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With a long and rich history, Epiphone is one of America’s oldest and most revered instrument makers. Musician's Friend is proud to offer the best selection of Epiphone instruments in the world. Over 125 years ago, Anastasios Stathopoulo opened a small instrument factory in Smyrna, Turkey. Years later, his son Epaminondas, or Epi for short, took over the family business which had relocated to America. He renamed the company Epiphone, a combination of his name and ‘phone’, the Greek word for sound. For a while, the company produced exclusively banjos, which were the most popular instrument in America at the time. Then in 1928, Epiphone introduced its first line of acoustic guitars. Today, Epiphone offers affordable guitars and basses for every player in every genre, regardless of budget or ability.
Every luthier has a story, and for the most renowned marques, it's usually a long one. That's certainly the case for Epiphone, which was founded in 1873 and hopped right on board with the development of the guitar as we know it today. In the early 20th century, Epiphone went head-to-head against Gibson in the archtop market, producing models like the Emperor, Broadway and Triumph, that went down as legends in the music history books. Then, after World War II, Gibson bought Epiphone out, which not only ended the rivalry between them, it also laid the groundwork for what Epiphone is today: a brand that can put Gibson's iconic designs into the hands of any musician who wants them.
Of course, that isn't to say Epiphone's individual history has fallen by the wayside. At Musician's Friend, you'll find models like the Epiphone Casino Electric Guitar, Limited Edition Wildkat Royale Electric Guitar and the Masterbilt collection of acoustics. There's plenty here to pay homage to Epiphone's historic roots. But along with those comes an impressive lineup of Gibson models like the Les Paul, SG and Thunderbird: perfect choices for novice or casual guitarists looking for a way to own these classics without having to open the purse strings too wide.
It's all about finding the Epiphone that's right for you. Try one of their classic guitars on for size, or if you're a bassist, check out the options ranging from the vintage-inspired Viola Bass V5 to the modern Thunderbird IV Bass. These 4-string basses are like the icing on the cake that is Epiphone's great selection of acoustic, electric and hybrid guitars - not to mention a few other instruments like the Les Paul Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele and the MM-50E Professional Electric Mandolin. Take a look through the whole lineup and see for yourself; the perfect instrument could be waiting for you right here at Musician's Friend.
For 140 years, Epiphone has been a leading innovator in designing musical instruments. Epiphone originated the affordable, professional instrument that a musician could play for a lifetime. Whether you're a pro or just starting out, Epiphone has a guitar, bass or acoustic instrument made with you in mind. And every day Epiphone makes longtime classics like the Les Paul and the Casino as well as new models like the Ltd. E. Brendon Small Thunderhorse Explorer and the Wilshire Phant–o–matic available to players around the world and all with a lifetime guarantee.
The roots of Epiphone begin with the Stathopoulo family from Sparta, Greece, who settled in Manhattan in the early 20th century. Founder Epi Stathopoulo built a showroom as both an exhibition hall and a gathering place for the best musicians of the day, including innovator Les Paul, who built his first "Les Paul" solid body guitar at the Epiphone factory on 14th street. Throughout the ´20s, ´30s and ´40s, Epiphone patented breakthrough designs of acoustics and electric guitars, and his Masterbilt series is prized in both its vintage and modern incarnations. In 1957, the Strathopoulo family, at the urging of longtime friend Les Paul, merged with its foremost competitor, Gibson. Over the next decade, a new line of Epiphone electrics and acoustics were again embraced by artists in every genre, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Roy Orbison, The Who, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter.
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.
Today, Epiphone instruments are played on stages and in studios everywhere. Once again, the great artists of our time like Paul McCartney, Gary Clark Jr., Dwight Yoakam, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Alabama Shakes and Tommy Thayer of KISS count on Epiphone for its history, quality and innovation. Rarely is a guitar player without an Epiphone. No guitar collection is complete without one. Now with a new state–of–the–art headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, Epiphone looks to the future every day. Find your Epiphone instrument today with Musician's Friend.