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1953 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Vintage Archtop w/ Spruce Top, New York Pickups & Case


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Up for sale, a 1953 Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent vintage archtop electric guitar in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. This stunning New York-made Epiphone Emperor is an exquisite and elegant archtop both acoustically and plugged in, retaining its original trio of New York humbuckers.

Featuring an arched spruce top and figured curly maple back and sides, the Zephyr Emperor was the top of the line model in Epiphone's vintage archtop range, designed to stand toe to toe with Gibson's Super 400CES which was released in 1951 (the same year as the Emperor debuted). The Zephyr Emperor features a 18 3/8" wide lower bout and full 25 1/2" scale length, easily among the most imposing archtops of the Jazz age. The 1953 model year is also notable for the Emperor, as Epiphone transitioned from the original (and more desirable) spruce-topped iteration seen here to a maple top mid-year.

The push-button pickup selector system, originally called the Vari-Tone before Epiphone retired that nomenclature in deference to Gibson, offers a broad range of brilliant, clear tones. Expressive and detailed, the New York pickups amplify the natural clarity and midrange-forward sweetness of the instrument, emblematic of arguably the finest era of Epiphone production.  Quite versatile, this Zephyr Emperor can be sparkling and crisp or thick and mellow, literally with the push of a button. Weighing 8lbs 10oz and professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, this Epiphone features 11-49 strings and easy-playing action.

The neck features five-ply mahogany/walnut construction framed by two large pieces of flame maple, with a deep, round C-shaped profile carve that has generous shoulder, filling the palm comfortably and fretting effortlessly. The profile measures .900" deep at the 1st fret and 1.020" at the 9th. The extremely dark Brazilian rosewood fretboard features multi-ply binding and pearl block inlay bisected by abalone Vs. The guitar has been refretted with flawless slender fretwire, and there is sporadic wear into th rosewood between frets 1-6. The guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2" scale with a straight neck and responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod. The bone nut measures 1 11/16" in width. The bound Brazilian rosewood headstock veneer features Epiphone's vine inlay and script logo, complete with the original truss rod cover. The original gold-plated 16:1 ratio Epsilon tuners are intact with a smooth, reliable response.

The original electronics function as intended, with the New York pickups wired to the push-button pickup selector (the same system Guild would later co-op for their X-375) and Master Volume and Tone knobs capped with original distinctive cream octagonal pointer knobs. The hardware includes the original gold patent pending Frequensator tailpiece and the compensated rosewood Brazilian rosewood bridge which has particularly dynamic grain on the base. The neck set is also ideal, and there’s room for adjustment at both bridge thumbwheels. The bound deep red bound tortoise pickguard is a modern replacement. Visible through the F hole, the serialized Epiphone label is present, dating the instrument to '53.

The original Sunburst gloss nitro lacquer finish highlights the deep and dimensional curly figuring in the maple on the back and sides, particularly notable on the massive one-piece maple back. The original top and back multi-ply binding is well adhered on all edges, with two pieces of replaced binding on either side of the cutaway and another tiny patch just below the tailpiece. The finish exhibits vertical lacquer checking across the top and fainter checking across the back, and there are some repaired cracks in the spruce on the treble-side lower bout on top, and adjacent to the knobs, F hole and Vari-Tone plate, with an additional crack repair on the bass-side lower bout. Additional wear includes a finish reaction through the lacquer adjacent to the knobs, and minor nicks and scuffs consistent with honest use on the instrument as a whole. The neck profile is smooth and inviting, with palm wear through the nitro gloss on the shoulders.

The original black tolex hardshell case with red plush interior is included.