The name "Epiphone" came from proprietor and founder Anastasios Stathopoulos’ son Epaminondas Stathopoulos' nickname: "Epi" and "phone" from Greek phon-, "sound"/"voice". The company began in 1873 in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey), producing fiddles and lutes. Stathopoulo moved to Long Island City, New York in 1903 and continued to make his original instruments as well as mandolins. ‘Epi’ took over after his father’s passing in 1915 and named the company, “The House of Stathopoulo”.
The company began to make banjos after World War I and became the Epiphone Banjo Company. They produced their first guitars in 1928. They were taken over by main competitor at the time, Gibson, in 1957 in the aftermath of World War II but held onto its own line of archtop models, which remained sought after alongside their Gibson models.
Epiphone's history is dotted with legendary musicians. Guitar pioneer Les Paul, worked nights in the Epiphone factory in New York City to create "the Log", his prototype of what would eventually be called the "Les Paul." Beatles' bassist Paul McCartney chose an Epiphone Casino as his first American made guitar and John Lennon and George Harrison followed suit not long after. The Casino appeared on every Beatles album from Help through Abbey Road. Today, Epiphone can be heard on albums by Alabama Shakes, My Chemical Romance, Nirvana, Machine Head, Dwight Yoakam, The Strokes, Slash, Jeff Waters, Paul Simon, Radiohead, Lenny Kravitz, and Paul Weller.
New Epiphone technical breakthroughs such as the ProBucker™ pickup, built-in KillSwitch™ pots, the Shadow NanoFlex™ and NanoMag™ pickup systems, and premier acoustic/electric guitars with the eSonic™ preamp have brought Epiphone to a brand new generation and show no signs of them slowing down or getting stuck in any ways of an already stellar past.
Les Paul once said; "Epiphone always made a good guitar,” - strong words put lightly from one of the names most associated with the guitar in the history of the instrument.