Started by the Stathopoulo family in 1873, Epiphone has been involved with making mandolins for a long time and even played a key role in the craze for this instrument in the early 1900s.
Anastasios Stathopoulo really brought this company to new heights with the mandolin, while his son Epi focused more on banjo mandolins. The family eventually sold the company to Gibson in 1957, 12 years after the death of Epi. Epiphone is now located in Nashville, Tennessee, although their mandolins are manufactured in China. Despite them being made overseas, they make pretty decent gear and even back it up with a lifetime warranty.
The majority of musicians that will likely be interested in Epiphone mandolins will be intermediate level players because these are solid wood and not super cheap or super expensive enough to be considered by professionals. Many people consider buying Epiphone see it as a way of getting a Gibson for a fraction of the price since Gibson owns Epiphone.
Most Epiphone mandolins will come in a factory condition after you buy one. This basically means that the bridge is separated and you’ll need to set it up before you’ll be able to play. If you’re comfortable doing this yourself, there is a lot of information out there that can teach you how. However, it would be best done by a professional luthier so they can ensure that your instrument is set up properly to get it to play as good as it can.
The MM-30S is a very respectable A-Style mandolin that would be perfect for both beginners and more experienced musicians. It’s not a multi-thousand dollar instrument, but it isn’t a cheap $100 model either. Ultimately, a lot of first-time players want something in this range because it won’t break the bank but will give them a quality sound. This model is made with all solid woods including Okoume for the neck, Mahogany back and sides and spruce top. It holds a tune very well with the Nashville designed golden machine heads. It also has a 14 inch scale, something that you typically won’t see on most entry level A-Styles and normally have to buy a much more expensive mandolin to get it.
The MM-40L is also sometimes referred to by it’s stock number, EMMAVSNH1. This F-Style mandolin is from the Masterbilt Collection, which originates from the 30s and focuses on quality construction techniques and traditional bracing. It features all solid woods – carved spruce on top and maple for the neck, back and sides. With nickel hardware, pearloid fingerboard inlays, bone nut and Grover tuners, this model offers design and hardware that is fitting for a quality instrument. You won’t find yourself looking to immediately replace parts right after you buy this like you would on a really cheap instrument. The embellishments really have not been overdone though, which means you’re not paying hundreds of dollars extra just to have a flashy looking mando. Most of the parts included on this are functional and help to make this a higher quality instrument.