1930s Slingerland MayBell No 5 Parlor Guitar

Regal (in Chicago) built this model for Slingerland's catalog. It's a standard-size guitar for the time (size 0 or parlor) and features a 12-fret neck joint, nice sunburst finish, solid spruce top, and solid birch back and sides. The neck is poplar and the fretboard, nut, and bridge are ebonized maple.

I've worked on a number of Slingerland's "College Pal" guitars that are basically this same model but with no (real) binding and a birch top. This is definitely a good step up over them and the spruce top with it's angled ladder-bracing ("transverse" bracing) gives it a warm, woody, open sound that is superb for fingerpicking. This thing has a lot more volume and depth than you'd expect for your average smaller old guitar and it has that sort-of trademark Regal "airy" top end -- with good sustain.

It's now in good health and is crack-free save some dryness hairline cracks running about half the length of the fretboard. They're tight and drop-filled, though, and so pose no issue.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, new bridge pins and endpin, mod from fret-saddle to 6 adjustable/compensated "screw" saddles, and setup.

Made by: Regal

Model: Slingerland MayBell No 5

Made in: Chicago, IL, USA

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid birch w/nice figure on the back

Bracing type: ladder (transverse main brace)

Bridge: ebonized maple

Fretboard: ebonized maple

Neck wood: poplar

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 52w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 15, 11 ("custom light")

Neck shape: medium-big C/D

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: small/medium

Scale length: 24"

Nut width:  1 3/4"

Body length: 18 1/8"

Body width: 13 1/4"

Body depth: 4"

Condition notes: there are (repaired) hairline dryness cracks in the face of the fretboard, the bridge has been modified, and the pins are all replacements. The finish shows mild usewear throughout with some light scratching on the back... but is otherwise really clean for its age. It's a nice "looker" with that neat sunburst!

More notes on the bridge: I've used this "saddle" method in the past years ago and I did it here because I would have needed to fill and move the pin-holes if I wanted to use a normal drop-in saddle with a deep slot and have it play in tune. 6 tiny screws are used as "saddles" in this case and, if you slip the string out of them, you can adjust them up/down to adjust the guitar differently -- dial it "up" for a little bit of slide or dial it "down" for normal playing. The key is to keep the slot on the top of the screw at a slight angle in relation to the string coming from the pin-hole so that as the string leaves the slot it makes contact with the sidewall of the slot as it leaves the front of the bridge. This makes the point of contact clean.

It comes with: a gigbag.


CM said…
I wonder if there's a difference (as infinitesimal as it might be) between the sound of the individual screw "saddles" and the usual saddle in terms of the harmonics that would be created by all the strings sounding on a single saddle rather than individually as here. I have seen the screw set up on Pacific Rim electric guitars from long ago Just can't remember where or when.
Jake Wildwood said…
For what it's worth, I think the individual saddles are a little less complicated in tone and more open-sounding, but that might entirely be because the material is metal and small rather than bone or wood. It's the closest you can get to the fret saddle sound without it being annoying to play or adjust.

Good Q!
Warren said…
The individual screw saddles is a similar concept to what Gibson did on some early SJ-200's I believe. Good problem solving Jake. Way to get this guitar out in folks hands again! Warren