10 famous musicians who play Epiphone guitars

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10 famous musicians who play Epiphone guitars

Epiphone guitar players
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Epiphone guitars and basses have found their way into the hands of some super famous musicians.

Epiphone have always offered more accessible options, making them accessible to musicians of all levels of skill and experience. Because of this, Epiphone guitars and basses have found their way into the hands of tastemakers and those pushing the envelope, whether it be their basses, acoustic guitars or a huge array of electric guitars.

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James Bay – 1966 Epiphone Century

James Bay has rocketed to stardom in the last few years, his album Chaos and the Calm featured singles “Hold Back the River” and “Let It Go” that received worldwide acclaim. On stages across the planet, James can often be seen with his 1966 Epiphone Century, its transparent red finish showing the wood grain, the gloss dulled to a worn matte.

The Epiphone Century is a hollow-body electric guitar with a single P90 pickup in the neck position – a unique setup for electrics. It has a wooden bridge, adding to the warm, woody tone, with limited intonation options beyond sliding the bridge back and forth.

The guitar was purchased for James after he played it in a New York guitar store, and told his record label that one way or another he’d be back in the shop to buy it. A few weeks later, the guitar arrived in a dusty box as a gift from his label.

James’ Century has been re-issued as the Epiphone Inspired by ‘66 Century.

Noel Gallagher – Epiphone Riviera, Epiphone Sheraton, Epiphone EJ200

One to wear his heart on his sleeve, Noel Gallagher has spoken at length about his choice of Epiphone guitars having been heavily influenced by The Beatles. Noel’s Wine Red Riviera was used in the music videos for “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Champagne Supernova”, and recently, Epiphone released the Noel Gallagher Riviera.

Noel’s penchant for Epiphones spans their semi-hollow and hollow body ranges, having played a Casino like his heroes McCartney and Lennon, as well as the (in)famous Union Jack Sheraton, made in Nashville, USA before being refinished.

Gallagher also played an Epiphone Les Paul in the “Supersonic” video, and his Epiphone EJ-200 Jumbo acoustic appeared live on MTV.

The Beatles – Epiphone Casino

On the subject of The Beatles influence, it’s difficult to move past Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison’s use of Epiphones in both the studio and on stage.

The Beatles Epiphone

The Epiphone Casino is not dissimilar to a Gibson ES-330 – a hollow body (i.e. no centre block, and an entirely hollow and chambered body). McCartney bought a ‘62 Casino in 1964 before Lennon and Harrison followed suit.

The Casino is a good blend of the best acoustic qualities, while lacking the physical depth to produce too much feedback.

John Lennon famously stripped the finish from his Casino in an attempt to improve the natural tone of the guitar.

Matt Heafy – Epiphone Les Paul Custom Origins

While beginning his career on a Gibson Les Paul Custom, and a little deviation to a Dean ML for Shogun, Matt Heafy is well known as an Epiphone Les Paul Custom player.

Matt Heafy Epiphone

Most recently he’s been playing his Epiphone Les Paul Custom Origins, usually with a Richter double strap. The Origins Les Paul range is available in Ebony and Bone White, in either 6 or 7-string versions. Proudly sporting them on stage, Heafy wanted to ensure they were available at an accessible price, so fans could play the same guitar he plays in the studio and on stage.

Björn Gelotte – Epiphone “Jotun” Les Paul Custom

On the subject of Epiphone guitars in metal, Swedish metal-pioneers In Flames are anchored by lead guitarist Björn Gelotte who plays an Epiphone Les Paul Custom on stage.

After multiple refrets, Björn decided to retire his Gibson Les Paul Custom and hasn’t looked back. Björn has had Epiphone signature models available at different times, having turned down a Gibson signature model as “most people who listen to our music won’t pay $4,000 for a guitar.”

Nick Valensi – Epiphone Nick Valensi Riviera P-94

Nick Valensi of The Strokes fame has also famously played Epiphone. His signature model, the Epiphone Nick Valensi Riviera P94 had unique P94 pickups, which are traditional P90, single-coil wound pickups in a traditional humbucker size.

Strokes Epiphone

Valensi has also played a 12-string electric, a Riviera, while his 1995 Epiphone Riviera was lost and recovered, though found in a bad way, with no strings attached and severe water damage.

Tom DeLonge – Epiphone ES-333

Tom DeLonge’s heavily customised Gibson 335 was honoured in his ES-333 signature model. The ES-333 is a single humbucker-equipped semi-hollow electric guitar with a single master volume.

The Epiphone ES-333 is laminated maple archtop design with a Dirty Finger humbucker and Slim Taper “D” neck shape, melding modern neck shapes and playability with classic Epiphone stylings.

Elliot Smith – Epiphone Crestwood Custom

Elliot Smith, while a superstar artist in his own right, started his career fronting Heatmiser with his trusty Epiphone Crestwood Custom. Elliot’s Crestwood Custom (as opposed to the original Crestwood) was a 60s model, with a few aesthetic additions tipping us off.

Elliot Smith Epiphone Crestwood

The Crestwood Custom was recently re-issued by Epiphone, featuring the same unique oval inlays and pickguard as Smith’s.

Jack Casady – Epiphone Jack Casady

Jack Casady was a member of both Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, his unique bass tone holding down the bands. His own signature model, the aptly named Jack Casady, is a bass version of the Les Paul Signature, an archtop, offset variant released for NAMM in the mid 70s.

Jack Casady Epiphone

Jack Casady’s bass features a single, “JCB-1” Low-Impedance Humbucker, tuned to Casady’s exacting specs, simple controls and a 3-Position VariTone impedance switch.

Lee Malia – Epiphone Artisan Les Paul Custom, Epiphone Artisan RD, Epiphone Artisan Explorer

Lee Malia plays guitar for metal giants Bring Me The Horizon. As their sound has evolved from the early days of deathcore through to stadium rock, so has Lee’s penchant for versatile guitars that need to be able to reproduce the band’s entire catalogue.

Lee has played several Epiphone guitars live, including a Les Paul Custom, RD and Explorer, all paying homage to the famed Artisan collection that hails from the 70s.

Lee Malia Epiphone

Lee Malia’s Epiphones featured the same beautiful floral inlays of the originals, finished in Walnut to complete the look.

For local enquiries, visit Australis Music.