Talk about a versatile instrument. First widely heard in the mid-Sixties on recordings by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Epiphone Casino has been a go-to guitar for a diverse array of artists including Paul Weller, the Edge, Dave Grohl and Dwight Yoakam.
But perhaps no other guitarist in recent years has popularized the howlingly responsive sound of the Casino as much as blues-rock kingpin Gary Clark Jr.
His first introduction to a hollow-body electric was a Gibson ES-125, but as a young musician in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he found himself checking out the thinner-bodied Casinos in music stores.
“It always stood out, but I never had the money to get one,” he says. “Finally, I scraped up some change and got one, and the Casino changed my life. I knew that was what I needed to have. I had my eyes on it before I even really got familiar with it. And it just kind of stuck. I'm good with that.”
Clark has recorded and toured with a number of Casinos (workhorse axes have been ’66 and ’68 models), but he recently partnered with Epiphone for a signature Ltd. Ed. Gary Clark Jr. “Blak & Blu” Casino (so named after his debut album, Blak and Blu). Featuring the classic Casino design, Gibson USA P-90 pickups and a unique Black & Blu color finish, the model comes in two versions, one with a trapeze tailpiece and the other with a Bigsby.
“Blak and Blu with a Bigsby!” Clark says with a laugh. “They’re a dream. To have the guitar I've always wanted and to be able to customize it—it's surreal. The paint job to me was everything. I could have painted it myself, but I went the professional route and let the guys who made it do the painting. [laughs] Everything is pretty much as it would be.”