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-   -   Do you remember Tony Zemaitis (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=522178)

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 08:59 AM

Do you remember Tony Zemaitis
 
Tony was a luthier who lived and worked in London. He made a guitar for George Harrison which looked a lot like the picture below.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/...tar_FBV-XL.jpg

I had a customer who wanted a reasonable copy of this guitar. So, I made him a redwood toped OM some time ago with the Zemaitis bridge and rosette. The rosette, which is a stylized lotus was done by Harvey Leach. Same with the Lotus on the head stock.
At any rate the top cracked after he had owned it for about 5 or so years and I decided that a retop was in order but this time in Englemann, which was closer in looks to the original, and probably will get even closer as it ages. I saved the original rosette and bridge and was able to reuse them.

The body is macassar ebony and the binding is Bubinga which I think turns out to look a lot like leather.

hope you like it, thanks for looking

https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/..._103037-XL.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/..._103107-XL.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/..._103124-XL.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/..._103215-XL.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/Zemaitis/..._103242-XL.jpg

That label was made especially for this guitar by the customer. It has an Indian motif with the Sanskrit symbol for oooommm. (Get it? :))

nacluth 09-17-2018 09:25 AM

Great job John. It looks incredible this time around as well! The rosette really pops on that Engelmann. It all works together. This has to be a rewarding retop.

jojobean39 09-17-2018 10:21 AM

Beautiful.

Jamiejoon 09-17-2018 10:22 AM

Very cool project. Gorgeous back and sides! I hope Harvey Leach has recovered from the fire.

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 10:26 AM

thanks Ryan. I'm pleased with how it turned out. Retopping is such drastic surgery and getting that rosette out in one piece and re-inlaying it halfway decently was challenging. I think it looks better with the white top than it did with the redwood, though I am not an impartial judge. Redwood is not my favorite. Not my first choice for either its looks or sound.

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 11:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jojobean39 (Post 5839874)
Beautiful.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jamiejoon (Post 5839875)
Very cool project. Gorgeous back and sides! I hope Harvey Leach has recovered from the fire.

Hey thanks guys.

I appreciate your comments for sure

Silly Moustache 09-17-2018 11:43 AM

Yes I do remember tony Zemaitis and his guitars. I think (?) I met him once as a hanger on with a luthier friend who met up with him.

His Wikipedia entry speaks about his electrics which were, I seem to remember incredibly heavy, but doen't mention his acoustics.

I remember his enormous 12 strings.

Michael Watts 09-17-2018 12:15 PM

Interesting project John!

I've played somewhere in the region of ten Zemaitis acoustic guitars over the years but only a couple of the electrics. They were certainly characterful instruments. Yours looks considerably more refined than the originals...

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 01:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silly Moustache (Post 5839943)
Yes I do remember tony Zemaitis and his guitars. I think (?) I met him once as a hanger on with a luthier friend who met up with him.

His Wikipedia entry speaks about his electrics which were, I seem to remember incredibly heavy, but doen't mention his acoustics.

I remember his enormous 12 strings.

Interesting. I would like to see one of his guitars. I'll be in Manchester, cardiff and Bath at the end of this month. Any leads about where I might find a copy?

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 01:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Watts (Post 5839976)
Interesting project John!

I've played somewhere in the region of ten Zemaitis acoustic guitars over the years but only a couple of the electrics. They were certainly characterful instruments. Yours looks considerably more refined than the originals...

That's pretty cool. Did he have a sort of cult following? I'm curious what it was that motivated George Harrison to commission one. Do you have any opinions about their sound, fit and finish etc.

Michael Watts 09-17-2018 01:22 PM

Do you remember Tony Zemaitis
 
Zemaitis guitars were the spoils of war for British rock stars in the 1970ís and commanded high prices even then. They were used a great deal by the Rolling Stones of course as well as Donovan (heís still got his) and others at the time. George Harrison had a matching pair with heart-shaped soundholes if Iím not mistaken.

You have to put Tony Zemaitisí work in the context of the times as by todayís exacting standards the build quality is often rough with sunken and cracked tops being pretty common due to the bracing.

The last one I played was a couple of months ago. Every time I see one I ask to be allowed to try it just in case Iíve missed something. It had a very dry sound, thumpy and slightly woolly with an extremely skinny neck as I recall. The dealer wanted something in the region of $8000 for it.

So essentially yes, they have a fan base but due to the build quality there are not that many left (not that there was exactly an abundance to begin with) for us to compare and contrast.

zackl 09-17-2018 03:11 PM

Thanks for the Zemaitis story Mr Watts. Name is well known, but not today status.


This is a very nice looking guitar !

murrmac123 09-17-2018 03:13 PM

I had always assumed that the acoustic guitars which Tony Zemaitis built were mostly 12 -strings.

The most iconic recording of a Zemaitis 12-string is of course the one and only time that Jimi Hendrix was captured on film playing an acoustic. This video makes one thankful that Hendrix decided to devote his talent to electric rather than acoustic.



Another interesting vid features the very wonderful Molly Tuttle wrestling with a Zemaitis 12-string twice her size (and winning).



There are a few other interesting Youtube vids featuring Zemaitis 12-string acoustics, as well as his solid body electrics.

j. Kinnaird 09-17-2018 03:22 PM

I actually kind of like Jimmy's acoustic blues on the zemaitis and Molly's presentation is great. That guitar is dry sounding.

harvl 09-17-2018 11:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jamiejoon (Post 5839875)
Very cool project. Gorgeous back and sides! I hope Harvey Leach has recovered from the fire.

Blast from the past!!! I remember that inlay but I think I did the work for the customer without knowing who was building the guitar so John I never knew it was you!

As for the fire... well I wasn't involved in one so my recovery is going well! knock on wood...

Harv


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