Vintage Epiphone Guitars

Electric guitars and basses manufactured by the Epiphone Guitar Company

The Epiphone plant at 210 Bush Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The Gibson Kalamazoo guitar factory. Gibson occupied a whole block; their main address was Parsons Street (top), Epiphone instruments were built side by side, but the company was officially situated on Bush Street; just the other side of the block (below).

The Epiphone company of New York, USA, was created by the Stathopoulos family, making various musical instruments with the first electric guitar in 1935. In many ways, it was just like rivals Guild and Gibson; a very highly respected guitar manufacturer, producing superb jazz boxes for the top end of the US market. Guitars like the Emperor and Broadway established a fine reputation, which still stands with vintage guitar collectors today. But tragedy occured, with the death of Epaminondas Stathopoulos; the driving force behind Epiphone at the time.

Epiphone Granada

Chicago Musical Instruments; the CMI-period

Epiphone guitar catalogues

Have a look at some vintage Epiphone guitar catalogues

But perhaps the best known guitars built by Epiphone were those manufactured at the Gibson Kalamazoo plant - the CMI period. CMI bought out a struggling Epiphone in 1957, buying tooling, parts, and even unfinished instruments. Production of hollow-bodied jazz guitars and acoustic (upright) basses began immediately. But before long Epiphone was producing new lines, unrelated to the output of previous years. Thinline semi acoustics like the Epiphone Casino, Sorrento, Riviera and Sheraton were soon joined by solid bodies like the Epiphone Wilshire, Crestwood and Coronet; all distributed to dealers that wanted Gibson-quality instruments, but did not qualify to be Gibson stockists themselves.

1967 Epiphone advert featuring a psychedelic fish playing an Epiphone Riviera

Gibson ran a whole block in Kalamazoo giving their address as Parsons Street, whilst Epiphone were officially situated on Bush Street; just the other side of the block. The instruments were made side by side, both using the same woods, construction methods, and many of the same components. Numerous Epiphone models had a direct Gibson equivalent that sold at more or less the same price; for example the Epiphone Casino and the Gibson ES330 - or the Epiphone Rivoli and the Gibson EB2 bass. Unlike today, the 1960s US-built Epiphone line was aimed at exactly the same market as the Gibson equivalent instruments.

Epiphone guitars quickly found favour in the mid-1960s music scene; bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and the Kinks all played Epiphones, along with many more. But as the decade ended, CMI gave way to Norlin, and Epiphone production went to Japan.

The Norlin period

Norlin period Epiphones were initially made in Japan; they were no longer rebranded Gibson guitars, but a new budget line aimed at younger guitarists. Although some of these guitars are interesting, they are not as widely regarded by musicans or collectors as the CMI-period instruments. Towards the very end of Norlins tenure, a few Epiphone guitars were produced at the Kalamazoo and Nashville plants: tentative issues of the Epiphone Doublecut / Spirit, but almost immediately this model was rebranded as the Gibson Spirit.

Todays Epiphone guitars are typically reissues of the 1960s Gibson and Epiphone instruments made in Kalamazoo - but being made in China and Korea these are typically very much cheaper - though generally good quality instruments.

Latest Epiphone Updates

Gibson EB2 bass guitar wiring illustrationSchematic and simplified wiring illustration for the 1960s single pickup Gibson EB2 and Epiphone Rivoli bass guitars. The original EB2 and Rivoli basses were very similar indeed, both being made side by side in Gibson's Kalamazoo plant in Michigan, USA. Differences were purely cosmetic, and electronically they were identical: a Gibson EB humbucker, one volume control, one tone control, and a baritone push button switch.
1966 Epiphone Granada E444T A closer look at a 1966 Epiphone Granada. The non-cutaway Granada was the Epiphone version of the Gibson E120T thinline hollowbody. Both were built side by side in Gibson's Kalamazoo plant, and were the least expensive hollowbodies in their respective ranges. Sales of the Epiphone version were never huge (see Epiphone Granada shipping figures, at least compared to the Gibson, even when an otherwise identical cutaway model, the E444TC, was added. No Gibson cutaway version was released.
1962 Epiphone Newport Deluxe bassDescription and photographs of a 1962 Epiphone Newport Deluxe electric bass guitar. The Newport series comprised four models, the Deluxe being the top-of-the-range two-pickup model. In reality, this bass is a Gibson EB3 with no varitone control; both are short scale, all mahogany, set-necked basses, and use the same pickups and hardware. Manufactured 1961-1963
Epiphone EA72 ConstellationPage updates for the Epiphone Constellation EA72 bass amplifier. Pictures, catalogue information, specifications and shipping figures.
1966 Epiphone E452T SorrentoPage updates for the Epiphone Sorrento 6-string thinline. New photographs of a 1966 Epiphone Sorrento thinline semi-acoustic guitar.
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Vintage Epiphone guitars for sale

Stunning Custom Ordered 1959 Epiphone E111N Special in Natural with HSC



FREE SHIPPING TO THE "LOWER 48 " !Researching this guitar has been one of the most daunting tasks we've had to date. None of it would have been possible without the incredibly generous help and expertise of Joe Vinikow of Archtopdotcom. He provided us with the model history below, and we are eternally grateful! Epiphone shipping records show that two models marked A-111N were built in 1959, the only year for the model, which we assume were both standard acoustic Emperors. We believe this ... more

1967 or 1968 Epiphone Casino Cherry Red E230TDC



A 1967 or 1968 Epiphone Casino Cherry Red E-230TDC Serial # 350072 semi-hollow electric guitar, having twin single coil pickups with chrome covers, vibrato arm and tune-o-matic adjustable bridge. Manufactured by EPIPHONE inc. KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN. Comes with the original black Excelsior hard shell case which has protected this beautiful vintage guitar since it was purchased new. I have owned this Epiphone Guitar since I was 12 years old. Set-up and restring was performed in 2010 by Mandolin ... more

1966 Epiphone Embassy Deluxe



1966 Epiphone Embassy DeluxeManufactured by Gibson in the Gibson factory. Kalamazoo, Michigan Mint, 100%, as well as original grey exterior blue interior hard case, some nickel and some chrome parts, faint two tip of headstock, very few produced, well balanced, gorgeous cherry finish, museum quality, same model that Sheryl Crow owned, no play wear, two pick ups tune-o-metic bridge. Nicest one in the world ! AT DAYTON VINTAGE GUITARS & AMPS YOUR GUITAR WILL BE PROFESSIONALLY CLEANED AND SETUP ... more

1959 Epiphone Coronet, Rare original Black finish (#EPE0236)


C $14460

1959 Epiphone Coronet, Rare original Black finish, Thick Slab body, New York pickup, Stud tail piece, Great full feeling “V” neck, One Owner, Finest example we have ever encountered, Excellent condition with original soft case, $10, 995 “We professionally clean setup & pro pack for safe transit to your door! Your business would be appreciated ”... more

1964 Epiphone Texan



Excellent consition Exact same model and year as Sir Paul McMartney The guitar is very rare with the original natural finish. Amazing teak. Wonderfully warm yellowing. The beautiful tortoise guard with raised epsilon. The guitar plays well with good action & nice original jumbo frets. The Texan has the adjustable rosewood bridge. It's in great shape with strong color. The frets & fingerboard are in nice shape. This is a popular model flattop in a rare finish. It has a nice original soft case.... more

1961 Epiphone Casino



1961 Epiphone Casino Dot NeckSounds and plays wonderfully, Excellent to near mint, original tweed case, black P-90's, 1 11 / 16ths inches at the nut, beautiful, brilliant color, Royal Tan, 100% original The Casino StoryFor the Epiphone Company of 1961, the Casino was a small breakthrough. After the merger with Gibson in 1957, Epiphone moved away from making large archtops. A new era of music had arrived. The introduction of the Casino was a modern design that announced that Epiphone’s unique... more

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