Turning on the world to the fastest way to learn guitar

Epiphone's critically acclaimed PRO-1 Collection was first introduced only three years ago but has already been recognized around the world as the easiest and fastest way to learn guitar. Throughout 2017 as Epiphone celebrates its 60th anniversary as a vital part of the Gibson Family of Brands, the entire PRO-1 Collection of acoustic and electric instruments are about to break out all over again in a big way.

This year, Epiphone and national nonprofit Little Kids Rock® will work together in a special initiative to bring 10,000 new Epiphone PRO-1 guitars to public school music programs around the United States. And Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Wilson of Heart will lend her support as an official artist ambassador.

"I'm so proud to support the work that Epiphone and Little Kids Rock are doing to ensure our children have access to the music education they deserve," said Wilson. "This year alone they will provide over 10,000 guitars to support music education in public schools across the country."

Nancy helped kick off the historic initiative earlier this year by inviting the Modern Band students from the Equitas Academy Middle School in Los Angeles for a tour of the Epiphone/Gibson Showroom in Beverly Hills. After being treated to a student performance of "Magic Man" and "Alone," Wilson spoke to the students about her career, offered music tips, and then surprised them with a donation of brand new Epiphone guitars for their school. Epiphone's critically acclaimed PRO-1 Classic acoustic guitar will be the featured instrument of the initiative with exclusive instruments to be announced throughout the year.

The PRO-1 series began with the simple premise of understanding why new players lose their confidence so quickly while learning guitar. Epiphone also spoke with our signature artists and luthiers about the kinds of custom features they want in their day-to-day instruments on stage and in the studio. Those discussions helped inspire the many innovations that went into the PRO-1 Acoustic Collection and the PRO-1 Electric Collection featuring the Les Paul Jr. and the Explorer.

PRO-1 instruments combine a century of Epiphone and Gibson know-how about tonewoods, construction, and what makes a great guitar--into the kind of guitar you'll go-to again and again for pleasure and performance. They are truly instruments that are for pros and pros-at-heart.

21st Century Epiphone Innovation

All PRO-1 instruments feature classic tonewoods such as Mahogany, Cedar, and Spruce. And all PRO-1 instruments come with the PRO-1s trademark innovations that even new players will notice right away like an EZ-Profile™ Neck Profile that won't hurt your hands, JumboPRO™ Frets so the strings are easy to press down while learning chords, PRO-Ease™ Lubricant for a smooth "feel" when learning to pick and bend strings, and Epiphone Ultra Light Strings.

But there are other features on PRO-1 instruments that new players might not notice right away that are key to both the sound of the PRO-1s as well as their maintenance. Every Classical, Dreadnaught, and Electric PRO-1 instrument comes with a Dual-Action Truss Rod for superb intonation and tension, a GraphTech® Nut for better resonance and tone between the bridge and the body, a glued-in neck joint so the instrument sings out as a single piece of wood, and Custom PRO-Prietary™ Bracing beneath the top so the instrument has both volume and subtlety.

Building A PRO-1 With over two dozen features originally proposed--and eventually produced--for the PRO-1 series, creating a guitar that would be universally easy-to-play but still built to last would have been a tall order for any manufacturer. But the House of Stathopoulo's luthiers had confidence in the endeavor from the beginning.

"For us on the engineering side, we immediately saw that this could work," recalled Richard Akers (pictured above right) of Epiphone R&D. "Some of the features required some unique thinking. Any of them on their own would have been a notable improvement on a guitar. But when you add them all up, you really have a story to tell. Every year, we've brought new innovations to our line of instruments--better hardware, better pickups, better machine heads. So the PRO-1 was a logical next step."

Scott Harrison (pictured above left), another longtime member of the Epiphone R&D team, also brought a unique perspective to the creation of the PRO-1 Collection. For the last decade, Scott has worked closely with Epiphone President Jim Rosenberg and Gibson President Dave Berryman to build up the company's historic collection of acoustic flattop and archtop guitars including the Masterbilt Century Archtops.

"One aspect of the PRO-1 series that required a bit of extra thought was the development of the EZ-String™ Bridge," said Harrison. "We went through several iterations of it before we settled on one that we felt accomplished our objectives of providing the consumer with easy maintenance and classic looks as well as reliability in production."

"As engineers, naturally, we enjoyed discussing the various bracing options available for improving the PRO-1 guitars," continued Akers. "We very quickly came up with a solution that accentuated the tone of the guitar without deviating uncomfortably far from our tradition, which was what we were trying to achieve. Our Custom PRO-Prietary™ Bracing is based on a traditional X brace but we opened it up a bit. The bracing around the sound hole uses taller bracing than what is typically used in an effort to unify the vibrating plane on the surface of the guitar."

Rebuilding the Guitar from the Ground Up

In many ways, Epiphone's resurgence during the last two decades helped inspire the creation of the PRO-1 Collection. As Gibson President Dave Berryman recalled to Epiphone.com, when he and Henry Juszkiewicz took over the company and once again made Gibson and Epiphone family-owned for the first time since the Stathopoulo brothers' era, they had to learn the business of building a great guitar from the ground up.

"We needed to separate our product from the competition," recalled Berryman. "Well, how do you do that? We got into--literally--every component that went into our instruments. We wanted to develop proprietary hardware, pickups, plastic parts, potentiometers--every component that went into the instrument; we wanted to make it better. And once we made it better, we wanted it to be used exclusively on Epiphone products. In doing that, we got involved in reaching back and researching Epiphone's history and all the innovations that Epiphone was instrumental in developing over the years."

Now with almost 30 years of experience of building instruments in the modern world, making an instrument that was truly easy to play but still professional was a logical next step. And from the earliest factory samples, the R&D team was thrilled with the results and possibilities.

"It was immediately clear to us that these PRO-1 guitars were real instruments," said Akers. "We were able to get there pretty quick. We came up with something that we were very pleased with tonally and certainly for the price, you get an excellent guitar that sounds great, is built to last, and is also easy to use in every way possible."

Visit the PRO-1 Collection

Visit the PRO-1 site to check out all of the PRO-1 Acoustic and Electric instruments including features, instructional videos, and detailed photos. And visit our feature about Epiphone’s new initiative with Little Kids Rock as well as the Little Kids Rock homepage for more info on upcoming events around the U.S. And discover all of the PRO-1 instruments for yourself at your favorite Authorized Epiphone Dealer today.