Deluxe* Regent Cutaway (Ex Johnny Smith) Guitars

1951 Epiphone Deluxe* Regent Cutaway (Ex Johnny Smith)

Color: Natural, Rating: 9.00, Sold (ID# 01897)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


"Johnny" Smith's Epiphone Deluxe Regent Cutaway


1951 Epiphone Deluxe* Regent Cutaway (Ex Johnny Smith)


This wonderful full-bodied, advanced size 17 3/8 inches wide, 3 1/3 inches deep "Jazzbox" weighs just 6.60 lbs. Two-piece birds-eye, carved maple back and lightly-flamed maple sides. Two-piece carved close-grain spruce top. Five-piece flamed maple, walnut, and mahogany neck with a nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches, a scale length of 25 1/2 inches and a wonderful medium-thick profile. Four-layer white over black plastic heel-cap. Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 20 original small frets and inlaid pearl 'cloud' position markers at frets one, three, five, seven, nine, and twelve, and a solid pearl block at fret fifteen. There is also a single white pyralin strip on each side of the fretboard. The body of the guitar has seven-ply (white over black) binding on the top and back, the neck has four-ply binding. Triple bound, walnut-faced headstock with inlaid pearl "Epiphone" script logo, pearl "Vine of Life" inlay and white plastic 'bullet' shaped truss-rod cover secured by one screw. Individual Epiphone closed-back tuners with tulip-shaped Keystone plastic buttons. DeArmond 'Johnny Smith style floating pickup with an output of 7.55k, secured to bass-side of neck by bracket and two screws. Tortoiseshell pickguard with three-ply (white/black/white) plastic binding. Two controls (one volume, one tone) and a two-way 'push-button' switch, all mounted on original pickguard. Original (DeArmond) 3/4 inch diameter, 1/2 inch deep clear acrylic control knobs. Rosewood bridge with pre-set compensated saddle on height-adjustable base and Epiphone Frequensator tailpiece. All hardware gold-plated. Inside the bass f-hole is a rectangular white label with the model name "Deluxe* Regent" typed and the serial number "62762" stamped in black. There is some minor shrinkage of the seven-ply binding at the extreme body 'waist' which has resulted in a few small cracks. Our expert luthier Seth Mayer has expertly re-glued the binding in place and it is now quite sound. Apart from some very minor belt-buckle rash (nothing through the wood) on the back and a few small marks on the top and sides of the body, this guitar is in exceptionally fine (9.00) condition. Housed in its original three-latch, shaped black 'aligator' hardshell case with burnt orange plush lining (9.25).

This fine guitar comes from the world renowned collection of Hank Risan and according to him it originally belonged to the late great jazz legend, John Henry "Johnny" Smith (1922-2013) who had fitted the floating DeArmond pickup and pickguard-mounted controls. Hank Risan purchased the guitar from Johnny Smith's brother, Benjamin.

This is a rare model with few known 'natural' examples. There was a 1954 sunburst example (serial # 69139) featured in The Tsumura Collection (pp. 43/44). That guitar has the alternative 'Dogwood Blossom' peghead inlay.

"John Henry "Johnny" Smith (June 25, 1922 – June 11, 2013) was an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist. He wrote the tune "Walk, Don't Run" in 1954. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. During the Great Depression, Smith's family moved from Birmingham through several cities, ending up in Portland, Maine. Smith taught himself to play guitar in pawnshops, which let him play in exchange for keeping the guitars in tune. At thirteen years of age he was teaching others to play the guitar. One of Smith's students bought a new guitar and gave him his old guitar, which became the first guitar Smith owned. Smith joined Uncle Lem and the Mountain Boys, a local hillbilly band that travelled around Maine, performing at dances, fairs and similar venues. Smith earned four dollars a night. He dropped out of high school to accommodate this enterprise. After becoming interested in the jazz bands he heard on the radio, Smith practiced playing jazz. He left The Mountain Boys when he was eighteen years old to form a jazz trio called the Airport Boys. An extremely diverse musician, Johnny Smith was equally at home playing in the famous Birdland jazz club or sight reading scores in the orchestral pit of the New York Philharmonic. From Schoenberg to Gershwin to originals, Smith was one of the most versatile guitarists of the 1950s. Smith's playing is characterized by closed-position chord voicings and rapidly ascending lines (reminiscent of Django, but more diatonic than chromatically-based). From those famous 1952 sides and into the 1960s he recorded for the Roost label, on whose releases his reputation mainly rests. Mosaic Records has issued the majority of them in an 8-CD set. His most critically acclaimed album was Moonlight in Vermont (one of Down Beat magazine's top two jazz records for 1952, featuring saxophonist Stan Getz). His most famous musical composition is the tune "Walk Don't Run", written for a 1954 recording session as counter-melody to the chord changes of "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise". Another guitarist, Chet Atkins, covered the song. Some musicians who became The Ventures heard the Atkins version, simplified it, sped it up, and recorded it in 1960. The Ventures' version went to No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100 for a week in September 1960. Johnny Smith stepped out of the public eye in the 1960s, having moved to Colorado in 1958 to teach and run a music store and to raise his daughter after the death of his second wife. Guild, Gibson, and Heritage have all made guitar models designed and endorsed by Johnny Smith. In each case, the guitar was designed wholly or in part by Smith. Each design was a full-bodied archtop guitar with a top carved from solid spruce and a back and sides made of solid maple. All the on-board electronics for each guitar, from the small pickup in the neck position through the volume knob to the output jack, were mounted on the pickguard." (Wikipedia).

"Guitarists continued to play Epiphone guitars, and when World War ll ended in 1945, Epiphone renewed its battles with Gibson. One of Gibson's prewar moves had been to introduce 'cutaway' bodies, scooping out the upper treble bout to give the player easier access to the higher frets. Epi caught up after the war, offering the Emperor and De Luxe in cutaway versions in 1948. In the electric arena, Epi jumped a step ahead of Gibson in 1941 with an electric version of a high-end archtop, the Zephyr De Luxe. Shortly after the cutaway version of the De Luxe was introduced, it too was electrified (by 1949). Gibson had been improving the look and sound of its electric line, but it was 1949 before Gibson introduced an electric with the high-end trim of the L-5, called the ES-5 (ES for Electric Spanish), and 1951 before the electric versions of Gibson's L-5 cutaway and Super 400 cutaway appeared. On the marketing side, Epi showed more imagination. The electric cutaway De Luxe had the grandiose name of Zephyr De Luxe Regent. Although the Zephyr has been a separate model, the company appropriated the term 'Zephyr' to mean an electric model. 'Regent' denoted a cutaway. Thus when an electric cutaway version of the Emperor appeared in 1952, it was dubbed the Zephyr Emperor Regent" (Walter Carter, Epiphone: The Complete History, p. 43).

On par with the Gibson L-5, the $375.00 (1949 price) cutaway Deluxe Regent was introduced in 1948.

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