c.1935 Slingerland Songster Style #81 Archtop Guitar

Another customer guitar! In comparison to the ES-330 below, however, this one was treated right. It came to me very clean and all-original but needing a bunch of work to get it back into proper service. The neck needed a reset (it had been reset poorly once before and so I found a chewed-up dovetail and shims already in the pocket), the frets needed reseating (they were coming up at the fret ends), leveling, and dressing, some new Waverly tuners needed an install, the bridge needed slight intonation (B string), and of course a good setup was necessary as well.

It's all done and this Regal-made (for Slingerland) sweetie is now boxed up and going home in the morning... and ain't she a beaut?

While this guitar looks like a Chicago-fancy version of a Gibson L-50 or similar it's actually quite different: the scale is longer (25" here), the body is more "squared" in outline, the top is solid spruce but it's been "press-arched" in a mold like a Gibson Kalamazoo product, and the back and sides are laminate (3-ply) flamed/curly maple rather than solid. The arch is also steeper like a Harmony or Kay product which to my ears tends to give instruments like this a barking, snappy, projecting tone in the mid-range flavors.

If your particular taste is 3-note jazz chords up and down the neck -- this'll suit!

Who can resist the gold-sparkle celluloid inlays in the headstock? So cool. That's an original bone nut. The new Waverly tuners are also quite close to the originals but have hex-shaped ferrules instead of round ones.

The maple neck has a bigger V-profile and a big slab of radiused rosewood fretboard. The frets are original and tiny (and came with some first-position wear) and unfortunately the guitar came to me with some relief in the neck. I managed to dial out most in the leveling process but there's still perhaps 1/32" overall in the neck after tension is applied. This only slightly effects action as to get a really clean sound playing hard on the treble it needs be jacked up somewhere slightly above 1/16" at the 12th fret (whereas 1/16" is my target for a super-slick feel).

The adjustable rosewood bridge is certainly modeled on Gibson-style ones. The B string now plays in tune thanks to quick file work.

Who cares if it's not solid? That big, wide, sexy bit of flamed curly maple with unblemished old finish should be enough to drive any owner a little nutty.

Sorry for the over-exposed shots... but that's a new StewMac ivoroid strap button.

Nope, I didn't move the tail! It happened to be installed, however, off-center from the factory.

Pretty slick stuff!

1 comment:

ben lambiotte said...

Fantastic! Great work, Jake. I am excited to have her come home.