History Of Epiphone Electric Guitars
Epiphone's lineage began with some talented individuals crafting high quality instruments, in their home country of Greece. The Stathopoulos were skilled craftsman, who made their family name synonymous with beautiful instruments and unrivaled repair. So when Anastasios Stathopoulo left Europe for America, it's no surprise his new business—located in the heart of Manhattan's lower east side, was met with success.
Coming to America and having to start his business from scratch wasn't easy, but Anastasios was once again successful at it in his new country. He established a thriving instrument manufacture and retail business and even filed for a U.S. patent on a mandolin in 1909.
During those early years, his eldest son Epaminondas, or Epi, as he was known, was easily assimilating to American life. He attended Columbia University and graduated with honors. Not long after, while living with his family above their shop at 247 West 42nd St., Epi started helping out the family business.
When Epi was only 22, his father Anastasios passed away. Epi was now tasked with running the business himself. Going forward, Epi would grow the business by removing mandolins and stocking more popular banjo models, acquiring the Farovan Company instrument plant on Long Island, and incorporating under the new name "Epiphone," referencing his own name and the Greek word for sound.
In 1928, Epiphone introduced their first line of acoustic guitars. Their motivation was to compete with the company that was believed to be Epiphone's greatest rival – Gibson. Fortune would continue to intertwine the fate pf these two companies, as they competed over the next 30 or so years.
By the mid '30s, Les Paul, one of the famed guitarists of the era, was showcasing his talents at the Epiphone location in New York City, jamming as people listened out on the sidewalk. Ironically, he also spent many late nights working on his own guitar design in Epiphone's factory, which would later be made into a signature model by none other than Gibson.
Though Epiphone had experienced moments of success in their rivalry with Gibson, by the 1950s, they could no longer effectively compete. They were acquired by Gibson in 1957, ushering in a new era of partnership and progress for both brands.
Epiphone Electric Guitar Models
Many of Epiphone's electric guitar offerings are Gibson favorites, made affordable, yet retaining surprisingly high quality. The greatness that Epiphone was founded on was attractive enough to Gibson for the brand to buy them up and use them as the main source of reasonably priced versions of their infamous models. Today, Epiphone even have signature artists, as well as some Epiphone original models, defining their brand.
Epiphone Les Pauls
Epiphone Les Pauls are not a far cry from their Gibson counterparts. Initially, Epiphone Les Pauls were given to dealers who were keen to win a hotly contested Gibson contract, to first see how they could sell. Nonetheless, the product was still considered "Gibson quality."
Epiphone Les Paul Standard: The Les Paul Standard is a versatile music machine. These Epiphone models run the gamut from artist signature to legends remade. The tried-and-true Les Paul mahogany body with maple veneer top affords all the sweet natural tone you desire. The mahogany neck is cut into 1960s slim taper “D” profile and capped with a pau ferro fretboard. The Standard comes complete with dual Epiphone alnico Classic Humbuckers.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom: Much like its Gibson counterpart, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom PRO has an elevated look and excellent sound, powered by advanced electronics. It’s got a fully bound mahogany body with maple veneer, slim taper “D” neck with satin finish, and gold hardware. The dual ProBucker pickups are wired with coil-splitting and phase switching capability. There’s also a Koa Custom PRO model, a Custom Classic PRO with Gibson USA pickups, and a 1970’s Inspired Les Paul Custom Blackback PRO.
Epiphone Les Paul Special: The Les Paul Special models from Epiphone give players a simpler, even more attainable Les Paul option. The Les Paul Special VE is a stripped down axe, available in multiple vintage-worn finishes. It offers a lightweight poplar body with okoume neck in 1960s slim taper “D” profile and Epiphone open-coil humbuckers.
Epiphone Les Paul Studio: The Les Paul Studio was introduced in the early ’80s. As its name suggests, it was made for studio musicians, offering a simplified aesthetic with strong Les Paul tone.
If you want a more detailed analysis of all the Epiphone Les Paul models on the market and what each has to offer, check out our Epiphone Les Paul Buyer's Guide.
The SG, in all its devilish glory, was thought to be replacing the Les Paul in the early days. However, both models flourished and the SG carved out a nice place for its self in rock history. Often seen in classic rock and heavy metal, the long tenon neck of the SG, combined with dual humbuckers, gives it a unique aesthetic, tone, and vibe.
Epiphone SG Special: The Epiphone SG Special affords the established SG style you know and love, in an unbelievably affordable package. The double-horned body is made from poplar, with a mahogany veneer and a classic black pickguard. It also has a bolt-on mahogany neck with traditional-style 1960s Slim Taper "D" profile. It's finished off with high-output Epiphone 650R and 700T open-coil ceramic humbuckers.
Epiphone SG Classic: The SG Classic honors the original 1960s SG, available in two worn finishes for a beautiful vintage look. It has powerful P-90 PRO TM single-coil pickups. The P-90s give an airy, vintage tone that stands out from the pack. The SG Classic comes with Epiphone's rock solid nickel hardware, including a LockTone ABR bridge and Stopbar tailpiece combo.
Epiphone G-400: The G-400 has a traditional solid mahogany body with a hand-fitted, glued-in mahogany neck, topped by a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. The neck profile is Epiphone's most popular Slim Taper shape, dating back to the 1960's. Combined with its smooth, satin finish, it's super comfortable to play. This SG showcases a pair of high-output Alnico Classic and Alnico Classic Plus humbuckers, each with separate volume and tone controls that feature full-size 500K potentiometers.
Epiphone hollowbody guitars combine the company's roots in traditional stringed instrument craftsmanship with modern electronic technology. This has resulted in such popular models as the Casino, Emperor, Sheraton, and Wildkat. Epiphone also offers affordable versions of classic Gibson hollowbody models, including the Dot and the ES-339.
Epiphone Casino: The Casino Coupe features the familiar Casino styling and shape—only proportioned smaller and re-imagined in an ES-339 style body. The body and top are made from 5-layer laminated maple, with single-layer ivory binding on the top and back. The mahogany hand-set neck has the classic 24.75” scale, with a 1960s Slim Taper shape—patterned after leading vintage models. For sonic excellence, the Casino has full-size, full-power, dog ear P-90s.
Epiphone Broadway: The Broadway has been part of the Epiphone catalog since 1931 when founder Epi Stathopoulo introduced the Masterbilt Archtop Collection. It features a laminated maple body with a select spruce top, finished in vintage natural. The hard maple neck has a Slim Taper "C" profile, with a 25.5" scale length, a 12” radius, and a pau ferro fingerboard with "block and triangle" Mother-of-Pearl inlays. The Broadway is powered by Epiphone Alnico Classic humbuckers, made with Alnico V magnets, for a warm and detailed response.
Epiphone Dot Deluxe Semi-Hollow: The Epiphone Dot Deluxe features the same dimensions and build as vintage ES-style, semi-hollow body archtops, with a flame maple veneer top and body. The solid mahogany neck has a Slim Taper "D" profile and is glued to the body using a traditional dovetail joint. The Dot Deluxe features Alnico Classic humbuckers made with Alnico-V magnets, which produce a slightly higher output—especially in the mid and highs.
Epiphone Wildkat: An Epiphone original, this small-body, semi-hollow guitar has great vintage sound and is remarkably comfortable. It's got a sustain-rich mahogany body with centerblock, and is finished in beautiful pearl white finish with gold sparkle binding and gold hardware. It features a rosewood fingerboard and an authentic gold B70 licensed Bigsby vibrato, for even more sonic versatility—plus excellent sounding P-90 classic pickups.
Signature Artists and Their Epiphones
Many great artists have graced the stage with an Epiphone in hand. From their hollowbody jazz guitars to their awesome iterations of Les Pauls, Epiphone has remained a staple in the professional music world.
Vivian Campbell Holy Diver Les Paul: Vivian Campbell's signature "Holy Diver" Les Paul is inspired by the guitar that Vivian used on Dio's historic albums Holy Diver and The Last in Line. This Les Paul has a mahogany body with a maple cap and black aged gloss finish with single-layer cream binding. It's powered by in-your-face DiMarzio X2N humbuckers with wide bar pole pieces.
Jared James Nichols 'Old Glory' Les Paul: With his scowling brand of heavy blues, Jared James Nichols has notched out a nice place for himself in the sphere of modern rock guitarists. His first signature design created by Epiphone is a remake of a guitar he himself modified and nicknamed "Old Glory." This guitar boasts a powerful Epiphone Les Paul build, distinctive Jared James Nichols specs, and stripped down electronics with a single P-90 at the bridge.
Lzzy Hale Explorer: Halestorm powerhouse Lzzy Hale unleashes a storm of rock fury every time she plays. Epiphone honors her killer style with this signature explorer model. With classic Explorer power, Lzzy Hale signature specs, and stormy rock sound, this awesome guitar is perfect for Halestorm lovers and those who want a rad explorer model.
Dave Rude Flying V: The infamous Flying V model gets a Dave Rude makeover. With bold red on white aesthetics, Dave Rude signature specs, and ProBucker pickups, this killer guitar is made to stand out—visually and sonically. This Flying V is for anyone who wants an audacious axe that plays great.
George Thorogood White Fang ES-125: You can tell right away—it's bad to the bone. This George Thorogood signature ES-125 has the hard-hitting attitude you get from George himself. It features a bad to the bone design, sharply designed specs, and dog ear ProBucker P-90 pickups. This guitar is for the fan of George's music or anyone who wants a hollow guitar with bite.
Why an Epiphone Electric Guitar?
If you're looking for one of many Gibson classics, but aren’t keen on shelling out the price they command, Epiphone versions are an excellent option. From Les Pauls to SGs, Epiphone has you covered. Even beyond that, Epiphone has many of their own signature artists which make these Epiphone guitars their number one. And after you play one, you may want to make an Epiphone your number one, too.