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1954 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent

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Serial #: 67904, blue NY label

Body size at lower bout: 18 3/8" Scale length: 25 1/2". Nut width: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .89/1.01

Materials: Highly figured arched flame maple body; solid maple neck with 5-ply walnut/maple centerstripe; ornate vine style mother-of-pearl/abalone peghead inlay and split-block fingerboard inlays; solid ebony fingerboard with inlaid perimeter stripes, seven-ply body binding, triple-bound fingerboard and headstock.

Hardware: Original gold hardware including three NY 'Tone Spectrum' pickups; Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece; compensated rosewood bridge; hex-key adjustable truss rod. Vintage-correct triple bound dark tortoise pickguard, recent Kluson Super 'waffleback tuners, custom Bakelite pickup selector lever and control knobs. (Original push button selector, pickguard, and wiring harness included.)

Notes: Making its debut in 1951, the Zephyr Emperor Regent was Epiphone's electric version of their massive Emperor Regent cutaway acoustic archtop. The first examples bore the designation "Zephyr Emperor Vari-Tone" after the unique six pushbutton pickup selector switch system. (The name was quietly changed after a few months, perhaps after a reminder that the term had been in use by Gibson for over a decade.) Renamed the Zephyr Emperor Regent, and finally simply the Emperor Electric, the big guitar was Epi's top-of-the line electric model, equivalent in price and prestige to its main competitor, the Gibson ES-5, later christened the Switchmaster.

Featuring a deeper cutaway and larger body than its Gibson rival, the Zephyr Emperor Regent improved upper fingerboard access by two to three frets over the ES-5, and matched the pickup count with three adjustable 'Tone Spectrum' (aka 'New York') single coil pickups, with cream Bakelite mounts. Discontinued after Gibson purchased the Epiphone company in 1957, this rare model was the firm's most costly electric guitar, and has been featured by artists as diverse as Harry Volpe, Duke Robillard and Elvis Costello to this day.

This late blonde example was produced in the second to last production run, and is one of a litle over a dozen known examples produced in its batch. Epiphone spared no ornamentation for this top-of-the line guitar: a veritable showpiece of extravagantly figured tonewood, with its extravagant tiger flame maple body and neck. The pale mother-of-pearl block fingerboard inlay is inset with vertical wedges of luminescent Paua abalone, which also appears in the ornate tree-of-life inlay in the peghead and logo.

Lovingly maintained, this big guitar shows a lustrous, deeply ambered natural finish remarkably free of pick, buckle, or thumb wear, and protected with a light dusting of older clear lacquer. (A small drip line in the finish is visible near the control knobs, apart from which the guitar shows few signs of age altogether.) The fingerboard is smooth and straight, the Pat. Pend. Frequensator tailpiece is solid, and original multi-ply binding remains tight to the body. Neck angle and bridge height are both excellent as well, with ample clearance for adjustment.

The neck has a comfy solid C profile, and the action is smooth and low over fine pro fretwork and a fresh high precision setup. The single-coil 'Tone Spectrum' (or 'New York') pickups are clear and detailed, and offer a splendid variety of tonal colors. As the original push button selector on this model could often be heard through an amp when the switches were pressed into place, one very ingenious wiring wizard solved that problem by subtituting a 6 way lever switch and individual volume controls for each pickup, along with the original master volume and tone knobs. All the original pickup combinations remain available, with quiet modern switching for contemporary stage or studio use, with matching art-deco control knobs in polished brown bakelite, elegant as can be.

The original push button selector, pickguard, and wiring harness are included, along with detailed wiring schematics. As regal as a mid-century Coupe De Ville, the Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent embodies true 50's technology at its most exuberant: it's got everything but the tail fins. One only: call now.

Setup: Truss rod adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation strobe tuned; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot and saddle radius inspected; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge conditioned; body and neck cleaned and hand polished. This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings, and will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with light relief. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Deluxe arched black TKL plush lined hardshell case.




























































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