1985 Zemaitis Custom Deluxe Metal Front, Dragon



Stunning, rare Custom Deluxe Zemaitis metal front made by Tony Zemaitis and hand engraved by Danny O'Brien in 1985. We understand this was one of Tony's favourite metal front guitars and it is widely considered among Zemaitis collectors to be one of the best engraved Dragon Zemaitis' ever produced. Given the stunning, hand engraved fire-breathing dragon motif and overall attention to detail it is not hard to see why.

The name "Hiroshi" is inscribed on the pot cavity plate; something to suggest this guitar was likely made for a gentleman named Hiroshi Suzuki, or Hiro for short. Hiro had a close relationship with Tony and his family and would go on to order a number of Custom Deluxe models for himself which he would then sell to musicians and vintage guitar stores in Japan. It is said that Hiro was quite an attentive customer who would often sit watching Tony and Danny work, glass of Scotch in hand. As such the quality of the instruments ordered by Hiro is said to be among the best.

This guitar is in stunning condition having clearly been well cared for throughout its life, with little to no signs of play wear. The current owner - a Japanese collector and Zemaitis enthusiast - purchased it from a personal friend of Tony's some 23 years ago. He tells us a story of when he was contacted by Rittor Music in Japan - publisher of Guitar Magazine, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Bass Magazine and Sound & Recording. They were planning to publish a photo book of Zemaitis instruments and were asking Zemaitis owners in Japan - including very famous Rock musicians - to bring their guitars and basses to a shoot. This mass gathering of Zemaitis instruments was unsurprisingly a sight to behold but unfortunately the publication plan was cancelled. He did however retain an extract from the magazine about this particular Dragon Custom Deluxe which sums it up rather well: 

‘At the shooting, its first public appearance in more than ten years, this guitar caused more sighs of admiration than any other Metal-Tops. The vivid dragon, almost blowing fire on the player, suits the carefully hand-polished toffee brown body: exquisite harmony of Tony’s feminine style and Danny’s masculine engraving style. No cross mark on 12F and the no-frills head plate make for a well-balanced design, drawing attention to the dragon on the bottom. Created in 1985, whereas Schaller pegs were customary, this particular model is fitted with Gotoh’s centre-rigged pegs.’
Photos of this guitar have been authenticated by Danny O'Brien and Keith Smart, and it comes complete with a stamped Certificate of Authenticity from the Zemaitis Guitar Owners Club along with a Hiscox hard shell case. As much a piece of art as it is an instrument, this is a fantastic opportunity to own one of the finest, original Zemaitis metal front guitars ever made.
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