Nice old jazz box and the more desirable cutaway (Regent) Zephyr model. The Zephyr Regent was a mid-line model featuring a single New York pickup, large 17 3/8″ lower bout, laminated maple top, back, and sides, trapeze tailpiece (Frequensator style on early models), bound body and neck, and notched block fretboard inlays. As nice as it looks now, this one was quite a project, coming to us in rough shape (before-1, before-2), with loads of dirt and grime – appeared to have never seen a polishing cloth – and the binding chipped and/or pulled away over most of the top and back. Martin reshaped the binding and reattached original binding where possible, and installed a few new sections where it had deteriorated. Around 1/3 of the body binding was affected, which Martin repaired nicely (a new section shown in back cutaway here). Although the binding patina is a little lighter than the original, in years to come it will blend in and will look original. Electronics were nearly useless until the pots were removed and cleaned. Likewise, the tuners were frozen or hard to turn until they were all lubricated. What we discovered was an extremely clean guitar underneath all the grime as Martin hand-buffed the entire body and the nitro finish shines like a new guitar. Please note that there is no overspray on the body, simply an intensive cleaning. Although this guitar is in very nice shape for a ’53, there are a few detractors that need pointing out. It’s missing the “E” from the tortoise pickguard; one knob is replaced but we substituted another 50’s knob of the same color and patina; logo plate on the headstock is from a reissue although the same shape and style as the original. Martin buffed out the finish beautifully, but there are check lines over much of the front and back (as shown here) as well as the headstock veneer, which is expected on a nitro finish that’s 60 years old. Shown here, the only cracks were two hairline cracks at the base of the headstock, with the before appearance in the pic on the right. This was little more than a cosmetic issue which we’ve made better as shown in the pic on the left. It is also missing one of the tuner ferrules which I don’t seem to have among my spares. Shown here, you can see the tight neck joint (neck has never been removed) which has a perfect angle, allowing very low action. Neck is a soft V-shape, not overly large, with small vintage frets which exhibit some wear but the set up has low action with only slight string rattle in places. Although it doesn’t require a refret, if you want the same low action with no fret buzz whatsoever Martin can do a complete refret with your choice of frets for additional cost – or we can raise the action to medium at no cost of course. Epiphone and Gibson were the premier builders of archtops during this era and they’re highly regarded by players as being truly fine instruments. 60 years after it was built, this one still plays and sounds wonderfully, testament to the craftsman ship of the skilled post-war luthiers. If you check vintage sites like gbase.com, you’ll usually see Zephyr Regents in the $3K-$4K range, including some with modifications. This one may not appeal to the collector of museum guitars, but for the player looking for value in a 50’s archtop, it’s a sweet deal at just $1499. (Note: We have a ’41 Epi archtop, student model hollowbody with 13″ bout, from the restoration shop coming soon).