1935 Bacon & Day Senorita Troubadour Archtop Guitar

There are two very different things going on with this particular guitar. The first is that it's awesome and then the second is that it's a doggone piece of garbage due to the condition.

Bacon did not sell many guitars and a lot of their wood-bodied instruments were made by Regal in Chicago -- including many of their archtops. I'm almost certain that this earlier model of carved-top, f-hole instruments wasn't, though, because it's not built in the same style or mold as any other preexisting Regal archtops... like most of the Bacon archtop lineup seems to have been composed of but with cosmetic changes... see here for a '32 round-hole Bacon tenor made by Regal.

Instead, whatever firm made those mysterious Armstrong guitars (click to see a beauty but take the old blog post info with a grain of salt) is exactly the same firm that made this iteration of Bacon archtops. The Armstrongs are almost identical in build, shape, neck style, construction, etc. -- all of which is very not typical of Regal carved-top instruments in any way. They're built like period Martins in many ways -- like an R-18 that wants to become a C-1 -- segmented f-holes (with a shape that matches no other mass-make routing jig profile I've seen), thin x-bracing, a "weirdo 000-like" body shape with square shoulders, and deep sides. I suppose Bacon could have made the instruments themselves and given-up on the idea, though.

At any rate, when these guitars are in good playing order, regardless of their make, they sound fantastic. This one is punchy, loud as heck, handles nicely, has a velvety "chuck" to its voice, and a nice, springy, compressed sound when dug-into.

This guitar, though, has been savaged. It should be an elegant instrument finished in a dark sunburst, fitted with a neat pickguard, and interesting adjustable bridge. It should be a slick package.

This guitar, however, is the reverse of elegant and slick. Someone has refinished it entirely (in "natural") and replaced the back with a piece of warped, twisted plywood. Copious amounts of bondo, filler, putty, and glue has been used to coax the new "back" into submission with the sides. The neck's heel was broken and "fixed" with a dowel installed under the heel cap, it has multiple sort-of-repaired hairline cracks on the top and scads more on the sides, and it was missing tuners, a tailpiece, and bridge. The neck was over-set (or, more likely, totally wonked-out by the replacement back "repair") and it was generally sad.

I figured it'd be a good instrument if given half a chance, though, and so I fixed it up despite the owner's best interests. Wait -- that doesn't sound right? This was one of those "do good enough and no more" repair jobs and ran under a couple hours total. The result is a guitar that plays bang-on and sounds tremendous, though, so I think it was all worth it.

Repairs included: heel repair (I ran a big screw/bolt into it under the heel cap to shore-up the old crack repair), fret level/dress, replacement (old) tailpiece install, replacement (new, hillbilly-lovely gold-plated Martin OM-42 cast-offs) tuners install, replacement (parts-bin-cobbled) bridge install, a couple of sealer coats of finish for the top, and setup.

Top wood: solid spruce (carved)

Back & sides wood: solid mahogany sides, random birch ply back

Bracing type: light x

Bridge: rosewood, adjustable

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 52w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12

Neck shape: medium soft V

Board radius: ~14"

Truss rod: non-adjustable steel

Neck relief: hair of relief tuned to pitch

Fret style: low/medium

Scale length: 24 5/8"

Nut width: 1 11/16"

Body width: 15"

Body depth: 4 3/8" + arching

Weight: 4 lbs 13 oz

Condition notes: I've written in length above, but suffice to say that it's... gnarly.


CM said…
It's one of those ones where if you could transplant the neck onto a a deep dark sunburst body....that headstock is too mas groovy, however hark back to Oliver Wendell Holmes and, one day (as a Kay guitar did in my shop one night):

At half past nine by the meet’n-house clock, —
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, —
All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

guitarhunter said…
Astounding work on this... like the person who left the comment above I thought you would just put this neck on a different body but you made it work and it looks and sounds great! wow...
Nick R said…
Yes, as already mentioned. an incredible resurrection! From my limited experience, Regal made archtops have many back braces inside. Those f holes look very similar to those seen on some Regal made archtops-take a look at the Nick Lucas archtops made in the late 1930s- these were made by Regal (although they are often attributed to Harmony) and the f holes look very similar to me. As for the dot markers, they are somewhat reminiscent of Oscar Schmidt made guitars while the bridge does not look anything like a typical Regal bridge. Yes, it is a bit of a mystery guitar, all right.
daverepair said…
Nice save, Jake! We do it, cause we love these old instruments, and there’s nothing like bringing one of these forlorn beauties back to life.