When you hear the name Zemaitis, your mind's eye probably immediately pictures a classic single-cutaway electric guitar with an ornate "Metal Front" design, as seen in the hands of Ronnie Wood, Peter Frampton, Tony McPhee of the Groundhogs, Greg Lake, Keith Richards, and Marc Bolan. But Tony Zemaitis started out crafting beautiful and excellent sounding acoustic guitars - and to this day they still hold up, and are some of the more collectible pieces from his repertoire.
Tony started out building 12-string guitars in the 1960's - as they were not easy to find in the UK. In 1965 he became a full-time self employed luthier, and worked out of his home in Balham, London. One of his first guitars was a very cool long-scale 12 sting dubbed the "street bass strung low" that was designed to be tuned down to C!
Zemaitis acoustic guitars have several unique and eye-catching signatures. Many have beautiful soundhole rosettes and inlays, all hand-carved, and often times the soundholes themselves were heart or moon shaped! He also teamed up with his friend Danny O'Brien, a master engraver, who helped add even more class to his acoustics, specifically with headstock name badges and truss rod covers. The bridges on these acoustics were often also uniquely shaped and carved to match the shape of the sound hole.
Tony was known for his 12 strings, but he also built 6 string acoustics, and some of the first acoustic bass guitars! His 12 strings are some of the very few that played and felt like a 6-string, during the days when playing a 12 string usually meant your action was a 1/4" off the fingerboard, you were never in tune, and never properly intonated. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Donovan were all endorsers and owners of Zemaitis acoustics, and they loved them both for the stage and studio! Clapton owned "Ivan the Terrible" - a massive bigger-than-jumbo acoustic guitar, that sold at a charity auction in 2004.
We have several gorgeous looking and incredible sounding Zemaitis acoustic guitars on consignment here at The Music Zoo - check out these beauty shots below, and click here to view them on the website!