Where Are Epiphone Guitars Made?

Epiphone is known for its affordable prices of guitars all over the world. Founded in 1873, Epiphone has been making high-quality guitars for many years.

But, where are Epiphone guitars made? Some people say they are made in America, while others insist that they are manufactured in China. So, what’s the truth?

Over the years, Epiphone has been based in a number of different countries, including the United States, Korea, Indonesia, and Japan. Today, Epiphone’s primary factory is located in Qingdao, China, in the province of Shandong. Epiphone has been manufacturing most of its guitars in China since 2004.

In this article, we are going to explore the company behind Epiphone guitars, where they have been making them and the quality you can expect.

where are epiphone guitars made

Who Makes Epiphone Guitars?

Gibson currently owns and manufactures Epiphone guitars. Epiphone guitars are typically lower-priced alternatives to Gibson models of the same style. After the Gibson acquisition in 1957, Epiphone’s factories have been moved around multiple times in an attempt to produce guitars for less money.

Epiphone’s famous Les Paul, Explorer, Flying V, and SG guitars are replicas of designs that are still also made by Gibson today. These alternatives have become so good that various high-end Epiphone models can outperform lower-end Gibson guitars in terms of overall quality.

​​Epiphone is the only company in the world that can manufacture and sell guitars under the Gibson name. This gives them a monopoly in the market for high-quality, officially-licensed Gibson guitar replicas.

For people looking for great guitars without spending too much money, Epiphone is a great option for you.

Brief History Of Epiphone

The company was originally founded in 1873 by a musical instrument builder names Anastasios Stathopoulos from Smyrna. After moving to New York in 1903, Anastasios’s son Epaminondas took over the company a few years later.

In 1928, he changed the name of the company to Epiphone, which is partly his nickname, and the Greek word “phone” which means “voice”. The company began making guitars during this time, which were of great quality.

The company was small compared to competitors like Gibson or Fender until the Beatles began using their guitars. This put Epiphone on televisions, stages, and in pictures, propelling the brand skyward.

In 1957, Gibson purchased Epiphone as they were one of their biggest rivals for archtop guitars. 

Since then, Epiphone guitars have been made in many places. Today, the majority of them are made in China. Here is a video tour of the factory where your favorite Epiphone guitars are made.

China Made Epiphone Guitars: Inexpensive Gibson Replicas 

Let’s take a look at some of Epiphones’ most popular models that are inspired by Gibson’s Guitars and discuss what makes them stand out from the competition.

Want to learn how to read Epiphone factory codes?

Epiphone Flying V

Epiphone Flying V is built in China with low-cost labor in order to lower the overall price. But that does not mean it’s a poor-quality product. This guitar comes with a wide range of sounds which makes it perfect for any style of music.

This iconic guitar has been expertly recreated by Epiphone, with a focus on vintage accuracy. The ProBucker™ Humbuckers create an amazingly authentic tone, making this guitar perfect for any fan of the original Flying V.

Its rolled neck provides a comfortable and familiar feel, just like the original Gibson model that it’s based on. Additionally, the Epiphone Flying V features era-appropriate wiring that is sure to keep your tone sounding great for years to come.

You can play solos and chords with ease on an Epiphone Flying V, thanks to its well-balanced tone.

Ever wonder where Fender guitars are made? Click here!

SG Modern Figured

The SG Modern Figured guitar has a Mahogany and maple cap with AAA Figured Maple Veneer. The electronics on the SG Modern Figured give you a huge range of tones to choose from, thanks to the pair of Epiphone ProBucker pickups and coil-splitting and phase switching.

The SG Modern Figured has an Ebony fingerboard and a slim taper neck with contoured heels for a comfortable playing experience. It also has a world-class Graph Tech NuBone™ nut that will keep your strings in tune no matter what you’re doing or where the song takes a detour.

1961 Les Paul SG Standard

This electric guitar is a remodeled replica of the 1961 version of Les Paul SG Standard, one of the most favorite designs ever. Its Les Paul shape gives a feel of a rock star while playing any song.

Les Paul SG Standard pays tribute to the original with its classic design and construction. In 1961, the Les Paul model was discontinued and replaced with an all-new design, which is now more commonly known as the SG or solid guitar.

Inspirational Epiphone tuner design with historical accuracy, double-ring included that makes it easy to get in tune and stay there. Those looking to add a touch of flair can choose between Cherry or Classic White finishes.

Find out where Gretsch guitars are made here!

Why Most Epiphone Guitars are Made in Qingdao, China?

As we have discussed, Epiphone is an affordable alternative to the more famous Gibson company. In order to keep its prices down, it outsources the production of many of its guitars to Qingdao, China. 

This is because labor costs are significantly lower in China than in other countries. By producing its guitars in China, Epiphone is able to keep its prices affordable for their customers.

Epiphone has had a long connection to guitar production in China. The company has been working with Chinese manufacturers for years, allowing them to produce high-quality guitars at very competitive prices. This extensive history and positive relationship are what allow Epiphone to continue meeting the needs of guitarists around the world.

The affordable yet high-quality Epiphone guitars have been a favorite of musicians since 1873. They also offer a range of affordable acoustic and bass guitars with best-in-class craftsmanship and sound.

Conclusion

Epiphone guitars have been made all over the world, including in the United States, Korea, Indonesia, and Japan, but most models today come from the factory in China. While there have been some quality control issues in the past, Chinese-made Epiphones are generally good replicas of iconic Gibson guitars at a fraction of the price.

Epiphone’s confidence in its craft is reflected in the wide range of guitars they offer for every budget and style. If you’re exploring for a budget-friendly guitar with an amazing tone, an Epiphone is a solid choice.

FAQs

What years were Epiphones made in Japan?

In the 1970s, the Matsumoku company started to manufacture the Epiphone guitars in Japan. The production and distribution were handled by Aria with collaboration from Gibson. Later, Epiphone started to produce less expensive models that did not have any traditional designs.

Are any Epiphone guitars made in the USA?

Yes, there are three iconic Epiphone original instruments that are made in the USA today. These are the Epiphone Casino, Texas, and Frontier models. Unlike the lower-cost guitars, these are original Epiphone shapes and models.

They are not Gibson designs because at this price, a player will just buy the real thing.

Why did Epiphone move to China?

Due to the high demand for Epiphones, the company decided to open a new factory in China, which is their first since 1957. This move allowed Epiphone to keep up with the growing demand for their guitars.

Photo of author

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!