1930s Slingerland Songster Archtop Tenor Guitar

A customer/consignor of mine sent this over to me for a setup and any other needed work and I was surprised to find it nearly ready to go: all that needed adjustment was a small alteration to the bridge height adjusters and some small adjustment at the nut and bridge slots. I'm sure this dates to the latter-half of the 30s.

It's a cool guitar and very curious. I used to think these Songster instruments were made by Regal but I'm just not sure anymore because the various features are all over the place. The body shape and size is your average archtop guitar 16" lower bout width with 3" side depth but the f-holes have actually been relocated more "north" vs. a standard 6-string so that they're situated properly to meet up with the bridge wings on-center. Most makers (Gibson included) didn't bother to re-situate the f-holes on tenors and often they're sickeningly "south" of where the bridge should be.

The body is very similar in styling and bracing to period 6-string Regals I've seen but I think that this guitar, at least, has an Oscar Schmidt-made neck attached to it and it's likely that the body is then of OS-make as well. More on that thinking later.

The over-the-top headstock has pearloid inlay with an extra-wide profile. Weird, huh? It's very "deco cool." The nut is original and bone.

The rosewood board is bound and has pearl-dot inlay. Amazingly, the frets were perfectly level and seemed unplayed. The owner of this guitar wanted it strung with nylon (Nylgut, actually) rather than steel and he uses plectrum banjo tuning: CGBD low to high. The plan was to use a wound G string (the low C is a guitar A tuned up) but after snapping a couple of them I'm going to leave the final string gauge selection up to the new owner!

During setup I massaged the bridge adjuster-wheel mechanisms so that they'd give a better range of motion and also reprofiled the compensated bone saddle a little to remove most of the compensation since nylon/synthetic strings are in order.

I must note, here, that the strings sound just fine on this guitar. They're not my cup of tea but I can see how they'd sound great and warm-chunky for backing play in the way the owner will use them.

The Slingerland-stamped tail is very nice.

The back and sides are laminate (flamed maple) while the top is solid spruce and press-arched.

Who can complain about those tuners? Good stuff. Also: note the wildly-big 

Just an observation, here: I have no idea of any other guitar maker that used this same shape and heel style other than Oscar Schmidt out of New Jersey.

It's a pretty guitar, yessir.

The endpin looks like a later replacement but don't you love the baseplate design for that tail?


andy V said…
Hi Jake,

Interesting, I have one but the f holes are not positioned as you note they are on this one. A quick google and I found three others with them in "six string position" and one with them in "tenor position" - one of each on Elderly.

I wonder what difference to tone, volume, sustain it makes.