Epiphone was another successful guitar manufacturer during the first half of the 20th century.But after the hardships of World War II, illnesses and death in the Epiphone family, and severe labor issues at the Epiphone factory in the ’50s, the company found themselves falling behind.Gibson President Ted Mc Carty, who had previously expressed interest in buying a portion of Epiphone, ended up purchasing the entire company in 1957.
This arrangement was set up by Gibson primarily to offer comparable Epiphone guitars to the music stores that were not allowed to carry the exclusive Gibson line.
Though Epiphone was set up as an autonomous company in a separate part of the Gibson complex, parallel product lines were soon established, and Gibson was essentially competing with itself.
When the guitar boom of the ’60s slowed toward the end of that decade, every guitar manufacturer felt the pinch.
Gibson was no different, and they were struggling to keep Epiphone alive.
In 1970, Gibson decided to move all Epiphone production from the US to Japan, and since then, nearly all Epiphones have been produced in various Asian countries.
It wasn’t until 1986 when Henry Juszkiewicz, David Berryman, and Gary Zebrowksi purchased Gibson that Epiphones slowly became the budget brand of Gibson.Because Gibson generally produces expensive guitars, the company has wisely offered budget lines of instruments through the years, including the Kalamazoo, Recording King, and Cromwell brands.A question I often receive goes something like this: “I have a Gibson Epiphone guitar and I’ve heard they’re worth a lot of money!It looks like a Les Paul and has a serial number of S9312XXXX. ” I’m sure I’ve broken many hearts by informing the owner that it’s worth just a few hundred bucks, because it really isn’t a Gibson.It also became apparent to me that many people don’t really know the difference between Gibson and Epiphone, or how the two fit together.Is Gibson always considered a treasure and is an imported Epiphone always considered trash? Gibson has been building guitars since 1894 and the name is generally synonymous with a quality, valuable, and great-playing guitar.