Fender vs Epiphone Guitars: Which is Better?

Fender and Epiphone guitars are classics that have stood the test of time. Both companies created some of the best budget guitars you could ever find! But they greatly differ in music styles, build, and overall design. 

Fender guitars produce brighter tones, while Epiphone models sound warmer and darker. Because of their signature sound, Fender models are better for blues and jazz. While Epiphone guitars, with more powerful pickups, are better for rock and metal.

Fenders are also more comfortable to play because their models are lighter. But Epiphones have more detailed aesthetics and a shorter scale length.

So which one should you choose when it comes to Fender vs Epiphone? This article will cover all that and more! All to help you make an informed decision for your next guitar purchase.

History of Fender and Epiphone Guitars

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s first take a look at the history of both guitar brands! We can then see how they still fare to this day.

Fender

The history of this company started with a man named Leo Fender. He turned his radio shop into a musical instruments business. In 1954, Fender released the Stratocaster. This guitar made the company worth millions of dollars! It essentially put an iconic status to Leo in the music world.

The original Fender company was sold to CBS in 1965 for $13 million. Years later, the company started acquiring other guitar brands, including Squier. Since 1982, Fender has used the Squier brand to make more affordable variants of their guitars.

The company created this strategy to compete with Stratocaster imitations. There were so many being made that they were beginning to steal sales.

Fender Electric Guitar

Epiphone

Epiphone is another American household name in the world of musical instruments. But it had its early start in 1873. Anastasios Stathopoulos founded the Epiphone brand in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire. He later moved the business to New York City in 1908.

Anastasios’ son, Epaminondas Stathopoulos, took over the musical instruments manufacturing business in 1928. He then named the company Epiphone. A combination of his nickname Epi and the suffix phone, which means voice in Greek.

Epiphone’s main rival, Gibson, bought the company in 1957. Gibson and Epiphone were the leading brands in the arch-top guitar market. At least before the two merged in the late 1950s.

The company released the Epiphone version of the famous Les Paul in 1989. They started being known as the maker of cheaper versions of flagship Gibson models.

Epiphone Electric Guitar

Differences Between Fender vs Epiphone Guitars

Many players like to compare Fender and Epiphone guitars. This is because both brands release great instruments! Have you ever wondered which of the brands offers better products? Then these considerations might help you pick the one that will suit you best.

Sound

Fender guitars produce bright tones that are almost bell-like. These instruments were designed for clean tones and even to this day are best suited for this style. Guitars like the Fender Stratocaster are also very versatile. They offer a 5-way pickup switch for many sounds.

Epiphone guitars have a deeper and warmer tone. But they are also designed for a completely different type of sound. They are equipped with humbucker pickups more often. These are also great for high gain and distortion.

Build Quality

Fenders are known to be high-quality and durable. Their USA-made models are costly! But they include some of the best wood and hardware choices available. They are also on top of quality assurance! This is to make sure any guitar that leaves their plant is going to provide an amazing experience.

Epiphone has come a long way from being a classic brand! They release great instruments but are a more budget-friendly option. In the last few years, their guitar quality has reached a new level, even though they are so affordable.

Epiphone is known for making inexpensive variants of Gibson products. But the build quality is on par to match Fenders of the same price point. Doing minor tweaks on Epiphone guitars can also be worth the effort if you want to get the sound you want.

Check out our Fender vs Gibson comparison here!

Looks and Aesthetics

Fender and Epiphone each have their own designs and aesthetics. Especially for their signature models. Epiphone guitars are similar to Gibson models. They feature details like their carved top, binding, angled headstock, and more. Epiphones also have better inlays, and their controls are mounted directly to the body.

Fender guitars, on the other hand, are iconic in terms of design! This makes sense since its Stratocaster model is the most copied electric guitar out there. However, they tend to be less detailed than Epiphone models, which some players prefer.

Some guitarists would even attribute playing Fenders is like a routed plank of wood. This is because Fender guitars are flat and straight, similar to a board. At least when compared to the intricate design of an Epiphone.

Feel

Comparing the feel and comfort of Fender and Epiphone guitars can be tricky. Since this will largely depend on your preferences as a player. It’s best for you to try both first before you decide. Their shape, size, and general ergonomics will depend on what you prefer.

But in any case, Epiphone guitars, especially the Les Paul, tend to have flatter fretboards. Something many players prefer. They also have shorter scales than Fender models. Plus wider necks, which make them great guitars for leads and solos.

The downside of Epiphone guitars is that they tend to be heavier than Fender models. A heavy instrument can be an issue, especially for beginners who are learning how to hold a guitar. Many players also noted the sticky and thick necks of Epiphones. This can be uncomfortable for beginners trying to learn chords.

In comparison, Fender guitars, particularly the Strat, are lighter. They also have thinner necks, which can be easier to play.

Music Style

Fender and Epiphone guitars can fit a variety of music styles. However, Epiphones are normally associated with rock and metal. While Fenders are known for the genres of blues and jazz.

The single-coil pickups of Fenders aren’t powerful enough to produce the sound for heavy music. And they may even cause some background fizz. Epiphone guitars are better for those music styles. This is because they have more powerful humbucker pickups.

Price Range

Fender and Epiphone have similar price ranges, especially mid-level beginner electric guitars. However, Epiphone has a few models that start as low as $159. Fender doesn’t offer a guitar at this price range.

When comparing these two brands and their guitar offerings, we need to consider their mid-tier models. Which starts at around $800.

Some of our favorites and their prices can be seen in the chart below.

Guitar and ModelPrice
Fender Player Stratocaster$850
Epiphone 1959 Les Paul$850
Epiphone SG$900
Fender Player Telecaster$850

Fender vs Epiphone Guitars: Which One Is Better?

Why Choose Fender?

Choose a Fender guitar if you prefer bright tones and are looking to play the music styles of rock, blues, and jazz. Fenders also have a longer scale, which adds more tension to the strings.

If you prioritize comfort, Fender models are lighter. They also have thinner necks than Epiphone guitars. This will make playing chords easier. It’s also hard to get the same sound. Fender’s tone is unique and iconic, thanks to their single-coil pickup schema and wood choices.

It’s also worth noting that a Fender guitar will hold its value for years to come! Whereas most budget brands struggle to do so. This means you are more likely to get more of your money back should you decide to sell.

Check out our Fender Jaguar vs Mustang Comparison here!

Why Choose Epiphone?

Choose an Epiphone guitar if you want warmer and darker tones and are looking to play rock and metal genres. Epiphones have more powerful humbucker pickups. These are suitable for heavier styles of music but are still great for blues, jazz, and even pop.

Epiphone guitars are also more detailed in terms of looks and aesthetics. But also tend to be heavier than Fender models, but this is not a dealbreaker by any means. Lastly, Epiphone guitars have a shorter scale length! This allows you to easily bend and apply vibrato to the strings, perfect for lead playing.

Conclusion

Choosing between Fender and Epiphone guitars all boils down to your personal preference. Both brands offer quality builds. But they differ in suitable music styles, designs, and overall feel. It’s always important to make sure you are choosing the guitar that will keep you inspired to play!

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!