The Beatles: Guitar Heroes 23 – Paul McCartney’s Zenith Model 17 Acoustic

Share My Guitar is proud to release a special series of guest posts by John F. Crowley about guitars owned by members of the Beatles. Each week we will unleash another article covering the history and impact of these fab guitars.

Paul McCartney seen rocking out on his first guitar a Zenith Model 17 acoustic!

In June 1956, McCartney’s father gave him a trumpet for his fourteenth birthday. “I used to play it a little bit,” he recalls in Many Years From Now, the Barry Miles biography, “because that was the hero instrument then, The Man with the Golden Arm and everything, but it became clear to me fairly quickly that you couldn’t sing with a trumpet stuck in your mouth.”

At the same time, skiffle-band fever was sweeping England, and after getting his dad’s permission, young McCartney brought the trumpet back to Rushworth and Dreaper’s Music, where he traded it in for this model made in Germany by Framus.

When he got home with the £15 guitar, he “couldn’t figure out at all how to play it. I didn’t realize it was because I was left-handed, and it wasn’t until I saw a picture of Slim Whitman, who was also left-handed, and I saw that I had the guitar the wrong-way round.”

Once he re-strung the guitar “upside-down,” McCartney discovered that the first string rattled around in the wider notches designed for the sixth string, so he carefully shaved down a safety match and made a little block to keep the string from moving about. Later he mounted a little pickup near the bridge, and eventually removed the pickguard, and used this guitar until the Beatles’ first trip to Hamburg. The Zenith, on which McCartney composed his earliest songs, including “When I’m 64,” still hangs in his studio; he pulled it down for the “Anthology” video to play a bit of “Twenty Flight Rock.”

Great photo of Paul with his Zenith guitar…. notice John Lennon also strumming away!

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  • MacRaven

    Can you imagine what that guitar is worth? Has to be one of the most valuable (if not THE most valuable) guitars in the world. And amazing he still has it.

  • You keep memories. I doubt he would sell it. Maybe auction for charity in due time? 🙂

    I remember having a similar experience when I found out I was a lefty guitar player. The books that try to “teach” you still suck, as most are for right handed players (that took me a little while to figure out, too.) Such a pain in the ass, but when people notice you’re a lefty, they think it’s the coolest thing… and The Beatles Rock Band “authenticity” achievement was the easiest one for me to get! 🙂 There are some benefits…

    However, for lefty guitars, they do charge more… sometimes up to $150 CND! I’m sure this one would have a markup of much more. 😉

  • Paul plays the Zenith in this photograph. Would the author of this post let me know if he knows which guitar *John* is using?

  • mauro fallas

    I find,a zenith, model 17, the same that Paul’s playin in this picture, the price, 400dls. have this guitar a high value, for a guitar collector.

  • John reay Dickinson

    I’ve just bought a framus zenith with an Ivor Mairants label, but I also notice on the net Epiphone think Paul’s guitar is one of their Zeniths. They are similar. Any views on this?

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