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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