When Epiphone introduced their Masterbilt archtop guitars in 1931, the De Luxe was offered in Grand Auditorium size and priced $ 275. It was the top of the Masterbilt line. The 1932 catalog states: catalog 1932. In the July 1953 pricelist the spelling “De Luxe” was changed to “DeLuxe” see picture.
A special feature on the 16 inch De Luxe is the neck-volute. A volute is a carved built up area of the neck to prevent a guitar from breaking at the weak area by the nut, but it can also be merely ornamental. The volute disappeared in 1935 with the introduction of the larger body size.
Some cutaway De Luxes had an 18 inch body just like the Emperor. Wiedler wrote us : “The 18 1/2” De Luxe first appears in the March 15, 1949 price list: Although the size is not stated, it is listed with identical case (= size) as the Emperor. The Emperor-size De Luxe was made in cutaway and non-cutaway versions until 1951. All examples I know have unbound f-holes.”
EPIPHONE SOLOIST Although Epiphone started to produce cutaway models as late as 1949, a few cutaway models called “Soloist” were produced in 1940. There are 4 Soloists documented: 3 Soloist Emperors and 1 Soloist De Luxe (see pictures). See also Fisch & Fred, pp. 69, 87, 88, 264.
According to Wiedler Epiphone produced from 1931-’55 around 1500 De Luxes of which now 250 examples (including 26 Regents/Cutaways) have been registered.
Interesting to read are Jonathan Stout’s findings about the role of Epiphone De Luxe (sn 5529) in a larger band: NGD: 1932 Epiphone De Luxe
See also these two De Luxes in concert: George Aslaender playing Scott Tsai’s De Luxe sn 5684 and Scott playing Peter Kohman’s De Luxe sn 6870 : video
Epiphone catalog 1934
Metronome magazine ad 1934