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1951 Epiphone Emperor Regent
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Serial #: 63138
Body size at lower bout: 18 1/2" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .90/1.04
Materials: Highly figured solid flame maple back, neck and sides; solid carved quartersawn bookmatched spruce top; 9-piece maple-walnut neck; 9-ply body binding; triple-bound heel cap, neck binding, f-holes and head stock; solid ebony fingerboard with "split-block" mother of pearl and abalone inlay; ornate pearl tree-of-life peghead inlay.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece, epsilon-logo 16X1 tuners, hex-key truss rod. Adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge, vintage correct multi-bound tortoise pickguard. Gold DeArmond reissue Model 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup, with volume control and 1/4" jack.
Notes: The glory of the Epiphone line, the Emperor was introduced in 1935 as the largest and most costly instrument the company ever made. Epiphone produced several prototype cutaway examples as early as 1941, but for reasons unknown, dawdled until 1949 to add them to the regular catalog, a full decade after Gibson started offering the cutaway Super 400.
The Emperor Cutaway (or "Regent") model, had a run of just five years until the last known example was crafted in 1954. As a consequence, the Emperor Regent remains one of the rarest and most desirable guitars of the classic era. With its massive 18 1/2" lower bout, this mammoth guitar was the largest production archtop of its time. Though bigger even than the mighty Super 400, the Emperor is paradoxically more comfortable to hold, as the upper bout is a full inch smaller than its Gibson counterpart. In addition, the extended Emperor cutaway offers several frets more access in the uppermost register than the S-400.
Premium priced over sunburst examples, the cutaway Emperor in natural finish was the most expensive offering in the Epi catalog. Not to mention the most spectacular, as the most vividly figured tonewood was generally reserved for the blonde guitars, which showcase it to greatest advantage. And this magnificent instrument is no exception, with its rich, warmly ambered nitro lacquer finish. The back, sides and neck are carved of gorgeous flame maple, and lavished with a full nine plies of binding. (The neck itself is nine ply as well, unusually ornate even for this top-line model.) And finally, this striking guitar is from the last year for the graceful prewar peghead, with its ornate tree-of-life inlay unencumbered by a truss rod cover, and its hex-key rod mounted at the end of the fingerboard.
Carefully maintained, the guitar shows no apparent cracks or structural repairs, and remains equipped with its original gold hardware, including the epsilon-logo 16:1 tuners, and Pat. Pend Frequensator tailpiece. Apart from some light thumbwear and some scattered lacquer dings on the top, the instrument shows remarkably little wear for its long playing career. Now fitted with a handsome recent multi-bound tortoise pickguard, it appears the guitar may have once been equipped with a larger pickguard, as a pair of additional filled mounting holes would suggest.
The extravagant multi-ply binding is original and tight to the body as well, with a pair of small shims added to the neck binding at the nut. The traditional C profile neck has a solid, gentle feel, with smooth low action over a fresh, high-precision setup. Completing the package is the classic bop tone of the DeArmond reissue Model 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup, with its volume control and 1/4" jack both mounted to the pickguard.
The soundboard is hand-graduated from solid quarter-sawn bookmatched spruce, and has the massive acoustic projection, warm lower register, and clear, brilliant highs of tonewood now aged over seven decades. Make no mistake, this guitar simply thunders, with exceptional headroom and dynamic range, and cutting power to slice through the brassiest horn section.
An instrument of exceptional rarity, performance, and appeal, this remarkable find is a outstanding opportunity for the player and collector alike. It's been a full five years since we had the pleasure to present our last one, and it went fast. The ruler of all lesser guitars: one only, call now.
Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
Case: Deluxe brown Lifton arched plush lined hardshell case.