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Epiphone and Gibson Merge
After several years of mis-direction, Gibson's parent company, Chicago Musical Instruments, bought Epiphone and made it a division of Gibson. In 1958, Gibson introduced a revamped Epiphone line, made by Gibson workers in Kalamazoo, Michigan. These instruments immediately restored the respect and prestige of the Epiphone brand name.
Today, from it's headquarters based in Nashville, TN., Epiphone is the world's number one seller of fretted musical instruments. With a wide selection to choose from including acoustic, acoustic/electric, and electric guitars as well as acoustic, acoustic/electric, and electric basses, fine archtop guitars and bluegrass instruments, amplifiers and PAs, no other manufacturer offers better selection, quality, and price.
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Fender - Quality Instruments made in the USA
Initially, Fender imported their guitars from offshore manufacturers who had proven their ability to produce affordable, viable instruments. But the quest for even more control over quality soon led to the construction of Fender's flagship domestic factory in Corona, California. Eventually, Fender would build a second modern manufacturing facility in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, with the goal of being able to build quality instruments and offer them at more budget-oriented prices.
For more than four decades, Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a tremendous influence on the way the world composes, plays and listens to music. Leo Fender's work embellished the world with the sounds of music. He left many friends, and he left the world a much happier place.
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Gibson
By the time Gibson began work on its first electric guitar, the company had a 40-year tradition of quality and innovation to uphold. The first Gibson electric had to be nothing less than the best electric guitar the world had ever seen. In the spring of 1935, Gibson enlisted musician Alvino Rey to help develop a prototype pickup with engineers at the Lyon & Healy company in Chicago. Later that year, research was moved in-house, where Gibson employee Walter Fuller came up with the final design.
Today's Gibson electric guitars represent the history as well as the future of the electric guitar. The models whose designs have become classics-the ES-175, ES-335, Flying V, Explorer, Firebird, SGs and Les Pauls-are a testament to Gibson's wide appeal, spanning more than four decades of music styles. Gibson's close relationship with musicians is manifest in endorsement models from King, Atkins and jazz greats Howard Roberts and Herb Ellis, plus new Les Pauls made to the personal specifications of rock stars Jimmy Page and Joe Perry. In 1994, Gibson's Centennial year, the new Nighthawk model won an industry award for design, setting the stage for a second hundred years of Gibson quality and innovation.
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Gretsch
For more than 100 years Gretsch has developed what came to be known as "That Great Gretsch Sound," but it all began with a young German immigrant in Brooklyn. The '60s brought a further boost to Gretsch when George Harrison played a succession of Gretsch models. In the late '60s, Fred Gretsch retired and sold the company to Baldwin Manufacturing. Baldwin had difficulty understanding Gretsch's position in the market and failed to make a transition through the psychedelic '60s and hard-rock '70s. Kids inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton turned to Fender. To make matters worse, Baldwin moved production to Arkansas, and Gretsch suffered through two disastrous fires. The Baldwin marriage was always an unhappy one. With sales down and the head office increasingly disinterested, Gretsch limped through the 70s and finally shut down production in the early 80s. But ever since the company had left the family, Fred Gretsch III had vowed it would return. In 1985 his dream came true, and through the 90s he brought Gretsch back into the limelight with a series of successful re-issues and new models. In late 2002 a deal was struck for Fender Musical Instruments Corp. to handle Gretsch manufacturing and distribution, bringing that "Great Gretsch Sound" to be heard worldwide once again.