The history of Epiphone electric guitars is a fascinating story of the birth of a great guitar brand. Through many ups and downs and many years, Epiphone has emerged as one of the most respected guitar manufacturers in the business.
The story of Epiphone electric guitars begins over 130 years ago with Anastasios Stathopoulo, the son of a Greek timber merchant. Instead of following in his father's footsteps, as was typical at the time, Anastasios chose to make his living crafting lutes, violins and the Greek lioutos. Anastasios proved to be very talented and by 1890 had gained a reputation that allowed him to open an instrument factory and also start a family. In 1893 his first son, Epimanondas, was born. "Epi" as he was called was followed by two brothers and a sister, Alex, Minnie and Orpheus.
Anastasios had moved to Turkey to build his business but the Turks were not fond of Greek immigrants and persecuted them mercilously. By 1903 Anastasios had had enough and moved his family to Manhattan. His sons Epi and Orpheus(called "Orphie" soon began helping Anastasios in his shop and learned the business well. Anastasios had arrived in New York at the height of the mandolin craze and his instruments dovetailed nicely. The business flourished, allowing the children to enjoy a privileged upbringing and a good education.
Everything changed in 1915, when Anastasios died of breast cancer. Epi, at the age of 22, took charge of the business. Epi was as adept at the business as his father had been but even more crucial to the future of the business, recognized the importance of changing with the times. By 1917, the mandolin craze was beginning to wane but banjos were beginning to gain in popularity along with jazz. Scenting the winds of change, Epi changed the name of the business to "House Of Stathopoulo" and introduced a line of banjos. In addition, foreshadowing the future, Epi not only introduced his own design but also patented his own rim and tone ring construction.
Epiphone electric guitars had yet to be born but Epi's company was flourishing. In 1923, Epi appointed himself both president and general manager. In keeping with shift in the company's focus, Epi wanted a new name to reflect the changes. He combined the Greek term for sound, phone, with his own name and Epiphone was born. Epiphone was very successful, producing a number of extremely popular banjo models and gaining the endorsement of many famous players. As a result, the company was renamed as the Epiphone Banjo Company.