6/17/2016

1934 Epiphone-made Sorrentino Artist Archtop Guitar





Here's an oddball: a Sorrentino "Artist" model archtop made by Epiphone -- and like Gibson's Kalamazoo models -- a house off-brand... though this is of the same quality-level as your average Epi. The owner is an Epiphone fan and did a crash-course of research to peg this guitar's build at '34. It's all-original save tuners, bridge, and tailpiece, and tonally it's an ace. This has a huge, gutsy, in-your-face sound with a lot of lower-mids "mwah" warmth. In this regard it flits between what I usually expect from archtop Epis (punch and zing) and what I usually expect from archtop Gibsons (warmth and mwah for chords), making it a good all-around "big band" box.

It was brought in by a local luthier a few days ago for consignment. It's in excellent shape for its age and has had a very-recent neck reset and refret, some seam repairs, a new bridge and hardware, and whatnot. It plays absolutely spot-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. It has a long 25 1/2" scale, 1 11/16" nut width, and mild-medium C-shaped neck profile (very comfortable -- and fast). The strings are currently "bluegrass" gauge with a medium-gauged bottom-end, though the neck can take heavier, if desired.


The voluptuous body boasts a 16 3/8" lower bout and a carved, spruce top. I have not found a single crack on the guitar.

As far as the name goes, the Sorrentino "Artist" is basically a variation on the Epiphone-brand "Broadway" of the time with different badging and trim -- a pearl-inlaid "Sorrentino" at the headstock and pearl "diamond" fret markers rather than "big block" rectangular ones. The finish is also tobacco/brownburst rather than the more severely-contrasted sunburst finish usually found on the Broadway iterations. It does have the same walnut back (carved) and sides, however, which look glorious.


The headstock veneer looks like stained maple, to me, though I'm not entirely sure.


The refret job is pristine and the fret size is distinctly "medium." The neck is dead straight and has what feels like a 12" radius. The pearl really pops in the Brazilian rosewood board, too.



The finish (all original) shows various weather-check and "vintaged" distress here and there, but still looks grand. The f-holes are cut nice and crisp, too.


The replacement rosewood bridge is fit well and compensated nicely.



The tail is a chrome replacement which was added at some point in the past.



Lovely stuff, that walnut, huh?


Check out the curly figure in that. It glows.


The replacement Gotoh tuners work a lot better than whatever was originally on this (the original Epi tuners are notoriously fussy and tend to degrade).


The neck has a 3-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany build.







While there's the usual weather-checking in the finish on other parts of the guitar, the tailpiece area in this photo on the side shows the worst wear -- flaked-off finish -- though it's confined to this space.




Astoundingly, the luthier who worked on this last found a matching (period), Epiphone, hard case to fit the guitar. How about that?

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