Epiphone guitars offer an unparalleled combination of quality, affordability, and a stellar reputation. That’s why it comes as no surprise that even some of the greatest musicians among several generations have consistently relied on these instruments to properly deliver their sound to their audience. So, today, we’ll be looking at five of the most famous artists who are known to play Epiphone guitars.
Five of the most famous Epiphone players include John Lennon, Noel Gallagher, Paul Simmon, Gary Clark Jr., and Joe Pass. Throughout the brand’s centuries-long history, these are some of the most influential musicians that have helped launch Epiphone guitars into commercial popularity.
If you’re interested in learning more about the brand, the unique features that its instruments boast, as well as the rich history that some of the most famous musicians share with its guitars, make sure to read on. At the end of this article, I’ll also answer some of your most frequently asked Epiphone-related questions.
Epiphone: Some Background Info
Epiphone is a brand that has been making stringed instruments for far longer than many modern guitar enthusiasts might think. It was founded in 1873 By Anastasios Stathopoulos in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey).
From its humble beginnings, the company was determined to create high-quality stringed instruments that produced a clear yet sweet sound, though, at that time, Epiphone mostly focused on lutes in violins. As business progressed, they also started working on guitars.
However, in 1928, when Epiphone was acquired by Gibson (at the time, its main competitor), its focus shifted even more drastically, and the company started working on putting out new models while still remaining reasonably priced.
Throughout its more than 100-year old history, Epiphone has released a wide array of guitars, including acoustics, electrics, and archtops. Three of the company’s most famous models include:
Though Epiphone had always been a well-respected brand with which musicians and enthusiasts were already pretty familiar, its rise to commercial success truly reached its peak when John Lennon started using Epiphone models on several of the band’s recordings.
In 2007, Epiphone was once again acquired, this time KKR & Co. Inc. itself (Gibson’s parent company). Since then, the brand has been known to release many affordable versions of Gibson’s most successful models, including SG and Les Paul.
Now that you have some more insight into the rich history of the brand, let’s explore some of the most famous artists who play (or have played) Epiphone guitars.
Check out our guide on the Best Epiphone Guitars
List of Famous Artists Who Play Epiphone Guitars
Here are some of the biggest names that have contributed to Epiphone’s success as a brand:
John Lennon is arguably the most famous Epiphone player of all time, widely known for favoring Epiphone’s Casino for many of the Beatles’ most famous recordings. Even if you were to take the “Epiphone player” criteria used for this list, Lennon would still be one of the most influential musicians of all time, so it comes as no surprise that his name is the first one to appear.
However, he wasn’t the only Beatles member that seemed to enjoy the sound and playability of Epiphone guitars, Paul and George were also known to choose some of the brand’s models from time to time.
Coincidentally, their use of Epiphone guitars became heavier during the mid-60s, right when the band was undergoing somewhat of a genre change – from pop to a sound that featured more rock n’ roll influences. That just goes to show how well-suited the brand’s instruments are to the genre.
The reason why I singled out Lennon for the purpose of this list is that he seemed particularly infatuated with Epiphone’s work, that’s why he used his trusty casino on many of the band’s most famous recordings, including “Hey Jude,” “Back in the USSR,” and “Revolution.”
He stayed loyal to that particular guitar all throughout the 60s and 70s, in fact, the instrument’s very sound became associated with Lennon himself.
If you’re a rock fan, you probably know Noel Gallagher as the former Oasis guitarist, known for his remarkable riffs and unique playing style. Throughout his career, he favored a wide array of Epiphone guitars, including the Sheraton, Casino, and Riviera.
It seems like only this particular brand was able to complement Gallagher’s one-of-a-kind style, which combines elements of pop, rock, as well as classic British invasion sounds.
Though by the time Oasis came into the scene, Epiphone guitars enjoyed a stellar reputation and respectable commercial success, Gallagher was the one who really put the brand on the map for young British rock musicians and enthusiasts.
Paul Simon is a singer and songwriter whose career has spanned over six decades. For newer music fans out there, he’s the voice behind “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Boxer.” Interestingly enough, he used an Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar to record both of these songs, which also happen to be some of his biggest hits.
Some might argue that the reason behind this success is that Simon’s rock (and, sometimes, folk-rock) sound is perfectly captured by many of Epiphone’s guitars. As a result, the brand became forever intertwined with Simon’s stellar career.
Though the folk-rock musician saw most of his success from the late 60s and beyond, a time during which Lennon had already launched Epiphone to commercial success, some might argue that Simon had just as much of an influence when it came to contributing to Epiphone’s stellar reputation.
Though Lennon enjoyed more commercial popularity, Paul Simon was (and still is) one of the most well-respected figures in the music industry, whose choices can greatly impact trends within it.
Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr. is a well-known blues guitarist whose love for Epiphone guitars has been obvious in many of his musical choices. Just like the general public, he seems to gravitate toward some of the brand’s most stellar releases – Sheraton and Casino.
Clark is known for his virtuosic playing style and his ability to flawlessly combine elements of rock, blues, and soul. Naturally, only a well-crafted instrument with a rich history can handle the difficult job of supporting such a demanding (yet beautiful) style.
Since he’s the youngest musician on this list, it’s safe to say that his use of Epiphone guitars has helped re-introduce these instruments to a new, younger crowd of artists and enthusiasts, It also goes to prove that the value of this brand and its releases stretch across many generations, and standing the test of time is the best proof of the quality and value of a product, guitars included.
In an effort to drive the above point home, let’s wrap up this list with a famed musician who was born in 1929, a mere four decades after Epiphone first opened its doors. The legendary jazz guitarist was one of the very first figures to introduce Epiphone guitars to commercial and international success.
Over the course of his career, he consistently relied on the brand’s instruments, mainly the Emperor and Sheraton models. His style was a unique blend of jazz, swing, and bebop, which Epiphones seemed to flawlessly support.
In fact, one of the models I just mentioned was crafted by the brand specifically for him. The “Joe Pass Emperor” has gone on to become one of Epiphone’s all-time favorite models for many musicians who appreciate its durable build and one-of-a-kind sound.
Luckily, the OG Joe Pass Emperor was never discontinued. Instead, it was upgraded and fitted with modern additions to comply with the modern standards of what a good-quality guitar needs to be like. So, if you’re interested in trying the model yourself, you can try to get your hands on a Joe Pass Emperor II Pro, which is the latest rendition of the instrument.
Keep in mind that while other brands like Martin of Gibson announce collaborations like this on a pretty regular basis (assuming in an effort to draw in a bigger fanbase), it’s pretty rare for Epiphone to use this marketing tactic, so this collaboration really goes to show the depth of the relationship between Pass and the brand.
It’s time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about Epiphone guitars.
What Genre Are Epiphone Guitars Best Suited For?
Epiphone guitars are best suited to genres like rock, metal, jazz, and blues thanks to their smooth, rich tone. However, these instruments are still pretty versatile, which is why many folk and country artists also gravitate toward them.
As long as your playing style and singing voice (if applicable) complement these guitars well enough, you can use any Epiphone model regardless of the genre you prefer.
Is Epiphone Considered High-End?
Some Epiphone models are considered high-end, while others fall more in the mid-price range. With that said, all of the brand’s instruments perform beautifully, offering excellent value for the price. In fact, some of their more expensive models have been compared to Gibson’s.
Are Epiphones Worth It?
Epiphones are generally worth it. They’re great guitars that offer impressive sound and quality at a reasonable price, so you can rest assured that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. Many of their more popular models can hold their own against industry giants like Gibson, Fender, and Ibanez.