get the money back or any sum close to what that guitar and the work I'd done was worth to me. Luckily I chanced on a post in a forum saying What cheap guitar to buy for my kid? Got hold of the guy and it sounded like the kid was really serious about playing so I said Screw that cheap guitar sh!t, he'll never find joy in that. He needs this one, and I gave it to him. Made me feel better than any amount of cash would ever have done. So, if you're not hard up on cash, pro tip: give it to a kid!


Thanks, I'll give that some further thought. I have gifted stuff previously to friends & neighbours (not guitar related) in the past but sadly found the items to then not really be looked after. It seemed as though by being obtained freely they had no true appreciation of its value.
 
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TonyHam

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nice guitar.

price wise i would say like 300- 400,- euro
(about 500 $ +/-)
Thanks for your input -so that's around £250-£325 ish. Seems high to me - but at the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am, I look around at new/nearly prices and I guess it fits. Some of the new stuff looks very, very expensive to me - even for decent guitars which have always been expensive if that makes sense? - and don't get started on the price of cars!!
 

TonyHam

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Nowadays you can purchase brand new Epiphone SG standard for 444€ here in Slovakia
With the discount it was available for 412€
I didnt try them as they didnt have them physical in the store, just available in some main warehouse....
This is already a vintage guitar, its 33years old. Quality is good, i have the basic G400 with the dot fretboard, no binding, open coil humbuckers, very good finish quality
I bought mine for 165€ from Austrian old mcn who had no idea about the guitar and had it from a friend who had it hang on the wall for 32 years, rarely played it

I swapped the nut for the black Tusq as the stock nut was horrible.... I wanted to swap the bridge and tuners too but somehow i have a great tuning stability and intonation and sustain so i didnt touch it

I love that guitar! Its amazing piece

I would say 350-400 € is OK price.


Thank-you. I will take your word for the quality of finish. I do think mine is pretty good but I'm out of touch with both new and other used Epiphones so I just take it for granted a little as I have nothing to compare it to.

I'm still amazed at a fairly bog standard SG copy and 30+ years old has a value of 85%-90% of a brand new one. Are the new ones really that poor?
 

DrBGood

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Are the new ones really that poor?
No, they're great, maybe better than yours, but that headstock would attract a lot of people because of its proximity to the mother brand. Nostalgia and rarity adds to wanting to pay a premium for something different.

As for shipping without a case, it can be done safely. I rarely ship, but the times I did without a case, I used stretch wrapping to attach a lauan plank (thin and light wood laminate) below the length of the guitar, with the neck properly supported underneath with dense foam. Then a full wrap of bubbles, a box, another wrap of bubble and second cardboard box. Use a complete spool of packing tape, that's what holds it all in one piece.
 

TonyHam

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Thanks for the info and packing advice. I think I'll start with an ad for local collection and see how it goes and then take a deep breath if I get no takers and revisit the courier delivery side .

I've still been hunting around for more info but these G400R's are a bit of an enigma. I can't find any official Epiphone reference to them (mind you my Korean is a bit pants) and they don't appear in any English brochures I've come across from that era. All I can find is the dot inlay version G400 or the G310 - the G400 being priced in Japan at 35K yen (same price as a alder/mahogany body LP Std of the time) versus the G310 at 25K yen.

I wonder what the rationale behind them was and why the production run was so short lived? I thought that they might have been a special promo run / sweetener for a couple of the big music chains, but I bought mine from a small "mom and pop" shop well away from any great metropolis so I don't think that would be it.
 

everdying

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the Korean G-400 with somewhat open book and dot inlays started in 1989...
around that time... the MIJ Orville by Gibson also started up...
so maybe the koreans decided to upgrade the G-400 to offer some competition...

I'm not sure why the G400r is even considered limited edition... limited production perhaps as it's run got cut short since by 1991? Gibson decided that the koreans couldn't have anything resembling an open book headstock...
 

PermissionToLand

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I worked on the Epiphone Wiki back in the day. Little to nothing is really known about the R model, so I think we only put down 1990 because that's all that had been found at that point. Yours is smack dab in the middle of 1989, so it wouldn't likely be early production for a 1990 debut. That usually only happens in the fall/winter.

The misaligned serial digit is common, especially with serials like yours that have more digits than usual, due to high production volume in 1989.

As far as value, that's always a tough thing to say. Dr.BGood is right that they're appreciated for the headstock and in your case, the bound neck and trapezoid inlays. They're also solid players guitars that just fall short on the electronics side. That said, Epiphone has stepped their game up lately with quality and features; new G-400s offer bound necks and a pseudo open book headstock. So they may not be as in demand as they once were. Also, new Epiphones have good quality electronics, with CTS pots. All that said, I'd place it around $400-500 because yours is in really nice condition and it's still a unique guitar even if modern Epis have most of the features that made it special at the time.
 


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