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The Epiphone Company is a guitar manufacturer. Before being bought out by Gibson in the late 1950s, Epiphone was actually Gibson's main rival in the archtop market. Their professional archtops, including the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway and Triumph, rivaled (and some contend surpassed) those of Gibson. Aside from their guitars, Epiphone also made double basses, banjos, and other stringed instruments. However, the company's weakness in the aftermath of World War II allowed Gibson to absorb it. 

The name "Epiphone" is a combination of proprietor Epaminondas Stathopoulos' nickname "Epi" and "phone", Greek for "sound".


The history of Epiphone dates to the 1870s, in Izmir, Turkey, where Greek founder Anastasios Stathopoulos made his own fiddles, lutes, and Lioutos. Stathopoulos moved to the United States of America in 1903, and continued to make his original instruments, as well as mandolins, from Long Island City in Queens, New York. Anastasios died in 1915, and his son, Epaminondas, took over. After two years, the company was known as The House Of Stathopoulos.

Just after the end of World War I, the company started to make banjos. The company produced its Recording Line of Banjos in 1924, and, four years later, took on the name of the Epiphone Banjo Company. They produced their first guitars in 1928. Epi Stathopoulo died in 1943. Unfortunately, control of the company went to his brothers, Orphie and Frixo, who were not as capable an owner as Epi. In 1951, a four month long strike forced a relocation of Epiphone from New York to Philadelphia. The company was bought out by their main rival, Gibson in 1957.

During an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, Paul McCartney performed "Yesterday" for the first time on an Epiphone acoustic guitar. McCartney still uses this same guitar on tour during the concert performances of "Yesterday".


The most famous Epiphone model introduced by Gibson after taking over was the Casino. The Casino was made in the shape and configuration of a Gibson ES-330 guitar. It has a very heavy sound and is a very good rhythm guitar due to its fairly thick sound when strummed. It is a genuine hollow body electric guitar with P90 pickups.

The Casino is famous for being used by The Beatles. Paul McCartney was the first to acquire one and John Lennon and George Harrison followed suit soon after. All three were sunburst finishes, Paul and George's were factory fitted with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.[citation needed] These can be seen in some pictures of their later concerts and the Casinos were much used in the studio as well.[citation needed] Paul McCartney used his in the solo in Taxman and the Casino sound is very prevalent throughout Revolver and their later albums. John Lennon made his Casino his one of his main guitars and used it for the rest of his time with the Beatles and into the 70s. He customized it in 1968, having it sanded down to a natural finish and coating it with lacquer. He also replaced some of the hardware and removed the pickguard. Lennon used his customized Casino in the last public appearance by the Beatles -- an impromptu concert in January 1969 on the rooftop of Apple Records in London, footage of which was included in the film "Let It Be". Harrison stopped using his Casino in 1967 and began using the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster and a Les Paul given to him by Eric Clapton. Paul still uses his Casino in concert and studio today. link


In the early 1970s, Epiphones began to be manufactured in Japan. From the 1980s, Epiphones were manufactured mainly in Korea by contractors licensed by Gibson. One of these contractors was Samick, which also built instruments under license for other brands and in its own name. Thus, a Korean-era solidbody Epiphone would have been built under license. The brand was primarily used to issue less expensive versions of classic Gibson models, in a manner similar to that of the Squier brand by Fender. These Epiphones were sometimes built with different tonewoods from the original Gibson versions, which often resulted in the instruments bearing a visual and ergonomic similarity to the Gibson originals but having a slightly different tone. For example, bodies of the G-400 SG copy were made with either mahogany or alder body, depending on the availability of the wood.

Samick has stopped manufacturing guitars in Korea. In 2002, Gibson opened a factory in Qingdao, China, which manufactures Epiphone guitars and no others. (e.g. the G-400 SG and the Les Paul)

Unique Epiphone models, including the Emperor, Zephyr, Riviera and Sheraton, are built to higher quality standards than the company's "Gibson copy" line. Epiphone also produces a range of higher quality instruments under the "Elitist Series" moniker, which are built in Japan. The "Masterbilt" acoustics are manufactured in Qingdao.

According to several forum entries, current Epiphone serial numbers give the following information:


  • I = Saein
  • U = Unsung
  • S = Samick
  • P or R = Peerless


  • DW = DeaWon
  • EA = Gibson/QingDao
  • EE = Gibson/QingDao
  • MC = Muse
  • SJ = SaeJung
  • Z = Zaozhuang Saehan
  • BW = China


  • No letter or F = FujiGen
  • J or T = Terada


  • B = Bohêmia Musico-Delicia


  • SI = Samick

Example: U8034853 U = Unsung, 8 = 1998, 03 = March, 4853 = manufacturing number.

Current status[]

Epiphone is now a subsidiary of Gibson, somewhat like Squier is a subsidiary of Fender (the chief difference being that the Squier line of guitars was created in-house by Fender; in other words, there is no such thing as a "pre-Fender" Squier guitar). Because of this subsidiary relationship, many of the instruments look the same as the more expensive Gibson versions. However Epiphone still maintains its own line of archtop guitars.

Unlike Squier, Epiphone also manufacture its own line of amplifier, and began to produce tube amplifiers with high quality tubes, such as EL84 from Electro-Harmonix.


Epiphone produced amplifiers under Gibson in the 60's. Basically copies or variations of Gibson and Fender amps, these amps were all tube, some with reverb and tremolo.

Models: (RV=reverb, T=tremolo) | E-1051: 1970's, 1x10" combo | EA-12 RVT Futura: '62-'67, 4x10", grey tolex, light grille | EA-14 RVT Ensign: '65-'69, 50 watt 2x10", gray tolex, silver grille, split c logo | EA-15 RVT Zephyr: '61-'65, 14 or 20 watt 1x15", gray tolex, light grille, split c logo (on panel), script e logo on grille | EA-16 RVT Regent (Lancer): '65-'69, 25 watt 1x12", gray vinyl, gray grille, called Lancer first year | EA-26 RVT Electra: '65-'69, 1x12", footwitch, gray tolex | EA-32 RVT Comet: '65-'67, 1x10" | EA-33 RVT Galaxie: '63-'64, 1x10", gray tolex, gray grille | EA-35 (T) Devon: '61-'63, 1x10", '63 was a 1x12 with tremolo | EA-50 Pacemaker: '61-'69, 1x8" until '62, 1x10" after, EA-50 T added in '63, non-tremolo dropped in '67 | EA-300 RVT Embassy: '65-'69, 90 watt 2x12", gray vinyl, grey grille

Epiphone re-entered into the premium amplifier market in 2006 with many different models, from their E-series tube-emulater, "So Cal", and "Blues" Custom amplifiers, to the small "Valve" series. Among these, the Epiphone Valve Junior, a small 5 watt tube amp, is the most famous, as not only is a single ended class A, its cheap price also makes it affordable and made modifying easy. It is released both as a head (with matching cab) and combo.


The following guitars are currently made by Epiphone:

Gibson copies[]

Dedicated Epiphone models[]

  • Several versions of the Sheraton

    An Epiphone Sheraton II.

  • Several versions of the Casino
  • The Riviera in 6- and 12-string versions
  • The Broadway
  • The Emperor
  • Devon
  • Several versions of the Zephyr
  • The Supernova
  • The Wildkat
  • The AlleyKat
  • The Flamekat
  • Nick Valensi Riviera P-94
  • The Viola Bass
  • The Coronet

In recent years Epiphone introduced a series of acoustic guitars named Masterbilt after a line of guitars of the 1930s. Today's Masterbilt guitars are manufactured in China.

Discontinued Models[]

  • Epiphone Genesis Electric Guitar
  • Epiphone Supernova
  • Epiphone Demon
  • Epiphone Slasher
  • The Alleykat
  • Various Signature models
  • Nouveau Spotlight (PRS lawsuit model)

Players Of Epiphone[]

       Main article: List of Epiphone players

Collectible status of Epiphone guitars[]

The original Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar was made in the early 1960s as a cheaper version of the Gibson J-45 model, and was available with blond or sunburst finish. Although cheaper than its Gibson counterpart at the time of manufacture, vintage period Texans in good condition can currently change hands for around $3,000. Furthermore, the company has actually released a limited run of Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar replicas marked with the legitimate signature of Paul McCartney for a retail price of $1,949.00 - $1,949.99.

Video Game Guitars[]

Epiphone and Ubisoft have worked together to creat the special Guitar for the Rocksmith Authentic Guitar Game to be released October 2011 for a retail price of $199.99.

Epiphone's Guitar for the 2011 Video Game Rocksmith Authentic Guitar Game.

External links[]