EPIPHONE is an American musical instrument manufacturer founded by
Anastasios Stathopoulos, currently based in
Nashville, Tennessee . In
1957 Epiphone, Inc., of
New York City
New York City was purchased by CMI (Chicago
Musical Instrument Co.; this is the same company that bought Gibson in
1944) and given the name Epiphone, Inc. of
Kalamazoo, Michigan . CMI
took great measures to keep Gibson and
Epiphone separate in different
buildings each with its own management team.
Epiphone was Gibson's
main rival in the archtop market prior to its acquisition in 1957.
Their professional archtops, including the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway
and Triumph, rivaled those of Gibson. Aside from guitars, Epiphone
also made double basses , banjos , and other string instruments .
However, the company's weakness in the aftermath of World War II
allowed Gibson's parent, CMI, to absorb it.
The name "Epiphone" is a combination of proprietor Epaminondas
Stathopoulos' (Επαμεινώνδας Σταθόπουλος)
nickname "Epi" and "phone" (from Greek phon- (φωνή), "voice").
* 1 History
* 2 Instruments
* 2.1 Guitars
* 2.1.1 Gibson Models
* 2.1.2 Original
* 3 Manufacturing
* 3.1 US
* 3.2 Japan
* 3.3 Korea
* 3.4 China
* 3.5 Imperial Series and Elitist
* 4 Serial numbers and factory codes
* 5 Players of
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Epiphone Blackstone archtop guitar , made in New York.
Mandolin . ET-270T with
Kurt Cobain 's autograph. Les
Paul standard. Slash signature Les Paul. A Casino model,
John Lennon .
Epiphone Explorer (1984). A Flying
V. An ES-175 model. Wilshire model with tremotone.
Joe Pass signature Emperor. Mandobird electric mandolin.
Triumph Deluxe. PR-5E VS Cutaway Acoustic. Supernova.
A Sheraton II. Valve junior stack.
Epiphone began in 1873, in
Ottoman Empire (now
Turkey ), where Greek founder Anastasios Stathopoulos made his own
fiddles and lutes (oud , laouto ). Stathopoulo moved to the United
States in 1903 and continued to make his original instruments, as well
as mandolins , from
Long Island City
Long Island City in
Queens , New York . Anastasios
died in 1915, and his son, Epaminondas ("Epi"), took over. After two
years, the company became known as THE HOUSE OF STATHOPOULO. Just
after the end of
World War I
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. It
produced its first guitars in 1928. After Epi died in 1943, control of
the company went to his brothers, Orphie and Frixo. In 1951, a
four-month-long strike forced a relocation of
Epiphone from New York
Philadelphia . In 1957 the company was acquired by CMI who
also owned Gibson, Lowrey, Selmer and others, Gibson .
Epiphone became a subsidiary of Norlin , many of its
instruments were later patterned after the more expensive Gibson
Epiphone also maintains its own line of archtop
guitars and basses.
As of January, 2013,
Epiphone makes the following guitars:
B. B. King Lucille
* Dove / PRO
* EJ-200 Artist / 200CE (J-200)
* EL-00 / PRO (L-00)
ES-339 PRO / 339 Ultra
* Explorer – 1984 EX / 1958 Goth
* Firebird TV-Silver
Flying V – '58 Korina
* Flying-V –
Jeff Waters Anihillation-V
* Flying-V – Robb Flynn Love/Death Baritone
* Hummingbird / PRO / Artist
* Les Paul-100
Les Paul Baritone
Les Paul 1956 Goldtop
Ace Frehley Budokan Les Paul
Joe Bonamassa Goldtop
Les Paul Black Beauty 3
Les Paul Custom
Les Paul Custom PRO / Blackback
Les Paul Junior
Les Paul Nightfall**
Les Paul Prophecy EX & GX
Les Paul Standard / Royale / PRO
Les Paul Studio / Goth
Les Paul Tribute
Les Paul Traditional PRO
Les Paul Ultra III / PRO
Les Paul Ukulele
Tak Matsumoto DC Standard & Custom Plus
Zakk Wylde Custom Plus Bullseye
* Nighthawk Custom
* Nikki Sixx Blackbird
* 1961 SG
* 1966 G-400 PRO
* G400 Goth / Faded
* G-400 PRO
* SG Special
* Thunderbird -IV / Goth / PRO-IV / Classic-IV PRO
* Tom DeLonge ES-333
* AJ-100 / 100CE
* AJ-220S / 220SCE
* Allen Woody Rumblekat
* Casino / 1961 50th Anniversary / Elitist / Inspired by John Lennon
* DeLuxe Regent
* Dot / Dot Studio
* DR-100 & 212
* Dwight Trash Casino
* Embassy Bass
* Emperor Regent
* Emperor Swingster / Royale / Black Royale
* ET-275 Crestwood
* ET-280 Bass
* Graveyard Disciple
* Inspired by 1964 Texan
* Jack Casady Signature Bass
Joe Pass Emperor II
* Masterbilt Century Series
* Masterbilt DR-500MCE
* Masterbilt EF-500RCCE
* MB-100 ">. They used a tube design, and some had reverb and
tremolo. Gibson decided to launch a new line of
Epiphone amplifiers in
2005 with many different models, including the So Cal, Blues Custom,
Epiphone Valve Junior . The Valve Hot Rod and Valve Senior
were released in 2009. The Valve Hot Rod is a 5 watt amp like the
Valve Junior, but has a gain and reverb control. The Valve Senior
offers 20 watts of power, with a full equalizer, gain, volume, reverb,
and presence control.
As of 2012,
Epiphone has ceased production of their line of
amplifiers with the exception of the Player and Performance Pack
practice amplifiers, available only in Epiphone's starter packages.
Amplifiers are under the
Epiphone Electar moniker.
Epiphone instruments made between 1957 and 1970 were made beside the
Gibson factory at 224 Parsons (Gibson located at 225 Parsons) St and
on Elenor St; Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Solid body guitars with flat tops
and backs were made at the Elenor Street plants (both Gibson and
Epiphone) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Some of these
were effectively identical to the relevant Gibson versions, perhaps
made with same timber, materials and components as the contemporary
equivalent Gibson guitars.
Epiphone also continued its production of
world class archtop guitars using the same patterns and molds from
Epi's New York era. Some specific examples of Gibson-era Epiphone
instruments from this period includes the
(co-developed with the Gibson
ES-335 "> In 1993, three historic
Epiphone acoustic guitars, the Texan, Frontier, and Excellente, were
produced by Gibson Acoustic in Montana. The Paul McCartney Texan was
produced in 2005, and in 2009, the
Epiphone Historic Collection was
created, beginning with the 1962 Wilshire, built by Gibson Custom.
Several other models, such as the Sheraton and
John Lennon Casinos,
were built in Japan and assembled and finished by Gibson USA.
In the early 1970s,
Matsumoku began to manufacture Epiphone
instruments in Japan with the production and distribution being
managed by Aria , in cooperation with Gibson. At this time, Epiphone
ceased production of all of its traditional designs and began
manufacturing markedly less expensive guitars, many of which had less
traditional bolt-on style necks and unspecified wood types. Some of
these guitars had similar body shapes to traditional
Gibson designs but had different names while other models retained
certain model designations, such as the FT (Flat Top) guitars.
Construction of these guitars differed greatly from past Epiphone
models. For the first several years of production in Japan, Epiphone
guitars were actually rebranded designs already produced by the
By 1975, the Japanese market started seeing some of the more familiar
designs and names being reintroduced. These guitars were of higher
quality than that of the previous years of production in Japan and
included models such as the Wilshire, Emperor, Riviera and Newport
bass. These models were available to the Japanese market only. By
1976 new designs of higher quality were being introduced for export
but did not include the current Japanese market models. Notable new
designs from this era were the Monticello (Scroll Guitar), the
Presentation (PR) and Nova series flat tops and the Genesis solid body
guitar. By 1980, most Japanese-only designs were available for
worldwide distribution. The Matsumoku-made archtops, such as the
Emperor, Riviera, Sheraton and Casino, were available into the
From the 1980s, Epiphones were manufactured mainly in Korea and Japan
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. The brand was primarily used to issue less
expensive versions of classic Gibson models.
These guitars were constructed using different woods (usually Nyatoh
, for example, instead of Mahogany), were fastened with epoxies rather
than wood-glues. Gibson and
Epiphone guitars all use Titebond resin
glue, which is simple carpenters' wood glue, and were finished in
hard, quick-to-apply polyester resin rather than the traditional
nitro-cellulose lacquer used by Gibson
Epiphone guitars assembled or
made in the US use lacquer finishes, but those made outside of the US
use a poly urethane finish because of pollution requirements. These
particular budget considerations, along with others such as plastic
nuts and cheaper hardware and pickups, allow for a more affordable
Samick has stopped manufacturing guitars in Korea.
In 2002, Gibson opened a factory in
Qingdao , China, which
Epiphone guitars. With few exceptions, Epiphones are now
built only in the
Epiphone models, including the Emperor, Zephyr, Riviera and
Sheraton, are built to higher quality standards than the company's
"Gibson copy" line. In 2004
Epiphone introduced a series of acoustic
guitars named Masterbilt after a line of guitars of the 1930s. Today's
Masterbilt guitars are manufactured in Qingdao, China.
IMPERIAL SERIES AND ELITIST
During the early 1990s
Epiphone released a series called the Imperial
Series. These were remakes of the classic
Epiphone archtops of the
1930s and '40s. Each instrument was handmade in the
FujiGen factory in
Japan. This short-lived series was discontinued in 1993, after only 42
Emperors were made. Several other models, including De Luxe, Broadway
and Triumph models, were also produced in varying quantities.
Production was moved back to Nashville and Bozeman for a similar
limited run of instruments (250 each of Sheratons, Rivieras,
Frontiers, Excellentes and Texans). These guitars were the "Nashville
USA Collection" (archtops) and the "Anniversary Series" (acoustics).
Contrary to popular information, this line was related to, but not
part of the 1994 Gibson Centennial Series commemorating 100 years of
Guitar Corporation. The Nashville and Anniversary
Collections were intended as reintroductions of original, USA built
Epiphone began producing a range of higher quality
instruments under the "Elite Series" moniker which were built by
FujiGen in Japan. After legal action by Ovation the name
was changed to Elitist in 2003. As of 2008, all of the Elitist models
have been discontinued with the exception of the Elitist Casino and
the Dwight Trash Casino. The
Epiphone Elitist guitars included
features such as higher grade woods, bone nuts, hand-rubbed finishes,
"Made in the USA" pickups and USA strings. Japanese domestic market
Elitists used the Gibson Dove-wing headstock as opposed to the
"tombstone" headstock used on exports.
SERIAL NUMBERS AND FACTORY CODES
Epiphone serial numbers give the following information:
* I = Saein
* U = Unsung
* S = Samick
* P or R = Peerless
* K = Korea
* MR = CHINA
* DW = DaeWon
* 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 =
Example: SI09034853 SI =
Samick Indonesia, 09 = 2009, 03 = March,
4853 = manufacturing number.
* YY year
* MM month
* FF factory-code
* 12345 production#
* FACTORY NUMBER CODES—for some models starting in 2008, if serial
# begins w/numbers
* 11 = MIC sticker on a '08 Masterbilt
* 12 = DeaWon or Unsung (China—uncertainty remains as to which
* 13 = Sticker: Made in China (Unknown factory;
* 15 =
Qingdao (China) – electric
* 16 =
Qingdao (China) – acoustic
* 17 = China – factory unknown MIC sticker on a J160E
* 18 = China – factory unknown found on one 2009 model bass
* 20 = DaeWon or Unsung (China—uncertainty remains as to which
* 21 = Unsung, Korea
* 22 = ??? Korea (factory still unknown)
* 23 = ??? Indonesia (factory still unknown, probably Samick,)
* I = Indonesia (this letter has appeared as the 5th digit on two
authentic new models made in Indonesia
PLAYERS OF EPIPHONE
List of Epiphone players
* ^ Ingram, Adrian. The Gibson L5: Its History and Its Players.
Anaheim, CA: Centerstream Pub., 1997. Print.
* ^ "Epiphone: A History – Hard Times". Epiphone.com. Retrieved
22 February 2012.
* ^ "Epiphone: A History – Epi". Epiphone.com. Retrieved 22
* ^ "Epiphone: A History". Epiphone.com. Retrieved 22 February
* ^ "Epiphone: A History –
Epiphone and Gibson". Epiphone.com.
Retrieved 22 February 2012.
* ^ "
Epiphone Les Paul Baritone Review". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com.
June 30, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
* ^ 1935 Electar Hawaiian Guitar
* ^ "
Epiphone Introduces Three New Electric Packs!". Epiphone.com.
* ^ A B "Epiphone: A History – A New Beginning". Epiphone.com.
Retrieved 22 February 2012.
* ^ 1971 & 1974
* ^ 1974 & 1976
* ^ "History". Epiphone.com. 1909-03-25. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
* ^ 1977
Epiphone Japan catalog
* ^ A B C "Epiphone: A History –
Epiphone in Korea".
Epiphone.com. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
* ^ A B "A-Chat-With-Epiphone-President-Jim-Rosenberg".
Epiphone.com. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
* ^ "
Epiphone Masterbuilt Series" (PDF). Epiphone. Retrieved
* ^ "Epiphone: A History – Taking On The World". Epiphone.com.
* ^ "
Epiphone Elitist". Epiphone.com. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
* ^ 2002
Epiphone Japan Elite/Elitist catalog
* ^ "Serial Number Search". Gibson. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
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