’71 Epi FT 165 12-string

The earliest of my guitars still in my uninterrupted possession (I bought the Shaftesbury plexiglass model earlier, but it was out of my possession for 25 years).

Around ’71, I was listening to a lot of Genesis and Dave Mason’s solo albums, both of which had lots of very detailed and silky 12-string parts. One day, we booked the early Genesis to play at our school and I got to spend some quality time with the delightful Steve Hackett, who had replaced original guitarist (and 12-string specialist) Anthony Phillips a few weeks earlier. It was about his fourth gig with the band.  Phil Collins had even more recently replaced original drummer John Mayhew – didn’t he do well?

Although the band’s founder members were in the middle of one of their many famous arguments, Steve very kindly and patiently guided me between the Hagstrom he was playing and the other viable contemporary choices, Levin and Epiphone, Martin being unaffordable. I got my dear old dad to buy me the Epi for Christmas, and it was a great choice from which I’ve never looked back.  £60 from Sound City as I recall – thanks, Dad.

Despite being made cheaply under licence in Japan with laminated sides and back, it has retained its tone and the neck remains slim and true, the action very fine. Until Russ Wootton made my next 12-string for me, I had never played another 12-string which I liked a quarter as much.

It was retrofitted with a Baggs i-beam under-bridge transducer a few years back, about which I’ve always mixed feelings and will eventually replace. But 12-string acoustics are notoriously difficult to electrify – the pickups seem to get confused and jumble up all the exquisite subtle overtones and harmonics.

I’ve owned it continuously for over forty years now and it’s in absolutely in mint shape, with original cheapo yellow plush-lined black hardcase. One of my mates has one shown here with mine, a year younger, just as good to play, almost as good shape. An unknown classic imho.

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