In the mid-1920s, a banjo-maker named Epaminondas Stathopoulo inherited a lutherie business from his father, a Greek immigrant named Anastasios. Rather than continue under the name “House of Stathpoulos,” Epaminondas (also known as “Epi”) decided to make his instruments under the name “Epiphone.” The company name was a play on Epi’s given name and the Greek word Epiphonous, which means “one sound on another”—an appropriate name for a young man trying to continue the legacy of his mandolin-making father. Under Epi’s leadership, the company quickly grew into a guitar juggernaut. Epi’s Manhattan shop became a center of New York’s music scene, and many pro players clamored for his exceptional instruments. During this time, Les Paul built the first-ever solid-body guitar—dubbed “The Log”—at night in the Epiphone factory.
Unfortunately, during World War II, Epi passed away, and a combination of family squabbles and wartime production problems damaged Epiphone past the point of recovery. In 1957, Gibson purchased Epiphone and relocated their factory to Kalamazoo, Michigan. From there, Gibson’s president, Ted McCarty, used Epiphone as a “tester” line for music shops that wanted to carry Gibson products. If they could prove profitable with Epiphones, they would be allowed carry Gibsons. Many of the Epiphones from this era are quite sought after, since they were built with the same wood and wire as many legendary Gibsons.
Eventually, Epiphone shifted production to Japan, but they didn’t become the company that we know and love today until they moved to Korea in the 80s. There, they fine-tuned their whole operation to produce instruments of exceptional quality at affordable prices. Business started booming, and Epiphone has been cranking out killer guitars and basses ever since. In the process, they’ve built themselves a stellar reputation among guitar players of all stripes. I’d wager that Zakk Wylde, Joe Pass, Kurt Cobain, and Gary Clark Jr. have very few common interests between the four of them, but they’d all be able to agree on one thing: their love for their Epiphone guitars. The Wildwood team is pleased to honor the House of Stathopoulos by showcasing our selection of Epiphones, and we hope that you find something that you love, too.