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In 1957, Gibson purchased Epiphone and used the brand as a way to broaden their distribution network and, eventually, to expand production beyond just the US.
It's a long and entwined history, but for most modern players, Epiphone is seen first and foremost as the current low-end of the wider Gibson catalog.
To disguise this, Epiphone almost always puts a solid veneer of the body wood on the back of the instrument, which is not typical of Gibson construction.
Wood and construction differences also apply to electric archtops.
For years, it seemed like Epiphone’s sole purpose was to market cheaper Les Pauls and SGs, along with its own core hollow and semi-hollowbody models, like the Casino.
Gibson and Epiphone are two of the oldest brands in the whole history of guitar production, especially when focusing on electrics.
The two companies were competitors in the archtop market in the 1930s and during the development of the earliest electric models.
Our best bet for getting at some consistent comparison, then, is to aim for the middle of the road and look at comparable models that a potential buyer might consider side-by-side.
Here is a comparison of new models from 2018 that share essential design templates.