Epiphone has been making musical instruments since 1873 and guitars since 1928. All of the guitar players in The Beatles were satisfied Epiphone owners, and Paul played one on the solo for Taxman. Owned by the Gibson Guitar Corporation for more than fifty years now, Epiphone guitars have been made in Qingdao since 2002. Following are excerpts from an interview with Qingdao plant manager Scott Lewis and Gibson Qingdao general manager Lloyd Williams from the Epiphone official website. Learn more about the Epiphone guitar experience on the very popular user forums on the Gibson website.
Check out a photo series on the Qingdao Epiphone factory here.
On the differences between making guitars in the US and China:
Lloyd: I would have to say that in many respects the American and Asian facilities are much more alike than not. Making a quality guitar is the same no matter where you do it. In your garage or on the factory floor, you have to use quality materials, skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. Though there are differences in some of the production processes between the USA and Asian factory, to be successful the end results must be the same, a quality built guitar that musicians want to play.
On the team in Qingdao and their work:
Scott: Currently we employ approximately 550 employees with 450 of those doing direct labor. As a team we have made some great strides that I am very proud of. Several bench marks have been reached including recently reaching our highest production month ever, an internal reduction of departmental reject’s and repairs to less than 5%, a reduction in backorders from over a year to one month and growing our production capabilities to include high end solid top acoustics and other key models such as the Casino, Les Paul Custom Signature models and others.
On making Epiphone guitars in Qingdao:
Lloyd: We are Epiphone employees, we are an Epiphone factory so therefore we take ownership of our guitars in a way that no OEM produced brand can do. We have access to proprietary manufacturing techniques from Gibson and we can be innovators in the development of new models and features which is not always in the interest of our OEM competition.
On music and guitars in China:
Lloyd: Absolutely, Rock n Roll appeals to people from many cultures and the Chinese are no different. They have embraced it with both hands and feet! China is changing at an unbelievable pace and I believe Rock n Roll is its soundtrack.
Photo Credit @ Shane Makinen