1945 Epiphone Blackstone archtop guitar, made in New York
The history of Epiphone started in 1873, in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now İzmir, Turkey), where Greek founder Anastasios Stathopoulos made his own fiddles and lutes (oud, laouto). Stathopoulos moved to the United States of America in 1903, and continued to make his original instruments, as well as mandolins, from Long Island City in Queens, New York. Anastasios died in 1915, and his son, Epaminondas, took over. After two years, the company was known as The House Of Stathopoulos. Just after the end of World War I, the company started to make banjos. The company produced its Recording Line of Banjos in 1924, and, four years later, took on the name of the "Epiphone Banjo Company". They produced their first guitars in 1928. Epi Stathopoulos died in 1943. Control of the company went to his brothers, Orphie and Frixo. Unfortunately, they were not as capable owners as Epi. In 1951, a four month long strike forced a relocation of Epiphone from New York to Philadelphia. The company was bought out by their main rival, Gibson in 1957. It is extremely important to understand that all Epiphone instruments made between 1957 and 1969 were made in the Gibson factory at 225 Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. These 1959–1969 Epiphone instruments were, effectively, identical to the relevant Gibson versions, and made with same timber, materials and components. These guitars were made by the same people, in the same place, and with the same materials and components as the contemporary equivallent Gibson guitars were. They even shared the same Gibson serial-number sequence! To note some of the specific examples of Gibson-made Epiphone instruments from this period: the Epiphone Casino was identical to the Gibson ES-330; the Epiphone Cortez was identical to the Gibson B-25; the Epiphone Olympic Special was technically identical to the Gibson Melody Maker; the Epiphone Sorrento was identical to the Gibson ES-125TC (except for a few cosmetic improvements!), and the Epiphone Texan was (apart from a change in scale-length) an identical guitar to the Gibson J-45. All of the other Gibson/Kalamazoo-made Epiphones had some clear technical or cosmetic relationship with the relevant Gibson version. This wealth of information can, admittedly, be quite confusing so I direct any interested readers to "Gruhn's Guide To Vintage Guitars" (Gruhn-Carter, Miller-Freeman Press). Most of the specific information that you will need can be found here. Gibson eventually realized the folly in having two identical brands and, therefore, by 1970, Gibson commenced using the Epiphone brand as a budget-line and started having them made, initially, in Japan. Some confusion arises here because the first year or so of Japanese acoustic guitar production utilizes a label that denotes the address "Kalamzoo, MI". At no point does this label say "Made In USA" but some confusion, especially on internet auction websites, still arises. It is equally important to understand that the overwhelming majority of Epiphone-branded instruments made since 1969 are, in essence, exploitation instruments are and are basically facsimilies of either Gibson (most commonly) or Epiphone guitars of the past. The vast majority of these facsimilies are very decent, budget-versions of the iconic instruments that they replicate and are, in may cases, exactly what a student guitarists needs, but they must not, in any way whatsoever, in terms of materials, components and intrinsic quality, be mistaken for the real item. In the hands of a good player the guitars may sound indistinguishable, but that doesn't grant them inherent equality. Casino
Main article: Epiphone Casino
The most famous Epiphone model introduced by Gibson after taking over was the Casino. The Casino was made in the same shape and configuration as a Gibson ES-330 guitar. It has a very heavy sound and is a very good rhythm guitar due to its fairly thick sound when...