4/29/2017

1930s Slingerland MayBell Archtop Electric Guitar





I worked on an identical-model MayBell twice in the past and on that one I'd been the guy to electrify it for its new owner -- but on this one it already came in with a Johnny Smith-style humbucker and wiring harness on it. These are cool guitar with wonderful necks and while they have a so-so archtop tone acoustically, when you pop a pickup on them they really sing

The owner of this guitar is a friend of a friend and he's gone through a terribly rough time, recently, and just getting back into playing. He's a great country-blues fingerpicker and so I whipped this one up on the quick to fulfill some "Doctor's Orders" (that's me) on psychiatric obligations this guitar owes to its owner.

Work included a neck reset, fret level/dress (as best as I could -- they were worn!), pickup and pickguard adjustments, general cleaning, and a good setup. It's playing beautifully and strung with 49w-11 electric strings with a wound G.


The guitar is mostly original but the tuners are 50s/60s Harmony-style units, the adjuster wheels at the bridge are totally replacements, and the pickup, knob, and wiring harness are of course additions.

The top is solid, press-arched spruce over tonebar bracing and the back and sides are birch. The neck is poplar (or maple?) and the fretboard is rosewood. That latter bit, combined with the 25" scale and a 50s-ish Gibson-ish neck carve, make it very playable compared to a lot of MayBell-branded archtops from the time (with their big old V-necks).


Bone nut with 1 3/4" width...


An absolute mess of grunge came off the board during cleaning.



This pickup sounds amazing. I did not see any branding on its rear but I'm assuming it's 70s-vintage. It looks it.


The Gibson-style knob is a nice touch, too.


While the adjusters were bottomed-out before the reset, after the reset I actually had to reveal extra thread to get the height up enough. Note the compensated B slot and also my new string slots -- that was to align the strings with the pickup polepieces better. It makes a difference!












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