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1961 Epiphone Zephyr - questions


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I recently acquired a ’61 Epi Zephyr, and have been having a difficult time finding history on the early years of Gibson / Epiphone, particularly in regards to the Zephyr.  It feels like this is a model that they just chose to forget.

What little I do know:

  • There weren’t many made (I can’t find specific numbers, but one source I found listed 8 two tones in ’61 and nothing for blondes)
  • John Lee Hooker allegedly played a ’61, that was reissued a few years back on his 100th birthday
  • I know the serial number, and the model number (that’s how I determined it was a 1961 model)
  • The Zephyrs last year was 1963
  • I'm the second owner
  • That’s about it

What I’ve been trying to figure out:

  • What’s the difference between the E312TN and the E311TN?  Mine is the E311TN.
  • A little more accurate count of the blondes they made in the early ‘60s.  The only source I've found with shipping numbers states that there were 8 shipped in 1959 and nothing for 60,61,62,63, but there were 13 E312TN's shipped.  So, at worst, I own one of 13.
  • How to tell if this is a “Regent” or standard
  • Did they make different necks?  I’ve seen a few pictures of ‘61’s with different heels and some necks have stripes, others don’t.  Mine has a flattish wide heel without a cap.
  • Collectability?  Doesn’t seem to be a very desirable model, yet despite that, I love mine.
  • Any additional history you’re willing to share. 
  • Additional sources you think I should look into

I have emailed Carter Vintage, Cumberland, Gruhn, Norman's, Casino, and a few other shops.  Sadly, most have not responded to me or were unable to help.  I have called and emailed Gibson, and they told me they don't have a historian on staff, or a historical department and suggested I call Carter Vintage.

I’m just trying to become more educated about what is fast becoming my favorite guitar.   Somewhere out there is someone that knows all there is to know about this wonderful guitar, and I just hope they're willing to share.




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 “Regent” was simply the name used by epiphone to distinguish its archtops with cutaways from full bodied varieties.   You can expect lots of deviations in these early Kalamazoo built guitars as Gibson used up  the remaining Epiphone parts from Philadelphia.  For example, I’ve seen early Windsor and Sorrentos from 59, 60 and 61 some having oval fingerboard inlays and some with just dots.   

Edit:   I seem to recall that the 311 and 312 designations originally represented blond vs sunburst finish.  The addition of the “N” to an E311 seems redundant, but it’s just how things were done back then.  Adding  the N  to an E312 is a mystery.  

Edited by Yorgle
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