Epiphone Zenith Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936)

Epiphone  Zenith Arch Top Acoustic Guitar  (1936)
$1,750.00 + shipping
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Item # 11719
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Epiphone Zenith Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936), made in New York City, serial # 10926, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, walnut back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

The Zenith was not at the bottom of the original 1930s Epiphone Masterbilt line, but not too far off either! When this one was made in late 1936 the model carried a $50 price tag; the Deluxe listed at $275. By this time the originally small body had been increased to a more generous 16 5/8" wide making it a professional sized guitar, if a relatively plain one.

The back and sides are made of walnut, an unusual wood choice Epiphone eventually abandoned. The top is carved Adirondack spruce, worked quite thin contributing to the bright, punchy sound. The body edges have single-layer white celluloid binding, with the typical Epiphone rosewood bridge, plain black pickguard and trapeze tailpiece.

The neck is quite slim for the period with a "rounded V' profile and a narrow (for 1936) 1 5/8" nut. The rosewood fretboard has plain dot inlay. The cresting round-top headstock has a pearl Epiphone logo and "stickpin" inlay and is fitted with individual openback tuners with plastic buttons.

While hardly a showpiece the Zenith boasted several advantages over the similar Gibson L-50 of the time. The long 25 1/2" scale enhanced tone and power; even the largest Gibson archtops of the time still had a shorter 24 3/4" scale. Despite their budget status original 1930's Epiphone Zeniths are fairly rare today, especially in good playing condition.
Overall length is 42 in. (106.7 cm.), 16 5/8 in. (42.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/16 in. (8.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).
This guitar shows a decent amount of wear with scratches, dings and dents overall with a swath of wear on the top below the bridge probably from an ancient pickup installation. The back and sides have isolated spots of heavier wear as well. The neck finish has only fairly light wear to the back. There are a couple of serious crack repairs to the top, one beneath the pickguard and another running down to the back edge from the lower F-hole. Both are well sealed but with some less-than-subtle touch up so quite visible; no other cracks are evident.

All the hardware remains original including the bridge, tailpiece, pickguard and tuners; all show general wear but work as intended. A strap button has been added to the side of the heel. The frets appear original, neatly dressed with very little wear. This is a fine player with a tight, punchy sound and plenty of volume but also a sweeter sound if played more gently. It lives in a later just slightly oversized HSC; these older Epiphones can be hard to fit today! Very Good + Condition.