eBay Prize: 2002 Epiphone Zephyr Blues Deluxe

THE ORIGINAL EPIPHONE ZEPHYRS WERE MADE IN THE LATE 1930S, AND EVOLVED from acoustic archtops into electrics by the ’50s. Sometime in the late 1990s, Epiphone introduced the Zephyr Blues Deluxe, considered in some circles to be a poor man’s Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster. This Zephyr featured a maple body, three P-90 pickups (each with its own volume control), a master tone control, a very musical Frequensator tailpiece, a Tune-o-Matic bridge, and gold hardware. But what struck me was the look of it. Every time I saw one in a magazine or at a guitar show, my coolness meter went off the scale. I knew I had to get one, so it was off to the ’Bay.

I first did my usual research on Google, and found all kinds of info: dealer ads, manufacturer specs, prices, reviews, etc. After half an hour’s research, I was ready for battle. I did a search on eBay and bookmarked it. Then, once a day, I checked the searches, bookmarking the best prospects. This was before “Buy-It-Now” came into existence, so there was a lot of waiting, bidding, and losing until I finally snagged one for $680 + $30 shipping—not a great deal, but an okay deal considering they had only been on the market for a short time back then, and I wanted it right away. Will Ray tip #379: Those who are impatient pay more.

When I opened the hardshell case, I was awestruck by the sheer beauty of it. It was essentially brand new—including the hang tags—with just a few pick marks on the pickguard. Korean-made Epiphones get a bad rap from some gear snobs, but I have always found them to be excellent guitars, as well as great bargains. I slapped on some new strings, adjusted the bridge and trussrod to my liking, and wailed away. It played wonderfully! P-90’s are my favorite pickups for Gibsons and Epiphones, and these did not disappoint. They’re nice and fat-sounding, while having a smooth high end without the harshness many single-coils exhibit.

So is it a keeper? You betcha! I don’t have any guitar that sounds quite like the Zephyr. I predict that in 20 years these will be highly soughtafter instruments.