1950s United-made Stadium Electrified Tenor Guitar

While this has a "Stadium" brand on the headstock, this instrument was definitely built by United in New Jersey. It's an all-ply, tailpiece-load, down-market instrument that wouldn't be anything special except that it has a killer cowboy stencil job on the lower bout and it has a decidedly-weird, long, 25" scale length. Tenor guitars normally max-out at 23" scale lengths, so I'm not sure what happened here.

If you attempt to use normal tenor tuning (CGDA) at this scale with normal tenor string gauges (34w, 22w, 14, 10), the high A string would be under quite some tension and prone to breaking. This quirk makes it a perfect platform for "Celtic" GDAE (octave mandolin) tuning, though, as the longer scale allows for thinner gauges.

Moreover, these instruments (including the 6-string version of this style) sound only "okay" as acoustics and I've added electric guitar pickups to so many of them passing through the shop (maybe 5 or 6 now?) that I tend to think of it as the default option. It turns them into something fun, cool, and useful rather than just mediocre. The ply top and tailpiece load coupled with an electric pickup makes them a lot like any other electric hollowbody from the '50s -- save that they're a flattop.

Anyhow, this conversion was really successful. In its new role, this thing sounds the business. I used an old '60s Teisco bar/blade-style single coil electric bass pickup and added a volume control with an old '50s Bakelite chickenhead knob. The pickup gives it a clean, full, and sweet sound. It reminds me a lot of Gibson bar/blade pickups used in their lap steels from the '30s and '40s.

Work included: fret seating, fret level/dress, side dots install, pickup cut for the top and install, a wiring harness install with 500k pot, Switchcraft jack, and braided/shielded wire, a hidden neck bolt reinforcement of the neck joint (mounted on the inside), strap button at the heel, compensation recut of the original bridge (works for GDAE or DGBE tunings), tensioner install for the tailpiece (more on that later), and a setup. The neck is straight, it plays with spot-on 1/16" action at the 12th fret, and is strung with nickel-wound 42w, 28w, 14, 10 gauges.

Scale length: 25"
Nut width: 1 3/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/8"
String spacing at bridge: 1 5/8"
Body length: 17 1/4"
Lower bout width: 13 1/4"
Waist width: 7 3/4"
Upper bout width: 9 3/4"
Side depth at endpin: 3 5/8"
Top wood: ply birch
Back/sides wood: ply birch
Neck wood: poplar
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: maple or similar
Bridge: ebonized maple
Neck feel: flat board, medium-C rear shape

Condition notes: while all the original hardware is extant, I did replace the nails that mounted the tuners and tailpiece with screws. There's general wear and tear (minor scratches and scuffs) on the body but overall it's in good shape and the finish is all-original. 

It comes with: an original, brown, chip case.

I'm pretty sure the mother of pearl position markers were added later.

If you look closely at the bridge you'll notice it's compensated for each string (for 2-wound, 2-plain stringing). If you look closely at the tailpiece you'll notice a screwhead coming from the middle of it. That's actually a small, thin bolt. It runs through the top into a small nut under the top. I'm using it to let me add down-pressure on the tailpiece to keep a good back-angle with the strings over the bridge.

I've done this on a lot of old United-made ply parlor boxes with the tailpiece setup because the tailpieces are usually the types that don't let the stringing get low enough under them (due to design) to give proper tension on the bridge and drive the top. It's hokey but so is the instrument! ...and the fix works. It cleans-up the sound, gives it more volume, and (most key) makes sure the strings don't fly out of their slots in the bridge when heavy-handing it.

Yes, there's a ground running from the jack to the tailpiece.