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

Epiphone Olympic Vintage 1963 Electric Guitar Melody Maker

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, 87505, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1099

Epiphone Olympic Vintage 1963 Electric Guitar Made in USASame as Gibson Melody Maker of the same year only with way cooler original tortoise pickguardGood vintage condition with common signs of age and use Finish checking, dings, nicks and normal handling / playing marks Straight neck with functional truss rodAverage fret wear, mostly on the first fewResonant and very lightSerial number 146061I see no cracks or signs of repairs Appears original. Plays and sounds goodIncludes Line 6 gig bag ... more

1967 Epiphone Texan

FRANKLIN, OHIO, 45005, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$5489

1967 EPIPHONE TEXAN Very good condition, the guitar is very rare with the original natural finish, amazing teak, wonderfully warm yellowing, beautiful original tortoise guard, the guitar plays well with good action & nice original jumbo frets, the guitar has the original adjustable rosewood bridge, pro repaired top crack, up graded Grover tuners, it's in very good shape with strong color, the frets & fingerboard are in nice shape, this is a popular model flattop in a rare finish, it has a non ... more

Epiphone Vintage Elite 1965 Electric Guitar.

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA, 33432, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1305

Epiphone Casino 1965 Elite. Excellent condition. Manufactured in May of 2003 in Japan. During 2003 Epiphone was forced to change the name from Elite to Elitist which makes this casino rare and very collectible. Grover tuners with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck is one piece mahogany, 22 fret with the neck joint at the 19th fret. The top, back and sides are 5 ply maple finished vintage natural sunburst. Both pickups are American made P90's. One owner and used very sparingly. One small flaw on ... more

Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Night Hawk

WHITLEY CITY, KENTUCKY, 42653, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$350

This is vintage Gibson epiphone Nighthawk very nice instrument. Plays great comes with hardshell case.... more

1960s Gibson Epiphone Reflector Top Hat Knob fr Tal Farlow & Amplifiers No Label

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 84105, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$49

1960s Gibson & Epiphone Reflector Knob Rare non-labeled version of the Gibson / Epiphone Kalamazoo "Top Hat" reflector knob as found on guitars like the Tal Farlow and several tube amplifiers under both the Epiphone and Gibson brands. The clear portions of plastic have yellowed with age. No breaks, mods, or repairs. Not a reproduction- this is a real used 1960s Gibson Kalamazoo item! Shipping Note: We insist that parts valued over $20 are shipped with First Class insurance in order to protect ... more

Epiphone Les Paul B2 Vintage

COLUMBIA, PENNSYLVANIA, 17512, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$750

It this is a1984 86 les paul b2 by epiphone. Its a rare bird . Ive seen one before and it went at auction for 1500 . Im asking half that because im not sure if the one pick up is original or not . Also the headstock string clap down is missing . But csn easily be gotten thru headless guitar uk website . ... more

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