Hello, good people! It has been a while, hasn’t it?
I believe it is high time we take a look at another really cool guitar.
What I’ve got for you today is my Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500 MVS.
First, a very brief history about Epiphone, 140 years in the making.
Working in the instrument repair business, I have noticed that some refer to the Epiphone brand mockingly–calling it “Epi-phony”. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Epiphone is one of America’s oldest instrument makers dating all the way back to 1873. That’s just 40 years younger than the Martin Guitar Co.
Epiphone started by making mandolins–one of the most popular instruments at the time. By the 1920s, they had expanded into making banjos as well. In 1928, they began making acoustic guitars in order to compete with who they viewed as their biggest rival. That rival would be none other than a little guitar company known as Gibson.
Throughout the 20s and 30s, Epiphone and Gibson maintained a vicious rivalry, continually trying to one up the other. Gibson had the L-5 Archtops. Epiphone had the Recording Series Archtops. Gibson introduced the Super 400. Epiphone introduced the Emperor. You get the idea.
After World War 2 however, Epiphone experienced a number of setbacks. In 1945, Epi–the son of the founder and President of the company–died of leukemia. This left the company in the hands of his two sons, who did not get along. The other problem was that while Epiphone was a favorite with consumers prior to WWII, after the war they did not retain the celebrity following that Gibson enjoyed.
Then in the 1950’s, with the introduction of the solid body electric guitar such as Fender’s Telecaster and Gibson’s Les Paul, the Epiphone company declined further. In 1957, the Gibson company, partially under the advice of Les Paul, bought Epiphone to tune of $20,000.
Instead of integrating the Epiphone the line into the Gibson brand, Gibson decided to revive Epiphone with a new line of instruments. This was in part a business ploy to help market Gibson’s to dealers who had not quite proven themselves enough to sell Gibsons.
Since this decision, Epiphone has existed as a thriving, separate entity from Gibson, despite being under the same umbrella. This is how we got to the Epiphones today, that are mainly being built in Korea and Japan.
Now a little more about my Epiphone.
This guitar features a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. The VS in the model number stands for the vintage sunburst finish. This is one of my favorite guitars to play. It has a wonderful round sound that has played some Gibsons under the table. Also, the body style is similar to a Gibson J45. The sloped shoulders makes a very comfortable playing guitar.
Epiphone has a fascinating history and makes some pretty awesome guitars if you ask me. If you want to delve more into the history of Epiphone, visit epiphone.com, which is where I brushed up on my Epiphone history before writing this blog.
Finally the pictures!