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20th Century Guitar
Rara Avis -- 1935 WLS Zeke Euphonon

February 1999
by Bianca Soros



Link to 20th Century Guitar Magazine

his gorgeous Larson-built Euphonon guitar was custom ordered by western singer/songwriter Zeke Clements with a fancy pearl top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides. His guitar was an extension of his glitzy garb and was designed in a flashy western motif. Clements had a natural flair for entertainment and knew how to weave comedy with country. He began his career at the WLS Barn dance in 1928 and would join the "Opry" in 1930 where he would entertain his audience with his western band, Bronco Busters. He was also known as the voice of "Bashful" in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    There are fewer than thirty WLS Euphonons made and are considered to be one of the largest and best flattop guitars of its era, "Zeke" measures 17-inches across the lower bout and has laminated braces. The guitar is ingeniously built under tension which prevents the top from warping and provides a powerful sound for radio and stage.

   The WSL Euphonon model was named after the popular Chicago-based radio show (1924-1950) called The National Barn Dance. It was a special tradition with some of the WLS performers to include the letters "WLS" on the peghead of their Larson guitars and some had their name inlaid in pearl. "Zeke" started the trend of this style of guitar.

   By the mid-1930s, the large-bodied Larson flattops, similar to "Zeke" were seen in the hands of WLS celebrities such as Patsy Montana, Gene Autry, Akie "the woodchopper," Harty Taylor, Ester Martin of the Prairie Sweethearts, Mac and Bob and Doc Hopkins of the Cumberland Ridge Runners.End

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