There is a remarkable story behind this well known name.
'Epi' is short for Epimanondas, the son of Anastasios Starathopoulo, a Greek Instrument (Lutes, Violins) maker who moved to Turkey with his family, only to be persecuted by the Turks. In 1903 the family emigrated to America, settling in Manhatten, New York.
Epi took charge of the family business aged just 22 when his father died. The company name changed to House Of Stathopoulo and the product line changed in line with the times. Mandolins were in decline
In 1925, Epi acquired the Favoran Banjo Co in Long Island. The Epiphone Recording Banjo range became famous. There was a range of banjos from the Wonder to the Deluxe.
He did the same thing in 1929 with Guitars although they did not initially share the same success as the Banjo. Competing directly with the Gibson guitars, the Epiphone models became larger and similar in style to the Gibsons, but taking on a name such as Tudor, Windsor, Broadway and DeLuxe. The range was known as Masterbilt. Gibson and Epiphone fought for market supremacy for the next decade increasing the size of their guitars and introducing electric pick ups.
Epi died of leukemia during the war and the company passed to his 2 younger brothers, Orpheus and Frixo who did not get along. The company began to lose its reputation and a move to Philadelphia to avoid unionisation compounded the problems. During the 1950s, the company floundered and part of the business (Upright Bass) was offered to Gibsons. This effectively gave Gibson control of Epiphone who produced Gibson made Epiphones restoring the quality of earlier models. Epiphone were relocated to Gibson's HQ at Kalamazoo.
In the 1960s, Epiphone acoustic guitars catered for the Folk Revival and business was good until the Japanese influx of cheaper Guitars hit the market. Epiphone moved production to Japan but the product was quite different from the Americam models. In 1983, they moved to Korea and things improved. By the 1990s, the range had increased and high-end models were produced in America. A factory was opened in China to cope with demand for its ordinary models