Epiphone is an American company that has been making instruments since 1873. Known as one of America’s oldest instrument makers, Epiphone now produces a variety of guitars for beginner to intermediate players.
With dealers across the world, you should have no trouble finding a dealer to purchase an Epiphone guitar.
However, as an American company, where are Epiphone guitars made? Are they made in the United States or like many large guitar companies, have they moved their manufacturing overseas? Below, you will find everything that we found out.
Who Makes Epiphone Guitars?
So let’s start by asking the question, who makes Epiphone guitars? Back in 1957, Epiphone was purchased by Gibson and Epiphone has been owned by Gibson ever since.
Because of this, Epiphone is now known as the “budget brand” of Gibson, as they tend to produce more beginner to intermediate guitars. This does not mean that Epiphone doesn’t produce great guitars. In fact, it is the complete opposite.
One of the great benefits of this brand is that they are the only company that is able to produce Gibson designs. So, as a general rule of thumb, for any Gibson guitar, there is probably a cheaper Epiphone equivalent.
As such, Epiphone produces very affordable instruments that allow consumers to purchase an alternative to the US-made Gibson instruments at a much more reasonable price.
Where Are Epiphone Guitars Made?
From humble beginnings in Turkey, moving to New York City and then periods of time in Japan, Korea, and now China, it’s safe to say that the production of Epiphone guitars has migrated throughout the years.
So where are Epiphone guitars manufactured today? Well, today, Epiphone guitars are manufactured at the Qingdao Factory in the Shandong province in China – Gibson’s Chinese-based factory. This factory mass-produces Epiphone guitars which allows the company to keep costs low and produce higher quantities of these guitars. This includes the Epiphone Masterbilt range, one of the great acoustic guitars produced by Epiphone.
In addition, Epiphone has done occasional runs of its most premium collections that were produced in the USA. And in 2021, Epiphone introduced their “Made in USA Collection” which is mostly producing more well-known Epiphone designs (not influenced by Gibson).
To determine where your Epiphone guitar was made, you can look at Epiphone’s serial numbering system to trace back the history.
History of Epiphone Guitars
Like other guitar companies, Epiphone started out with Anastasios Stathopoulos building fiddles and lutes in Turkey in 1873. At the beginning of the 1900s, Epiphone moved to New York City and began producing mandolins as well.
When Anastasios died in 1915, his son (“Epi”) took over the company and within a few years the brand was known as the “The House of Stathopoulo”.
In the 1920s, Epiphone began making banjos, followed by acoustic guitars in 1928 as the demand was increasing in the USA during this time. The company then moved from New York City to Philadelphia in 1951 and by 1957, the company was acquired by Gibson (as previously mentioned).
By the 1970s, the production of Epiphone guitars was shut down in the USA and moved to Matsumoto, Japan. However, due to rising costs in Japan, the production moved to Korea in the 1980s. And by the 1990s, the President of Gibson, David Berryman opened an office in Seoul for Epiphone.
In 2004, the demand for Epiphone guitars was so high that production moved to China into a dedicated Epiphone factory that is still operating today, the Qingdao Factory.