This 50s archtop acoustic is a Zenith Standard 21 “Bijou”. Zenith guitars were made by Framus in Germany and re-badged Zenith by the importers, who were the major instrument distributors Boosey and Hawkes. This one has Ivor Mairant’s signature in ballpoint pen on the label inside, but I don’t know if it is the signature of the man himself.
This Zenith guitar was brought to me by the owner’s guitar teacher for me to repair a split in the top. For a 50+ year-old guitar it is in amazing condition and looks like it’s spent most of its life in the loft. When I received it however it had old, mismatched strings which looked nearly as old as the guitar and it was rather grubby.
I repaired the split and touched in the lacquer, levelled, dressed and polished the frets, oiled the fretboard, lowered the bridge a touch, lubricated the tuners and gave the whole guitar a good clean before restringing with a long-overdue set of Martin phosphor bronze strings and adjusting the intonation.
The owner will hardly recognise it!
Paul McCartney’s first guitar was a Zenith type 17, very much like this.