Epiphone has a very long and distinguished history, dating back to 1873 when the Stathopoulo family moved from Greece to Turkey. The instrument business was founded by luthier Anastasios Stathopoulo (1863-1915), who started making fiddles and lutes. The Stathopoulo family moved to Queens, New York in the United States of America in 1903, where he continued building his instrument business including banjos and mandolins.

Anastasios died in 1915 and his eldest son, Epaminondas, took over. By the end of WWI, the company became ‘The House Of Stathopoulo’, then changed its name to the ‘Epiphone Banjo Company’ in 1928, the same year that they started producing acoustic guitars. The name Epiphone derived from a combination of Epaminondas’ nickname, ‘Epi’ and the Greek word ‘phon-’ meaning ‘sound’ or ‘voice’. In addition to musical instruments, Epiphone started producing amplifiers in 1935.

A bitter battle between Epiphone and Gibson continued throughout the 1930s, competing with each other on quality and craftsmanship, particularly with their respective archtop guitars. After Epi’s death of leukaemia in 1943, control of the Epiphone company transferred to Epi’s younger brothers Orphie and Frixo. The company struggled with the post-WWII economy and internal wrangling between the siblings. Disputes with the workforce resulted in the company moving from New York to Philadelphia in 1953, leaving many skilled craftsmen behind. In 1957, the struggling Epiphone family business was bought out by its main rival Gibson after Gibson president Ted McCarty (1910-2001) proposed a takeover offer that Orphie Stathopoulo could not refuse.

After the acquisition, Epiphone production was moved to Gibson’s main plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Epiphone thrived as part of the Gibson family, including development of several models of its own design, as well as lower price versions (essentially copies) of Gibson guitars. Quality standards during this period (1957-1969) were on a par with Gibson models.

Gradually, Epiphone became seen as a secondary, lower-priced marque to the premium Gibson brand. The outcome was that, while Gibson production remained in the USA, Epiphone’s manufacturing was moved off shore to Japan in 1970 and then to Korea in 1983. In 2004, Epiphone’s far-eastern production expanded further into China. Epiphone’s headquarters, like those of its parent company Gibson, are based in Nashville, Tennessee.

While vintage Epiphone prices are not as high as the frontrunners in the investment market, values are increasing. In particular, a number of pre-1970 Epiphone-specific, USA-built models are now eagerly and deservedly sought out by musicians, collectors and aficionados alike.

1966 Epiphone Olympic
1966 Epiphone Olympic

Epiphone’s official website is… Epiphone.com

Check out the Epiphone page on Wikipedia… Wikipedia.org

Famous Epiphone instruments include… Broadway, Casino, Crestwood, Deluxe, Emperor, Olympic, Riviera, Sheraton, Triumph, Wilshire, Zephyr

Some famous Epiphone guitar players include… Bob Dylan, Django Reinhardt, The Edge (U2), George Harrison (The Beatles), Joe Pass, John Lee Hooker, John Lennon (The Beatles), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Marc Bolan, Noel Gallagher (Oasis), Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Paul Weller, Pete Doherty (Libertines), Pete Townshend (The Who)

Parent Company… Gibson

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