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A Brief History of Epiphone Guitars

Aug 17, 2007
When thinking about the history of Epiphone, one must start in Greece where Anastasios Stathopoulos made lioutos (a Greek stringed instrument), mandolins, fiddles, and lutes. The family moved to New York, and his son, Epi Stathopoulos inherited the company in 1915.

The company name changed from the House of Stathopoulos to Epiphone, a combination of his name and the Greek word for sound. The change was made official in 1928. It was during this time that the company was active in making banjos, and they even bought out a banjo company in Long Island. After the change was approved, the company became the Epiphone Banjo Co.

Epiphones guitars were launched in 1931. This was a full line of what are known as archtop guitars, a style that is popular with jazz and blues musicians. They quickly became one of the top guitar produces with Gibson being one of their biggest rivals. Notable Epiphone players of that time include Tony Mottola with the George Hall band and two band members of Benny Goodman.

Epi unfortunately died of leukemia and left the company to Orphie, who before his death was the second in command. His other brother, Frixo, became the Vice President. The two brothers later have a feud and Frixo sells his stock. After that, company had some trouble and eventually stopped producing a lot of instruments.

In 1957, Chicago Musical Instrument purchased Epiphone and made them a division of Gibson. Epiphone now still maintains their own line of guitars and the Gibson and Epiphone labels remain separate.

Current Epiphone models include a few Gibson copies (Epiphones version of the Flying-V and Les Paul are a few examples), and a few original Epiphone lines. The original guitars include all the versions of the Casino, Zephyr, and Sheraton, the Wildkat, the Broadway, and the Emporer.

Epiphone has had some famous endorsees. Both George Harrison and John Lennon played Epiphone Casinos. Lennon is famous for his personal modifications to the Casino. Other artists include Bob Marley, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Lars Frederickson or Rancid, and Chad of Nickelback. For a complete list of artists, visit the Epiphone website . The list is quite extensive.

Here are what some uses have to say about Epiphone guitars (source Harmony Central):

About the Epiphone G-400 Custom

Action was really good. Finish was ok. Definately looks different than the rest of the pack. Gold hardware is gorgeous. The custom logo shined in the stage lights. I had to have it and I had fun with it for a few years.

This guitar is solid. Never goes out of tune. Hardware will dull a bit over the years. Strap buttons are solid. Careful with the neck dive on stage. Very top heavy.

About the Epiphone Flying Vee-Wee

I absolutely love this guitar!!! The VeeWee is the perfect shape for lap you can rest your hand on the upper arm of the V, or put it your hand in the point of the V to pick right near the bridge. The controls and cord jack are in the perfect position for lap style as well. Since it is so small and inexpensive, I carry it with me everywhere. I would not dream of bringing my Les Paul into the office, but this VeeWee is perfect for break time noodling. As I mentioned, the sound is great. I now own 5 guitars, and my lap-steel PeeVee wins the Most Fun award hands down!
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