Epiphone was a family business established in 1873 as “the House of Stathopoulo” by Anastasios Stathopoulo, a greek violin maker. In 1923 they incorporated and at this time made mostly high quality and fancy banjos. Epiphone guitar history dates back to the late ’30s and early ’40s when Les Paul and fellow guitarists such as Charlie Christian and George Barnes were at the forefront of jazz guitar.
Epi Stathopoulos and Les were good friends and Epi would let Les use the Epiphone factory on 14th Street in New York City at night after hours to experiment on guitar and pickup designs. This also was the era when Les, inspired by the stinging sustain heard in electric steel guitars, began dreaming of making a solidbody guitar. He built his first, the legendary “Log,” at the factory in 1941.
Over the years, Les continued to work closely with Epiphone luthiers, reviewing new product ideas and offering suggestions.
The Epiphone brand is now owned by Gibson through The Chicago Musical Instrument company which owned Gibson at the time and purchased Epiphone in 1957.
Newer guitars may be manufactured in China at Daewon Musical Instrument Co. Established Daewon China factory in Dalian, Northern China In 2001. Alternatively, at the new factory Bohemia Musico-Delica Plant
Czech Republic which makes Epiphone for the European market.
Older guitars may be made in Korea at Un Sung Musical Instrument Co., Ltd. Established in 1987, Inchon, Korea. They also have a plant in Indonesia.
Vintage models may be made in Japan or the USA
Factory Letter Codes
The following is a comprehensive list of factories and countries for serial numbers that start with at least one letter. Others may be all numbers.
- B – Bohêmia Musico-Delicia (Czech Republic)
- BW – ____?____ (China)
- CI – Cort (Indonesia)
- DW – DaeWon (China)
- EA – QingDao (China) = Epiphone Acoustic
- ED – Dongbei (China) = In Chinese “Dongbei” means Northeast.
- EE – QingDao (China) = Epiphone Electric
- F – Fuji-gen (Japan) = Elite/Elitist models (see post below on Epiphone Japan Serial Numbers)
- F – Qingdao (China) = Les Paul Standard ’59 / ’60 / Tribute Models (see bottom of post on F-Serial Numbers Used on LP Std’59/’60 models and Tribute/Plus models)
- F/FN – Fine Guitars (Korea) = non-Japanese models
- FC – ____?____ (China 2000’s) Possibly “Global Fine Supply Ltd.”
- FC – Fuji-Gen (Japan 1990’s)
- H – _______ (China?) Found on a 1995 El Nino
- G/GG – Identified as early modern Masterbilt acoustics (Epiphone says they have no record of G serials)
- GR – Grand Reward (Farida, Guang Dong) China, Seen on some early Masterbilt acoustics
- GP – ____?____ (Korea) found on a BB King Lucille from 2001 (verified by Epiphone Customer Service)
- I – Saein (Korea)
- J – Terada Gakki Seisakusyo (Japan)
- J – Unknown. Possibly Jakarta, Indonesia – Found on a 1997 S-310
- JK – ??? Korea or Indonesia – Found on a 1999 G-310 Junior
- K – Korea Ins. (Korea)
- L – Leader Musical Instrument Co Ltd (Korea)
- MC – Muse (China)
- MR – Mirr factory, China
- N – See: FN
- O – Choice (Korea)
- P/R – Peerless (Korea)
- QG – Qingdao Gibson (China) – Interim designation used prior to “EA” & “EE”
- S – Samick (Korea)
- SI – Samick (Bogor, Indonesia)
- SJ – SaeJun (China)
- SK – ???
- SM – Samil (Korea)
- SN – ____?____ (Indonesia)
- T – Terada Gakki Seisakusyo (Japan)
- U – Unsung (Korea)
- UC – Unsung China (China)
- WF – ____?____ (China) found on an Accu Bass Junior from 2001
- X – ____ (China) – Early to mid 1990’s serial number label – Verified by Epiphone Customer Service. Seen on “Epi” brand guitars.
- Y – Korea (seen on a PR775CE)
- Z – Zaozhuang Saehan (China)
Check your model serial here: Guitar Dater Project – Epiphone