SOLD! - 1958 Epiphone Zephyr E312T Sunburst + '58 Lifton case
Nice clean and original 1958 Epiphone Zephyr in Sunburst, also know as the "John Lee Hooker model" with the rare Epiphone "New Yorker" pickups!
This interesting thinline hollow body guitar is one of the earlier Epiphone branded instruments made in the old Kalamazoo factory, as Gibson was re-starting the brand they had purchased in 1957. The first-generation Zephyr is a fairly rare instrument built only from 1958 into 1964 and one of the less well known Gibson-made Epiphone models. Samples of the new Epiphone line had been first shown at the July 1958 NAMM show, but orders were scarce and production slow to get up to speed.
This Zephyr was a midline model in the 1958 Kalamazoo Epiphone line, roughly the professional equivalent to the ES-175D although with very different specs. The Zephyr has a distinctive set of features and does not play or sound like any other Gibson made guitar from this era. It is built on an unusually wide but thinlined fully hollow body, combined with a long 25 1/2" scale neck. Gibson's ES-350T and Byrdland are 17" wide and fully hollow, but have short 23 3/8" scale necks. The budget ES-125TDC is smaller at 16" wide, with a 24 3/4" scale. The single bound body has an amber yellow/brown sunburst on the top and dark "walnut" mahogany finished back and sides. The serial number on the blue label inside is part of a distinct but short-lived A-series started for the new Epiphones, discontinued in 1961 as they were absorbed into the new Gibson number series.
The laminated mahogany neck has a V profile unlike anything Gibson was doing in the late 1950's; it is actually an old Epiphone archtop blank from years earlier repurposed. Older Epiphone parts sent up to Kalamazoo were used on these new models as long as they lasted. The rosewood fingerboard is inlaid with never seen before small segmented blocks and bound. The neck is fitted with a Gibson truss rod under the new plastic "E" logo cover. The headstock had a metal logo plate pinned to the face that Epiphone had been using on electrics since the 1930s, with Kluson Deluxe tuners typical of Gibson. The elevated tortoise celluloid pickguard has an "E" epsilon logo on the lower corner.
The most interesting feature is a set of original "New York" pickups inherited from the old Epiphone stock. These look like a sort of humbucker with the small poles on one edge, but are solidly single coil under their metal covers. They offer a unique sound, fairly microphonic but brighter than anything from Gibson in 1960 with a snarly edge when overdriven. They are controlled by the standard Gibson 4-knob, one switch electronics rig topped off with white pointer knobs, a type used by Epiphone since the 1940s.
These early Zephyrs are fairly rare; this is the first one we have ever had. Even many veteran players have never tried one. The large thin body is fairly comfortable once one gets used to it, and the pickups while rather non-Gibson in sound have their own charms.
This is a nice clean guitar overall, showing some light playwear but no signs of heavy use. The finish has some small dings and dongs and some marks around the jack output but really that's about it. It remains very original down to the bone. The frets show some minimal wear, but nothing to affect playability.
This is a lovely instrument, a bit unusual in feel and sound but a cool piece and excellent player if you dig the vibe!