Epiphone had its beginnings in 1873 in Smyrna, in the Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey). It's Greek founder, Anastasios Stathopoulos, was a maker of fiddles and lutes. When Anastasios moved to the United States in 1903, he also began making mandolins from his factory in New York. Following his death in 1915, his son, Epaminondas (known as "Epi") took over the company.

In 1924 the company produced a line of recording banjos, and in 1928 became known as the Epiphone Banjo Company. Perhaps ironically, the brand began producing guitars that same year, and for decades was the primary competitor of Gibson in the archtop guitar market. So much was the level of competition that Gibson bought their rival in 1957.

Since then Epiphone has produced a range of guitars modelled off of its parent company, as well its own lines of archtop and bass guitars.