4/25/2013

c.1935 MayBell Style #0 Guitar




This slightly-smaller-than 0-size guitar (layman's term: "parlor" guitar) dates to around 1935-ish and was featured in the Slingerland catalog as a MayBell style 0 guitar. These were made by Regal in Chicago and are very similar to Regal's own-brand lower-end instruments save that the MayBells tend to have round necks while the Regals have v-shaped necks.

Below is an image of the catalog description courtesy of Slingerland Guitar:



Though there's weather-checking to the finish on the back and some of the reglued side/back seams aren't perfectly lined up, this guitar is in overall great condition. My work included some of that seam regluing, some brace regluing, a new bridge and bone saddle, fret level/dress, cleaning, tuner lube, and full setup. She plays great with fingerpicking 3/32" action at the 12th fret loaded with 50w-11 "custom light" strings.


The body is all solid birch and crack free (yippee)! The medium tobacco-orange sunburst also looks quite fetching.

The tone on this is super-suited to old-timey finger- or flatpicking, blues, and backing for a singer. It's got good sustain and a sweet, midrangey chime that would record really easily.


The cream pearloid looks great. Nice MayBell decal, too. Original wood  1 3/4" nut.


Who doesn't like cream pearloid with black dots?

The original brass frets dressed up nicely.


The top and soundhole are bound with cream cellloid.


New rosewood bridge with bone saddle and ebony pins. I've strung this with 50w-11 rather than the extra-light 48w-10 I would typically use on a guitar like this with a spruce top. The super-lightweight transverse bracing (like ladder but with more of an x-braced open tonality) is backed up a bit by the fact that the top on this is birch (hardwood) and responds more like mahogany. This means that a slightly heavier set of strings can be used safely in the long term.



Pretty spiffy sunburst, huh?



The nice graining to the birch really pops out. One-piece back and top, too.


The tuners work great and are original.




The endstrip has no endpin installed which generally means that the factory thought this would probably be used in the Hawaiian (lap) fashion. It'd be easy enough to install one, though, if desired.

1 comment:

Chris Till said...

Your blog rules. A gal out in the country is advertising an "antique Maybell parlor guitar." I've been trying to figure out just what it was. Between the Slingerland tribute site and your site, it's ID'd: a 1930s May Bell #0. I'll try to buy it tomorrow! Many thanks, Chris Till