What started out as a small family repair shop for lutes, violins, and bouzoukis in the Turkish seaport of Smyrna by Greek immigrant Kostantinos Stathopoulo in 1873 has grown over the years with the music industry itself, and even jumped across the pond to America in 1904, eventually becoming one of the most prominent names in the music industry. The house that Stathopoulo built in the Lower East Side of New York didn't take long to become a popular stop for musicians looking for superb quality mandolins. After Kostantinos' death, his son Epi (who eventually branded the company name Epiphone as an ode to the Greek words "phone" for sound and "epiphonous" for one sound on another), toned down the mandolin production and kicked things up a notch with their popular Recording line of banjos. In the late 20s and early 30s, Epiphone's Masterbilt archtop guitars were extremely favorable among the jazz crowd and they also introduced their first electric guitars, the Electar series featuring adjustable pole pieces on the Master Pickup. They also moved into the amplifier world with an innovative push/pull wiring design that is still a standard in many amps today, and upright basses.
While things looked great for the future, the death of Epi, combined with World War II, took a toll on the company. They were saved in 1957 by friend and legend Les Paul who suggested Gibson talk to Epi's brother Orphie about taking over their acclaimed upright bass division. Instead Orphie sold the entire company. Soon Epiphone become notable for their more budget-friendly of Gibson designs as well as recreations of Epiphone's own Emperor, Deluxe, Sheraton, Monderne Black, and Frontier models. Much like many other brands, the Beatles helped bolster the brand's popularity when they were seen playing their double-cutaway electric Casino. It was a jackpot of success for them during the mid-60s. After a series of years fighting foreign knockoffs and moving production from Japan to Korea, Epiphone found itself success through the 80s and 90s with more reissues and upgrades of some of their popular models and introducing signature models like the John Lee Hooker Sheraton, Noel Gallagher Supernova, and John Lennon 1965.
In 2000, with the release of the Elitist series of acoustics, and reintroduction of updated Masterbilts, the company was running full steam ahead and ended up moving to a new factory in 2004. Today, their guitars are still an exceptional choice for musicians looking for affordable instruments without compromising high-quality construction and sound. They have signature models that span plenty of genres, from the metal maestros Zakk Wylde and Nikki Sixx to jazz and blues greats Joe Pass and John Lee Hooker.
Gary Clark, Jr., My Chemical Romance, Joe Bonamassa, Queens of the Stone Age, Machine Head, Dwight Yoakam, Rush, Jamey Johnson, The Strokes, Slash, Jeff Waters, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Radiohead, The Waco Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, Nancy Wilson, and Paul Weller are just a few of the artists who've used Epiphone instruments live or in the studio.