Epiphone has been a key player in the American guitar market for more than 100 years. Today, the line is known for its affordable editions of Gibson guitars and quality models that stand on their own.
Epiphone's history begins in Greece, where founder Kostantinos Stathopoulo started his family but migrated to Turkey; there, he started a career as a lumber merchant. This path took him through continental Europe, where he learned about the tonewoods going into musical instruments. His family took this knowledge and started a store carrying and repairing violins, lutes and bouzoukis. Son Anastasio developed a reputation locally as a luthier, and he utilized this skill to start a factory for building musical instruments.
Not long after starting his own family, Anastasio Stathopoulo migrated to the United States, where he continued to manufacture and repair instruments in New York City. Sons Epi and Orpheus took over the family business, designing instruments and eventually earning a patent for a banjo tone ring and rim.
During these early years, the Epiphone brand focused on the production of banjos, due to the demand coming from popular music, and its line further spanned banjo mandolins, banjo guitars and banjo ukuleles. Epiphone guitars from this era, classified by the company as "banjos" and sold under the Recording series, featured an arch or flat top and body made of spruce and laminated maple.
For a good deal of the 20th century, competition existed between Epiphone and Gibson. This rivalry led to the development of Epiphone's Masterbilt line of acoustic guitars, its Electar electric steel series, and a line of amplifiers featuring push-pull wiring. At one point, Epiphone nearly ended up creating Gibson's bass line but instead went after Gibson's less-profitable retailers, offering a lower-priced instrument with comparable quality.
This decision set the course for the Epiphone brand going forward: The company constructed budget-friendly versions of Gibson's more popular models, revived its heritage guitars from the first half of the 20th century, and introduced newer designs, like the Sheraton, Frontier, and Spanish guitars like the Madrid, Entrada and Espana.
However, production started to change in the 1970s: Manufacturing switched to Japan and eventually Korea by the '80s. After declining sales, Epiphone guitars experienced a revival in the late '80s, resulting in the PR Series and lower-cost versions of Gibson's Les Paul and SG. As part of this upswing, Epiphone debuted a new array of acoustic and electric instruments in the early '90s, as well as some updated classic models.
Celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2013, Epiphone rests on its history with vintage-styled instruments and presents options for professionals wanting something affordable and beginners seeking out quality.
Find Epiphone Guitars at Alamo Music Center
Browse electric and acoustic Epiphone guitars today, including models based on popular Gibson series, at Alamo Music Center. Get to know your instrument with trial lessons, and we offer multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month no-interest financing at times.