Epiphone is a musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos. Epiphone was bought by Chicago Music Company, which also owned Gibson Guitar Corporation, in 1957. Epiphone was Gibson's main rival in the archtop market. Their professional archtops, including the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway and Triumph, rivaled those of Gibson. The company's weakness in the aftermath of World War II allowed Gibson to absorb it.
The name "Epiphone" is a combination of Epaminondas Stathopoulos' nickname "Epi" and "phone" (from Greek phon-, "sound"/"voice"), as well as a play on one meaning of the word "epiphany," a sudden inspiration frequently presenting itself as supernatural in origin.
For the complete history of Epiphone see: http://www.epiphone.com/history.asp
Epiphone History Timeline
- 1863 - Anastasios Stathopoulos is born in Sparta, Greece to a local lumber merchant.
- 1873 - Anastasios builds his first instruments (according to Epiphone literature of the 1930s).
- 1877 - The Stathopoulos family moves to Smyrna in Asiatic Turkey.
- 1890 - Anastasios establishes a large instrument factory in Smyrna which provides violins, mandolins, lutes and traditional Greek lioutos.
- 1893 - Epimanondas (Epi) is born to Anastasios and his wife Marianthe. His name is inspired by a military hero from ancient Greek history.
- 1903 - Following persecution of Greek immigrants by the native Turks, the Stathopoulos family moves to New York (during the immigration process the final 's' is dropped from the family name). The family now includes sons Alex and Orpheus (Orphie), and daughter Alkminie (Minnie). Another son (Frixo) and daughter (Elly) are born in America.
- 1915 - Ansatasios dies, leaving Epi in charge, and ushering in the new era of the Epiphone company (although this brand name is still some years away). Orphie is second-in-command, while Frixo and Minnie will later become active in the company.
- 1917 - Epi begins labeling instruments with the House of Stathopoulo brand. The era of the tenor banjo is beginning, and Epi is granted his first patent for banjo construction.
- 1924 - Combining his own name with the Greek word for sound, Epi registers the Epiphone brand name.
- 1925 - Epi buys the Favoran banjo company in Long Island City (across the East River from Manhattan) and launches the Epiphone Recording line of banjos. Their ornate design and classic tone makes then an instant success.
- 1928 - Buoyed by the success of the Recording banjos, Epiphone introduces a Recording line of guitars, most of them carved tops and spruce/maple tonewoods.
- 1931 - Epiphone introduces a full line of f-hole archtop guitars (12 models in all), with the top models (the DeLuxe, Broadway and Triumph) becoming familiar Epi model names for the next 40 years.
- 1935 - As the latest blow in the long-running competition with Gibson, Epiphone launches the Emperor.
- 1937 - Epiphone unveils its innovative adjustable-pole pickup (as part of the Electar series). By this point, the company's reputation has led to endorsements from prominent players such as Tony Mottola, Dick McDonough and George Van Eps.
- 1943 - Epi dies of Leukemia, leaving brothers Orphie and Frixo in charge. Feuding between them leads Frixo to sell his stock in 1948. The company falls on hard times in the post-war years, and by the mid-50s, Epiphone is making few instruments aside from upright basses and the Harry Volpe student guitar.
- 1957 - Gibson's parent company, CMI, buys Epiphone for $20,000, originally intending to harness its upright bass operation, but ultimately reviving the Epiphone name on guitars. A full line of newly designed acoustics and electrics is unveiled in 1958, and two years later Epiphone production moves into Gibson's factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- 1961 - Country superstar Ernest Tubb equips his entire Texas Troubadours band with Epiphones, while Marshall Grant plays upright Epi bass with Johnny Cash.
- 1963 - Longtime Epiphone endorsee Al Caiola gets his own model, and plays it on his hit records of the themes from Bonanza and The Magnificent Seven.
- 1964 - George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney buy Casinos. Alongside All You Need Is Love (which features the three), McCartney uses his Casino for the solos on Ticket To Ride, while Harrison uses his for the famous runs on Hello Goodbye. McCartney also buys an Epiphone Texan, which he plays on Yesterday.
- 1970 - In the face of foreign competition, Epiphone production is moved to Japan. Through the 1970s and early '80s, the Epiphone line has little continuity, although it maintains respect as a quality import brand.
- 1983 - Epiphone production is moved to Korea.
- 1986 - Henry Juszkiewicz, David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski acquire Epiphone and Gibson. The Epi line is soon expanded to include traditional models like the Sheraton, Emperor and Howard Roberts, along with Epi versions of Gibson classics like the Les Paul, Flying V and Explorer.
- 1992 - Jim Rosenberg arrives as product manager to head up the Epiphone line, and soon expands it to offer virtually every style of guitar to the value-conscious player. The opening of a dedicated office in Seoul allows Epiphone the hands-on relationship with its product that had previously been lacking.
- 1993 - Epiphone's reputation is further enhanced by the Nashville USA Collection, limited edition models that represent the first US-made Epiphones for over 20 years.
- 1994 - Gibson's Montana division follows suit, offering a limited edition US run of the Excellente, Frontier and Texan Epiphone flat tops. The NAMM show of that year also witnessed the re-introduction of classic designs including the Casino, Riviera and Sorrento (all part of the new Korean range).
- 1996 - With Oasis at the peak of their popularity, Epiphone build lead guitarist Noel Gallagher the iconic Supernova signature model.
- 1998 - Epiphone introduce guitar and accessory "starter-packages" while this period also sees the launch of the Advanced Jumbo Series.
- 1999 - John Lennon Revolution and '65 Casinos are launched as part of Epiphone's USA Collection, alongside a pair of John Lee Hooker Sheratons. The sheer quality and flair of these signature models underlines Epiphone's growing status as a brand to be played through choice.
- 2002 - The new Elitist line is released to widespread acclaim, while veteran Gibson luthier Mike Voltz is recruited by Epiphone to focus on acoustic production and marketing. Voltz will prove instrumental in establishing the new range of Masterbilt acoustics, a series that reunites Epiphone with its past and consolidates the company's position as a leader in both the electric and acoustic fields.
- 2003 - International demand leads to the opening of a dedicated Epiphone factory in China. Staffed by US managers and luthiers, it equips the company to support the growing popularity of its instruments.
- 2005 - Epiphone is reacquainted with a big name from its past, as the Paul McCartney 1964 USA Texan is re-introduced.
- 2007 - The modern Epiphone catalogue offers greater diversity than ever, with new Elitist and signature models rubbing shoulders with faithful reissues and authentic versions of the Gibson line.