Zephyr Deluxe Cutaway Renor 85158

Close-up #9: 1949 Zephyr DeLuxe Cutaway Tenor SN 85158

If you are looking for a rare – possibly one of a kind – vintage Epiphone guitar model, this could be an apt candidate. However if you also plan to use it, you better be a left handed tenor player ...

I saved the photos of the guitar featured here at the occasion when it was offered by various dealers in the past. It is a fancy electric guitar with a 4-string tenor neck and a "lefty" cutaway body. But what model is it?

ToneSpectrum Advert 1948

In an advert in the June 16, 1948 issue of "Metronome" (image source: Fisch 1996, p. 124), Epiphone promoted their new "Tone Spectrum" pickup, featured on a "Zephyr DeLuxe Cutaway" – one of the new models announced in their price list of March 15, 1948.

1948 pricelist

This lefty tenor shares some of the typical features of the guitar pictured in the ad: DeLuxe style headstock, Emperor style fretboard inlays (reversed in the ad!), gold Frequensator tailpiece. It sports two Tone Spectrum pickups, with a selector switch next to the two control knobs  – a "Duo Pickup" version as offered in the price list.

Zephyr Deluxe Cutaway Tenor 85158 head

The serial number stamped on the back of the headstock reads "85158".

Zephyr Deluxe Cutaway Tenor 85158 tuners

When Epiphone relaunched their electric model lines after WW2 in 1946, a new SN system was applied for most models: The first 2 digits of a 5-digit SN represented a code for the model, while the last 3 digits were a serial suffix for the respective model, starting at "000". In our case "85" stands for a "Zephyr DeLuxe Cutaway" model, with this example being number "158" of that model.

Zephyr Deluxe Cutaway Tenor 85158 body

But when was this unique, obviously specially ordered, lefty tenor electric cutaway guitar produced? As with all vintage Epiphones serial number dating is only approximate. Based on the SN as well as other details such as type/color of the pickup model (which went through several changes at the time), the shape of the f-holes, the "E" logo decal on the pickguard etc., we are pretty certain that this instrument was manufactured in 1949.

(Oct 9, 2016)